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Truck Driving Jobs

Author Topic: Milk, milk, milk!  (Read 2356 times)

coloradogreen

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Milk, milk, milk!
« on: December 31, 2013, 08:55:17 PM »
Been doing a lot of running lately, part of my general absence from the forum.

Right before Thanksgiving I was doing a more of the same reefer work. Was running Denver to Grand Island and back every weekend on top of typical weekly work (some local stuff and an occasional team run to Los Angeles and back). I really dug doing the Grand Island work. It was decent money for a weekend of running, nice and easy drive both ways. Run out to the packing house, drop the trailer, bobtail over to the truck stop, grab a bite to eat and crash for the night. Call in the morning and go pick the loaded trailer up.

The Los Angeles work could be a little more interesting... It's my opinion everything becomes more interesting when you're running into Los Angeles. And by interesting... I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. But, it was a good experience. Baker Grade is an interesting hill to run up or down. How anyone could smoke their brakes on baker grade is beyond my understanding. Even if you happen to get going too fast at the top, it's such a gentle grade that you CAN slow yourself down and get into a gear where the brakes cool down... But, I certainly saw and smelled a few trucks smoking them.

Pulling Baker Grade is a different game. Doing it at night certainly helped. The truck would settle in about 900-degrees on the pyrometer. 50 to 55mph all the way up. Noticed  a few trucks that would get pulling hard and pass by me, and a couple miles up the grade I'd come right on by them.

Only pulled Cajon. Wanted to come down it, but, the timing never worked out. I got to see coming down it. Too tired to drive, but, it is an impressive pass from the top as you can see the massive couple mile-long turn coming around the top.

One particular run I teamed on was running Denver to LA and back in 48 hours. That's 2100-miles in two days, along with a total of about 12-hours on the docks loading and unloading. With time to fuel and grab a bite to eat and what not, total driving time was around 33-hours or so. Not a bad average speed for running West and back I figure.

Had a day or two off leading up to Thanksgiving. Then got a call about an emergency load of milk needing to roll ASAP. Thanksgiving dinner ended a little early so I could get on the road for Southwestern Kansas to pick up a shuttle load to get me to this emergency load and cut down on deadhead. On the way down, about Wild Horse, Colorado along 287 I hit freezing fog. Just what you want to see as your trying to make time to pick up a hot load.

But, it doesn't do a damn bit of good for anyone if you get in a wreck. A driver who slows down for weather makes a lot more miles than the drive in the ditch.

By Eads or so the fog had lifted and roads were cleared up again. On out into the middle of nowhere to a little dairy to pick up the shuttle load to get me to the emergency load. On down the highways into North Texas to the town of Dalhart where I got rid of the shuttle load and picked up the hot load headed for an ice cream maker in another small town in central Wisconsin.

I got to rolling for Wisconsin. Eastbound (up to a point) hot loads a lot easier to manage in my opinion than Westbound. A lot easier to keep your average speed up if you're not screwing around at the truck stops or stopping every 100 miles. Up 54 out of Texas and across the Oklahoma panhandle until I hit the 400 in Kansas. The 400 is a lot like I-70... but with a lot less scales. Southwestern Kansas is incredibly flat. A perpetually receding ruler-straight horizon.

400 eventually dumps you into Wichita. I like Wichita, Kansas. Even during rush hour the traffic flows well, and the drivers are reasonable and respectful. If there is any city of considerable size I've driven in heavy traffic that I don't worry about it again, it's Wichita, Kansas.

Once I got on the East side of Wichita I jumped onto the Kansas Turnpike up towards the worst city ever.

Kansas City. Lord Above, I'll never drive I-35 through downtown Kansas City EVER AGAIN. EVER.

Simply insanity. Twisting turns, up and down, narrow lanes, construction zones, and I-35 doesn't really stay together. You're constantly jumping from this exit to that on-ramp. It's not a highway... it's a video game!

