Mar 20, 2012

Stuck In A Rut

Being my first year as a Car-Hauler, there as several things that I am dreading. It is said that anyone who hauls cars and claims to never have any damages is, well.... a liar! It is going to happen. I am not looking forward to this experience. There are many other "firsts" to be experienced as well, and I marked one more off of my list just this past week.

There are a couple of things I do before making a delivery at a new to me dealership. I call for specific directions, which would include whether there are low trees to watch for and if there is a certain driveway I need to use. I also use Google Earth to view the location as well. "Huge Lots" are not always huge and "plenty of room" means something different to the non truck driving crowd. So with a few units heading into Leesburg, Va, I follow my standard operating procedure. The first drop, I was told I could drive around the building and drop by service. I would have had a hard time driving a Ford F350 around that building, much less my truck. But even with specific directions and Google Earth, I always get a good look upon arrival. Yeah, the first drop, I had to back in with just enough room to unload in the lot. 

The second drop was just around the corner. The lot is "huge". Actually, from the street, the lot is fairly large and with multiple scuff marks in the driveway, I  knew other haulers had indeed been in the parking lot. I pulled in and 2 fellas immediately started checking out the cars. I was told where to park them (10 feet away) and one of the guys starts inspecting. When I try to get the delivery receipt signed, the guy admits he is not the one to inspect... What the hell, dude? Why are you climbing all over, in and around the cars then. At least he did work there.... I think. After folding up the truck, I asked if I could exit through the rear drive. I was told that trucks do it all the time. So I make my way around the building and indeed there is plenty of room. But what I didn't necessarily notice at first was the short slope in the lot and a small drainage cut out in the asphalt. Sure, I saw the slope and I did remark that  I could not make the grade if I turned to the right. So I started aiming towards the left but there was a few employees cars parked where I really needed to descend. 

Street Sweeping
The first rule of sloped driveways is, if you think you are going to drag.... accelerate!! Forward momentum will get you over the hump. And it helps to take it at an angle if possible. But this is not true in all cases. You will get stuck if the pitch is just too much for the low riding trailer, as you can see in this picture. I started down the grade, trying to get a good angle but I hesitated when I noticed I was a little closer to a Toyota than I preferred to be. So I angled back just a little and came to a screeching halt about 2 seconds before I was about to really hit the fuel pedal. Crap! Crap, crap, CRAP !!!!! I jumped out to assess the situation and with hopeful optimism, I decided to give her a good tug. You know, just to see. I actually was able to back up about a few inches, but then once again, all hope was lost. With Phone a Friend being utilized, I was given a helpful tip on how to elevate the trailer by disconnecting the leveling valve and increasing the air in the air bags. This should give me enough ground clearance to become mobile. I grab my tools and get to elevating. It should have worked. It would have worked....But it seems my circumstances were far more dire than originally determined.

Remember me stating that I was able to back a few inches? Well............  It just so happens, when I backed up that seemingly insignificant distance, I may or may not have consequently placed my drive tires at such an angle over a seemingly insignificant little dip at the base of the slope that allows water to drain off the lot. With the left front and right rear tires no longer making contact with the ground, I am done. Even with the differential locked, my tires are spinning effortlessly just above the little drainage cut out. That had to be like one in a million odds to get those tires perfectly aligned to lose total traction. I start looking around for boards or any other such useful item that I can shove under the tires in hopes to gain traction... Wait a minute. I think I have been here before. Oh yes!!  For any new readers, feel free to journey back in time for a little deja vu with this story... If I Had a Hammer.

So, with no where to go, it was time to call in the tow truck. He was able to use his winch and pull me forward just a few feet to freedom. Of course there was a little waiting involved. I had a lovely time commiserating with a few of the mechanics who were also busy trying to shove stuff under my tires. A couple of the salesmen came out and wished me luck. I even had one fella apologize to me for the bad advice given to me by the lot boy who directed me out the back lot. However, Daniel, the lot boy, was no where to be found. I did notice him at a distance trying to duck in behind a few cars once he noticed I was stuck. Good thing I did not get my hands on him!!

