Daily Prompt, driving, events, humor, serial fiction, truck, writing

Heavy Haulage: Highway Cruising

“Fuck that’s big!”

Oh we’ve visited this part before haven’t we? Actually no, that did happen when we stopped but it wasn’t about the 155 tonne power substation on the rear of the truck I was driving. This time the words were spoken by Jimmy and rather than being spoken about the load we were carrying they were spoken about the burger that Pete was carrying back to the truck.

We could have eaten our lunch inside the service centre there was plenty of available seats but even out in the regional areas at a truck stop with less than thirty people close by keeping an eye on our load is paramount. It’s not that we don’t trust people but there is a lot of money in the load sitting on the trailer and I don’t want to be paying it for the rest of my life because we let some idiot ruin the thing.

If you remember back towards the start of my story, not long after we left the yard, there was a wingnut with bed sheet who jumped on our trailer to make some misguided political statement. Well that happened while we were moving, while there was eyes on the load and while we had a police and roads corp escort. Now can you see why we don’t leave the load unattended for too long even out in the boonies on the back road to nowhere?

Interesting side story. A guy I know down in Victoria drives a car transporter Melbourne to Mildura four days a week. On one trip he stops at a service centre just out of the city for a piss, unbeknown to him while he’s inside a guy jumps in the tub of a ute on the rear of his trailer. He had no idea the guy was there, continues of his way and several hours later when he stops at another truck stop the free loader gets out and hitches a ride with another driver for a trip across the Nullarbor. It’s not until three days later the hitch hikers face is on the news and it appears he’s wanted for the murder of some woman in Melbourne and hitching a ride in both trucks was his escape. The guy was never seen again, cost my mate hours in police stations telling his story and he had nothing to do with the hitch hiker, he didn’t even know the guy was in his truck, unlike his mate who gave him a ride.

Ok that’s an extreme case, or it sounds like a really good novel by an extremely talented author who should be published, but it’s why we keep an eye on things. With a load like ours even the locked door isn’t enough to stop some people and if some donkey did get in and didn’t leave any obvious sings they could cause untold damage to our load.

Do you like my story telling? I think it’s entertaining but I guess I do spend a lot of time in a cabin by myself. But one thing is for sure after all that wonderful banter you should be able to see that it’s better to eat by the truck than inside the service centre.

Do you want to know what I had for lunch? I’m only kidding I’ll skip the lunch thing and jump to the next part of the story.

You might remember some time ago, before I got my licence to waffle, I mentioned that one of our big challenges for the day would be the eighty kilometre stretch of single lane highway between St. Arnuld and Kenwood. Well that was still a challenge we had to complete before we pulled up for the day.

“5.2, coming!” was the call across the UHF CB radio.

It was a call from Pete, driving the lead pilot truck, to the traffic coming towards him. He was travelling in the middle of the road about a kilometre and a half ahead of us with his large sign boards up and safety beacons flashing telling traffic to pull over for us. Not every vehicle coming towards us has a CB radio but hopefully they can see the sign, because the next thing they will see is a large steel and fibreglass box entering their vehicle.

What Pete was actually telling other drivers, most of whom would understand the call if they had a CB, was that there was a load of 5.2 metres wide coming. We weren’t quite that wide but we always gave ourselves a buffer. The bitumen we were driving on was about six and a half metres wide and we tried our best to keep the rubber on the black stuff not the dirt.

Like I have said before we don’t deliberately stop other drivers but on such a thin stretch of bitumen at a speed of around sixty clicks we also avoiding driving on the dirt. One reason is because of the loss of traction, another is because we don’t need to constantly be flicking rocks and stones up at the load and Corey’s truck. But the biggest reason is because the road edges in such regional areas are very soft and with so many wheels and so much weigh ruining the road and our tyres becomes more likely.

In situations like the stretch of highway between St. Arnuld and Kenwood there is one vehicle we do move right over for and that is livestock trucks, be they singles, doubles or road trains. We don’t have to according to our permits but it’s one of those unwritten things most of us heavy haulage companies do. There is two reasons, one their loads are as fragile as ours and hitting the soft edges can cause them as much trouble as it can cause us and two because they have time constraints relating to animal welfare and stopping them can create issues for the drivers.

Instead of making them stop what we tend to do, and it’s kind of lucky we don’t see too many of these trucks that often, is slow down and move right over as far as we can. Both trucks then take it cautious on the dirt, their main goal avoiding each other while keeping it straight.

The truck ahead that Pete was warning was thankfully not a livestock transporter, it was a B-double reefer and he was more than happy to pull off to the side of the road to let us through.

Previous Heavy Haulage story here.

11 Comments

  1. Umm… that is quiet a first line. I thought that was a woman’s line? : )

    You’re an amazing storyteller! This chapter was fun to read, even for a truck story. I have driven my share of single roadways with farm equipment. I can appreciate the story line.

    • Sometimes truck drivers have been known to whinge like women 🙂

      Kind of appropriate at the moment because our roads were filled with a load the length of a jumbo jet for three days last week. Up to 700 tonnes on the road, minimum 4 four trucks, maximum 6 to keep the thing moving at just over walking pace.

      • We have some major, major wind farms around us, so the trucks regularly bring those windmill blades through. They are huge, but we typically have a lot of space.

        • We should have wind farms here, it’s blowing a gale. However we have power stations and last week we sent a 250 tonne generator back to Germany to be serviced. On the road all trucks included it weighed close to 700 tonne, was over 100 metres long and travelled the highways at night only because of the speed and that it took up the entire road. We get it back in October and go through the big load thing all over again. We haven’t seen loads like this down here since the early 80’s when the power stations were built.

  2. Yes, you are correct it was, and there was no disrespect intended. What was delightful was the excitement I heard in your voice when you wrote about it. Heavy haulage is definitely a hobby or interest of yours. That’s cool.

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