Somewhere along the line I managed get myself up 35 out of Missouri and into Iowa. Through Des Moines and onto 80 for a short stretch until I hit U.S. 151.

The beauty of running on a holiday weekend? Even with all of those interstate miles I never rolled into a scale.

151 is an up and down highway composed of rolling hills, some of which are fairly steep, but never long. Starting off of 80 it T-bones at a rail-line. Got to see a cool short-line combination in black and red. Even had a slave-engine!

After fueling in Anamosa I crossed the border at Dubuque, a very cool state line across a massive concrete and iron bridge across the Mississippi River. Finally into Wisconsin I kept on 151 until I hit the little state highway of Wisconsin 80. The town goes right through the quaint town of Platteville. Wrought iron street lamps and narrow streets. To continue on WI-80 you have follow up through the middle of the business district where you come up to a very steep hill with three lights.

Naturally, being a heavy truck, I didn't catch all the lights. Stopping at the second light I was starting on an 8% incline or so. Starting on an incline is annoying with virtually any truck. Wrapping the truck out to the end to pick up another gear, just a little off on your timing and you can screw that shift up a lot faster.

But, it's WAY more annoying with a smoothbore tank. All of your weight is at the back. If you're on the level with a load of milk and carrying 34,000 on the trailer tandems, on a steep incline you're carrying 40,000-lbs on the trailer tandems, and your drivers are down around 30,000. Dragging weight up a hill requires a lot more effort than carrying it up the hills. If you hit a hill rolling, you can control the slosh quite a bit on an incline, but, it agitates when you're starting from a stop.

Managed to get the truck up to 4th before the next light went red. Luckily, that one leveled out quite a bit more once you got into the intersection.

Wisconsin 80 was rolling hills up along farm country for quite a while.

And then, out of nowhere you come up to a downgrade sign...

And the downgrade starts immediately, and it gets steep in a hurry...And a half-mile past that downgrade sign as you're holding the truck back, you hit a sign for a 30mph 90-degree turn ahead...

Scary stuff in a truck, especially as the road starts winding down a mountain with no shoulder as you're trying to get back into gear in a hurry.

So, for the first time in a truck, I smoked the brakes on a hill. Once I got the truck in gear the truck brakes were already beginning to smoke. Knowing they were getting hot, it was time to act quick. I mashed on the brakes more, working almost 40-lbs of air, and dropped two more gears until I was in a hole that the engine brake would hold the truck on its own so I could start getting the service brakes to cool off. And boy were the smoking by the time I got it into gear!

The mentor and I were talking about it afterwards. Smoking your brakes, and ending up out of gear is never a good thing on a grade. But, to the extent that the truck made it down right-side up, it was a good experience of having a truck in a dangerous and bad position and having to make immediate choices to get the truck back under control. Hot brakes are bad enough on Vail Pass where you have multiple lanes and runaway ramps. It's beyond scary when you're coming down a narrow two-lane road in turns and no shoulder, let alone an off-ramp.

Alls well that ends well though. Once the load was delivered, I bounced up the highway through Amish country two another processor where I picked up a load bound for Joplin, Missouri.

Out to Albert Lea and south on I-35. Still on a holiday weekend, most scales were closed until I hit Missouri. Looping around KC on the 435, still crazy, not as crazy as I-35 though, I hit some fog south of KC all the way into Joplin. Gotta love hunting for your particular facility in the industrial part of town in fog. After some hunting it was eventually found and another load was delivered.

Having run pretty hard, once empty I bounced over to the truck stop and crashed. Woke up the next morning and sent the bills off before I was eventually headed for Hutchinson, Kansas to load out of a small creamery for West Point, Nebraska. Well ahead of schedule, I trucked up to Hutchinson and parked at a little truck stop with a good restaurant until. Once ready to load, it was on over to the facility which had one of the most unusual loading bays I've ever backed into.

