Sunday, May 27, 2018

Getting A Tidy Cab.Finally

Finally got rid of the nasty patch of rust on the air-cleaner. An expensive job at the body-shop; so I had a go myself with three aerosol cans of paint, three packs of wet-n-dry and a tube of bondo. It looks alright from a distance.

The wood-rimmed 18 inch steering wheel replaces the original 22 inch model and gives more room in the cab.

The new cloth seats have thinner backs and also make for a roomier driving position then the old vinyl ones.. They also have better side-support on both back and seat. The cup-holder is also a new addition and takes the place of the intercom system that linked the cab with the rear seating area.

Rear view of the truck at this weekend's campsite. Not the most level of sites; the truck was level but the ground dropped away and made for a high step up into the back.

The Mack and the Bigfoot Bike are going to be seeing a lot of each other from now on.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pony Corral Sunday Night Cruise 2018

A car with my name on it and age next birthday.

Deflated air ride.

Old classic from 1958.

Custom hood.

Just nice and simple.

Roadtrip car on the roadtrip blog.

Three Shelby Mustangs.

1927 Roadster.

Short Impala.


Bright sunshine doesn't make for good car photos but this is one of the better ones.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Solar Power Switched On.

The last of the unused slide-out trays was used for the batteries. It was too narrow so needed a shelf fixed on top but plenty capable of holding the weight.

I went for four 6 volt, deep-cell wet acid batteries rated at 235 amp-hours each. The slide-out will make it easy to top them up with distilled water. 

A lot of care was needed in wiring the four 6 volt batteries to give a 12 volt output. First, a pair in series and then the two pairs in parallel. The inverter  is 2000 watt pure sine wave with wired remote control switch. Inverters work best when installed close to their batteries; you can't get closer than that.
The batteries power everything that is 12 volt inside the living quarters and are independent from the 12 volt truck system. I fitted a 12 volt outlet on the bottom edge of the shelf for the external shower.

There is already plenty of wiring in the vehicle with 12 volt, 115 volt and 240 volt circuits. I have used some of the old 240 volt wires to connect up the interior lights, the fridge, the water pump and extractor fan. I am leaving the fridge switched-on 24/7 at the moment to give the system a test. So far the batteries have been full all the time after taking two days to get maximum charge.

All the solar panel and  house battery stuff came from " The Battery Man " in Winnipeg. They had it all in stock and worked out what cables and connectors that I would need to do the job. I might have got it a bit cheaper on the Internet but I was happy to purchase it locally and couldn't fault their service.

The charge controller is an important bit of kit as it saves the batteries from being over-charged and stops them discharging into the panels during the night. Overall the whole system was very easy to install, most difficult thing was running the cables down from the roof and keeping them out of sight.

The roof-rack adds about 12 inches to the height of the truck, taking it up to 12 foot 6 inches. The solar panels are not really noticeable when laying flat on the roof. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Mother Of All Roof Racks.

____ With the weather finally warming-up; I take some time away from the road and get stuck into work on the Mack. It has been sitting in the yard all Winter without turning a wheel and I haven't done much to it. But now I get a chance to get on with the build and use all the bits I have been buying during the last six months. The roof rack and the solar panels are the number one priority. Here are some photos of the progress.
The frame is made from Unistrut 1 5/8 inch steel channel. It comes in 10 foot lengths and will fit in the cab of a Kenworth W900. It comes in Hunter Green, which is handy when you cut all your lengths and can spray the sawn ends with an aerosol.

I made it in sections to make it easy to lift on to the roof. It is 13 foot long, 8 foot wide and 12 inches high. it takes the running height of the Mack from 11 foot 6 inches to 12 foot 6 inches. 

I used some of the alloy sheet that came out of the Mack for panels on the rack. These were storage cabinets from in side the living area.

I don't have a lot of room to work in and the rack covers most of the deck. If you drop anything; you can bet it will go down one of those cracks between the boards.

The front of the rack has an angle of 45 degrees to help with aero-dynamics.

All ready to come to pieces and be carried up the ladder to the roof.

Building on the roof which is made of thick steel chequer plate and quite capable of carrying the extra weight. It was not easy joining up the sections when they were so close to the edge but the straps helped.

