Near Miss

The title has a bit of double meaning. You see, as I was pulling out of the truck stop lot this morning in West Memphis, Arkansas I was making a left turn on to a narrow street. Another truck was coming up the street towards me but I was in my turn before he could possibly make his into the parking lot so I continued like I had right of way. Which I did, of course, but that is neither here nor there.

I was a bit startled to notice the cab of his tractor move past mine at a good rate of speed even though my trailer was just about halfway out of the parking lot, angled towards him at about 45 degrees. The entrance was narrow enough I knew there was no way he could squeeze by so I did the best I could and screeched to a halt. He must have realized the same thing and he slammed on his brakes as well. My trailer cleared his tractor by a few inches as I slowly made the turn.

Now fully awake and blood pumping, I turned on to I-55 south and made my way across the river into Tennessee and through Memphis, then off to points southeast.

After a few hours driving I came across a Pilot and stopped for a shower and some breakfast. Some days you have the backing thing down, and some days you suck. Today, I sucked. I tried three times on a simple dock back between two other tractors then gave up and took an easy nose-in spot (checking for ease of backing before I did so. See here for my history on that.)

I was in no hurry since I wanted to avoid the morning rush around Birmingham, Alabama so I took a long shower and snoozed for a bit. Unfortunately, when I started my truck I noticed my secondary air tank was completely empty and my primary was bled down pretty good as well. I got out and listened while my truck idled and its air compressor worked to fill the tanks; the distinct sound of hissing air could be heard from under my tractor.

After fiddling around a bit to see if perhaps one of the drain valves was blocked open for some reason I gave up and called dispatch. I spoke with the shop folks and they didn’t have any problem with me getting it looked at a few hours down the road in Montgomery, Alabama. My truck was putting out more than enough air to keep the tanks full so I drove on with a wary eye on my pressure gauges.

The fuel tanks and gauges on my truck work a bit oddly, it seems. I had traversed only 620 miles or so by the time I arrived in Birmingham and yet I was looking a bit low so I got permission to fill up there before going on. Yes, that Pilot still sucks.

A while later I arrived at the TA in Montgomery, Alabama and nosed it around to the rear of the service bays. After filling out some paperwork and phoning our team in the rear with the gear at HQ they got to work on my truck. Turns out a valve on the line running to the air dryer was unhappy with life and needed to be replaced. Oh, and the entry and exit doors to the garage there were TIGHT. Lots of scrapes on the steel posts on either side of each door.

After the tractor was fixed I started her up and moved to leave the service bay and my indicator lights started flashing and a beep went off. Something about engine problem and fluid levels. After parking at a convenient spot in the parking lot I cracked the hood and checked the radiator fluid.

Now checking this on a Kenworth T600 is a bit more involved than in your family car. First, you have to unlatch and raise the hood. Then, my way is to grab the passenger-side mirror stanchion, raise my left leg up to the second step then pivot up and on to the passenger-side front tire. After this I curse, get back down, find the keys to my sidebox, open the sidebox, fish out the gallon of pre-mixed radiator fluid, close the sidebox, get back up on the tire then proceed to fill up the radiator. Some of those steps are optional, though which ones are up to each individual.

Crank up the engine again and all the gremlins seem satisfied for now. After all the fun and excitement from earlier I’m getting a bit bored thinking about two more hours to drive so I find a truck stop in Shorter, Alabama and call it a night. I don’t have to be at my consignee until 1100 tomorrow morning, though I’m going to arrive there before daybreak to avoid morning traffic.

That was my day.