12 September, 2008

Bad day for truckers

Today just wasn't a good day for truckers. Our shop has been pretty slow lately but today the shit hit the fan. Trucks were breaking down left and right and we were hoppin' all day. I had a service call out on the side of the interstate for an unlucky fella. This guy was driving a car hauling rig and the wheels on the right side ,rear drive axle of his truck detached themselves. He was lucky that the detached wheels didn't hurt anyone. He found one wheel and when I got there, we went looking for the other one and couldn't find it. I'm guessing it's somewhere in the corn field which is next to the highway. Normally I hate car haulers because the damn things are so low to the ground, but it turned out to be a good thing this time. The fifth wheel (the big plate that connects the trailer to the tractor) on a car hauler is mounted to the very back of the tractor and is only inches from the road. When the tractor's wheels came off, the tractor was resting on the fifth wheel. This saved the hub, brake drum and brake shoes from severe damage. If this had happened to a normal tractor the hub, bearings, brake drum and brakes shoes would have to be replaced since they would get ground up by dragging on the pavement. The driver had a local tire shop come out with two new wheels and tires so all I had to do was replace the wheel studs and wheel nuts. It was a tough job, but it could've been a lot worse. I got it done pretty quick too. The total time from leaving the shop until my return to the shop was four hours and thirty minutes. That includes a parts run.

When I returned to the shop there was a white Freightliner in one of the service bays. I asked the service writer what it was in for and he said the turbo had failed and the air to air cooler ( a.k.a "intercooler") had a crack in it. The truck's owner/operator purchased the truck four days prior to it coming to our shop. The poor guy is almost broke from the truck purchase (it's an used truck btw) and then the turbo fails. The crankcase was overfilled by about two gallons, so I'm thinking that whoever sold this truck knew the turbo was failing. He couldn't get money to pay his bill tonight, so we'll see what happens in the morning. It's a "catch 22" for truckers. They need their trucks to make money, but if they break down and money's tight, they still have to get their trucks fixed or they can't make money.

To top the day off, the trucking company just down the road from our shop had a breakdown in their own parking lot. The truck was idling fine one minute and then *splash*, the coolant resevoir cracks open and the majority of the coolant spills out. It was an easy fix, but it required a two hour drive to aquire the necessary part. It's been a busy day and I'm dog tired, but it's not over yet. I've been the guy on call for the past week and I've been fairly busy. Right now it's 05:16 in the morning and my turn "on the hook" ends in one hour and forty five minutes. That's when the morning shift arrives at the shop and transfers the phones back to the shop. I would normally have gone to bed an hour ago, but when I'm on call there's not much point in going to bed until 06:30 at the earliest. If the phone rings I'll just have to get out of bed anyway. Might as well stay awake until I know I won't be interrupted. *yawn* I might crawl into bed after I post this. Even a short nap would be good right about now.

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