Using older but well-maintained dump trucks and newer state-of-the-art excavation equipment, six guys working full-time, plus me helping out part-time, are removing the concrete on a stretch of road and several streets in a small town located in an adjacent county. Additionally, we are coordinating with two road engineers, and conferring with local utility employees overseeing the project. Our crew is handling the overall excavation, installation of underground drainage infrastructure, dumping the old concrete in designated land areas, hauling away dirt to two other locations, and hauling in rock from two separate quarries. All of this is being done in advance of a paving company’s final pouring of the concrete.
In some ways, excavating pavement is like a war: It is a daily grindfest whereby demolition is ongoing and progress takes time. Our crew consists of an onsite Colonel, so to speak, who operates the big machines and confers with the engineers and local employees, a Captain acting as the site supervisor, a Sergeant who musters the crew and drives a dump truck as needed, two grunts who can also operate skid-steers, end-loaders, backhoes, rollers, and graders, plus myself and another driver who are hauling and dumping non-stop all day.
The General of the company is my age and oversees the operations of his other businesses from the main headquarters. His son is the Colonel in charge of excavation and works closely with the engineers and the local city and county employees. The Captain is 20 years younger than me but, given his career under the sun, he looks only about 10 years younger. He is an experienced site supervisor but has been with this company for only about one month. The Sergeant is in his upper 20s. He is a decent mechanic and well-rounded equipment operator and overall “go to” guy. The grunts are 22 and 18 years old and, like the sergeant, have been employed by this excavation company for all of three weeks; about as long as me.
Although it has been years since I drove a 10-speed truck, and in spite of never having driven a Mack dump truck before, it has been going well. To spare my left knee from double-clutching all day (clutching to neutral then clutching again into gear), which is required for a non-synchronized transmission, I have been “floating gears” instead. This is a method of bypassing the clutch and aligning the engine speed (RPMs) and vehicle speed to the exact gears at the right time.
An Eaton Fuller 10-speed transmission is basically a low-range 5-speed manual transmission beneath a high-range 5-speed. The low and high ranges are separated by a “range selector” (or splitter) button on the stick shift.
For those who are interested, the below video shows what it’s like to align the RPMs, vehicle speed, and gears in a 10-speed truck.
The upshifting begins at: 15 seconds and the downshifting begins at the 1:56 mark.
Notice a couple of things:
– When upshifting a fully loaded truck, the transmission is usually shifted through six gears before a speed of 15 MPH is reached. This is about the amount of time required to cross an intersection from a full stop at a stoplight
– When downshifting, the RPMs (via tachometer gauge) and vehicle speed (via speedometer) must be paired to the exact right gears, with an extra step, as follows: 1.) Monitor the (slowing) vehicle speed while braking 2.)Shift out of higher gear 3.) Rev engine to proper RPMs 4.) Shift into the correct lower gear. In other words, because of reduced engine speed while slowing down, the extra step of revving the engine (step 3) is required to sync the transmission into the required lower gear:
Although the guy driving the newer (unloaded) truck in the video makes it look pretty easy, it can actually be somewhat tricky, especially, when carrying up to 17 tons of payload over varying road surfaces, around sharp corners, and up and down steep hills.
As mentioned before, it’s a total grindfest all day long: Hauling old concrete away from the demolished road, then removing load after load of excess dirt, then hauling and dumping rock back in for the underlayment of the new road.
So far, I’ve backed down hills, over long stretches of mud, dirt, sand, and rock; backed around tight corners in reverse, traveled backward through narrow small-town alleys, and have reversed down hills AND around tight corners, both, for some hauls.
The early 2000s Mack dump truck I’ve been driving has a reverse button (in addition to the splitter) on the gearshift. This is something I’ve never seen in a semi-tractor (or Class 8 truck) before, but it’s pretty cool because it allows me to shift and downshift in reverse. I’ve actually shifted, and downshifted, through three gears while going backward on longer stretches. This is an efficient and time-saving option for a dump truck but it can also be dangerous, at exactly the wrong time, if the button isn’t engaged or disengaged as required: especially when loading or dumping in tight spots, on hills, over ledges, or under power lines.
