Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Never Make Plans for a Day Off

Shortly after my last post, and making plans to work on and wash the truck, we took a phone call from dispatch asking us to run a load from LAX to Phoenix then on to Albuquerque. From there, Monday evening, we would be moved with an empty trailer to El Paso, Tx and then load to Dallas. Though it wasn't what we had in mind for a load, we accepted it to get moving. The load was to be ready by 1500 EDT.

We got notification that the load was ready at about 1400. We hooked the loaded trailer, performed a pre-trip inspection and we were off to Phoenix.

All was well, we got out of California, into Arizona on I-10 East and we were at the 55 mile post when I noticed the sound of the cooling fan being engaged but no indication the engine was warm enough for that to be the case. I kept a close eye on the temperature and it never raised. The fan continued to stay engaged and yet no sign of excessive engine heat. Without warning, more than already given, there was a swift loud rattling noise, and loud squeal, and it all stopped as quickly as it started. Even the fan quit running. I knew we had thrown a belt off the alternator, which also drives the water pump/fan The voltmeter light, and the check engine lights came on immediately. Before I could get stopped the engine temp light came on and the temp gauge rose to about 220 deg.

After getting stopped, I got out and tilted the hood. Man, was it was way worse than I had actually expected...and I always expect the worse and then anything less is always a blessing, but I digress.

The fan clutch bearings failed. The fan Clutch and hub is that part which with air pressure, controlled by engine temperature, engages the fan to cool then engine and when the engine is a running temperature again, the air pressure shuts off and thus the fan clutch dis-engages. When the bearings in the fan clutch hub failed, the fan sailed, at a very high rate of rotation,into the radiator. That broke nearly every blade off the fan, broke the fan shroud, and made several gouges into the radiator causing at least 2 tubes in the radiator to leak.

Well, this is where trucking get to be fun, well, interesting at least. This was at 2030, that's 8:30 EDT. We called dispatch to tell them we had a breakdown and couldn't make it to phoenix then we called our shop folks in Columbus OH to let them know that we needed a tow to the Kenworth dealer in Phoenix.

Dispatch re-dispatched a truck to our location to rescue our load and take it to phoenix,and the shop called a tow truck out of Phoenix. The rescue truck got to us at about 2145 and hooked our trailer and headed for Phoenix. The tow truck finally got to us at about 2300. An Arizona highway patrol officer also arrived on the scene shortly after the tow truck. The officer walked up and asked what happened and without missing a beat I told the officer I was out of hours and had to be towed the rest of the way to Phoenix. He got a pretty good laugh, thanked me for being a conscientious driver and calling a tow truck when I was out of hours and we continued a great conversation.

The officer walked over and was reading the truck, commented on principle #9 and then the poem on the doors and wanted to know how many shotguns and rifles we had in the truck. I explained I didn't have any, because our company forbids firearms in the truck. They would rather their drivers be assaulted and or killed over a load of freight. We talked for about an hour about how America would be a safer place if everyone who wanted could carry a weapon after proper vetting, we talked about our current political climate, the current administration, and the unsustainable trajectory of our indebtedness to foreign entities.

After much work, some necessary, some not so much, the tow truck driver had us hooked to his tow truck and we were off. We started at the 59.5 mile marker and the tow truck driver had to stop at the rest area somewhere around the 85 mile post. It was a very quick stop and we were off again. This tow truck driver was unbelievable. He did everything but drive the tow truck. The first time we took off he immediately grabbed his phone and started texting. The he made a phone call. This was all being done at, according to the gps system mounted on the dash, 85 mph. After leaving the rest area, he seemed to have a very runny nose. He again began texting, then lit a cigarette, programmed the gps and made a phone call, again all at 80+ mph while driving with his elbows.

Fortunately, for us that is, his tow truck started making a whining noise. HE asked if I could hear the noise and I told him they could hear it in Phoenix and that it sounded like the input shaft bearing in the transmission was going bad. He kept mashing on it, 80+ miles per hour, passing another truck, smoking his cigarette, texting his boss and driving with his elbow. Before he got around the truck he was passing a loud grinding noise ensued and the transmission popped out of gear. He coasted to the side of the road and called his boss. Tina and I removed ourselves from his truck and headed back to ours where we'd be a bit more comfortable.

About 30 minutes later he came back to let us know that he had another tow truck coming for us and a low boy tractor trailer coming for him. So about an hour or so passes and the other 2 tow vehicle arrive. The low boy winches the broke down tow truck onto his trailer and off he goes. The second tow truck driver gets us hooked up to his tow truck at about 0430 and off we go. We were at the 96 mile marker when the second tow truck picked us up so we only had about 40 miles or so to go to the Kenworth dealer in Phoenix. That was a very long 40 miles.

We heard all about his night out drinking before he was called to come get us, we heard about how the other tow truck driver, the first one, made him mad, we heard about an old man that works at the tow company and chases younger women, we watched him text his boss, call his boss and tell us how he is in control of the old man that likes to chase younger women, and finally we heard about how, apparently he is such a "company" and that he gets the best tow truck. He is the only one besides the boss that gets to drive the truck that he normally drives. Amazingly though, that truck too, is in the shop for repairs.

We got to where we were going to park the truck at about 0530 and went to bed until the dealer opened at 0900 EDT. We got up at about 0845, drove the truck about 100 yards to the dealer driveway and got checked into service for repairs. WE were hungry so we went over to the local waffle house for breakfast. After breakfast we went back to the shop and awaited complete diagnosis. While we sere standing around waiting, the leasing manager complimented us on the theme of our truck and we had a fantastic conversation about what is happening in America. I told him about the West Valley Tea Party Patriots and how to find them on the web and he was going to look them up and see about joining the group. Mission accomplished again. It seems that even a breakdown can be a blessing. About an hour later the bad news came. Really though, not any worse than I had figured. Radiator repair, fan shroud repair, new fan, and a new fan hub and clutch assembly.

I also asked them to replace the air filter, the crankcase filter, check fluid levels in the differentials, the transmission and the front hub assemblies, replace the water filter and run the overhead while it was in the shop. We had just had a D.O.T. inspection done on Friday and had to replace a brake chamber on the right front rear axle so I knew anything to do with D.O.T. standards was okay and I do the filter and lubes myself. We should be set for a while when we get the truck back at this point.

It is now Tuesday evening, Tina and I went to Claim Jumper to treat ourselves to a great dinner and now we are resting. The truck is to be ready tomorrow afternoon and though we don't know where we will be headed, we are quite sure we will have a memorable experience. That's just truckin'.

Ephesians 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; My version of that is this...In all things be thankful. Though sometimes very tough, I try. Sometimes not immediately, but almost always it does happen. I heard a sermon once that you have reached a great level of maturity in the Lord when the first thing that comes to mind when something happens, good or bad, is Praise God or to give thanks in one way or another. I pray to someday reach that level. Tina is certainly a guiding light.

In God I Trust
Have a Great Day and a Better Tomorrow

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Currently in Los Angeles

We arrived in Los Angeles(Carson), CA yesterday after having the truck worked on in Phoenix on Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Not sure exactly how long we will be here. We were told to hook to an empty trailer at the Phoenix terminal and bring it to the LAX terminal. We arrived here at about 1830 yesterday, listened to the race on XM radio and will, I suppose get to watch the superbowl this evening.

I will be working on the truck for a bit, will probably even have time to wash it as well.

More later I suppose.