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Travels of a Trucker a short trip to Kamloops Part #6

October 31, 2011

The Load

Kamloops is a big destination for our trucking company. We deal with a lot of oversize loads and tires are one of those specialties. Now I’m not talking your everyday car or even truck tires. I’m talking massive monsters that measure in Diameter 10 feet 6 inches. These are monsters that weigh about 6,000 pounds each. They are heavy duty tires aimed at monster mining equipment and Kamloops is the central hub to service these monsters. On this particular occasion I had to pick up an empty 53′ flatbed and bring it to a company called Canada Plus who would have a crane rented and cross dock the tires from the container to the flatdeck. So I grab my empty and head down to my destination which was Annacis Island.

Upon arriving the shipper comes out and says they were waiting for the tires and the crane. Great I thought. This will be a long while. So I wait and wait and wait. About an hour goes by and the crane finally arrives. The containers the tires arrived in are already set up and waiting. So I pull up alongside the crane truck and park my truck. There is all sorts of helpers so my job is just to make sure he has centered the the tires on my deck where I want them. No problem I think. Then the crane starts lifting these massive beasts out

and as it approaches my deck my thoughts are directed at how much they will stick out on each side.

Further compounded to this is that the line of eyesight can be often fooled when things appear the same color. Looking down the side of a trailer with 2 tires piled on each other is deceiving and what looks good to me shows with a tape measure how far out to lunch I am with line of sight as my guide. So one by one the tires are lifted on to my deck.

The problem now is that the tires are so grippy that it is hard for the crane operator to center them all exactly. One side may stick out an inch more than the other. Meanwhile I have to make sure they are almost precise because each additional inch that it sticks out will put me one step more off center plus it will go beyond what I am permitted for. So what looks good to me has to be measured to ensure accuracy to stay within my permitted guidelines otherwise I could cost the company hundreds of dollars in getting a pilot car or risk getting a huge fine, shut down and waiting for a pilot car at the scale.

The loading process takes an hour to unload and place them on my deck. It is slow and time consuming for me since I have to wait for the crane and then I have to put three straps at angles to keep these tires on the deck. The other bad thing with rubber as I am sure you are probably aware of is the flexibility issue. No matter how hard I tighten these tires down there is always a looseness in my belt since they are bouncy and flexible. My only concern is that my straps are angled properly like the spokes of a wheel, I have one center strap that restricts movement from side to side movement. Then I cross the other 2 straps to create a webbing so that the tires are caught diagonally. I don’t have to worry too much, the ruts of these tires are huge and my belts fit in the grooves easily.

After tying my load down I then put up red corner flags for visibility and as required by the Commercial Transport Act and then I place front and rear “over width signs” which are also required by the commercial Transport Act. Finally I use my Beacon lights which also according to the Commercial Transport Act must be visible in a 360 degree radius which means absolutely squat since the pilots are lower than my cab. It just means that the circular radius of the light must be visible 360 degrees and not covered at all. It doesn’t matter if you cannot see them from the rear of the truck, but the light must be visible 360 degrees if looking at it from the front. After all is said is done, I am ready to go, but there is now a new problem.

In the lower mainland there is a regulation which stipulates that any oversize load may not travel on highways between the hours of 7am to 9am and between 3:30 and 6pm. So it is now almost 3pm and I have to wait since I cannot get past the lower mainland boundary which is Bradner Road in Abbotsford. I am on Annacis Island. I won’t be leaving until the morning but I need to get back to my car in Langley and I also want to beat the morning rush so I need to be as far out as I can be for morning. So after a long two and a half hour wait, 6pm rolls around and off I go. I go home for the evening and resume my journey uneventfully to Kamloops. Upon arriving at the Fountain Tire plant near Lafarge Road in Kamloops I take off my belts. Fountain Tire has a big loader with a side grabbing mechanism that is covered in bolts. The bolts are used to make contact with the tire so they are able to grip it and pick it up. It takes them no longer than 10 minutes to unload my truck. A far cry from the 1 hour that it took them to load it.

The Reload

I call the dispatcher and they have a reload for me. It is way down in Lavington, BC. Lavington is a small community near Vernon, BC and is over an hour from where I am going South East. I arrive at my loading destination after a short journey down the 97c, over to highway 97 and then down highway 33. The Mill itself is located adjacent to an elementary school and upon arriving all schoolkids are having lunch. It reminded me of my own children and I missed them. I really wanted to get back home to see them. My load was 20 lifts of lumber which was almost 60,000 pounds of weight. I decided then that I would take the 97 back through Kelowna and go back over the 97 Connector back to Merrit. This is a hard route with all the hills and I kicked myself later for not going back through Kamloops the way I had come. My subsequent trips I did go back the way I came and found it less stressful. The other route takes you through too many small towns, having to slow down and then finally through Kelowna with about 20 stoplights to fight and finally over the connector which has a 50km uphill climb that takes forever or so it seems. I arrived back to my yard that night by 9pm arriving shortly before my 14th hour of on duty status. That was a long day.

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