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Heavy Haulage: The End?

….And a week later we all got home safe and sound.

Well that was a happy and cheerful ending to the story wasn’t it?

Was it as exciting for you as it was for us?

Did I forget anything?

Oh!

Aluminium Alzhiemers kicking in again, I swear I gave up drinking beer in cans years ago but it was obviously too late!

Let’s see where was I? Fuck that’s big! Fucking big! Ouch you hit me! Broom broom chugga chugga big blue truck! Some dickhead! Fucking moron! Free to go! Oh yeah I was just about to make the turn into Williams St.

Our speed was low enough as we took a big sweeping left turn into Williams Street for the walkers to be walking along side the truck and keeping pace with it. Part of the reason we were moving so slow was of course the heavy load but there was also other factors in the equation. Turning wears tyres, it’s not the only reasons tyres wear but it doesn’t help, do you need a physics lesson?

In your little car there is this thing connected to the back wheels called a differential, it allows one wheel on the rear to spin at a different speed to the other which aides muchly in turning corners. It’s so clever that many drivers wouldn’t even know it’s there, but they’d know if it wasn’t…well some would, others wouldn’t even know if a wheel fell off. On a truck trailer these wonderful inventions aren’t there so when the trailer of a truck goes around the corner it can actually drag the tyres on the inside of the corner, the longer the load, the sharper the turn, more dragging involved. Put 155 tonnes on those tyres and as you can imagine the tyres don’t last long and at about $1000 a tyre preservation is something we try to do.

There is also the fact that all roads have a camber on them, it’s how roads are made to help push water off them when it rains heavily, although in this country you could be excused for thinking that a lot of the time they camber the roads to centre given all the puddles we get on roads. However I digress, you’ll hear plenty more about how good our roads are before we get through with this story. I can guarantee that!.

That cambered design may not look much to the naked eye some times but it’s there and of course the faster any vehicle rolls through that camber the more the vehicle leans into the camber. Such a tilt is always more noticeable, especially to onlookers, with a truck than it is with a car, so now imagine how exaggerated that looks with a over 150 tonnes and a load that is nearly four meters high.

Obviously we don’t want to put the load in a position where it could tip over but as well as that when the front of the trailer is tilted at five degrees and thirty metres back the rear of the trailer is tilted at twenty degrees the angles become a major issue with such a heavy and rigid load and could potentially damage things. Therefore even with the trailer axles able to steer independently around corners you can see that slow speeds are important to us doing our job without issue.

Because the intersection was closed off to traffic, the power lines lifted and there was no median strips all the walkers had to do was keep an eye on the load. Radio chatter was down to a minimum, comments like “clear on left”, “clear on right”, “back right completely clear”, “five metres on the left”, were all that were spoken, because when they were clear and concise that was all that was needed.

I’m not bragging here but one of the reasons there wasn’t a need for comments other than those I told you was because I put the truck in the right position on the approach. The reason I could get it around the corner was because I followed the line I had planned, the exact arc that meant the entire truck, trailer and truck cleared everything. It was a skill and it was based on knowledge but it was also my job so just like you go to work every day and do your job well because I know my job I can do my job well.

About the most nervous part of tackling that first corner for me was going under the power lines. Obviously with live lines they can’t be played with much and that is why we pay the experts to lift them and not just rely on a few lackies with long handled brooms, I also trusted the linesmen to do the job they were put in charge of. But the fact was I was driving a power sub station, a big metal box which would conduct electricity quite well, underneath lines that were carrying 66,000 volts of electricity.

There is an old saying in the electronics world that it’s not the voltage that kills you but the current and that’s true but that doesn’t stop the nerves when you’re driving what may as well be a massive electricity conductor within centimetres of 66,000 volts. And it was centimetres too, between sixty and seventy of them, which when you can’t see the top of your load from the seat you are in it may as well be six or seven centimetres.

As I’ve said I trusted the linesmen and I had good reason too because at less than twenty kilometres per hour I drove the truck around the corner and into William Street. There was no bright sparks, no lightning and the best part of it was no death, all in all a good effort and within seconds of pulling the rig straight and having the trailer begin to track straight the call had come over the radio to say we were clear of the power lines.

Once the truck, trailer and Corey’s truck were all straight I was then able to concentrate on tackling the next obstacle. Actually it wasn’t really an obstacle, in the forty odd metres between the front of my truck and the police car halting traffic I had to get the entire load back onto the left hand side as much as I could. The police would still keep one oncoming lane closed giving us a bit of extra manoeuvring space but I still had to move everything over fairly quickly.

Previous Heavy Haulage story here.

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