On my workdays, I am up at 5:30 AM and then off to work. I take a Carhartt lunch bag containing ice packs, sandwiches, an apple or raw vegetables, and two healthy granola bars along with a half-gallon Coleman water jug, and a quality thermos containing two cups of hot (instant) coffee.
At the garage location, I pre-inspect the truck, load up my gear and then, on most days, will head off to a quarry to take a load of rock to the jobsite. Then, I will haul non-stop for the next 10 to 11 hours without breaks. I drink and eat while queued at the quarry or on the jobsite, and sometimes while driving down the road. My bathroom stops are taken at the remote land locations where the dirt or old concrete is dumped, or on a lonely stretch of two-lane road with a flat, fat, and dry shoulder, or other times I’ll stop at a convenience store that provides a roadside pull-off for the truck.
Although the CB radio is broken, the AM/FM radio works, and the air-conditioning blows just cool enough to take the edge off the warmer days. But on the extremely hot and humid days, the AC is a losing battle because I must keep the window lowered at the jobsite to hear the horn honks of the excavators: One honk to stop backing and another beep for me to pull away when full.
The quarries are busy in ways that remind me of an ant colony and the choreography of construction equipment on the jobsites, as seen looking backward through my side mirrors, are sights to behold; and all amidst the clamorous cacophony of diesel engines roaring and the beep-beep-beeping sounds of equipment in reverse. In fact, it sounds like angry dinosaurs raiding a prehistoric aviary.
Certainly, the guys in the crew work very hard. Harder than me.
And beyond the occasional “Fuck Biden” signage, people out here on the edge seem to be ignoring The Borg.
“For how long?” I wonder.
Recently, the panicked internet headlines were screaming over a pending diesel shortage. But later headlines have claimed diesel demand is set to drop.
Either way, it seems to make no difference out here on the fringe; at least for now. One morning, the “Captain” drove one of the trucks to the jobsite at 7 AM and left it running. When I drove by again at 2PM, the rig was still idling. This is much different than when I’ve helped out driving bus for my local school system. At the schools, the rule is to shut down the diesel engines if idling longer than 5 minutes. But the dump trucks we are driving this summer are older so no modern EPA-mandated DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) concerns. Most of the trucks and equipment run non-stop all day and the fuel tanks at the main shop have yet to run dry.
On another day off from driving, I read a blog post mentioning the Supreme Court ruling on abortion and typed the following comments, and question, in that thread:
We know SCOTUS, like the DoJ and FBI, has been mostly assimilated by The Borg.
We also know SCOTUS had five decades to overturn Roe v Wade.
So why now?
Of course, I had my own opinion on the matter, but wanted to see if anyone else shared my views. Bingo. The commenter “Herc” replied as follows:
After they lock us up in the fall, and the election results show a democratic sweep in the middle of night from all the mail in votes….they will say the abortion vote was what turned the tide
Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. But that kind of plausible deniability could definitely be used to explain away a Democratic Party sweep this fall – in spite of record-high inflation and fuel prices.
Obviously, history has demonstrated the “vote harder” strategy is about getting the base riled and keeping the dupes in the dark with deceptive narratives.
A war has been declared on patriotic Americans… yet very few conservatives fully understand the warfare being waged. We are witnessing propagandized psychological, legal, and legislative campaigns advanced by the globalists that are designed to handicap and hamstring the enemy; their enemy, that is: American patriots and political conservatives.
And if you think I’m a conspiracy theorist, well, even Sleepy Joe Biden’s advisor, Brian Deese, had the following to say regarding record-high fuel prices:
This is about the future of the Liberal World Order and we have to stand firm.
The Orwellian Jan 6th hearings and new gun control measures are designed to set up Red Flag Snitches in both red and blue states. The recently passed background checks on young adults are just another way to establish a comprehensive “list” of (young) Americans acquiring semi-automatic weapons.
There have also been reports in the news about Google’s A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) becoming sentient. I have wondered in the past if the online (collectivist-leaning) Wikipedia encyclopedia will soon serve as a universal informational database for the global brain of a supercomputing entity designed to rule humanity by a digital fist.
