Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2-1/2weeks and 11145 kms

No it's not a typo. 11145 kilometers.
23 drops from Minnesota to Port Angeles, Washington state in one week.
Starting on Monday, by Friday I still had 7 drops to go and with only 3 hours left in my 70 hour week and 4 drops left to go, I had to stop and find a truck stop to do my reset. Unfortunately, Monday was labour day... everywhere, so that meant spending Friday to Tuesday morning. Spending 4 days in a dump of a truck stop (name withheld) wasn't the highlight of my week. So Tuesday, I finished up the remaining drops only to find myself sitting dockside in Port Angeles just a stones throw from Victoria, BC. Had to overnight right on the dock with no truck stop for hundreds of miles around. By Wednesday, I was back on the road to Olympia, WA, to a real truck stop to forward some paperwork to the office, then off to Wentachee, WA. less than 200 miles to do my pick up. My appointment was for Thursday 08h00. Just as I get there, the office sents me a new message saying that the appt has been moved to 17h00. More waiting time and another day wasted. To top things off, the one pick up turns into 2, at different locations. By 8 pm, I've got my first pick up, the second is supposed to be at 22h00 but finalizes at 3 am Friday. Pears and apples. So the entire week is pooched.  So Friday at 3 am, I start back. Delivery, Tuesday 11th of September at 11 am.
So guess what... I get to the drop in Boucherville, on time and waited for 5 hours as they unloaded. 20 skids in 5 hours. That's the unions for you.

Fortunately, I'm on vacation for the next few weeks. North Carolina to the Outer Banks in a little town called Duck in a little beach house, ocean side with some dear friends that Sue and I have known for over 2 decades. Last year was in the same location, just a few miles north of Duck. So a little R&R will do just fine.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Questionable Logic

There's a Weight Station on Autoroute 15 just south of Montreal as you enter Canada from the States using I-87. It is usually open during the day but there is no set timetable so it can be open at 4 AM, too. It has recently been rebuilt with the last technologies, one being; Dynamic Weighing, which means that as you roll across those two steel plates on the roadbed, your per-axle weight is automatically sent to the weight station computer. It is operated in tandem using two roadside "Surprise" signs that are normally dark and pop on as you drive past. It will either remain dark if your weight is correct or pop on if the agents want to see you. Also in the States, there is a system call Pre-Pass also known as Best-Pass. These look like lamp standards that overhang the right lane and have transponders instead of lights and are located just before the weight station. As your weight is read by the roadbed sensors, the overhead transponders also reads a vehicle transponder located on the windshield. This identifies the vehicle and associates the weight and the vehicle. If there are no changes from a previous weight station, the vehicle operator gets a signal from a second overhead transponder to by-pass the station.
So here's the rub...

As a rule all legal weights in the States limit the maximum gross vehicle weight to 80,000 pounds. This is substantially less than the legal limit here in Quebec which limits weight to 97,000. (No wonder we have bad roads). So if the agents are not checking the vehicle itself or log books or tire condition, as does Ontario, and the legal weight is correct, why have stop the truck to be re-weighed on the full scale. Is it that the dynamic scale doesn't work properly? If so, what a monumental waste.

In this age of fuel conservation, why have me stop only to wave me through after reweighing. Factor in the brake wear along with the fuel to regain highway speeds and multiple that with the thousands of trucks per day and you have an important expense.

So don't ask why your watermelon costs over $8 in July!

The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bev Oda Resigns... finally!

“As the Minister for International Co-operation, I have had the opportunity to witness the hardships of the world’s most vulnerable peoples and have witnessed the great compassion of Canadians for those in need,” Oda said.

It's about time.  Even though it wasn't her departments mandate, Canada's record on the treatment of the country's aboriginal peoples is abysmal. Talk about witnessing hardships, look north at home. I see little compassion for our own people.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hotter than hell!

Last week, I got a really nice run! I left on Tuesday with 9 deliveries starting in Binghamton, NY on Wednesday going down south ending in Tucker GA on Friday.

On Wednesday morning, at my first drop, signs that things weren't going to go so smoothly started to appear. My air temperature control had jammed in the hot position. No amount of air conditioning would compensate. So I called the garage back at the terminal and spoke to the head mechanic to see if, one, I could resolve the problem myself or two, get to a local service center and have the problem fixed. We danced around the issue but to no avail, the back of the dash board is too complex and I am not comfortable dismantling it without the appropriate tools. But he won't authorize a service outside of the shop because it's "doesn't put the vehicle out of service or stop it". 

I do have a couple of options though. There is a a/c unit under the bunk so I turn that on. To do so requires that the air flow control in front to be on, pushing heated air into the front. So I turn that down as low as it can go, turn the air flow setting to recirculate instead of taking air from the outside (this keeps the air pressure from outside from pushing in) and turn the bunk air up to its' fullest. The second option is that in addition to the bunk a/c there is a third unit that runs on accessory batteries. This is used went the engine isn't running so as to conserve fuel. Normally these are charged by the alternator.

So far so good. It's livable and working. Wednesday morning goes on without further hitches. The accessory a/c quits during the night Wednesday; the little display says LB for Low Battery. This is normal so I figure I'll let the accessory recharge and we'll continue. The nights cool down enough to be comfortable. By Thursday noon however things go south figuratively, like my route.

