The seven hundred horsepower diesel engine mounted under my arse roared into life and the big blue Volvo suddenly went from a quiet, ominous mountain to a loud, looming monster. Nearly thirty metres behind me Corey did the same thing in his Volvo. We let the two big engines idle as they warmed up, there would be no movements made until the engines were up to operating temperature.
Pete was in the lead pilot vehicle, parked at the front gate of the yard and idling. There was a flashing orange beacon on either side of his “Wide Load Ahead” sign which was mounted to the roof of the ute. Even in the last of the daylight the flashing lights lit up the area around him making him impossible to miss. He wouldn’t take off until the call came over the radio to move but he was waiting and prepared for that call.
Beside me on the left Millie was sitting in the rear pilot, he to had his lights flashing and was waiting for the call, but unlike Pete who’d be first to hit the bitumen Millie would be the last, about fifty metres behind Corey’s truck.
When I flicked on all my warning beacons, flashing LED lights and small strobes the entire yard lit up with an orange glow. Because of the number of lights we were required to have on our trucks and load and the fact that we couldn’t time them all too strobe together the entire yard was bathed in an orange glow even with the large flood lights of the yard beginning to come into effect as the evening got darker. It’s a strange effect from the drivers seat where you can only see out your mirrors and most of the flashing lights are behind you. Without looking in the mirrors all you can see is an orange glow that looks so unnatural it nearly looks like a bushfire, then when a few of the strobes do begin to match time the glow seemingly begins to flicker adding to the bushfire effect.
From where Corey sat the effect was the opposite, all he could see was flashing lights, the ramps of the trailer and a fucking big white box. Even under the street lights of suburbia Corey’s eyes would constantly pick up the strobbing effect, it wouldn’t be a blinding flicker like if the beacons were the only lights around but the flicker would still be picked up by his eyes and brain. It was one of the reasons why I didn’t like being in the push truck, that and the fact that for five days Corey’s view barely changed, at least what I could see out my windscreen changed.
“How are we looking back there Apples?” I called back to Corey on the CB radio.
“No worries Matt, ready when you are!” he radioed back.
“Millie?” I said into the microphone and looked out my left window, not that I could see him.
“Ready when you are Matt.”
I then went through a radio check with the four walkers. Although they were my eyes and ears on the road I was the one in control of this load, I was the one with final say on everything and if I stopped we all stopped. Similarly until I said we were ready the wheels didn’t roll.
Well in actual fact that’s not the entire truth. I am the one that stops and starts this massive load but for the next few hours the Police would be the ones who were telling us when we could go and when we had to stop and Pete was the guy who would be communicating with them. As I’ve said we have multiple radios in the vehicles and while we could all hear the police if needed we had other things to concentrate on so Pete would be our radio man to them and relay back to us when we needed it. Police don’t talk as much shit on the radio as the bored numbnuts of society do and their network is closed like ours, but it’s just another distraction we don’t need when we are trying to thread the a seven metre wide needle through an eight metre gap.
“Pete? How we doing at the front?” I asked
“Waiting for a nod from ahead. As soon as we get that we are good to go when you are Matt.” Pete replied.
“Roger that Pete.” I answered.
You might have noticed already that none of the guys refer to me by a nick name, that’s not out of a healthy respect for their wonderful supervisor, it’s because I don’t have one. I’ve never had one, well not one that has ever stuck. Occasionally when I do something a bit silly, drop a brain fart or something I might get a name thrown at me but until now I’ve been really lucky that none of them have stuck and I still get called Matt all the time.
I watched as the digital clock on the dashboard click over 8pm, we were finally legal to leave the yard and take this 200 tonne convoy onto the road, all we had to do was wait for the Police to give us the go ahead.
I went through a mental check list of things making sure I’d done them myself or witnessed them done by some one else. It wasn’t something that I had to do because as I’ve told you I trust my guys but it’s something my idle mind wanders to quite often when we are on the road. It’s probably a force of habit thing, there is a lot riding on what we do and we don’t keep getting work by making mistakes. Constantly keeping things in check helps keep mistakes down to a minimum.
The Police band radio squawked to life with a voice giving us the go ahead to get on the road.
“We’ve got the go ahead to start rolling, Matt.” Pete called across the radio. I’m sure we all heard the comment from the Police radio as Pete did but he was doing his job and relaying the message.
“Lets do this people.” I said into the microphone.
I watched Pete roll through the gate and out onto the road as I put the truck into low gear. I looked in the rear view mirror on the door of my truck, force of habit because I couldn’t see anything but a big with box anyway.
Reaching up I thumbed the microphone button and said. “Ready Corey?”
When the positive reply came back across the air waves I slowly released the clutch. The super low crawling gears we had the truck fitted with meant that without trying too hard take offs were smooth and even. However I still felt a jolt through the rig as the massive weight behind me began to move towards the gates. The gates of the yard were obviously wide enough for our load to get through given that I had driven the truck through them the previous night when I’d moved the load from the place it was build a few hundred metres to the left of our yard.
While negotiating the gates was not going to be an issue we still needed to be going extremely slow, less than ten kilometres per hour, to make the small drop from the drive way crossover onto the road easy on the long, heavy rig. Once out the gate we’d turn right, a long sweeping turn to make sure we cleared everything with the back of the trailer, and head towards the first intersection where the Police and roads corp would be waiting for us.
The front wheels of my rig had just rolled through the gate and were heading down the small crossover when I heard Pete’s voice come through the radio.
“Whoa fellas! Back it down. Pull it up.”
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.