“Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”
“No! And if you kids don’t shut up I’ll stop this truck and you can get out and walk!”
Ahhh the days of old when you could actually threaten your kids without being told you’re a wanker for thinking you can still do it!
However such a threat can still work in some scenarios, after all I was the one sitting in the driver’s seat and I had four guys walking beside my vehicle.
If you remember correctly I was driving a truck with a 155 tonne power sub station on the back to a remote outback town and I was driving through Riverbend.
If you remember incorrectly I was piloting a 500,000 tonne Supertanker across the Atlantic Ocean in a category five cyclone, but that is an entirely different story so I’ll go with the first one.
When we approached the large roundabout in Riverbend we weren’t even doing ten kilometres an hour so we didn’t have to slow down much to negotiate the traffic hazard. Because the very centre of the roundabout was a garden and commemorative cenotaph for war veterans we obviously didn’t want to get that close to the middle of it. That meant I needed to steer the load to the left and keep the majority of the trailer on the bitumen, but of course there was a limit to how far I could go.
As I mentioned back at the start of the journey I was towing a 7×8 steerable widening trailer behind the four axle dolly. The dolly was the width of a standard trailer and was there for better weight handling more than anything else so it didn’t cause any issues but with seven axles each with eight sets of dual wheels on it as you can imagine the trailer is a little wider.
The track of the eight wheels is not as wide and the overall width of the trailer at 4.8 metres which of course meant that the load itself would go closer to the cenotaph than the trailer did but it still meant that one set of wheels from each axle, the driver’s side obviously, had to ride the semi mountable roundabout and one tyre of the second from set of wheels would ride the edge of the roundabout leaving one tyre running on nothing because while we could lift axles independently we couldn’t lift single wheels of the dualie.
So from all that I think it’s fair to say that we weren’t overly worried about the cenotaph and the load coming together, providing I got the load far enough to the left that wouldn’t happen. What we were concerned about was making sure those two sets of dualies that were affected by the rise of the roundabout didn’t upset the load and tilt it sideways.
“All about stop.” Called Angus over the radio as the trailer edged up to the roundabout.
Both Corey and I had been expecting the call so neither of us were surprised we simply brought the rig to a stop and all piled out to inspect the trailer. What followed next was a twenty minute discussion about how things would proceed until we were over the roundabout. Although every roundabout and kerb we mounted where different the process was essentially the same but that didn’t mean we didn’t take the precaution of talking about it and making sure everyone was on the same page.
The method of the Riverbend roundabout was relatively simple but still needed to be enacted carefully. As Corey and I shifted the load ahead slowly we’d have one walker on the left, there was very little on that side we could hit, but again safety first, and the other five who weren’t in the pilots would be watching the load and the axles on the right hand side. Despite our slow speed no one was allowed under the moving load and therefore if any problems were noticed they had to call the load to a halt with their radio.
Trey had the trailer remote and walked in front of the load about level with my cabin so that I could see him and he could see signals from the walkers. As each axle that needed to be raised edged up the roundabout they boys watching the trailer would call out for the axle to be raised. From their position they would also be able to see if the second set of wheels on that axle would need lifting and make the appropriate call to Trey. The process would be repeated when the axles needed to be lowered back onto the road surface and with luck while the ride would be slow it would flow without our need to stop.
Don’t worry we know what it looks like to see a massive load come through your town slowly and almost grind the town to a stop closing off the main road only to have that load stop and everyone pile out. To some despite the fact that they can see a lot of day-glo shirts walking around and looking at the load it still appears to them that we’d stopped for an afternoon cuppa and smoko. I swear some people would be less surprised if we actually got some deck chairs out and lazed back for a nap! But I assure you we rarely stop to enjoy the scenery or the sunshine we stop because we needed too, we stop to because the load is not our only concern, so is the road we leave behind and all the trees, power poles, light and building, we leave standing when were are gone. What is that old saying about “time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted.”
So what looked like half a dozen blokes crouched around a big box and pointing at things was exactly that, but we did have a purpose and once that purpose was fulfilled we got back in our trucks and buggered off.
“Ready to roll fellas?” I asked into the radio and once affirmative responses came back from all radios I put the load into gear.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.