Of course, nothing would surprise me anymore.
So how else might The Great Reset War Toward a New World Order progress? Given all the potential variances that might occur, it is hard to predict with 100% accuracy. But, for now, I’ll just say this to those who wish to rule the world:
1.) Good luck creating an A.I. device or an algorithm that can effectively drive a dump truck
2.) It will be an entirely new war if, or when, the hard men on the fringe correctly adjust their “collective focus” on those now facilitating The Great Reset
In the meantime, here are a few observations from one helping to build roads while the world wilts:
America is beautiful
Every day, I am humbled and gratified by the sights I see – and to the relaxing soundtrack of the diesel growling, the jet-engine whine of the turbo, and the howl of wheels over the road. Verdant hills and patriotic small towns filled with American Flags waving in the breeze. Rolling ribbons of road and winding rivers. Mothers pushing strollers and little kids on their bikes waving and pumping their arms vertically as a signal for me to honk my horn. Ladies tending to gardens and smiling men conversing in the town squares. Tiny tots toting towels on the way to the pool.
The sun shines on it all.
America is industrious
How can only seven men excavate multiple roadways in a matter of weeks? Because we ride upon the minds of those who conceived and created the machines. Through the ages, mankind has engineered ways to get stuff done; and, in so doing, they’ve continuously innovated ways to do it better.
And with the properly engineered tools, there isn’t much that can’t be done.
In most all of the small towns I drive through, I see people still building and producing: Machine shops, trailer manufacturers, ag and construction equipment fabricators, et al; and in all of those businesses, machines are used to assemble those conceptions into reality.
Let the machines do the work
Out here on the edge, I must prepare and sustain two machines: One mechanical, and one biologically based. Although the biological unit has an impressive carbon-based central processor and smoother hydraulics, the mechanical machine requires fuel and maintenance just as the physical body needs sustenance, hydration, and rest. When I am up at 5:30 AM, I feel better if I get to bed by 9:30 PM the night before.
Planning and preparation yield success. It’s why I pack my lunch and prepare the truck each day. A full tank gets the job done. Eating healthy and drinking water creates stamina. Stamina engenders perseverance.
Garbage in. Garbage out. One of the grunts recently left their water jug at home and tried to work that day while hydrating with energy drinks. Bad plan. He vomited under a tree and rested in the shade before securing a ride home by noon.
Just as a diesel engine overheats with low or dirty oil, if I wait to hydrate until I’m thirsty, it’s too late.
The right gear at the right time. Remain smooth and alert. And let the machines do the work.
A machine is only as effective as its operator
A machine in the wrong hands can be a wrecking ball. But with the right operator, it’s a tool to accomplish a specific purpose. When it comes to operating machinery, people get better at what they operate every day and, over time, experience provides knowledge of a particular machine’s capabilities and limitations. An experienced operator can make any machine sing; and every good operator learns the most efficient ways to maximize the effectiveness of their respective instrument.
When entering the smaller, more remote, quarry, I can always tell when this particular guy is on duty. He will perch his wheel-loader up high on a pile with his bucket balanced over the edge so he can see below. He looks like the Karate Kid up there in a Zen pose. Then, as I spin my truck to a particular pile below, he will swoop down like a bird of prey.
As I roll up empty (i.e. no load) to that quarry, I know to idle into the gradual downhill corner at the entrance in eighth gear, then downshift to sixth gear before descending into the pit. Why? Because sixth is the right gear to navigate the work area and drive down the hill. Fifth is too low and seventh is too high.
Then the Karate Kid will load me in two scoops at the same pile where his coworkers (in the same loader) will take two-and-a-half to three buckets. I’ve been watching (i.e. paying attention) and I think it’s because he drives into the pile with a little more speed before finessing the bucket just right to balance more rock vertically. Obviously, experience has shown the Karate Kid the more efficient way to load rock into a dump truck.
Then, once full, I will straighten out the truck, lower the tag-wheels (unless it’s raining), and get my RPMs sufficiently high so I can climb out of the pit in fourth gear. Why fourth gear? Because experience has shown me that the engine revs too high (at too low of a speed) in third gear and fifth gear bogs down – because, when loaded, there isn’t enough time and distance to drive the RPMs to 1,400 before hitting the bottom of the incline. That’s why.
