Sunday, August 19, 2012

Flushing The Camera (Phone)

Yeah, it's been a day or several since I last posted. Been busy and tahrd.

This is a Farmer's Oil truck I had not seen before. They are an old school organization that believes that show trucks should represent them. The company trucks are all dolled out, and there are several owner operators with custom rigs - one is the son, who has his own show truck on the road and on the blog Bucket List. They primarily haul liquids and bulk products, so you'll see them with anhydrous ammonia and pneumatic trailers - all of which are just as shiny and slick as their tractors. That tractor is a Pete flat top (with a window in the back), stretched wheelbase, and black with everything else (and there is a ton of "everything else") shined to the max. Old school.

I say old school because most trucking outfits are definitely not that way anymore. Back in the day, National Carriers had a rather rigid set of requirements for the equipment that leased to them, mostly relating to appearance, cleanliness and level of polish. Coors used to use a company out of Akron, CO that ran nothing but fast, good looking Peterbilts and KWs. Certain cow hauling outfits - the same way. Nowadays, you run what ya brung, and they aren't too picky. Time sensitive shippers want reliable equipment, but don't necessarily care what that equipment looks like. Others don't care at all, as long as it's shipped cheaply.

I have no idea what it was, but it was damn heavy. I've seen heavier - with several pusher tractors behind the load, but this was pretty impressive and I was able to get a few shots of it.

Garden City (KS) has become a hub of the wind generator shipping industry. One company has set up a railhead to drop all the parts off in this yard on US50 on the east side of the city. There are all kinds of heavy haulers and escorts staying in Garden in motels. If you read this and travel through here, you might keep that in mind - don't expect to just walk into a motel and get a room.

That shot was to the west, now we're looking down the street that bisects their "yard." You can see the cranes used for unloading the rail cars and loading the trailers to the left and some more further to the south.

The actual spur - two parallel tracks - with loaded and unloaded tower section cars. It's kinda funny, really, seeing all the wind power stuff moving on the roads - there is still stuff coming from the Gulf and also from the Great Lakes. These loads are all meeting each other on the road - Brand X headed south meets Y going north and has to wait for these guys headed east at the light.

I've always been fascinated by the Michigan trains - this one is just a single trailer. This rig is just using a three axle tractor just like I drive, but most are four. I have no idea how they manage to turn these things. The many axled tractors with dump beds pulling a many axled pup trailer are pretty impressive. Think about it - they can dump the back trailer no problem, but they have to unhook to dump the front part, unless they can spread it out and keep the trailer from getting hung up. Most of those guys are doing short hauls and have to do that lots of times each day. Freight had better be good, is all I gotta say about that.

I stopped in so see an old pal at Ingalls Feed Yard in Ingalls KS the other day. This would be the nerve center of the grain division - handling the incoming grain for the feed mill, plus weighing all the other trucks hauling feed ingredients or "used feed" going outbound for fertilizer, plus grain moving in and out of the onsite grain elevator.

The job requires a guard dog as well, as you can see.

This would be the crotchety old proprietor of the joint, probing a load of corn for a sample to determine if it's suitable for the feed mill to process.

Every grain elevator worth it's salt has one of these dishes - hooked to the DTN network for live streaming market information.

A look at the scales in use - the codger's holdout is the one with the view.

IFY is one of the pioneers in steam flaking grain for cattle feed. You'll notice there is a backup generator, plus a generator to back up the backup. Keeping this thing running is critical.

Some of the several loadout chutes for cattle - different areas of the feedlot have them to keep from having to move cattle very far. There is a whole series of sorting and holding pens behind those chutes. Cattle wagons back up to them, lining up their doors so cattle can run up or down those ramps in or out of the trailer.

A crane that unloaded me at a dairy near Brush, CO. The tank is to be used for flush water, and it really is an unusual design since it has no top. They told me that the flush water is recycled quite a bit, so it's corrosive and eats tank tops out in a few years. So, no top means no damage to the top. This thing was made of some fairly thick steel compared to our average garden variety steel tank.

