Saturday, July 24, 2010

Reversing and more reversing.

Oof, tired, it’s been a long week. It looks as though we will be hitting the highway and crossing the border soon, but the remainder of week involved a lot more driving round in small circles. The new cab, you see. These people know a thing or two about getting you up and running and independent. The smaller wheelbase on the daycab was perfect for learning a bit about the tight spaces for manoeuvring in at all of the local plants, but once in a highway cab they had to be learned all over again.

The space taken up at the back of a long haul tractor by the bunks and living area adds several feet to the overall length of the truck. The two pivot points of steering axle and fifth wheel are further apart, things happen differently. So, I have had three days unlearning everything I learned on Luis’ daycab and relearning how to get into each dock with the bigger truck.

We have spent a lot of time reversing. I don’t mind admitting it is a weak point. It always was a challenge but with the passage of time and a good deal of confidence-losing it has become a bit of a nightmare. Driving forwards is easy enough but reversing is vital for getting the job done. Most warehouses have a line of docks for loading and unloading. They are exactly trailer-sized, with just enough room from one to the next for someone to walk between the docked trailers and mess about with stuff. A few feet at most. If the trailer can’t be wiggled onto the dock, inch-perfect and straight, the forklift won’t be driving into it to shift stuff about.

All of Linamar’s plants are in small spaces, the docks are round the back, through car parks full of vehicles owned by people who clearly trust truckers to miss them on the way round. Some of them have room for a nice easy ‘set-up’ to reverse in a straight line, most of them don’t. One has its docks angled deceptively up a hill, another parks skips and dumpsters where you want your turning circle to be. One of them has its dock at 90 degrees to a busy road, down between two buildings with propane storage on your blind corner. Orientation involves picking up and delivering at every plant until you can do all the docks without incident. I have managed them all, more or less, with a little advice and gesticulating from my latest trainer. My set-ups aren’t perfect yet, but I’ve learned to notice a problem early enough and fix it fast enough that there is less chance of me smacking anything 75 feet behind me if left to my own devices.

It is therefore official now, we are finally ready for the border. It can’t come soon enough for me, I don’t mind hard work but 12 hours of manoeuvring round in circles in an Ontario humid summer has had me more than a little exhausted. Hammering down an Interstate with the a/c on and the radio playing will be an easy day in comparison.

1 comment:

  1. Jersey Jackie24/7/10 12:57

    Wow Rocky. Excellent blog I really enjoyed reading it.