Experience is the best teacher, practice makes perfect, and “getting in the groove” just might be a Zen conception after all.
Viewing the road far ahead allows for the best options later
Not even the most experienced operator can predict the future. The universe is, by and large, random and variances always arise. No driver can magically foresee what will happen on the road on any given day. All one can do is to remain alert, and be cautious, and this is why experience has taught commercial truck drivers to always be looking far down the road.
Just when I’ve thought I’ve seen it all, I get surprised again and again. Bicyclists are mostly clueless. Roads are magnets to balls and balls are magnets for kids. Last week I came over a hill and onto an old fossil driving an ancient Chamberlin tractor pulling a rusted-out Ford pick-up. The old guy was swallowing my lane on a two-lane road with a narrow, steep shoulder. He was driving 20 MPH in a 55 zone and, fortunately, I spotted that circus show two miles before, or enough time to slow down into seventh gear so I could follow him for a while before passing at the next opportunity.
When driving a loaded 10-speed dump truck (or semi-trailer), you can’t just slam on the brakes and stop quickly. It takes time to downshift and allow the gears to slow the rig. But most drivers don’t understand this as they pull out onto the road from an intersection and proceed to accelerate to a speed of 45 miles an hour in a 55 zone – and just ahead of a 60,000-pound, 12-wheeled, steel missile armed with stone projectiles and diesel fuel.
Even on the same stretch of road that I consistently travel over many times a day, the strangest variances will blip up in unbelievable ways. Two weeks ago, on the way back from the small quarry, I spotted some madness in the distance: There were two leading vehicles with flashing lights in advance of a semi pulling a house. Yes. An entire house. One of the lead vehicles was in the opposite lane and passed to my left. But the other lead vehicle was driving straight at me and waving me over to the shoulder because the house was taking up half of my lane. Fortunately, I spotted all that insanity miles before, and was almost stopped halfway on the shoulder by the time the second lead vehicle drove by waving at me. And, fortunately, the shoulder was wide and dry enough for me to park half the truck. Otherwise, being fully loaded with rock, I may have tipped into the ditch.
And, last week, even navigating city streets in a tiny town on the way back to the main garage, I saw a skid loader with a claw bucket gripped onto a 6-inch diameter pipe that was as wide as the street. But because I was paying attention, I drove straight through the intersection ahead instead of turning. Otherwise, it would have made for an awkward game of chicken.
Weird variances occur every day, but better options are made available if the variances are seen further away as opposed to up close – because, by then, it is too late.
Call it spot-check preparation if you want, but it’s only effective when paying attention to the longview while remembering to keep an eye on the nearby gauges from the driver’s seat, too.
To be sure, “The Road” is a metaphor for life, as well; and the proposed social and economic Great Reset now manifesting ahead in this Fourth Turning is a big, fat variance. Madness approaches. A dark and dangerous circus, indeed.
We see only so far in the distance and no one knows for sure what lies over the next hill or around a forthcoming turn in the road. All we can do is pay attention, prepare the best we can, and watch for any variances as they arise.
In the meantime, I will enjoy the journey for as long as possible and appreciate the views.
The Borg requires consent. So, I do not give my consent. I will strive to help build as it destroys.
Around the Fourth of July holiday, many Americans will have left their work behind to join with their families and friends to celebrate what it means to be free. Unsurprisingly, the same people who remember what they are celebrating are the same who will never forget.
Tributes are made with parades and barbeques and picnics and upward gazes in the night.
Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
Over the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star spangled banner yet wave
Over the land of the free and the home of the brave?
– “Star Spangled Banner”, Francis Scott Key, 1779–1843
Independence Day is observed with fireworks as these commemorate the red glare of rockets and bombs bursting. Through that dark night, and perilous hours, America’s flag remained at daybreak, shining. It was still there.
Happy birthday, America. You still have your moments.
I am one who has found the road less traveled while remaining a whiskered, whispering witness to the world. I hope what you just considered was worth the price and time spent. www.TheTollOnline.com View all posts by Uncola