The dairy barn for this tank. There were more on the site. Those unusually shaped chunks of metal are galvanized clips designed to hold the tank down by the flange at the bottom and a bolt going into the concrete the tank mounts to. You can see our little cubbyholes for this trailer - since we don't carry headache racks, there has to be someplace to put dunnage. This trailer is one of our oldest and has been through a partial rebuilt - the entire nose has been replaced. Back in the day, it had a crane mounted, and the truck hooked up with hydraulic quick links. All that stuff has been cut away and a more conventional deck has been installed.

This is a biggun. It was parked at the motel in Sterling, CO I stopped at Thursday night. I saw it there when I came into town, and it was there in the morning when I left. It looks like they parked it there the way they did to help prevent theft. It would take a while to move the boom back over the dolly, hook it all up, and pick up all the pads and such.

This kinda gives y'all a scale of how big it really is. I'd bet Jess or KurtP know for sure - but I'm guessing this is in the 130 to 150 ton range.

These things are limited to how much they can lift by their counterweights. Right now it has the main one and that's it. But you can see the hydraulics - they can pick up more.

See the two pins in that open area just above the second axle from the front? That is where extra weights are stacked so the attachment can pick them up. Just so happens that's where it all lines up - use the crane to pick up a weight, drop in on the pins, rotate the crane so the counterweight attachment  can hook up.

The dolly - this supports the boom while in transit and can also hold extra weights. Some cranes use a flatbed truck to haul the extra weights and other goodies needed.

Most cranes use a bunch of those plywood pads, but these guys have gone above and beyond with these large metal ones as well. Those pegs are set up so a setup of four cables on the hook can handle 'em with ease. Also, looking at the main foot, you'll see a slider with two pins. When the job is done, they pull the pins and kick the foot to the inside - otherwise the foot would hang outside the already wide crane. This tucks 'em underneath, and there is a place for the pins to hold it in the transport position.

Wish I'd thought of turning this pic before uploading it - but if you click for bigger, you'll see that this is a 525/80R25 sized tire. Not something you're gonna find at The Tire Rack.

I've always liked this idea but have never been around much equipment to see if it really works. The idea is that after a wheel is mounted, you place the pointers so you can easily tell if a nut works loose. All it takes is a quick glance rather than having to actually check with a torque wrench.

And this is the business end. Of course the big block will lift more - the single line is used mostly for fetching a manlift and such to hook and unhook from heights well beyond ladder range. They can use it to "tail" or "tailboard" our tanks as well. Here is a series of pics showing two cranes, one "tailing."

They put the tank on the ground in order to install a ladder while it was much closer to the ground. Unhook crane number two, crane one swings it over in place and sets it, and number two lifts a guy to unhook the rigging. Easy peasy.

So, that's pretty much it for today. Hope ya enjoy!


Casey Sean Harmon (Bestselling author) said...

Wow...this post was really neat. You know a lot about heavy equipment. Where's the "Follow" button on your blog site?

Thanks for sharing!

Casey Sean Harmon

Follow my blog!

Bob's Blog said...

I appreciate that you take the time to write about and show us pictures of your day-to-day work.

drjim said...

Great stuff as usual, Jeffro!

I see a LOT of the windmill towers in the rail yards leading to/from the Ports of Los Angeles, and Long Beach, where I work. I don't recall seeing any blades, but maybe they're boxed up and I just don't notice them.

And we have cranes that big and larger here when we need to lift something really heavy on or off the ships here. The crane operators are just amazing. They run those things so well it almost brings a tear to my eye. They can pick up and set down a 10 ton item within an inch or two of where it needs to be positioned.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Interesting photos. Had you heard that the Vestas windmill-tower plant in Pueblo is laying off people right and left? They think they will lose their federal tax credit.

I have not been through Garden City late — not one of my favorite places—when I do come through at bedtime, I look for a motel in Lakin or somewhere else farther out.

I-94 in North Dakota is full of wind turbine blades on huge flatbed trailers, etc. too, but I can't help but wonder if wind farms will end up like the dirigibles of the early 20th century — a cool-looking technology that did not really pan out in the long run.

KurtP said...

Those cranes are way bigger than I'm used to using.