April 15th, 2006


she's a total blam blam

oday, Joe got off the truck here in Atlanta to take his mid-training week of Paid Time Off. I'll spend the rest of the day driving toward Springfield, OH to split this load then go home for a couple of days. I don't ordinarily like to lose students to PTO, they're typically just getting to the point that you can really start rolling some miles (as we have this week necessitating the torture that is my recent phone posts), but Joe has been a bit of a challenge to train. He's very impatient and has to do things many, many times before it sticks with him. I have no doubt he'll make it and be fine, I was just growing weary of the chore and tired if being jerked about in the truck while he was still figuring out how to shift smoothly. The brief respite afforded me by driving alone for a week or two will be welcome.

The first order of business though will be to work my way to Council Bluffs, Iowa sometime next week so that McMullen Brothers can tend to some repair and maintenance on the truck. In addition to a fairly severe problem with retaining engine coolant, there is something very loose in the front end; most likely a bad U joint. I want to make sure these fairly major issues are resolved before I assume ownership of it. I'll probably swindle myself a PM service, a clutch adjustment, an alignment, and brake service while I'm at it. I go through clutch adjustments with every student unfortunately, a regular maintenance cost I don't relish assuming myself but par for the course with the constant stream of rookie drivers.

Another mechanical annoyance which crept up on me the other night was the failure of a clamp on the air line to the turbo charger. It happened at one of the most inopportune times in one of the most inopportune locales. I had just spent a couple of hours with welfy after picking up a load in Youngstown with time to spare on the way to central Woodland, Pennsylvania with it. When I left her, I had time to get to my destination with 30 minutes of cushion space. So, at 3am I'm back on I-80, pulling hard up a small mountain under a 42,000 pound load when I heard the loud POP and resultant air whistling from the disconnected hose. Without the charger, I can still move but I have no power and the next exit was several miles up the road. Not wanting to stop on the shoulder of the highway, I crept to the next exit to inspect the situation. To make matters worse, Welf called to inform me that I had left my wallet in her car. Greeeeaaaaaaat.

I had had this happen before on another truck but had been lucky because the clamp had only loosened, but stay on the hose, and I was able to tighten it back down. There was no such luck this time. The clamp was completely gone. The next truckstop was 15 miles up the road the direction I was heading, or 25 miles behind me in Youngstown. I decided that waiting for roadside service would take a lot longer than driving the crippled truck, and driving it without the charger wasn't going to hurt the truck, just be terribly annoying. So I opted for driving back to Youngstown to find a clamp since I had to fetch my wallet from Welf's house. I first stopped at Truck World in Hubbard, OH but they didn't have any clamps in their travel store. I decided the Flying J across the street wouldn't be much help either since they didn't have a shop, so my next best bet was the Petro just beyond Girard.

The Petro shop didn't have a proper clamp for this application, but they did have an over-sized radiator hose clamp that I was able to buy off them for a buck and toss on. It's been holding fine ever since, but something else I should have properly addressed when I get to Council Bluffs next week. With power again, I made my detour through New Castle to retrieve my wallet then finally was back on I-80 heading east by 5am, the time I was supposed to have been in Woodland.

Those things aside, I'm overall pleased with the truck. She runs great and the motor sounds solid. There are just lots of cursory headaches that are associated with keeping her running due to her age. For instance, I have a feeling I'll be replacing the air compressor on it in the near future from the knocking it makes when it kicks-in. I just hope it doesn't nickel-and-dime me to death in these extraneous repair costs once I become responsible for them. My hope is that I can get McMullen Brothers to fix these few nagging problems right now and get a reasonably trouble-free 100-200 thousand miles out of her so I can bank some operating capital if I'm suddenly faced with a major transmission or engine failure.

opefully in my downtime during the truck repairs I can complete and post my second part of the subway tour sometime next week. I had hoped to get to it before this weekend but Joe and I have been rolling nearly non-stop since Tuesday, one of us sleeping, the other driving.

Only one more day left in the icon contest. It ends tomorrow on Easter. Jesus wants you to make me icons in remembrance of him. When you conclude creating your userpic masterpiece, whisper "It is finished" and send it to me. Monday, I'll be posting a poll for the popular vote on all the submissions and sometime midweek I'll post the winners as well as reveal who created which icons.