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Travels of a Trucker A Trip from Hell Part #5

October 31, 2011

The Beginning of the week

So this week started out like any other. I had clothes already in the truck and was certainly prepared to be going out of town. I planned that I would load Monday and be on my way to Sparwood, BC which is nestled in the heart of the Highway 3 on the Crowsnest Pass of Highway 3 in Southeastern BC near the border of Alberta. The week started out as planned I arrived at my truck and started her up. She started with ease and I set her to a higher idle to get the air back into her that she loses as she sits for long periods of time. After warming the truck up, defogging the windows, I do up my pretrip and logbook and set off to the yard where the trailers are stored. The dispatcher arrives and asks me to get a 53′ stepdeck which I promptly find we are short of in the yard. The only remaining decks of which one is without a valid inspection decal and the other my co worker retrieves, leaves me but one option. The one that is stored near the maintenance shop. i ask the mechanics and they know of no reason why it is there so I grab it. It is of course not a regular stepdeck. It is an expando trailer which is designed to expand and be made longer for carrying longer loads of pipe or long poles. Of course this trailer is heavier than a regular stepdeck. So I hook onto this trailer and find out I am loading at the Port in North Vancouver. Now at certain times this would not bother me, but this is early morning time which means rush hour. It is a fair drive through rush hour having to go through Surrey, Coquitlam, Burnaby, New Westminster, Vancouver and finally North Vancouver via Highway 1 East. I arrive at the port and find a host of other trucks there. 7 of us to be exact. We are all there to pick up one machine. A Hitachi Excavator 1900 which is like the third largest machine. The largest machine requires about 22 trucks to carry all the parts. I get in line and wait for my turn and they load one piece onto my deck which is a track. The track alone is 22,200 Kilograms and then I have to wait for other parts. The parts are coming from the ship and is a direct load meaning we drive under the ship and then ship crane operated by the Longshoreman of Vancouver’s Ports place the equipment on us.

Today they are dragging their asses and the parts are not coming off as fast as the subcontractor Triton Transport wants them to come off. My co worker and I go for lunch. We head off and are told to come back by 2:30pm. We arrive back to find that the ship still has not been unloaded and that we are to come back tomorrow morning. So I had arrived at the port at 9:30 am and departed at 2:45 pm in the afternoon. I went home and came back the next morning to finish the loading process. I arrived at the Port by 8am as instructed and find that there are only 4 of us remaining. We have to carry the remaining parts of the excavator. The others who had finished loading were long gone. Some could travel in the day since they were wide loads and required pilot cars. Others like myself had low loads, but they wanted to max out our weights. By 12:30 we were all loaded and out the port. I knew I was very close but I didnt realize how close.

Delay 1 

I was with a co worker and we were travelling this trip together. He was driving truck #H304 and I was truck 322. We were both loaded with a track each and various parts. We left the port at 12:30 pm and found that the scale on Highway 1 East of Port Mann bridge was closed. We had to scale to make sure we were legal. Of course I went over the scale and I found I was over on 3 areas. I was over on my front drive axles. Maximum allowable was 17,000 Kilograms I was 17,600. Maximum allowable for the rear set of triaxles was 24,000 Kilograms and I was 24,600. and the maximum allowable Gross Vehicle Weight is 46,500 and I was over 47,500. So I had to get my co worker and I over to our yard and we had to switch some pieces. My back piece was 1850 Kilograms and his back piece was 1623 Kilograms so we swapped that. I also had a 700Kilogram box on my lead so he took that. Afterwards I went to the scale and my weights were 17,040 Kilograms which was okay and 24,400 Kilograms. I was still over by 320 kilograms on my overall gross so the dispatcher said go with that.

