Friday, May 16, 2008

'Nuther Update

Well, I had a pretty big week squeezed into four days. I got home last night. Normally, I'd have gone out today somewhere, but I had a doctor's appointment. Believe me, I was glad, because I was bushed. Five months of sitting on my can didn't prepare me for much physical work. I didn't do much, either.

So, here are some pics of what I do for a living. The first picture is the truck I used to drive loaded with three three hundred barrel tanks. The rest of the pics show a nine tank battery of four hundred barrel tanks being unloaded and set into place. We also haul, help assemble and hang the walkways and stairs for the tanks. This particular battery had eight steel and one fiberglass tanks - the fiberglass will hold water separated from the oil pumped fresh from the ground. Some areas require more tanks for water, and some areas only pump natural gas, so the tanks we take to them only hold water. We also sell tanks for agricultural usage as well. We haul lots of thirty and thirty five feet tall (x 12' wide) tanks for liquid fertilizer resellers. Feedlots, dairies, water treatment plants, asphalt plants and ethanol plants are among our customers.

The most common load is a tick over twelve feet wide. We have specialized trailers that can get the load below 14' tall, but most of the steel tank loads are either 14'4" or 15'4" tall, give or take an inch or two. Some of our trailers have extendable tails, others the whole trailer can be lengthened or shortened as needed. They are "double drops" which means there is a "well" dropped below the level of the rear wheels and the front deck. Most of our trailers are single drops that either have a base of two feet off the ground, or three feet (roughly).

We have several owner operators hauling for us. A lot of times we'll get to a location and the crew won't be ready until the next day. So, the owner operators will drop their trailers at the site and bobtail back home to get another load. They get paid by the mile, and waiting on site doesn't pay very well. So, we end up "decking" the extra trailers - picking one trailer up and loading it on another so they can be hauled home. Or, for some reason a trailer won't pass a roadside inspection. It is generally left there until one of our guys drops by and hauls it home on another trailer.

When you have fairly heavy duty knuckle boom cranes, doing these sort of things is simple. Hauling a crane around kills fuel mileage, plus there is no room for a sleeper if you want a workable wheelbase. A tractor with a big sleeper and a crane gets pretty long and difficult to maneuver in tight places. So, we stay in motels while we're out and about. Motels with truck parking, that is. Most places we go to we've been in the area before and know where we can stay and where to avoid. All of us have the complimentary motel books the chains hand out, plus the business cards and telephone numbers of the independents we frequent. Getting reservations in some boom areas can be problematic - they'll be booked up for quite a while because of all the work crews staying in town. It doesn't have to be oilfield crews - there are plenty of construction crews building the infrastructure for these growing areas. Another problem for us is the annual bike pilgrimage at Sturgis. We go through that area to get to eastern Montana and western South and North Dakota. Getting a room within a 100 mile radius of Sturgis can be a problem. Rates are jacked up pretty good, too.

But, its all normal and good. I usually end my day stiff and sore, and am able to do a bit more as time goes by. I saw my cardiologist today, and all is well there. My atrial fibrillation is gradually going away, so I might not need any more shock treatments. He cut back one of my meds as well - I might not have to take the huge pile 'o pills that I consume in the future. I do need to lose weight, too.

One of the guys I ran with this week told me our dispatcher had a little talk to him about me. She thought I wouldn't make it all the way to North Dakota. She warned him he might have to go all the way up there, and come back to pick up the trailer I'd drop on the way up. She figured I'd get about half way and be too tuckered out, and want to come on home. She worried unnecessarily - I was more worried about how useful I'd be on site. I wasn't happy with my abilities on site, but my coworkers were satisfied.

So, yeah. It's looking good from here.


Dadgum said...

Fifteen or twenty years ago I came close to taking an OJT driving job before backing out at the last minute. It's still interesting hearing what it's really like.

Jerry said...

Those are some big-ass tanks! Bet you're glad to be back at work.

nora said...

Just looking at the truck and those tanks freaks me out. I'll stick to my S-10.
I'm glad you're gettng back to work and feeling good about it.

RT said...

Cool pictures! Most of my uncles were truck drivers, so I like looking at that kind of stuff. My uncles didn't haul anything near what you all do, though.

Don't do more than you can. Glad to hear your doctor had some positive news for you.

Bob said...

Keep on truckin!