Part 2 of the Port Hedland trip. So my mate coming from Perth rang and said he had the parts and was on his way, but with breaks would not be to me till tomorrow noon. He said, have you got it off yet? No why? You can start it (no you can’t) and be ready for when I get there. You ring an hour out and I will be ready. So be it. I had a kip in the late afternoon, a couple of trucks stopped and asked was I ok, one from Dubbo so that was good of them to do so, others may have called on the radio, but unless they had what I needed, I would survive and only a rare few might have been able to do more. I had tea and read for awhile, planning to get up and hope to do my spot on “Nightshift” at 1 AM.
However, this raises the second issue from the trip. If you are a professional truckie and you are travelling on an empty road with an obviously broken down truck ahead and as far as possible but not that far off the road, would you not just mover over a little bit to avoid rocking, or waking or just annoying the poor bugger broken down with your turbulence. You can see he is broken down by the triangles and where he is parked, not in a rest area for a kip, you know or should that in that situation, you will possibly rock the cab sideways, and perhaps even, impact on his sleep, but only some moved over. Now if there is opposing traffic, fine, but with nothing in sight for over 10 k, WHY WOULD YOU NOT?
So knowing I was there for awhile, I read till just before my spot, got up on the load to get a signal, then up a bit higher when it was breaking up and Luke thought it a great effort to go to call in, one, the show must go on and it must show how keen I am to keep it going. Then to bed and up in the morning to remove the drivers side tank step, straighten it from a deep gutter which had seen the front of the trailer kiss and bend it, resecure with a bigger washer etc. Then wait.
Gregory rang, about an hour away, have you got it off yet, no, I will be ready when you get here and I was and he wasn’t and so I spent another hour standing in the sun waiting. I had called and asked about the pulley, having seen how hard they can be to get off a used alternator and was told there was a new one and belt supplied. In the end, I am glad I stopped as quickly as I did, it was the wrong belt! Had the old one been destroyed by going further or starting it etc, we would have had to wait another day for a belt.
There is a saga about the alternator that will only bore you, suffice to say it was slightly different, a broken wire I had found but no one was sure what it was for, had supreme relevance and my photo before removal will be more scrutinised next time. We took off, it did not work, with the help of the young chap who had stopped the day before, we got it fixed. This delay had meant a whole new plan, to meet our deadline for delivery and with the cyclone still approaching, Greg’s easy trip home with a single would be delayed and we would go two up to Port Hedland.
We were off, Greg and I agreed we would take my truck north, it had double bunks and all my gear on it and we worked on a plan, till we got nearly to Balladonia and the accelerator on my truck died. We made a decision, nothing could be done then and we carried on in Greg’s truck. It was all good, we hooked up the third trailer and had a shower at Kalgoorlie, then headed north. There was only one real scare, nearing Port Hedland very early Friday morning and after seeing many and overtaking a couple and then two quads together, with radio communication much a part of it, I came round a corner at about 95 with maybe 100 tonne gross and found a bull standing 100 metres in front of me in my lane. It had been raining and whilst normally it would be best to go behind him, that would have meant putting the passenger side tyres off the bitumen and I didn’t like that idea, so I braked, swerved is not the right term to use when towing three trailers, more I gently turned with the aim of just missing the bull, Greg heard me go OHHHHHHH and was up out of the bunk and saying, “Oh Goodness” or something akin to that so I can keep it family friendly and I missed the bull, then we tried calling and flashing other southbound drivers, but none responded, what else could I do?
We did stop and I offered a TIV poster to the Caltex at Mt Magnet and got some good photos of some of the combinations. We had not seen one vehicle travelling in our direction across that three hours, took some rest area photos, marked one green reflector bay north of town and had two in mind to mark on the way back, had meals on the run, fueled up and kept going.
We got close to town and went to bed for a sleep, before unloading in the morning. A full day involved, including waiting for the crane, then the fork, unloading three trailers, doing up all the straps and chains, having the crane lift one dolly on top of one trailer, then backing that trailer up onto the drop deck which had its’ own ramps, much trailer and dolly shifting and dropping and then securing it all, ready for the trip south to Perth, so we could go straight in as a legal double roadtrain.
We had made it on time, delivered the load, beaten the cyclone (it did move away and diminish a bit, but from what we hear, brought some very heavy rain, which we then missed) and we were off again two up to Perth. Arriving in Perth Saturday night our time after a visit to the ever lovely and pink trucked Miss Heather Jones, who wants me to come back soon with the new TIV, we dumped the trailers and headed to a motel. Now Greg is a nice bloke and two up is one thing and we had to get the load there, but with only one bed, we needed a break and a decent bed and that is where I am now.
This trip still holds its challenges and a long way to go, but there are other issues. The roads which have little traffic, but more and better rest areas than on the Newell Highway, (in all truth, they have it right in many ways and we are so far behind them) better road surfaces (same here as previous comment), better maintained, yet narrower, though with longer combinations, the absolute stupidity of a brilliant new roadtrain facility, but without showers and toilets at Karratha and the fight between state and federal governments about those facilities.
Those of you who know of my audio books passion, may know of the book by Nevil Shute, “On the beach” and when we pulled up in the middle of nowhere for a kip south of Karratha, having seen very few vehicles, it was like we could have been the only two people left on earth as in the book. I had planned to add photos, but motel wi-fi not up to it. Maybe they will be better as a story of their own with details.
Loading tomorrow and that may well be yet another story. Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.