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lessons in trucking
i'm ready for my close up mr demille
Location: Toledo, Ohio

So I get to Connecticut and end up sitting most of yesterday waiting to get unloaded. Finally get every thing off the trailer around 7pm and I make my way through Hartford up to Springfield, MA and hop on the Massachusetts Turnpike headed for Albany. Well, actually, Broadalbin, NY, slightly west of Albany on the cusp of the Adirondack Mountains. That's where I was loaded this morning. A nice heavy load, too - I scaled out at the shipper at just under 77,000 lbs. Their scale couldn't provide me with axle weights and I didn't feel like pulling one set of axles off at a time and backwards calculating it. There was a TA just down the road on the NY Thruway, and I figured I would hit the scales there. I was feeling pretty good about the axles anyway - the trailer tandems were sitting about halfway in the slide and just under where the load was in the trailer.

Back on the expressway, I got to thinking how I was going to have to fuel around Erie, Pa anyway... and there are no weigh stations on the Thruway... so I threw caution to the wind. Pennsylvania doesn't utilize true weigh stations, they do some random mobile weighs at the rest areas, but not very often. As luck would have it, they weren't doing any as I crossed the border. Luck being the operative word, because when I scaled at the truckstop in Erie, it looked something like this:

Steer axle: 11,040 lbs
Drive axle: 34,660 lbs.
Trailer axle: 31,420 lbs.
Total: 77,210 lbs

At least a couple of you reading this are going "Oh shit". Yeah, sure ticket. For the uninitiated, you get to learn a little something about the trucking industry today. See, there are two principle things a weigh station measures: the total GVW (gross vehicle weight) and to check the distribution of that weight along the axles. While there are some exceptions to the rule, the general rule is that a semi can weigh no more than 80,000 lbs. GVW and the distribution of that weight is 12,000 lbs for the steer axle and no more than 34,000 lbs. for the drive axle and for the trailer axle (12 + 34 + 34 = 80). My drive axle was 660 lbs overweight. If you're really sharp, you'll notice I also gained some pounds (over 77,000 lbs now), but that's because I had just fueled, plus I wasn't in the truck when weighed at the shipper. But I was still under 80,000lbs, which was cool, I just needed to slide the trailer tandems forward a bit. That was the part that surprised me the most, actually. If anything, I was expecting the trailer axles to be over

After adjusting the trailer tandems I re-weighed:

Steer axle: 11,120
Drive axle: 32,620
Trailer axle: 33,340

Perfectly legal now. I grabbed some pizza from inside and trucked it on over to Toledo to crash for the night. Tomorrow I take it the rest of the way to Janesville, Wisconsin. Hopefully, by the time I reach Chicago tomorrow morning the traffic will have subsided. As it stands, I should hit the Skyway around 11am, so hopefully I'll breeze right through.

One thing that's fun about coming across the turnpikes of NY, OH, and IN is you get to see some interesting truck and trailer combinations. I'm sure many of you have seen the UPS trucks on the highway pulling two trailers. Typically, those two trailers are relatively small; most of the ones I see are 36 foot trailers. On the turnpikes though you get to see the big twins, two 53 foot trailers being pulled by one truck and, on a rare occasion, the elusive "California triple" - THREE 53 foot trailers. I didn't see any of them today, but I did see some 53 foot twins. I can only imagine driving a vehicle that's nearly 175 feet in length.

But what's wild... I've seen photos of the truck/trailer combos they pull in Australia acorss the outback. Monstrous trucks pulling 400+ feet of trailers.

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I was sleeping at a PA rest area once and got woken up by a truck inspector as they wanted to "open" the weight station part of the rest area. Pounded on the truck "Wake up and get moving or I'll inspect ya"

incentive to move lemme tell ya

i bet...

i've only had one true, full inspection in the past year and a half.... i've had two other bullshit inspections where they check your logs and ask you some questions then hand you the inspection sheet to be mailed in... but only one true inspection where the DOT officer crawled under the truck with a flashlight and ruler measuring brake pads, tread depth, etc...

want to take one guess where?

i'll save you the trouble... Ohio ;-)

I got on the scale last night and my trailer axle was at least 31,421 lbs.

Good thing I'm back on the Atkins diet! =)

and just think, in another year or so you'll be living some place where the city'll beat the weight off of you with daily living

that is provided you don't take too many meals down in little italy ;-)

When I was stationed in Woomera, SA, I had to deal with the "road trains" on a fairly consistant basis. You wanna talk about passing difficulties...

i've only seen pictures and it's hard to fathom... i can't imagine actually passing one on a highway... i imagine it mut be surreal the first few times you see them

standing up on the gas pedal, praying to a god you've largely ignored your entire life, followed by white knuckled accleration. Yeah, that about sums it up.

400+ feet of trailers?

And I bitch about having to parallel park. Man, that's crazy.

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