The tow-balls are the fixing points for the frame that will hold the solar panels. They will hold it firm when driving but can be easily disconnected to tilt the panels in any one of four directions when parked in the sun.

The solar panel frame [upside-down] with towing hitches at each corner and some alloy angle to hold the panels level.

The two 150 watt solar panels fit snug in their frame. I just hope the hitches fit snug round their ball.

The frame in position on the rack on the roof. Just undo two hitches and lift the frame to tilt towards the sun. 
____ That's the story so far. Next job is fitting the solar panels, running the wires down inside the truck, putting in the house batteries and the controller and a 100 other little things that are bound to crop-up.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

This Weeks Winter Storm: Xanto.

Nine Day Trip.
____ Peat-moss for Scott`s of Cresson, Texas, one of the major suppliers of dirt for Walmart. Leaving Tuesday with the number one priority of a rendezvous with the breakfast buffet at the Winstar Casino on Thursday morning. A night at the Petromart in Missouri Valley before getting a free nose-bag at on the Oklahoma-Texas stateline; over 55 player-club members only. Then onto Cresson after the Fort Worth early-morning rush has subsided. A busy packing plant in an area where spring planting is in full swing.

____ The reload is from Laredo, appointment 11 o`clock on Friday, so a leisurely run down Interstate 35; empty rather than fully freighted. Into the TA with no need to set the alarm clock. It`s the regular shopfitting trans-shipping bonded warehose; a bonded load for a new supermarket in Saskatchewan, exiting the US through Pembina, North Dakota. Enough time after loading to get back to the Winstar at Thackerville, after battling the busy 35 through San Antone, Austin, Temple, Waco and Fort Worth.

____ Saturday is one long slog; trying to get as far North before I meet Xanto on it`s way South. Omaha is where the snow meets the Kenworth and the wipers struggle to clear the windshield. By Misssouri Valley it is blizzard conditions with reports of Interstate closures in South Dakota. The friendly Petromart Travel Plaza makes a good pit-stop for the night as the horizontal snow flies by and is still flying when I leave in the morning. Running on hard-packed ice and snow into the wind with only three tonnes of cargo soon tensions the neck muscles. But south of Watertown, Interstate 29 turns to the North-West and the wind lays on the side of the trailer. I feel the drive tyres spinning on more than one occasion, back the speed down and hope I don`t catch a strong gust on an extra slippery section. A wind-blown jack-knife is a distinct possibility but I safely reach Stone`s Truckstop and lunch before the road turns back North and going gets better.

____ At the Gas-Trak, Pembina, I call in to collect the faxed lead-sheet needed to cross back into Canada; it`s not there. After a series of text messages; the office reveals that they had me set-up to cross the border at Portal, 281 miles to the West. It`s the first I have heard about it. I have the option to sit at Pembina until Monday morning when the border-crossing can be changed or drive over to Portal and cross there. But when I point out that the exit border for the bond is Pembina and that I told them on Friday to send the fax to the Gas-Trak, all of a sudden it is possible to send the fax to where I am quietly fuming. Maybe they sensed my anger at being parked at the border for 18 hours because of their incompetence. There is not enough time to go home for the night so I try-out the new Flying`J at Ste Agathe.

____ Onto Saskatoon and a Tuesday morning delivery at a storage warehouse where the company is going to deliver the chiller cabinets as and when they are called for. Then wood-chips from Prince Albert and I get it right  this time. To PA and loaded by 1 o`clock, down to Brandon for the night before delivering the load to the Blue Water Truckwash. They wash-out a lot of livestock trailers and supply bales of wood-chips for their next assignments. It`s a regular drop just switch the loaded trailer for an empty and run back to Steinbach.

Still Winter in Missouri Valley, Iowa


Heavy-haul brigade getting ready to leave the Husky at Saskatoon after early morning snowfall.

The full nine days of the trip; mileage and hours.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Winter Storm Wilbur.