It gets no better because now the power coming off the alternator has dropped below 11 volts and automatically cuts off the accessory batteries from charging. Not a big problem as long as there is some power above 10 volts. By Thursday night, there isn't enough power to drive the bunk a/c and it quits too. I start cutting back on using the on board fridge and my electronic cooler. The microwave won't function due to lack of sufficient power. All my food is scrap. (I avoid restaurants on my trips)

Meanwhile, I have a dog on board. Harrison is not doing well. I soak him down with water several times an hour and put a fan next to him so he has some relief, but not much.

If you were following the weather news from the states, you would have heard the the southern states were experiencing historic heat records. In Athens, Georgia, temperatures hit 106° F. (41° C) breaking all past records.The temp reading on my outdoor mirror says 44° or 111°. Inside, it's about the same. Shit it's hot! It's like sitting in an oven.

Friday isn't as hot but not by much, maybe a degree or two less. No a/c whatsoever and the alternator is dying; we're down below 10 volts, more like 9.01V. Fortunately, a diesel engine doesn't need as much electrical power to work. It just chugs away by compression. The important thing is to NOT let it stop because it won't start with less than 10 volts. Here's the kicker, there's an Idle Shutdown program that shuts the engine off after 5 minutes of idle/no movement. There is a warning light that lets you know when it is about to kick in. There is also an Idle Shutdown Override and you have to wait until the warning light goes on in order to activate it.

Finally, on Friday night, I call back the terminal garage and talk to someone with a bit more sense than the first mechanic. He authorizes the alternator repair. That puts the bunk a/c back on line and I make it back to the terminal on Sunday night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Last week... Off to Rice Lake and Eau Claire, Wisconsin via Sault Saint Marie. Highway 17 was closed down completely between Pembroke and Petawawa, On. due to a multi car accident. I caught this at 20h30. Stayed at the Big Rig Truck Stop

"Police said the accident occurred when a westbound Cadillac SUV and an eastbound Chevrolet Suburban collided about five kilometres west of Cobden. Two other eastbound vehicles became indirectly involved in the accident as a result of this initial crash." Quote: North Bay Nugget, May 16th

 It finally reopened the next morning at around 08h00. That didn't delay me much as I had lots of buffer time. The balance of the trip was nice and uneventful. Light traffic, nice roads.

New blog started dedicated to roads:

Monday, April 16, 2012

The last 2 weeks... April 1, 8

The last two weeks were uneventful as for events but had legs regarding mileage. In both cases, I ended up near Knoxville, Tennessee. The first week, I had 18 stops, the second; 10 stops both throughout NY, OH, IN, KY. Sort of dull and uninteresting. Weather got progressively better the further south I got. Trees started leafing and fields (grassy ones) got greener. I even saw a freshly cut field of hay in Kentucky. Birds and bugs became out. In one case, again in southern Kentucky, I was on the Louie B. Nunn-Cumberland Parkway (look it up on Google maps) following at a considerable distance (like a 1/2 mile or so) a car ahead when all of a sudden, brake lights. There is nothing in front of this car so I'm wondering "what the heck...?" This lasts only a few seconds and the car continues on. Until I get to the point where the car was. A hail storm of bugs... big ones, too. All I can see is eraser tip size bugs coming at my windscreen. Can't see what they are though. SPLAT! SPLAT! on and on for about 5 - 10 seconds (@ 65 mph) Wipers are on, windshield juice to the max. At my next fuel stop, I found hundreds of wasps covering the front grill. Birds are really aware of trucks and fly at the truck as I pull up to the fuel pumps, cleaning the grill of the days/roads bounty. Sort of gross but nature takes care of its' own.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

No new events... fortunately but back by popular demand

Lets see... After the event of December 10th, I've been to Los Angeles, CA., Yuma, AZ, Atlanta, GA all without any unfortunate events occurring. That's good.

In Yuma, it was cold (-6) and they had about 6 inches of snow. That was between Xmas and New Years. Go figure, it was colder down there than in Quebec. It didn't last for long. By the time I got to Phoenix (sounds like an old Glen Campbell song) the snow had disappeared. It was only when I got to Kansas that it cleared up.

Since then, I been in Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin for the most part. Two weeks ago I was in downtown Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency delivering furniture. They're doing major renovations as do most hotels. After an average of five years they strip out the rooms completely, sinks, counter tops, carpets wall coverings, right to the plaster. It's a boon for people who pick up the old stuff (which is in better than good condition) for pennies.

The street I was using to access the hotel was this tiny back street that was barely adequit for truck and I had to back the trailer into the bay and then unhook. I had to park the tractor on the sidewalk while the movers unloaded the trailer. It took about an hour and a half. Then off to Arcadia, WI to pick up more furniture and take that back to Canada.

This week I was in Chicago and Algoma WI, a small town south-east of Green Bay. Leaving on Saturday (usual departure lately) it was very windy on the 401 through Ontario. I was fairly heavy but had to hold on tight to keep from being blown sideways.

So now I'm back, couple of days off. Got laundry, provisions and the like to do. Friday, there is a small get-to-together with some past colleagues of the Yellow Pages (most of whom don't work there anymore.)

The current CEO should fire himself for what he and his cronies have done to the company. Last share price 0.12¢. What a crime! But that's another story.