Archive for March, 2013

Luke Vernon – UK Lorry Driver, rants (video).

March 30, 2013

Luke Vernon – UK Lorry Driver, rants (video).

Well, it’s not just me getting screwed around with ridiculous delays – click the link above to see how they do it us in the UK.

Cheers, Mike.

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That New Car Smell

March 29, 2013

Woo! Picked up my new ute three days ago and still getting high on that new car smell every time I open the door. I chose a Toyota Hilux Extra Cab because :

  • It runs on truck fuel (as long as I’m nice to the boss)
  • They’re pretty common in the bush-parts should be easier to find if needed
  • They’re economical to run compared to, say, a Landcruiser
  • The extra cab space gives me a little more stowage area behind the front seats

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At the moment if looks pretty Plain Jane apart from the nice metallic paint job which will end up scratched despite my best efforts. It has factory standard tyres which I’m replacing next week – hopefully. I have to hold off fitting the bullbar until I rebuild my funds a little but that will alter it’s appearance dramatically. Following that will be side steps and (probably) side rails connected to the bullbar. In the distant future is a fibreglass canopy and maybe a winch.

The idea is to have a four wheel drive vehicle capable of taking me to all the spots around Australia that I have driven past in the truck and never had the time (or been able) to turn off the road and have a look at.

A lot of work to do

Cheers, Mike.

Oh What A Feeling

March 29, 2013

Oh What A Feeling

Raised some dust today but no rain-no mud. My new ride.

Let’s Play Chicken

March 25, 2013

There are few things more frustrating for a truck driver than dealing with car drivers who, through ignorance or stupidity, seem determined to add their names to the nations road toll list.
This has always been a problem in the cities and the more populated coastal areas-in fact, the coastal areas during long weekends/school holidays and the like are notorious for car drivers behaving badly around trucks. The Brand Highway in Western Australia, part of Highway 1 which circles the entire continent, is a prime example of this-several years ago at Easter I had to leave the road twice in the space of three hours to avoid collisions holiday makers. Pretty scary shit in a roadtrain.

Well, with the increase in mining in the inland areas of the Pilbara employees of companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and FMG and their subcontractors have shown they aren’t afraid of pulling out in front of a fully laden triple or quad roadtrain travelling on the Great Northern Highway. In the Newman area there are four hotspots-at least one of these locations will guarantee you a “panic brake” incident on your trucks’ data logger if you drive thru at shift change.

The first is Capricorn Roadhouse. The roadhouse is located on a bend in the Gt Northern Hwy about 16km south of Newman. Next door is a whole lot of accommodation for Fly in-Fly out (FIFO) workers. Now, occasionally you’ll get a roadhouse customer pulling out at a stupid moment but the vast majority of idiots come from the FIFO workers that seem to think their diesel 4×4 can out accelerate a truck coming through at 90kph. Doesn’t always happen like they think it will.

Number two is “The Nullagine Road”. It enters the Gt Northern Hwy from the east and has plenty of straight road to the north and south so drivers should be able to see traffic coming at them. Should. Not do. This intersection is a favourite with all the bus drivers given the job of safely delivering the workers to and from the work sites every shift. I think a few of these bus drivers get their kicks turning the helpless passengers into quivering wrecks-I know I’d be happy to let the cool kids sit down the back if my driver had just pulled out into the path of 118 tonne triple roadtrain.

The third is the northern most entrance to Newman. Here there is plenty of visibility in both directions so they can’t complain about not seeing something 4.3m high, 2.2m wide and 53.5m long coming at them. Regardless of this they just don’t seem to care, and once one pulls out two or three more will follow. Safety in numbers? I’m not sure. Stand on the brakes again, white knuckle grip on the steering wheel and a quick glance at the dashcam-if I run over and kill these idiots I want proof they were responsible for their own deaths. Then, to add an insult to the whole thing, they only travel 400m up the road before turning off the highway into a BHP site just opposite the sewage ponds. Really, it was that bloody important that you get in front of me, when the road behind me was completely traffic free, just so you can save 20 seconds on your way to work?! What is wrong with these people.

The fourth one has only really been a problem for me when I’ve been travelling south towards Newman. It’s at the Hope Downs 4 access road and the problem is so bad that the mine has actually positioned trailer mounted illuminated billboards on the side of the road north and south of the intersection warning traffic on the highway to look out for their less than intelligent workers not giving way or looking at all. There’s some real dipshits here.