Seven Day Trip.
____ Peat-moss, loaded in the morning and ready to leave at 1 o'clock when the customs entry has been done. Leaving Monday for a Thursday delivery in Laredo with a Winter storm warning in effect for South Dakota. The bright sunshine finishes at Fargo and when the Sisseton scale-house is closed, I know it is going to be bad. That weigh-bridge is always open unless the operators feel they might not get home at the end of their shift. Sure enough, the biggest climb on Interstate 29, up to Summit, is a sheet of ice. My badly worn drive tyres spin their way to the top while the windshield wipers become swishing blocks of ice. The Coffee Cup Travel Plaza is the best option in such conditions as the temperature drop to -15C in the gale force westerly.

____ Conditions are still tricky in the morning but the wind is now from the North and I don't need the wipers if I don't go too fast. South of Sioux Falls, the snow turns to slush, by Sioux City the roads are bare and dry. A big second day gets me into Oklahoma, followed by another big hit down to San Antonio and the job is back on track. Off-loaded in Laredo and off to Corpus Christi for the re-load. The loading appointment is for Friday at 10.30 but I roll-up on the off-chance that they will load it on Thursday afternoon. The pigment factory is just a short walk from the beach, the aquarium and the USS Lexington, an open-to-the-public aircraft-carrier. One of the few times that I am disappointed to get loaded early. Back up to San Antonio for a warm night at the TA.

____ Another cold-weather front is coming down across the Mid-west with the promise of freezing-rain. I swerve to the east in an attempt to avoid the worst of it; getting to Joplin in a full day's driving. Five centimetres of snow fall overnight but by Kansas City, the roads are bare and dry with just the threat of yet another storm coming through on Sunday. Back to Summit for another cold night on the high ground of South Dakota before leaving early on the last leg of the trip. The load is for Winnipeg but I take the trailer back to Steinbach and wonder if this Winter will ever end.

The bleak Coffee Cup Travel Plaza at Summit, South Dakota.

Waking-up to snow on the hood at the Petro 44 in Joplin, Missouri.

Seeking shelter from the snow.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Four Of A Kind.

The Way Down.
The Way Back Up.

____ For the fourth time in a row: the load back to Canada is destined for Calgary in Alberta. But it is a change from peat-moss and paper for the  south-bound cargo. Four drops of double-glazed windows, the same job that I have done previously for Flying Eagle and Payne Transportation. A lighter load that gives me a chance to run the back roads south of Watertown, South Dakota. Down to Hutchinson in Kansas for a Monday delivery, before exhausting the rest of the day, heading for drop Number 2 at Marshall, Texas.

____ Spread-out multi-drop work leads to shorter days but I do get rid of the third consignment at Austin. There is a bomber causing fear and panic in the Texas capital city; I'm keen to get out of town and down towards the last  delivery at Rockport. By the time I have an empty trailer the bomber has blown-up himself. My instructions are for re-loading at 2 o'clock in Laredo. More shop-fittings for the same new Asian supermarket in Calgary. The familiar run North, Highway 83, Highway 287, Interstates 70, 25, 90. A dust-storm on 70 before Denver and the usual Mistral on 25 between Cheyenne and Douglas.

____ Into Canada on Sunday afternoon and as I know the delivery site has ample parking, I put the trailer on an unloading bay ready for the morning. A good thing I did as two more Ruby trucks arrive at 8 o'clock. Then it's off to Saskatchewan for a cargo of salt; to be loaded on Tuesday, delivered on Wednesday at a hardware store in Arborg; one hour north of Winnipeg. Most of the daytime temperatures have been above freezing but the trip has a sting in the tail. I wake-up to a blizzard in Arborg. It is only two hundred yards from my parking spot at the hardware store to the Co-op fuel station but I am the coldest I have been all Winter by the time I get back to the truck with my morning coffee. Then by the time I have dragged 24 tonnes of salt to the back of the trailer, I'm soaked in sweat. Now I'm writing this with a runny nose after breaking out the shorts and sandals in Texas one week earlier.
Blue Beacon Truck Wash at York, Nebraska.

Bling Over-Load on  old Volvo.

Dust Storm on Interstate 70 in Colorado.

Peruvian Roast Chicken and Mexican Beer at Calgary, Alberta.

Icy Manitoba Highway 7 on the way back from Arborg.

Seeing Double with Sapphire Number 02.

12 Day Trip; the longest of the four of a kind.