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Travels of a Trucker Post #9 Onward to Kitimat Part 1 of 2

November 12, 2011

The Load

It’s Monday November the 7th and I have a load to do at the GVRD Water Treatment facility in Coquitlam at the top of Pipeline Road which becomes a dead end surrounded by a security gate and security personnel who safeguard the drinking water of the thousands of Coquitlam residents. I was advised that I had a load waiting to go to Kitimat and that it would be preloaded for me. I do not give it another thought as I continue on with the day. Instead, I had talked to a co-worker who was also going on this trip up to Kitimat. That afternoon I discover that my load has not been preloaded nor has it been picked up! I am seriously disappointed in hearing this since in talking to my friend I discover it has taken him the better part of the day to load this massive piece. It is a Boiler maker which stands 15’10” off the ground, 11’4″ wide, 40 feet long and weighs 56,000lbs.

The next day

I cannot sleep. I am anxious to get this massive piece on and at this point I am not sure. I have yet to see it. It is now Tuesday November the 8th and I have to go get a rental trailer which is a Lowbed Double Drop Expando. I pick up my rental at 7am and scoot off to the pickup site which is at Honeyman in Delta, BC with a customer named Sonic Enclosures. My appointment time is later since I am the second to be loaded today. I arrive around 9am and the other load is being chained down. It is now 10:30 am as I back my trailer into the bay doors of Sonic. I then expand my mid section of the trailer to 41 feet.

From tractor to trailer I am sitting at almost 90 feet. I have to raise the third axle and place it on the bed of the trailer. This gives me an overall length of 81’9″ and I am overweight on my drive axles and my trailer axles since I now have a tandem axle trailer. The Boiler enclosure is being lifted hydraulically in a slow methodical step by step procedure which is a lot like a rubik’s cube. Looking at it you wonder how they do it to discover that in reality it is easier than it looks.

As the load is lifted higher and higher they begin to measure. The goal is to make it high enough that I will slip right under. This way they can then lower it slowly onto the bed of my trailer. At this point the load is all mine. The employees will not instruct or tell me how the load is to be tied down in any way. I made the mistake of asking the boss before and he told me quite simply that they don’t drive the truck so they don’t tell us how to tie the load down. That is our responsibility. I can tell you with certainty that when I had the load chained down the employees were so thankful these massive beasts were gone. After a couple of hours I was ready to go. Only I had some problems.

Problems

In the Lower Mainland or GVRD which encompasses Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley and as far East as Aldergrove, wide loads are not permitted to be driving on any roadways from 3:30pm to 6pm and 7am to 9am which is the rush hour. It was 4pm by the time I was finished tying down my load and out on the street. I was ready to go, but couldn’t leave. I then had another problem. Since I was a wide load, I was not allowed to travel on the roads after dark without a pilot car. I could travel daylight hours only. This dilemma would cost me dearly since there was a long weekend coming and I had to go the low route which I will explain in my next article. I phoned my boss and I instructed him to send me a pilot car to get me out of the lower mainland so that I could save myself the pain of dealing with traffic in the morning and since I could not move until half an hour before Sunrise I would not make it out of the GVRD before the morning curfew either. It was 6:30 pm before I was underway when the pilot car showed up. I had 2 goals. First since I had been tied up all day I had eaten nothing and I needed to get weighed. So off to Tim Horton’s for coffee and then the scale to weigh myself. I actually did the latter first. I went to the scale and weighed myself. Steers were 5500kg, drives were 19,600kg and rear tandems on trailer were 20,100kg. My permit was too low since my dispatcher based it on the previous driver’s weights. I worried about that later. My tarps were the new problem now. They were already coming apart after only 3 km down the road!! It cost me half an hour to retie the pieces that had come apart. After getting coffee we were underway. My destination was only to Hope for the night so I was not tied down in the morning or stuck in curfew. We had to take an overheight route. I had to go down the 91 to Highway 10, up to Fraser Highway and down Fraser to 264street and then down to 8th avenue and up Sumas Highway to Highway 1. Then I had to go up and over Whatcom overpasses and 3 road overpasses and continue on Highway 1 until I reached Hope. I arrived in Hope and entertained thoughts of asking if the Pilot wanted to go further. The scale was closed and I decided I would go to bed since I wanted an early start in the AM.

To be Continued.

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