“Rolling!” I said into the radio as the large engine underneath me roared and tried to put all the power into turning the wheels.
Almost as soon as the wheels started rolling the boys were eyes down and doing their jobs. As much as my eyes were on the road ahead there was nothing I was going to hit in the near future so most of my attention was focused out the window at Trey who was walking backwards with the trailer remote and on the radio.
About the only call that effected me was the call to stop and I was hoping not to hear that, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to hear exactly what the boys were doing as well.
“One, one, up!” The voice on the radio belonged to Danny he was walking about three metres in front of the load and watching the front axles of the trailer. His code was telling Trey that he wanted the first bogie on the first axle raise. The first ‘one’ being the axle number and the second being the two wheeled bogie on that axle that needed to be actioned, the ‘up’ obviously being the direction.
Trey’s job was to slowly raise the applicable bogie as the truck moved forward allowing the tyres to crest the semi mountable roundabout without raising the trailer or the load.
As I think I’ve explained to you before tilting the load as would happen with one side on the roundabout is not avoided in case the load moves, although on enough of a lean that could happen, it’s done because the trailer is so rigid and rapid or savage movements on one corner could easily twist the trailer, and any twist in the trailer is exaggerated in the load. Because our fibreglass box is fragile we do what we can not be in that situation.
“Raising one, one.” Came Trey’s reply.
Apart from walking level with me and being my eyes on the load I couldn’t fully see, another reason for Trey being so far forward of the load was to stop him from watching the axles and making his own decisions on what needed to be done. It’s not that Trey didn’t know what to do but with the least people giving the directions the better. Other heavy haulage companies may do things differently but with our crew we found it the best way to operate, it put more responsibility on fewer guys but it also meant others were freed up to concentrate on their own jobs better.
“One, one, rolling.” Danny said indicating to everyone that axle one, bogie one was now rolling on the semi mountable roundabout. To Trey the code also meant that he could stop raising the bogie if he hadn’t already. “One, two, ok.” Danny added quickly indicating the second bogie needed no attention.
The centre bogies obviously got harder to see as each axle came up over the roundabout but because Danny was standing where he was and because where possible we tracked dead straight through such an obstacle he was able to fairly accurately guess that none of the centre bogies would need raising by the action of the first one. We still had guys doing their best at watching those bogies from the side, looking under the load, and we were moving slow enough to stop should anything change but like I say physics gave as us good indication of what we needed to do before we needed to do it.
“Two, one, up.” This time the voice belonged to Jimmy. He was crouched at the roundabout and watching the axles from the side and under the load. It was Danny’s responsibility to focus on the front axle, and Jimmy’s to remain in place and report when each trailing axle needed to be lifted.
“Raising two, one!” Trey replied.
That was soon followed by Jimmy’s code that the first bogie of the second axle was rolling so Trey could stop raising it.
As I’ve suggested before we don’t do the whole “roger”, or “copy” shit like you see in the movies after every radio transmission. Partly because we are on a closed system with only us talking and we didn’t make conversation during such times, only specific codes and terms applicable to the situation. But mostly because as I’m sure you can see saying such words after every bloody transmission was annoying and time consuming. While one of us was confirming we heard a transmission another could be calling for us to stop immediately.
“Three, one, up.”
“Raising three, one.”
Things were moving along slowly but beautifully, there was no dramas and no incidents that needed us to stop. It was a huge relief as the load slowly came up and over the big roundabout. But I knew things were going to start getting busier as the fourth axle needed to be raised. It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle but from that moment until we got this load off the roundabout radio traffic was going to be a bit more hectic.
“Four, one, up.” Jimmy said.
“One, one, down.” Danny said seconds later.
Danny’s call indicated that the front of the trailer was coming down off the roundabout. Technically lowering the raised axle was not as important as raising the lowered axle but it still had to be done in a timely fashion. The remote control was capable of more than one order at time and it’s operator was able prioritise which order to fulfil first. In most cases it would be the order to raise which got priority given that not raising could upset the load where as not lowering one axle momentarily would only see it rolling in mid air, not the trailer trying to compensate for it by tilting.
Like with other such calls and decisions as we traversed the roundabout it was up to the guys on the road to make them, my job was to keep the things moving until I was told to stop and that’s what I did.
“Four, one up. One, one down.” Trey replied.
“Four, one, rolling.” Jimmy.
“One, one, rolling.” Danny.
Because the axles are evenly spaced the calls that followed pretty much took the same pattern. Jimmy calling to raise, Danny calling to lower, Trey confirming the action. Rinse and repeat until the final axle was back down on the bitumen surface and we were able to steer Corey’s tractor and the load straight on the road.
“All ahead stop!” Came the call from Millie when he’d cleared the roundabout in the rear pilot and we were free of the intersection.
Previous Heavy Haulage story here.