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troubleshooting Sally
fter picking up a load in Neenah, WI bound for California, my dispatcher arranged a load swap with an east bound driver so I could head toward home. It was arranged for us to meet in Rapid City, SD at 2am this morning. Not long after nightfall and crossing into South Dakota, we stopped for fuel and to check Sally's coolant situation. The temprature was falling fast and already well below zero. The night promised only to get colder. I treated the diesel with a strong dose of anti-gel and topped-off the coolant reservoir, stocking the sidebox with an additional four gallons of antifreeze as a precaution.

LARM continued driving and I laid down to get a nap so I could get-up and drive the night shift in a few hours. A hundred miles later, LARM was pulling the truck onto the shouler while Sally complained of not having enough coolant. I bundled-up and went outside to inspect. She was bone dry. I checked the right side of the motor, as that's where I've been seeing the tell-tale signs of a leak for the past two weeks. I didn't expect to see anything which would give me any indication of what the problem was, but I wanted to make sure that there were no blown hoses since she had lost her coolant so quickly.

To my surprise, I saw the leak. It was coming from the 5 inch piece of hose which connects the pipe to the radiator's low side. A small stream was dribbling from beneath the hose, right in front of the clamp. I fetched two gallons of coolant from the sidebox and replenished the reservoir. I considered tightening the clamps but, if there's one thing I've learned about road-side mechanic work, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I favor a philosophy of doing the least amount possible and getting the truck to a place where I have options: fluids, tools, parts, etc. The last thing I needed in this weather was to break a clamp and leave myself totally screwed. Since I still had an additional two gallons of antifreeze on-board, I figured I'd let LARM continue driving, even if it would only be for another hundred miles before it happened again. By then, it would be about time for me take over dirving anyway, I can finish-off that last two gallons of coolant and get her into a truckstop to tinker with the clamps.

I laid back down to resume my sleep. I was simultaneously happy and pissed. I was happy think I had found the cause of all Sally's coolant problems, but pissed that I'd been going through all the headache for so long over something so simple. Fifteen minutes later, she was out of coolant again. I suddenly had images of us being stranded in this subzero weather and not being able to run the truck for warmth. I imagined someone finally coming to our rescue only to find me dead of exposure to the extreme cold and LARM holding a utility knife and subsisting on Soopageek Jerky. I braved the cold once again and replenished the coolant. I decided also that any chances of getting any more sleep for the night was wrecked and took over the driving duties. Thankfully, there was a truckstop only 3 miles down the highway.

I pulled into the fuel island and got my toolbox. As I pulled open the hood I glanced at the plastic reservoir; completely empty. The nuts on the hose clamp were super loose so I cranked them down at both ends, at least a dozen revolutions each. I bought enough coolant to fill her back up and give myself another two backup gallons. The next truckstop was about 25 miles away, so I would use that as a test distance then stop again and see how she was holding after the clamp tightening. Just then, dispatch sent me a message asking if I minded extending the swap location to Buffalo, Wyoming. In a rare moment of confidence in Sally and my mechanic'n skeelz, I told them no problem.

LARM retired to the bunk for some rest while Sally and I rejoined the interstate and continued westward. The light in her temperature guage is burned-out so I kept an overhead light on so I could monitor it closely while I made the 25 mile trip to the next truckstop. After a few minutes she climbed to normal operating temperature and held, while the heater continued to blow nice and hot. Twenty minutes later I was at the new truckstop and popped the hood to check it out. The reservoir was still full and there were no new signs of leakage anywhere.

And it held. It continued to hold for the brutally cold, 400 mile trip to Buffalo. It has continued to hold, now almost 24 hours later. I don't think everything is perfect, it seems to have slowly lost about a half gallon judging from the level in the reservoir, but it's much improved over what I've been dealing with for the past two weeks. I've got Sally running rather nicely for the moment and despite the problems this time out, we will have covered nearly 13,000 miles by the time we get back home.

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You, Sally and... LARM have a very interesting adventure! I must say, part of the reason that sways me into the whole "it'd be interesting" to be a truck driver is the complete unknown day to day, what will happen where you go, who you will see, etc.

But, I'm a person who'd rather be not driving.

Maybe instead of going to college you should just pack a suitcase after graduation and hang-out at your local truckstop every day until you find the Billy Bob of your dreams.

As long as he's intelligent, the Billy Bob could be amazing.

Now I think I'm going to have weird dreams about this Billy Bob and all the interesting type people, LARM describes.

I imagined someone finally coming to our rescue only to find me dead of exposure to the extreme cold and LARM holding a utility knife and subsisting on Soopageek Jerky.

You damn near made me aspirate tea on my laptop. :)

Heheh, I was seriously having like, Donner Party/Chilean soccer team visions last night.

I had this idle thought one day about six months ago, for my first OS trip, of flying out to meet you somewhere, seeing the countryside by way of your truck for a week, being dropped off at an airport somewhere else, and then fucking off home again (well, I'd have to have dinner with John somehwere along the line too. And maybe Pat.)

It seems so doable, cool, stealthy, and bursting with lulz potential.

Dude, it would be totally doable. Fly to Kentucky on the weekend, and I'd arrange it so that I'm home on that one. Spend a day or two with me and Welf, maybe work-out a meetup with Sarah one day (she's only 3 hours up the highway from us in Columbus), then leave with me for a cross-country drive. I highly recommend east-to-west rather than the reverse.

Get to the west coast, meetup with John in Oakland (I've yet to meet the bastard either). We could part ways, you could spend whatever time with John you wanted, catch a train down to Santa Barbara to see Pat then fly out of LAX back to Oz.

Wow. You could totally be a travel agent.

Food for thought, there. Food for thought. Hmmmmmm.

"I imagined someone finally coming to our rescue only to find me dead of exposure to the extreme cold and LARM holding a utility knife and subsisting on Soopageek Jerky."


You'd probably make a phone post before dying though. Singing "Another One Bites the Dust."

*coughcough* Hi, LiveJournal. This is *ouuuuuugh* soopageek here. OMG I'm dying and I don't have an Aircard signal to post my last will and testament to LJ. *coougggghcoughcoughackpphttffttt*

whoa whoa whoa.
LARM drives the truck? W. T. F.?
was this his idea or did you recruit him.

LARM was sposed to use a stolen credit card once to buy me guv'ner cds in 1998. he never came through for me. bastard.

Yeah, he ditched everything and went to truck driving school back before Christmas then came to work for the company I'm leased to, so I'm training him.

I don't think I actively recruited him, I think he was just inspired by the thought of the lifestyle and tired of working in an office all day. We've basically been on the road together now for... a month I guess? He's got about another three weeks to go then he'll be on his own.

Check this person:


their default icon is almost exactly the same angle as yours.. made me think of you...

I have my internet lawyers on the case!

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