Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shaken, not stirred

Well, the load that was supposed to be ready by 9 PM for me to pick up at 3 AM wasn't across the border yet, so I got to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally, around 11 AM local time it rolled into the yard and I pre-tripped and hooked up to it, then moved my rig up to where the small office was to pick up the paperwork. After three or four minutes inside I hopped back into the cab of my truck and finished my paperwork and satellite forms then slowly headed out to the gate, then the street.

Midway out the gate, during a 90 degree left-hand turn, I started hearing scraping sounds and could feel the load shifting more than it would normally do in a slow turn. To my horror, a quick scan of my left mirror showed the trailer sliding forward, obviously no longer attached to the fifth wheel. I slowed down and stopped with the fifth wheel still under the apron (the front part of the trailer's nose around the kingpin) and the trailer landing gear buried in the tractor rear wheels. Lots of hissing air to be heard, very dramatic.

To make a long story short, one of three things happened. Either my fifth wheel had a problem and lost the kingpin (unlikely), I managed to screw up not one but three checks (a tug test and two visual checks) or someone pulled the pin on my fifth wheel, releasing it while I was inside getting the paperwork.

The trailer was stuck out on the street for half an hour or so, partially blocking traffic. Eventually, several of the drayage workers and I managed to get my tractor and its ripped-up tires out of the way and another tractor underneath the load and we moved everything back into the yard. I don't have any pictures of the incident out on the street, as I was a bit busy right then, but I do have some of the aftermath I will post soon.

About three hours later I had two new super-single Michelin X-1 tires on the back of my tractor and after an absurd number of fifth wheel tests and checks I took the very same trailer out of the dropyard and drove a whopping six or seven miles to the local truck stop.

It was a long day.

On Friday when I (hopefully) make it in to Joplin I will get to speak to safety in person to go over everything in addition to seeing my fleet manager about the other stuff. Oh joy.