Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sitting and Rushing

No, I didn't forget to post ... just my wireless wasn't working to good so I put it off till today.

My load out of Cargill in Fort Morgan didn't work out the way I wanted, apparently there was something wrong with the load that they wanted to give me so instead of sitting around Cargill had a shuttle load that needed to be moved so I accepted it.

Now a shuttle load is a load that is moving from one beef plant to another plant, usually one plant is short something so another plant supplies it. In this case I shuttled a 43,000 pound load of rumps from Fort Morgan to Dodge City, Kansas. The drive was pretty easy, but I had to push it through in one trip because it was "critical".

Now, I've always wanted to visit Dodge City. Where the "Wild West" really earned it's reputation. I even got a chance to look around a bit after I dropped my load (more on that in a minute) and frankly, I don't think I want to go back.

For one thing, that town stinks. And I mean literally. I could smell the beef plants, there are two or three, and the holding pins about ten miles before I ever got to the city limits. I can't imagine living there. My sinuses were on overload the whole time I was there. Was terrible.

[Cattle Pens outside the Cargill Plant in Dodge City, Kansas]

Once I got to Dodge City and unloaded, I was given a pickup number around 1:30 am on Saturday for a load that was going to Denver when I got there, and they said it would be ready shortly so I hunkered down and went to sleep.

However, that was about all I did other than look around town a bit. I sat in that town for eighteen hours. Finally dispatch, who had been calling Cargill every thirty minutes trying to push them so I could get going on a load that was already a day late in availability when I arrived, told me that if it wasn't ready by 10:00pm to find an empty on their lot and dead head back to Fort Morgan as they had four loads there ready for pickup and just burning up reefer fuel.

Just when I was about ready to just leave, Cargill called me on my phone and said my load was ready. It was now 8:00pm and I was due at 5:00am Monday morning in Denver. That's not too bad really as it only takes about 8 hours to get from Dodge City to Denver. At least I'll be able to goof off some and save up some hours because I was getting dangerously close to my 70 hour mark.

So I only drove a few hours to get to Lamar, Colorado and went to bed, then on Sunday I headed into Watkins, Colorado about ten miles from the receiver and packed it in again. Giving me time to watch a little TV. (I would have updated the blog then, but the network was to slow to even load the blog pages.)

Monday morning I finally found the receiver in a part of Denver that reminded me of South Dallas and got unloaded.

Soon as I sent my MT call in, they told me to fly to Fort Morgan and grab a trailer that was ready to roll and needed to be in San Antonio, Texas. Yesterday!

The wanted me to try and get it there by Tuesday Morning and I told them no dice, it was a 14 hour drive and there is no way I could do it and live. So they said just get there as fast as possible.

Well, we can only do 62 (my truck actually only does 60 even though it reads 62) so going fast is not an option really.

Unfortunately, the trucking gods were not smiling on me today. Around 5pm the truck over heated again. And this time it wasn't the thermostats, it was the cooling fan.

Now, on a big truck if you didn't know it the fan doesn't run at all unless the temp gets to high. Once it gets to be about 190 degrees the fan clutch kicks in and cools the radiator. Well, the fan wasn't working at all, especially when going up hills which is when the engine generates the most heat.

Being in Springfield, Colorado at the time, the nearest Freightliner service center was in Amarillo, Texas. About 200 miles away, which means if the company had decided to tow me it would have cost about $5,000 to pull me in if not more since I was pulling a fully loaded trailer.

I called dispatch and told them the issue and then spoke to the shop manager and we hatched a plan. I decided to limp the truck into Amarillo one overheat at a time. The problem with this was I would have to drive slow enough to keep the temp down (50mph or less) till I could get through the mountains there in Southern Colorado and begin my downhill run to Amarillo.

Needless to say it took me about seven hours to limp from Springfield, Colorado to Amarillo, Texas. Once I got into Freightliner they said they wouldn't be able to even look at the truck till Tuesday afternoon. Which was about 18 hours away. I told them that wasn't acceptable at this point as the load I was under was already four days late on delivery and was their anything they could do just to get me running.

The shop manager at Freightliner said he could short out the clutch to turn the fan on, but it would run all the time regardless of the temp and would lower my fuel mileage.

After talking to my shop manager and dispatch we decided to go with that, so he did it and luckily for us didn't even charge us for it.

After that was taken care of I went to bed for a few hours then got up Tuesday morning and started heading towards San Antonio, Texas. One eye on the road and the other on the temperature gauge.

[West Texas Sheep Farming]

I actually made pretty good time and didn't really have any heating problems till I was going through the hill country on I-10. I got to the receiver around 7:30pm only to find out that they only accept deliveries between 6am and 2pm so I was stuck.

I bunked down at the Love's there in San Antonio after taking a shower and was set to be there the second they started receiving.

Wednesday morning dawned with me sitting on the worst dock in history to back into, I'm not going to go into details but it took me 20 minutes to back in because of the way the dock is configured. At least they were quick to unload.

Once done I was told to dead head back to Ft. Worth so they could work in the truck, and that is exactly what I did.

So, the truck is being worked on now and I'm home for a few days to get a reset and remind myself of what my wife and kids look like.

I'm probably going to head back out tomorrow if they finish working on the truck today like they said they would ... I'd like to spend a few more days at home, but frankly I'm broke and the rent is due :)

[Miles Driven Since Last Post: 2158]

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