It seems, at most dairy facilities, whether cheesemakers, milk bottlers, ice creameries, regardless, the tanker bays are always an afterthought, placed in the most inconvenient, complicated, or bass-ackwards positions or places you can imagine. Tight, complicated backing maneuvers with all sorts of equipment hanging overhead, and around the truck.

This particular, facility, however, had an extra little quirk. It had "three" bays... sort of.

To get into any of the bays required a driver side turn that you were partially blind on. Once around the turn, you either went into the driver side bay, which was a simple straight line back from that point. If, however, you were on the far side bay you back into one of two. The rear, or the forward bay. Seeing as I was the first truck to load, I was backing into the rearmost bay. So I have to back up a few more feet, so what?

Not quite, see, to get into that rearmost bay required offsetting through the first bay. After slipping the truck around a bit I eventually had the truck backed in and later on had a meeting with a buddy of mine not far from Hutchinson. He's a good kid, hardworking, too, hauling powdered cement.

Later on the I pulled the truck out as other pick-ups arrived and the "three" bays needed to be filled to load all of us.

Once loaded I made the short trip up onto 81 and into Nebraska, through the small Northeastern Nebraska towns out to West Point to a nice, clean, and well thought-out facility where I dropped the Hutch load and picked up an empty tank to deadhead down to Southwestern Kansas for another round into Texas and back up towards Denver...

For now, that's all, I'll post more later... Bit of a cliffhanger...

Troy.
Your friendly neighborhood vegan heavy haul punk.


"Suzie-Q"

IMAGES COPYRIGHT TROY MILLER/ 10-4 MAGAZINE

Contributor 10-4 Magazine

Hank's Truck Forum

Milk, milk, milk!
« on: December 31, 2013, 08:55:17 PM »

Truck Driving Jobs


TylorH

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2013, 09:09:55 PM »
Loved the story!

charlie

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2013, 09:20:01 PM »
Very good read Troy. 8) Safe driving and a Happy New Year to you. ;)

Mister TyZo

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2014, 07:42:01 AM »
Very good read Troy. 8) Safe driving and a Happy New Year to you. ;)


 ;) ;)
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NHRS

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2014, 09:09:39 AM »
Baker's a piece of cake with a Jake, but really pay attention with a free-wheeling 1693.

A pal set up almost the same but should have been MORE streamlined (1693 KW conventional 55'-Iowa-legal with the sleeper against the nose, belly-mount reefer) claimed at night, his "leveled-out" at 75. Mine was still building speed at 80. Even thought about hanging reverse-deflectors, open outward by brake-boosters from the reefer unit, like flaps on an airliner. Sure, would stick out about a foot wider, each side, & upward, but it's 2AM, so big deal.

Going down there one rainy Sunday afternoon early 70's, old 58 KW with a Jake, heavy go-home-to-LA-from-'Vegas traffic, & a gal in a T-Bird comes almost flying past. And, about 200 yards behind her, literally flying like a crop sprayer about 30 feet above I-15 was the CHP spy-in-the-sky Piper-Cub Officer, known on the CB as "Smilin' Jack". She was going fast enough Smiling Jack was pacing her easy. Black & White was interviewing this fast young lady when I went passed the 1st Baker exit.

Kansas is where you soon learn to steer with only one hand, since EVERYBODY on the 2-lanes waves at trucks, including 80-year-old grandmas. Kansas & Oklahoma are where the nicest folks in the universe have their homes. Only difference between them is a slight variation in dialect.

And Troy, for American culture, you just about ran the full spectrum, Northwest Texas to Wisconsin. When we visited my wife's cousins in Ostfrieseland in '85, we all agreed it was like we'd only gone to Wisconsin. Far bigger difference between Nebraska & Green Bay than there is from Green Bay to NW Europe.

