Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Day In Truckin' Paradise

This is an older pic - loaded with three 300bbl steel tanks. I'm putting this up so you can see the trailer. Today, I had a 300bbl FRP (fiberglass) in front, and two 10'x15' 200bbl FRP tanks in the rear. The trailer is a triple axle, but only one tire per axle per side, rather than the usual duals. This means when one has tire problems, one is parked.

So, cruising through OKC today, a driver hollered at me and asked if I knew I was shedding rubber from my trailer. I did not. I can see the left tires with the extended mirror, but not the right sides until I go around a corner to the right. I sure didn't see anything unusual when I got on I40 at El Reno - the on ramp is a tight right cloverleaf. At any rate, most of the tread was gone and I had a pair of sidewalls. Luckily, it was the middle tire - the other two axles supported it and kept the rim off the ground. In retrospect, the thing to do might have been to limp on until I got out of the city, but who knew? It was 1:15pm, and I had to get out of the county before the oversize curfew started at 3:30pm.

It took several phone calls, but I found a company that was less snowed under than the others. Three to five hour waits were the norm, but this guy promised me ninety minutes. They were there in 105. We carry spares, because these are odd sized tires. Today's trailer was built in the eighties - with split rims. 10.00x15. Only Chinese companies make this size. So, since the average tire shop isn't gonna be able to get a new tire until, say, next Wednesday - we carry spares. I had it out and ready.

The two guys really got right after it, and I was rolling by 3:15 - but with about twenty miles to go. Man, I had my fingers crossed.

To no avail. I drove by a State Patrol truck inspector with his white Yukon parked in the median on I240 east of I35 on my way back to I40. It was right at 3:30, and he pulled me over.

I was lucky not to get parked and my permit pulled since I was in violation of same. I was also informed that I really needed an escort vehicle. The book says anything over 12 'wide. That was what my permit said. We've always interpreted that to mean 12' and under don't need an escort - and the LEOs have agreed - up until lately, apparently. The permit had a section where it apparently required me to have escorts, so escorts it is!

The tag number on the permit was missing a digit as well - also grounds for yanking the permit. Hell, I never pay any attention to that! Bet I will in the future! He told me the permit office likely was responsible for the screwup, but it wasn't something they'd acknowledge. See, that's all my responsibility.

I told him about my blown tire, and his response was "How many exits did you go by?" Yep, I went by a bunch, but I also reminded him that I was in a day cab, so that exit had better have a motel with truck parking that would accommodate wide loads. That little factoid seemed to hit home with him. Most of those exits don't have anything even remotely resembling truck parking at all, or somewhere I could drop the trailer to bobtail to a motel. I mentioned that as well.

Plus, I was all of ten miles from making it out of the county and out of the curfew zone.

So, I got a ticket for curfew violation, with a note that the permit had the wrong tag number - which was gratis - this time. He told me that he and his partner - who was in another big white SUV (he happened along later) were the only Oklahoma State Troopers in that area, and he couldn't tell me not to go on and get on down the road to get the Hell out of Dodge, as it were. He and his partner were gonna help me get back out off the shoulder and into traffic, then jump the median and go back into the city. I asked about running into a county deputy - and I was informed that they don't have the jurisdiction to write that ticket. Only the state troops. I told him I didn't hear a thing, and I'd be on my way, trying to find a place to land, without breaking the law further. Mmmmkay.

I cruised on down I40 to Shawnee, where there is truck parking next to several motels. I had about another hour of daylight, but night time would find me in the middle of nowhere away from motels with truck parking, much less parking in the first place. So much for making it to my destination tonight.

I'm bitching here, but honestly, things turned out pretty well. Considering all the less than savory places these trailers go, it's surprising that we don't have more tire trouble. Yeah, I've had blowouts on tandem wheeled trailers - I think three or four times in the close to seven years I've worked here. This is my first with one of these single tired triple axle trailers. Sometimes it just can't be helped - a nail will find it's way into a tire and cause it to lose air. Plus, dealing with the various LEO types is becoming a way of life, since all of them are looking for more money ways to make our highways safer.We did have an interesting discussion on how each state has it's own different set of laws regarding oversize loads and how difficult it is to be in compliance with each and every little regulation. I'm all for states' rights, but in this area, some commonality would be nice.


drjim said...

Good to hear you got safely bedded down while it was still daylight. I've never driven anything bigger than a big pickemup truck, or big box van, but I can imagine the skill it takes to drive one you big boys.

Lisa Paul said...

As always, your trucker posts are fascinating. And a Trucker Curfew? Who knew?

dennisranch said...

Least you didn't get caught by a hardass!

Jeffro said...

drjim: I dunno about skill - I guess that's kinda relative. There sure are a bunch of loose nuts behind the wheel out there.

Lisa: The idea is to keep us out during rush hours. Most large cities or the whole county their in have curfews, and some set there boundaries differently, as well as the times. Most are 6 to 9AM, and 4 to 6PM, but they vary from state to state.

Robert: He was pretty friendly, but he was still kind of a hardass, too. He was just a partial hardass than a total package, I guess.

pat robinson said...

What is the trailer make? Where can I find them and approx price? I currently use a double drop but I sit higher than you when loaded.