Driving scared and Delay 2

As I travel I am worried about being over on the rear axles. 400 Kilograms is almost 900 pounds. No a small weight. Will they allow it I am wondering. I am also slightly over my maximum gross allowed for this trailer combination. Again will they allow it. It is now late in the afternoon and I haven’t gotten anywhere today. So much for a quick trip and back. It is now late Tuesday and the earliest I could be back is Thursday afternoon. My co worker and I head back out onto the highway from the fueling station. We are in Chilliwack and the first scale we reach is in Hope, BC before we get into the mountains. I go across the scale and it is actually very generous showing me to be about 500 Kg lighter in the rear. Sweet. We leave the scale area and my co worker phones me as we are in the mountains. He tells me my trailer lights are out. I can’t stop since we are climbing the Great Bear Snowshed. Once I have finished my climb I check my lights and find a broken prong at the truck’s outlet. This must be it I thought. I put my 4 way hazard lights on and they work on the trailer so I continue on. I phone Tri Mac Transportation in Kamloops and advise them of the situation having called my boss first to make sure we had an account. They said sure come on in. It is a little before 8 when I pull into the Kamloops Eastbound Scale. Like any scale if you cross without advising them of any problems they will pull you in so I have phoned them while I was at the brake check and informed them that my lights were not working properly and that I had a reservation. So they advise me to go through the back road from the scale and stay off the highway. I drive past the scale and my weight is again worrying. I get the green light to go and carry on behind the scale. I arrive at TriMac and they allow me entry into their yard. After a few minutes he says your electrical is shot. So 2 hours later I am patched up with a new Mudflap and a new electrical outlet. I go to the fueling station my friend is waiting for me at and he is already asleep. After fueling I go bang on his door and tell him to go back to sleep. My trailer lights are still not working. So again I go back into Trimac. They pull me in again and now he says I have a short on the trailer and it keeps blowing the breaker switch. He advises me he does not have time to find this. They will do it in the AM. So off I go to sleep. At 5:30 am I am awoken and asked to go into the shop. I do that and at around 7:30am they discover it is the wiring to the separate wide load lights that are kept tucked into the trailer. By 9am I am ready to roll again.

It is now Wednesday and I am only in Kamloops. I still have 10 hours to drive to get to Cranbrook. This was out newest destination set after three other changed delivery areas fall through.

The travel to Cranbrook

Our route to Cranbrook was simple. We would go down Highway 1 to Golden and then take the 93/95 cutoff to Cranbrook. We had to go through Kamloops, Chase, Sorrento, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Craigellachie, Revelstoke and then Golden reaching our destination after traversing the Roger’s Pass. We reach Salmon Arm and find that it is snowing. Nothing hard yet. It is a wet snow mostly, but the snow doesn’t stop until we reach Golden. Upon reaching Golden the weather is again clear and no more snow. We turn off at the Junction and head down. I phone the customer and advise him where we are. He says they will unload us at 8am tomorrow and I ask him if it is just us three and he says no, there is one other. So there are three of us. My driving partner and I carry on driving throughout the day. it is 7:30 pm before we reach Cranbrook. We grab our fuel and a shower at the Petro Pass and then head off to the Superstore and grab food before we head off to our unloading spot. There is a big pullout across from our unload so we sleep there.

The unload

Morning arrives. I wake up to see the crane operator just getting on site. The third guy is in the yard removing his chains and getting ready to be unloaded. I drive over so I am the next in line. I take off my belts and chains and prepare my load to be unloaded. It is a slow process since every part has to be chained to be taken off the trucks. Averaging one hour per truck. Finally it is my turn and the crane is finished unloading me and I go over to the pullout and wait for my co worker. He is finished in about 40 minutes and during that time I have already called our dispatcher. She advises me we are both going to the same place. Edgewater, BC to pick up a load. Edgewater is a small community about 90 kilometers South of Golden on the same highway we came down from. It is now almost 11am and we head over to Edgewater.

Delay #3 

At Edgewater, we pull into a company called Woodex. It is a small mill that is in partnership transporting it’s loads for export overseas via Westran. We arrive and the scale operator says to go around and set ourselves up. I am first and I then realize that I am short about 12 feet of Belt winders which secure belts to the trailer. This means I will have to use chains also to secure my load to the deck. 20 lifts of lumber later, I look at my air gauge and I suspect I am overweight. I go back to the scale and find out that I am overweight. I am 18,200 Kilograms or roughly 1,200 Kilograms overweight on the drives. This means I have to unbelt 3 of the belts and I have to move the load around. She calls the forklift operator and he shifts the load around. My partner is also overweight so he too has to have his load shifted. Soon we are off and headed back to Golden and back to Highway 1.

It is now late afternoon on Thursday and unless we drive all night our arrival will be Friday. My main goal as we get into Golden is to get past the Roger’s Pass before dark. So off we go and with a goal in mind. Our goal is to go to Kamloops and have dinner. From there we decide that it would be best to sleep in Merrit and arrive back Friday. So at 10:30 pm we arrive in Merrit and go to bed.

The short drive home

It is 8am when we leave Merrit. Our destination is less than four hours away. We have to go to Richmond to a company called Westran and deliver our lumber. We arrive by 12 and have our belts off and are unloaded by 1pm. I am back in the yard by 2pm and off duty.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoy my stories, please follow me on Google and subscribe by email for my latest posts about trucking. I will have lots of neat and groovy stories and great pictures to share on my travels as a trucker blog. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more great stories.

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