So there I was vacuuming and cleaning up the lounge room after the chrissie tree and decorations got put away and I began to think of a song which just happened to make mention of today’s prompt word. I thought about writing a poem based on that song but then I decided that it was too localised and many people even in Australia wouldn’t understand the local scene let alone you poor souls that live elsewhere. 🙂 So I decided to write something about another similar form of floating.
Now I must state from the outset what I am going to talk about here is not only dangerous but stupid as well and while I am not defending the actions I will say that life on the road is FUCKING boring and you sometimes find yourself doing strange things, many things that ‘normal’ people would consider stupid and below them to even try. This is also not something I would ever do if there was headlights in front or in my rear view mirrors.
That being said it’s one of the biggest rushes you can do inside the cabin of a moving vehicle without the addition of mind altering chemicals. But I do not condone it, do not recommend it, suggest it, or any such so get off my case!!
I know of several spots within 100ks of home where this can be done, you can do it in a car but it’s not nearly as much fun, and it’s best done at night. WITH NO TRAFFIC!!!
It can be done in any truck however the more load on your back the more push you get. If you find a hill with the right gradient and right length speed at the top of the hill is not important, in fact it’s probably a good thing not thing not to be at top speed. Having the hill straight without bends is also fairly important, not only because you can see on coming headlights but because the steering is not really something you want to be concentrating on.
At the top of the hill turn your headlights off (leave only the parking lights and running lights on, you don’t want to be too dangerous 🙂 ) take your feet off the pedals and drop the truck into angel gear (neutral). In old crash boxes there is no need to even use the clutch for such a gear change. Let the truck roll down the hill in angel gear as far as you dare.
With such a manoeuvre you are presented with several problems.
With a diesel engine if the engine is not running you have no means of making air. No air means all 22 wheels (on a single trailer semi) have very limited ability to brake. The brakes will work briefly but once the air is gone that’s it, no engine no air. Air also helps the steering in some trucks, hence the idea of a straight road.
No engine, no brakes also adds another element to the problem list. If you can’t get the engine started at the bottom of the hill, you have no brakes to stop. Of course being a manual crash box dropping it in gear will turn the engine over and should make it fire, however you can’t really do that at 80 kilometres per hour because the potential for damage is too great so your aim is to use the key start and let the engine fire without driving the gear box. Once started you can build up air and have enough in reserve for normal braking and eventually grab the right gear for the speed.
With the headlights off, a full moon helps too, the aim is to see how far you are willing to go before you start searching for the engine. Having very little light means marker posts and everything are harder to see and that adds to the, dare I say it, fun!
So there you go, 42 tonnes on your back, angel gear and suddenly you feel like your floating down a hill. Some might say insane but I never said I was sane, just a bored truck driver! There is thousands out there who are glad their partners/wives etc never find out exactly what happens on the road some days, some times it’s not even our fault!
There is of course one other float that you can do in a truck (and it’s not the time I nearly drove the truck down the boat ramp) it’s coming around a corner and finding enough water over the road to aquaplane the truck. Now that is a kind of floating that is bad in a rigid truck without a trailer but in an articulated vehicle it’s down right scary. See the thing about flash flooding, is that it’s unexpected and the thing about night time is that it’s dark and the thing about water over the road is that it’s nearly invisible even with the best of driving lights and the thing about driving is that it’s not always fun and games. Even a good driver can get in the shit without trying at times, but the difference between a good driver and a cocky driver is that the good driver knows how to get out of the shit, the cocky driver doesn’t. However good, great and cocky always have one thing in common, it’s only the lucky ones that get out of every situation!
So once again I don’t condone such driving, I don’t even suggest it, but bloody hell it’s fun!!