Hauled Out at Pendleton

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Rest Area, Interstate 84 exit 228, Pendleton, Oregon – February 3, 2017 

The term “hauled out” has many definitions.  I am referring to “hauling out” a boat from the water.  All in keeping with my nautical references about trucking.

 I stopped here late last night because I was encountering areas of patch ice and blowing snow that limited visibility.  The conditions were actually quite good at this particular spot, but I have learned – the hard way  – that, if you wait until you are actually unable to continue, you will have a vast oversupply of fellow truckers taking up every available parking spot and many more that are officially No Parking Zones  – because they waited, too.  The wise thing is to stop and anticipate the dawn…and snowplows.  

   This morning, on my return from morning ablutions, I noticed a flat tire on the trailer.  It was not so last night.  My plans were to jot down some notes in the hour and change that remained of my 10 hour break and then take off for a day’s drive.  Now, I have plenty of time to write while a mobile tire service is sent out. 

This trip began in that Loves Travel Center in Portland two days ago.  Sitting in my “bobtail” (i.e., without trailer) was another of those interims of in-betweenness.  No destination, no schedule and no official loacation

First came a message from the West Coast planners to go to a yard in Portland and pick up an empty trailer.  My next actions were carefully planned.  I have selected and located nearby Walmart Supercenter.  I examined an satellite photo and I see a few semis and tractors parked in their customer lot.  The ships galley is reduced to one can each of Spam, Wolf Brand Chili and Starkist Tuna.  The first half hour break of this day will be spent shopping…I mean re-provisioning.

 Realtime Update:  The local tire service in Pendleton says the conditions will prevent then coming here.  Meanwhile, I can see cars and trucks whizzing by on the highway.  Road Rescue is thinking about sending me – flat and all – to them.  The other wheel on the axle and the two on the axle’s twin will support the trailer with no problem, but the flat will be unavoidably damaged and need replacement.

   Road Rescue says three hours estimated time of arrival for tire service.  No limping down the highway will be required.

Back to Portland, now.

From Walmart, I went straight to the yard and found three company trailers there.  I hooked up to the best looking, newest unit and called in the number.  I asked if I should notify someone locally about taking a piece of equipment away.  That was not needed, I was told. This yard is wide open to the street and any shmoe with a tractor could come in, hook up and leave.  But, I reckon there is little market for stolen empties.  They are registered, licensed and numbered.  It is the full trailers that tend to disappear.  The cargoes can value six digits and we are instructed to guard loads carefully.  Still, two full Company trailers have been stolen in the last six months.

While I was still in the yard, a pre-assignment came in.  I had a rest area picked out about 20 miles from the shipper, in Brooks, south of Portland, when gave me a fuel stop in town.  It was to the North requiring a small detour but I tried to get there.  This is now the first time I have hauled a trailer in ten days.  It is nighttime and I am in city traffic.  Missing the exit put me on the bridge across the Colombia and a short tour of Southern Washington State.  Returning, I decided that I would fuel in the morning in a more rural setting.  I found my rest area through some heavy winds.  The place was strewn with pine branches in the morning.

portlandrestareapineThe Rest Area near Brooks, Oregon.  It was a bit windy the night before, as evidenced by the pine tree debris.

Jill the navigation computer got me to the shipper which was across the highway from a convenient Pilot (where I get shower credits!).  Having topped off, I went hunting around the cluster of buildings to which Jill had pointed.  I found a receiving door – the wrong one and they sent me to find another, also wrong.  I eventually located the office in question by walking around behind some rail cars.  Sometimes only a foot tour will do.

Shipping clerk was speaking Spanish at someone as I entered.  When it was my turn, I continued in Spanish, but soon found that she spoke fluent English as well (as you might expect).  Teresa and I had a cordial and friendly conversation for a while.  I worked in a mention of my Peruvian wife.  (The previous comment is included for Marital Harmony purposes, because someone is always warning me about those women I meet on the road).

Backing into the dock was a breeze.  Loading went quickly and I left to find the shipper’s scale.  The scale is by an empty guard shack and you read the gross weight through a window.

portlandtruckonscaleThe truck on the scale.  One peers through the window to read the result

The number was 80,500 pounds.  Notice this is without the driver, who will be included with regulatory weigh-ins.  Now we are talking 80,750 pounds.  The load is to be delivered to New Jersey.  With some eleven State Departments of Transportation soon to deal with, this is a non-starter.  I  went back to bump the dock again.  Then I pulled out and opened the doors and did it again.  (Doh!) 😉   Teresa was out on the dock and was quite amused.

One pallet removed was enough.  Back to the scale and I photo’ed the result.

portlandscalereadingThe Trucks final Gross Weight.  Please add 250 pounds for driver.  That may sound like a lot, but it is still 60 pounds less than when I started the Walkabout.  

The fun was not over.  A load must be balanced so as not to exceed 34,000 per tandem axle.  It was obvious that the load would be front-heavy so I moved the trailer wheels all the way forward.

The CAT scale at the Pilot gave these results:

Steer Axle: 12280    Drive Axle: 33680   Trailer Axle:   33300   Gross Weight: 79260

My enthusiasm at the initial weighing being well balanced was short lived.  While the 34000 limit was not exceeded on Drive or Trailer Axles, the Steer Axle limit is 12000.  This entails moving the “fifth wheel” on its base on the tractor.  I have seen this done once and done it once (on purpose – more on that later).  In each case, the fifth wheel is stuck solid because it is seldom moved.  Once released and the trailer brakes set, the engine labors (in lowest gear) to pull the tractor forward and then suddenly, it happens all at once.  The effect in the cab is like a collision.  Loose items are thrown violently off shelves and the driver is jarred to his very teeth.  Then re-adjustments – fine  tuning, if you like – can take place.  The final move is only one position of a dozen (about 3 inches, total) but that is enough.

Steer Axle: 11880    Drive Axle: 33940   Trailer Axle:   33340   Gross Weight: 79160

Notice that 100 pounds of gross weight has disappeared somewhere.  Doesn’t matter, I am legal now and can prove it.  That said, every weigh-in-motion station along the highway sent me a red , flashing light.  Only one was open and I pulled in and onto their scale. It weighed and passed the rig.  From there to here, I described above.

portlandwaitfortiretruck   Rest Area near Pendleton, Oregon

I am still waiting on tire service and that brings us up to date.

Over The Road,

Steve

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