Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Garbage Truck Wheelies

Yeah, I admit it, my choice of work throughout my life has been pretty lousy. I even went to college and that didn't fix me. I guess my ninth grade English teacher was right, I am a screw up. But, I've tried to make the best of a pretty crummy string of jobs by finding myself getting into far out situations and experiences during work. These happened during my garbage collector days.

Me and the Marlboro Man drove a '68 International COE named "Charley 4". It wasn't very safe. We always leaked hydraulic fluid out of our rams that worked the hopper blade. The brakes weren't up to par. It was an inside joke between me and "M&M" that we drove a wookie in heat, due to the strange noise that came from the thing when we slowed to a stop. Couldn't do 50 mph, much less stay in the lanes with old Charley. Despite its limitations, we managed to pull some far out stunts in that truck

The first time I found out the immense torque of a diesel and low gears was on a Saturday morning. We were double bagging it--trying to fit part of Friday's load into Saturday's load, trying to save the old guy we worked for some money. It was a small outfit with three guys, besides ma and pa, running the thing. This explains how everything was so shoddy.

Getting back to the story, we were near the end of our route and overloaded. I drove on Saturdays and M&M threw (rode on back). We were on a steep incline, so I thought that I'd throw it into it's lowest gear. We really never had to use that gear much. I really underestimated the torque that it would put down. M&M got all his cans in and this lady pulls up close behind us. I didn't want to roll back much, so I held the air brake and revved the rattley oil can up to about 2500 RPM's. It was a juice tranny, so no clutch to pop. But, you get your foot on the brake and rev it up, those torque converters multiply your torque considerably.

I let go of the airbrake and up I went. I could see the sky above me, it was beautiful, but frightening. The trip down was a spine crusher, though. After touchdown, I saw through my side view mirror M&M rolling down the street. The lady who was right behind me was backing away with a fixed look of horror in her eyes. I thought that something like this was impossible with a tandem axle rear, but I guess they share a central pivot point. M&M was furious and decked me on the arm when I came out to help him up. I scared the hell out of him and jacked up the platform on the back of the truck. It was something, though. I'll never forget how it felt. I figure that all the weight in the back, plus the torque of a diesel running high revs through low gear, was the right combintation of things to get Charley's fronts off of the ground. It was freakin' amazing. Worth the bruised arm that I got from M&M.

Keep tuned for more of my Garbage Truck follies.

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