“Remember Barney’s dip coming up in about half a K, Corey.” I said into the microphone of the CB radio in my truck as we scooted along the freeway and I slowed the rig down to sixty kilometres an hour again.
“No worries Matt.” Came the reply.
For those of you catching up I was talking to the push truck driver about seventy metres behind me. We were hauling a 155 tonne power sub station to a remote outback town and we were approaching the end of our first night on the road.
Barney’s dip which I was referring to was a dip in the road surface, mostly in the left hand shoulder, that someone in our company had named after an ex-driver of ours. Barney Williams drove for us about six years ago before he retired, he was a good driver and worker but he was also a bit of a larrikin. One day while he was hauling a bulldozer, the kind of load that only needed a single pilot and didn’t have any speed restrictions, he was paying a little too much attention to hanging shit on the radio rather than the road ahead. At just a whisker under the 100 kilometre speed limit, he drifted to the left and onto the shoulder where the majority of the dip was, he dropped the trailer wheels into the dip and shunted the chained down bulldozer enough that it shifted on the trailer. The machine didn’t come off but it shifted enough that when he reached the parking area where we would finish for the day he had to removed it completely and repark it centrally on the trailer. From then on the dip had been known as Barney’s dip.
For us Barney’s dip shouldn’t be an issue although it came out into the left hand lane about a metre. Because there was no barriers on the right and we just had to keep the trucks and trailer out of the left lane. The warning was more so a reminder to Corey, firstly to let him know it was approaching but mainly to let him know why I was shifting my truck to the right.
“Wonder what ol’ Barn is doing these days!” Corey’s voice came across the airwaves as we scooted past the dip in the road.
As I’ve suggested before we don’t use the radios for chatter often but on the open roads we aren’t free from conversation either.
“Towing triples.” Phil said from the lead pilot vehicle. “He hooks up three old ladies in their wheelchairs and drags them around the retirement home!” he added after a momentary pause.
There isn’t really room for everyone laughing on a CB radio system but I assure you we all would have had a giggle at the comment.
“Sam was talking to him the other day down at the Rose.” I said into my mic. Sam being my wife and the Rose being our local club. “He’s having a ball in retirement and not a bulldozer in sight!”
I did hear Phil’s laughter over the radio a second later but that was mainly because he had something important to say and he was still laughing at my comment when it came time to say it.
“Approaching Anzac Bridge fellas, back it off and keep it straight.” Phil and the front pilot were about six hundred metres ahead of us and warning us of what was coming was his job is.
As I’ve said the freeway was three lanes wide but the overpasses were only two lanes with a shoulder on each side. They were wide enough for us to scoot through without too much drama but that didn’t mean we weren’t careful. It was a requirement of the road corporation that we slow down to forty kilometres per hour or below which made our job easier too but that was about all we needed to worry ourselves with.
Another good reason for slowing down was because at most bridges the bit of road where the tarmac of the main road meets the bridge there is often either a rise or a dip and hitting some of those at speeds too fast could easily bounce the trailer and that was something we didn’t want. After hearing Barney’s story I’m sure you can accept why bouncing a load is not the best thing to do, but consider the fact that our multi-million dollar load is full of electrical and computer equipment which probably doesn’t like to be bounced much and you can see that shifting the load isn’t the only concern,
Having driven loads of a similar width along the freeway before I knew if I kept the middle of my truck on the centre line of the road I was going to be fine. Corey also knew that where he had to be and would be keeping a close eye on those markers. The bouncing as we got onto the bridge was handled nice and smoothly and while I couldn’t see the entire load in the mirrors I could see the trailer didn’t rise much. The same thing happened as I crossed the bridge and back onto the road surface.
“Clear on the rear.” I heard Corey say indicating that his tractor had cleared the bridge a few moments later.
We only had two more of those bridges to go before our night was over.
Between the two bridges we again pushed our speed up to sixty kilometres an hour and we were cruising nicely. The few hills we had on the nine kilometre trip weren’t overly steep but even with the down hill speeds creeping ever closer to the eighty K limit our climbs were slow. It really doesn’t matter what sort of run up we get at the bottom of a hill, with 155 tonnes on our back we slow down on the way up the other side. The only thing that changes is how far we slow down. We were somewhat lucky on the stretch of freeway we were on because if we got a decent run at the hills none of them slowed us down below about thirty five, but that would change as we left the city.
Like I say the bridges weren’t really a major drama for what we were carrying and before long I could see the parking area we were going to park this rig up in for the day, as well as the sun coming into full view in the eastern skies.
“Fuck I’m tired”
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.