So, after it was all said and done, I was a little worn emotionally from the experience, but I did learn that I was the 4th car-hauler that had been pulled from the lot in a 2 month period. That actually made me feel somewhat better. And I learned a nifty little trick to prevent it from happening again. Well, as long as my drive tires are actually touching the ground!!

Mar 12, 2012


Anyone that has been following me any length of time surely knows of all the issues I had with the Volvo during my flatbedding days. The most consistent one was quite possibly the exhaust problems. My body reacts very quickly to breathing fumes as I was nearly killed from exhaust poisoning over a decade ago. One of the most common reactions that I face is... I become EXTREMELY hostile. Everything pisses me off. I might even kick a puppy after get an extended dose of toxic air.

The Sterling that I am operating tends to smoke excessively during the first few miles after firing it up or idling for any length of time. A couple of months ago, I had some extreme smoking issues that would actually fill the cab. Ironically, no one can find an exhaust leak. Sure, there is oil and other fluids that drip on occasion, but no sign of exhaust leaking.

So, on my last tour of duty, I noticed the fumes getting stronger. Perhaps even noticing the air seemed a little cloudy at times in the cab. George ( who is in charge of all my repairs) suggested that my dog house insulation might be sagging and the fumes are coming in around the boot. So, I had that checked out and had some rubber installed to seal that up. It didn't seem to help at all...

After several days of driving with the windows down,  and stuffing towels around any crevices on the dog house, I am starting to think I might need to swap trucks.... I hate swapping trucks. Besides, this one is special.

I don't know why I decided to crawl into the firewall and look around, but underneath the edge of the rubber flooring, I noticed a 2 inch hole that was halfway plugged with a sooty paper towel. Quick as MacGyver, I check my pockets for supplies and although I did not have a paperclip, chewing gum or duct tape, I did manage to find some masking tape.

My fume problem is gone!!!

Okay, the truck still smokes, but I am no longer sucking fumes which is good news for the general public. Because, when I say I get extremely hostile, well... you better just trust me on that one.

Mar 8, 2012

Setting an example.

It's those little things in life that sometimes keep you sane. Yesterday, I had two such little things occur that put a huge smile on my face.

I stopped for fuel and while standing in line to make my purchases, I noticed a guy dressed in fatigues. I tend to have a very patriotic nature and while I may not always agree with our government, I can't help but think our Military is not thanked enough for their willingness to serve. So, I voluntarily paid for his purchases as well. I noticed the rest of the patrons looking at me like I had suddenly grown a third eye... I do this every chance I get. It is just my small part in showing gratitude. I am not posting this to make myself look good in any way, I can still be a major pain the the arse! My point rather is this. I spent less than $10 out of my pocket to say Thanks. As citizens of the United States, I feel we can never show enough gratitude. That is $10 that I will never miss, but hopefully, it will serve as a reminder to him that he is appreciated.

Smile Number Two..

I often complain about other trucks riding too close. Whether they cut over in front of me immediately after passing, or they attempt to rummage through the trunk of my last loaded car. There is no reason for riding that freaking close. So, after getting my fuel, I jump back on the Interstate and soon there is a Freightliner riding my ass. This is not because I was still trying to accelerate to highway speeds. This was after 10-15 miles. He could not have been more than 15ft off my posterior. And you better believe my toes were itching for an imminent brake check. Thankfully, Mr Smokey, didn't feel too comfortable about the situation either. As I passed an officer who was parked in the median, I noticed an almost immediate reaction from the driver behind me. Too late, sucker!! The officer pulls out and pulls over the truck who is no longer riding damn near in my trailer.

I have have giggled to myself for the next several miles. That is definitely better than damaging 2 of my cars!!

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