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Travels of a Trucker Post #8 Bad Luck Lessons learned

November 6, 2011

I have been a trucker for many years and during this time there has been one consistency which has always been true. Every day is a new day and every job has a new learning curve. What I do one day will not hold true for the next day. I have had many experiences as a truck driver both good and bad. Anyone who has been driving for a long time will tell you this too. Stuff happens and we cannot always have a garden of Roses each time we drive.

A few years ago, I had the trip from hell. I had a trip down to Toronto and I had a rented Super B Train from Lion Gate Rentals. I picked up a load destined for the Toronto area coming out of Salmon Arm. It was a load of Lumber. Now on this occasion I would not have thought anything of it since lumber is a typical load. However, most companies don’t haul lumber across Canada because it does not pay enough. The company I was working for was almost always lumber going East. The trailer itself was an older trailer, I would have assumed it had been taken care of by Lion’s Gate Rentals. However, on this particular trip I went through 6 tire blowouts on my way to Toronto and back! Not one, not two, but six! I don’t know what happened with that trailer, but it was a trailer hell bent on blowing a tire every few hundred kilometers that I traveled. Needless to say when I arrived in Calgary and was able to drop my load, I switched trailers.

I had another trip one year down to Toronto. My dad happened to live in the Sunridge, Ontario area, it was the middle of Winter and I hadn’t seen him in years so stopping in to see him was a major to do on the list. I got into Sunridge, parked the truck and he shows up and says follow him. So I get in my truck and follow him. Well my dad was a trucker for many years in his early life and he obviously must have forgotten that heavy trucks and ice don’t mix. So off we go into the back bush of Sunridge just off Highway  11 below North Bay and above Huntsville. Well the roads were pure ice! They were hilly and I was worried! I got stuck trying to climb a hill and my chains were not working. So my dad had a neighbor who had a skidder on their property. So ff he goes to get him and brings the skidder back. I don’t know if any of you know much about logging but a skidder is the one that goes into the bush all chained up, hooks itself onto a tree and uses that tree for leverage while winching logs through the bush. In this case, it went into the bush hugged itself tight in the trees and hooked a chain onto me and actually pulled me over the hill. I was so impressed except by now I was sweating bullets. So I told my dad, I am not parking here! So off I went, turned around and again going up the hill coming back I needed a pull over again. I made it back to the dry pavement of the secondary highway and parked my truck. A few hours later, I was actually feeling concerned. I had my dad drive me back to the truck and lo and behold an OPP officer was there with my truck. In the end the OPP officer gave me a ticket for abandoning a vehicle! I couldn’t believe it. The greedy bastards!

I had another trip one time to McCain’s out in Coaldale which is a small community situated just outside Lethbridge, Ab. It is a small farming community that also lives on the sustenance of the McCain factory mass producing special cut fries for overseas deliveries. On this trip, I had to go and dock the trailer and get it loaded and then go back out of the security gate and swing wide to come back into the entrance and have my shipping papers signed. Well, I went and scaled my load and I forgot how wide I needed to go. I actually put the rear set of axles in the ditch that surrounds this plant and my trailer tilted into the ditch. I had to wait for a tow truck to pull me back safely out of the ditch. I was so embarrassed at this.

On another lesson learned, I was coming back from Prince George. I was coming down the hill with a loaded super B and I was grossed out at 130,000 pounds. The hill I was coming down was the one before Cache Creek and it is about an 8% grade for 2 kilometers. So off I go down this hill and I soon realize, I’m going way too fast! So applying the brakes very consistently, I am soon overheated. Smoke and fire are now coming from my axles. I have overheated my brakes. By this time I am stopped, but the acrid smell of burning rubber and steel are very strong as the brakes are cooling off and smoking while I am parked. Again this is distinctively embarrassing for any driver out there knows that every other driver is looking to see who it is.

Not all lessons are considered bad luck. These lessons here point out the need for following the guidelines. Such as being in the proper gear coming down hills. Knowing your route and what is on them. Checking your equipment for faults (tires can be a little difficult to spot since in this case the tires may have been old and brittle from cold) and knowing your turning radius. There are of course many other examples I could give, but literally it would be a book. Now not all my experiences have been bad. I have had some great co workers. Great laughs. Enjoyable memories and great camaraderie on the road. These experiences have far outweighed the bad and there is nothing like the soothing sound of hearing someone talking on the VHF Radio while your driving to know your not alone out there. As the old saying goes, keep em shiny side up. If you like my blogs, please follow me by email. Thanks for reading.

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