Yeah, sure loved fog. One morning, left the nice small truckstop south of Green Bay on I-43 to load cheese at Denmark, not much more than walking distance straight east from that same exit. Real foggy, very glad I'd loaded there several times before. They had 2 doors, ground level, with the little pit you backed the trailer into, with those dock-plates that flip-up, reach in the trailer, about 6" clearance each side. Could see where the pit began but couldn't see the dock doors in the fog. Backed-in easy until I felt her stop on the rubber dock bumpers, then walk back to see if I was centered on the flip-plate. Took a couple of times. Driven "blind" but that was my only time backing up "blind".
If you don't ask, they can't say no.

wbache

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2014, 01:05:54 PM »
I have a pic on shot-a-day today of a unloading rack at the local dairy--Years ago they ran their own equipment and the short trailers or pups pulled by COE tractors fit nicely . Some of the grades you mention Baker and Cajon in particular we used to run with  trailers with vacuum brakes so most of the braking was done by the Tractor which were fitted with Hetzel vacuum pumps in addition to  the air compressor.  It could get interesting especially coming down Cajon on old 66 and having enough brakes left to stop at the scale in blue cut.(bypassed by I 15 and a new scale.) The good old days.

NHRS

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2014, 02:38:40 PM »
Wow! I never saw the conversion, air & vacuum equipment. Saw some single axle old stuff, pulling single-axle trailers, both on vacuum, & that was it.

In the 60's, early 70's, some trailers had both the big & the little cord-plug. Most of us carried a conversion-cord, so we could plug into the small one, when that was the only one offered.

Must have been a lot of 6-volt stuff out there in the 60's, too. As a dumb-kid O/O, always thought my trailer lights could have been brighter. Wrote it off as a poor ground. Finally, one night on old US 30 in the Continental Divide Basin, the trailer got so extra dim, you could barely see the lights on. Checked under the dash, & finally discovered I was feeding the trailer thru a resistor, to change 12 volts to 6.

It apparently worked itself into a loose connection, reducing that voltage even more. By-passed that resistor, & it was so much nicer looking in the mirrors & seeing 12 volt clearance lights being fed a full 12 volts.
If you don't ask, they can't say no.

wbache

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2014, 03:10:21 PM »
Quote
It apparently worked itself into a loose connection, reducing that voltage even more. By-passed that resistor, & it was so much nicer looking in the mirrors & seeing 12 volt clearance lights being fed a full 12 volts.

At Bekins when I first started driving on the road the diesel tractors had 12 volt systems and air brakes but they were still running vacuum brakes on the trailers and 6 volt lite bulbs as some owner operators gas  jobs didn't support 12 volts.  We had a rheostat in the cab and could brighten or dim the lites as necessary.  Bekins used their own version of a lite plug with two cords-one for brakes and turn signals and the other for lights. By the time I left they had joined the rest of the world and converted the trailers to air brakes and used a standard plug. When I drove for Dealers Transit we ran into all kinds of light arrangements so I had a 7/6 way adapter plug but some military trailers had a an electronic plug and we had to bypass it.  I had a pig  tail on the cord that I hooked to whatever post on the military plug lit the lites.  Ran a 40 ft cord down the side of the Trailer and hung a ICC compliant light bar on the back of the trailer.  replaced a couple of the 24 v bulbs with 12 v so there was some lite
 on top of the trailer. A lot of military trailers didn't have mud flaps so we carried an extra set and if we furnished either lights of flaps it was a tariff item and we got paid extra for using them if we had the shipper put it on the GBL.  Doing trailer tow-a-ways or truck drive-a-ways we needed to carry a tool box with all the stuff we might need and a half a doz transporter plates.  People who couldn't cope with that kind of operation didn't last long.

Pascal Pion

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Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 07:52:02 PM »
Troy,I know it's your blog but I have a little message for 2 members:

NHRS and Walt,This year I hope I'll be able to read more of your stories. 2 classy Veterans of the road.Your stories are always intersting and I feel like I'm right there with you...

Thanks guys!!!!
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Hank's Truck Forum

Re: Milk, milk, milk!
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2014, 07:52:02 PM »