I don’t know why these people feel the need to endanger their lives and put me in a position I really don’t want to be in. I mean, I don’t want someone’s death on my hands regardless of who’s fault it is-I’ve seen that shit really mess people up. Is it because they’re here for a good time not a long time as FIFO workers? Do they drive the same way when they are at home with wives/girlfriends/kids in the car instead of workmates? Do they drive their own car the same way or are they just thrashing the company vehicle because, hey, they don’t have to pay for it? Or are they just city people that come out to the bush to work and really have no concept of how dangerous their actions are and how much I’d really, really like to just run the dumb prick over to teach them a lesson?

The mining companies need to be aware of the havoc some of their employees create when they are let loose on public roads and the police need to monitor these problem spots and actually do something about these reckless drivers before they get the call to a fatality, not after. I hardly ever see the police patrolling along that section of Gt Northern Hwy and I’ve been a regular through here for years.

Oh, and do something about all these mine vehicles leaving their orange beacon on while travelling on public roads-orange flashing beacons are supposed to be a warning to other road users of a hazard, roadworks or an oversize load. More than half of the active orange beacons on public roads in the Pilbara region are firmly attached to mine vehicles driven by oblivious mine workers.

Cheers, Mike.

Trouble In Paradise

March 4, 2013

The joys of transport, I didn’t know they existed. Sorry, in a bad mood. I’m sitting in an idling truck I don’t dare shut off. The problem is all the magic smoke leaked out of the starter motor and now it doesn’t work. Sounds silly but I saw it and it doesn’t work.

However you look at it – the starter motor fried and the only way to get the truck started was to tow start it. Right now I’m quite happy I’m not driving an automatic. As per Murphy’s Law I’m as far from home as possible this trip and its a public holiday and no one will answer their phones.

I do have the truck running after borrowing a prime mover from one person and a driver from another and tow starting mine. I need to keep it running for the next 48 hours. That should see me home and able to fit the new starter motor sitting in the shed waiting.

I can’t help but feel a bit “why me?” because it seems the last few weeks have been one drama after another. Yeah, yeah, things aren’t that bad but they aren’t that fantastic either. A string of flat tyres and blowouts, a sprained ankle, a cyclone, a fire, a stuffed alternator, a blown hub seal, a…well there’s more but you get the idea. All of this has put a dent in my savings plan for my new car and its kind of got me down a bit.

It’s not the end of the world and I’m sure this icy cold Little Creatures Pale Ale will help improve my short term outlook. Now…if I can get the top off…it’s…it’s not a twist top…and I don’t have a bottle opener….Nooooooooo!

Cheers, Mike.

Check, check.

March 1, 2013

Just a quick check in, still in the land of the living and until lately I have been quite busy. In the last two weeks we have been through fire and flood with tropical cyclone Rusty and fire on the outskirts of Perth.

Cyclone Rusty promised a lot and thankfully, for us down south of the state, didn’t really deliver. I had a few extra days off in Perth and then went out on a Carnarvon express run only to get mildy inconvenienced by a bush fire on the way home. Luckily I was coming back to Perth with only one trailer and was able to hit the back roads and dodge around the affected area.

Put the truck into the workshop today to get a leaking hub seal replaced and am scheduled to head out to Port Hedland tomorrow night with three trailers. After that I am hoping to get back into my usual routine of three trips in twelve days and every second weekend at home.

Prior to that I have been having a bad run with tyres. A string of punctures then several blowouts and even one wheel I couldn’t get loose from the hub (ended getting around it by jacking up the axle and chaining the axle up). I actually badly sprained my ankle when the wheel brace slipped from a wheel nut and I landed with all my weight on the side of my foot. Stung just a bit! I’m still limping about over two weeks later. That was when I decided to buy myself a rechargeable rattle gun (impact wrench). I had been trying to talk myself into laying out the cash for nearly two years now but good ones are pretty damned expensive. 

I ended up getting a Milwaukee 3/4 inch 18 volt rechargeable impact wrench with two 4 amp batteries and they threw in a bonus 1.5 amp battery along with a carry bag/cap/stubby holders.

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I’ve used it twice now and it will undo fully torqued ten stud wheel nuts. I wasn’t  expecting that – I thought I would have to at least partially loosen the wheel nuts before the Milwaukee would turn them. Perhaps to prolong the life of this expensive bit of gear I might be better off using the wheel brace to do the initial hard work instead of hammering away for five to ten seconds before the wheel nut slowly begins to turn for the first half to full rotation.

All in all, I am suitably impressed with the Milwaukee so far and can foresee it being a very handy tool to have with me in the truck while I’m away on the road.

Cheers, Mike.