Friday, September 23, 2011

What A Day.....

Yesterday started out as a pretty decent day. My mission: Deliver a single 12'x15' FRP tank to a small town northwest of Tulsa. It was loaded on one of our more conventional flatbed stepdecks, because I had to go to a supply house in Tulsa and pick up some specialized pipe. The flatter loading surface would be far better to hold and haul the pipe - most of which was 24" diameter. Been there done that and have the t-shirt.

The drawback was that the load was permitted at 15'2". We have annual oversize permits for Kansas, and we know where we can and can't go. We can also check online to see if there are any width limits in any current road construction - such as a bridge with a ten foot width restriction. Kansas also hands out a big set of maps with all the underpass heights in the state. Iowa has a pdf online for that. Missouri has a neat interactive webpage where if one enters the height of the load, the map starts flashing in spots where that load won't clear.

Oklahoma, not so much. We have to get trip permits for everything, but since they have no data available online nor any other literature, we have to trust that they will route us correctly. I was, as mentioned before, permitted for 15'2". My route was US 77 south of Arkansas City, KS to the junction of Oklahoma highway 11, then head east for another state road to go south. Several miles south of Newkirk, I ran into the scene above. There is a crossover down the road, and that's the last chance for anything taller than 13'9" to get turned around. There is no signed indication of where to go after that - all loads are permitted in Oklahoma, so even just the act of turning around can be interpreted as "going off route." And by the way, the "normal" legal height of an eighteen wheeler is 13'6," so having that low of an overpass on a well traveled route is just asking for trouble.

So, I got on the horn to the local sheriff, whose dispatcher decided she didn't need any part of this problem, and transferred me to the State Patrol. After explaining the situation once again, the dispatcher got my name and number and told me she'd have an officer call me or come on out. Sure enough, in about a half hour, I had two troopers parked behind me. The one that came to the front of the truck was pretty cool about the whole thing - he and his compadres are not happy with the permit office. Seems like this is a pretty regular occurrence, and he was of the opinion that after many years, the clerks would learn that the low clearance overpass is there. Alas, no.

I'd spent my idle time looking on Google Maps, and had found an alternate route - a gravel road. The drawback to that route was a railroad crossing that was built up really high, so that any lowboy trailers would more than likely drag and get hung up. Which is what I was pulling. The other option was for the troopers to shut down northbound traffic and have me go over the railroad overpass on the northbound side. You can see it in the picture. I chose the gravel road and hauled hiney over the tracks, which turned out to be pretty rough, and emptied out the cubbyhole in my headliner all over my lap.

Ahhh, well. I got to my destination, unloaded my tank, and rolled into the supply house with about an hour to spare. Only they weren't expecting me until today. They hadn't cut the pipe yet. But, they are all about customer service, so they got our order ready and me loaded. One of the items was a set of "caps" which look a lot like the "heads" we get from Fort Worth. They're sort of a dome in a deep dish bowl shape - there were two stacks of two on a shrink wrapped pallet. They used to use shrink wrap on a roll and just wind around the pallet five or six times, but they've got a niftier setup now - they cut out huge sheets of thick plastic and use a burner to shrink that. Lots stronger.

But slipperier. That stupid pallet wanted to walk out from under the four inch strap I had on it. The dome shapes guarantee that if anything moves, the strap is no longer tight - as it moves off the top of the dome, it slides down to the sides. I had to stop and restrap the dern thing twice, moving the pallet with my cheater bar. Because those "caps" are made of very thick steel and weigh plenty. I finally got a four inch and a two inch strap to hold it in place to get to the motel - fairly late last night. I didn't care much for driving in the dark and being unable to see the load, for sure.

But, all is good. If I have to, I'll nail the bastard pallet down to the wooden deck. I'll have to find the nails first, but I'll fix that damn thing for sure.

And the good thing - I like staying in the Comfort Inn just off I35 at Blackwell, because, well, it's a Comfort Inn, and next door is the Los Potros Mexican Restaurant. I'm hooked on their fajitas. They've got one option with beef, chicken, chorizo sausage and shrimp that is to die for. My only complaint is the shrimp aren't completely shelled - they've still got their tails. You have to do a little cleanup if you don't like eating shells. But, I guarantee you, my spice rack doesn't duplicate the flavor that dish has. If you are ever in the area, it is worth a stop. Good stuff.

So, better quit screwing around, get my shower and head on down the road. See ya on the flip side!


Anonymous said...

Reads like a detective story.
I can just see those slippery domes. I hope you will have the supplier know and maybe next time they will put a square of carton on top of their plastic-wrapped package, or something similarly textured.

have a safe trip, Jeff

Terry said...

I am currently hauling MY CAR over my cab, no where near 13'6", but overpasses suddenly frighten me !!