Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Sorry I've been MIA lately. I've started a new project that has taken up most of the spare time that I used for blogging. I'm still collecting material for blog posts however, so once I'm caught up with my new project, there will be new material!
So.... hang on everybody! There is much more truckin' yet to come!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trucker Slang - Parking Lot with Seat Covers

Most of us associate trucks, semis & truck drivers with CB radios, much thanks to trucker movies like Convoy and trucker songs like "Teddy Bear" (Red Sovine -- if you haven't heard it, shame on you, go download right now!! :-))

Through my journey to many websites and online groups to pick up more info and ideas for my blog, I've ran across quite a lot of "trucker lingo" and as an English major and student of linguistics, I find it fascinating and so I've started to collect a list of terms & translations.
Here are a few, there'll be more in future posts.

Alligator - Chunk of a blown tire in the road
Double Nickel - 55 mph
Seat Cover - attractive female passenger
Hammer Lane - Fast Lane (Left lane/#1 lane)
Cash Register - Toll Booth
Parking Lot - Car Hauler

Here are a couple of radio codes:

10-4 - Message received
10-12 - Visitor Present
10-42 - Traffic Accident
10-73 - Speed Trap
10-100 - Rest stop

So....10-23 everyone.... there's more to come ;-)
(You'll have to google that one yourselves, or 10-23 until my next lingo blog.... :-))

Friday, March 20, 2009


Ok, so my blog has gone through somewhat of a facelift! :-)

I owe big thanks to a very helpful and knowledgeable gentleman who during the past couple of weeks have taught me a lot about CSS and provided me with his valuable input regarding design & what looks good & better and so on.

You can find his blog here: Terry's Playpen
There are lot of good tips there on how to spiff up your blog.

He also has another blog that's definitely worth a read, and you can find that one here: Paradise Discovered

Thanks so much Terry!!! :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big Rig of the Week - The Circus Comes to Town!

These aren't particular good photos and the big rigs are nice but they are average, however it's a rare opportunity I get to actually photograph big rigs who bring so many memories, not only to me but to anyone who has ever seen a circus, either live or on TV.

Maybe as a kid, you were scared of those white-faced clowns with the creepy smiles and they would give yuo nightmares for several weeks to follow. Maybe you dreamed of being one of those cool acrobats in glittery costumes (that's before you knew what "running away and joining the circus" actually meant in reality....). Or maybe you just loved watching the pretty horses and funky animals performing and if you were lucky, you could pet the animals after the show. Most of us have some sort of connotation to the circus.
Personally I remember going to the circus with my family... my mom, brother and dad, sometimes friends would even join us. We'd get popcorn and sodas, some would get cotton candy but I never cared for that. It's way too sweet. Then we'd sit in a smelly tent for a couple of hours, but it was magical ... it was like stepping into a different world for a couple of hours while watching magic acts and breath taking stunts. I realize now that even as a kid it was great to escape reality once in awhile.

So ... the truck of the week are actually two trucks (to make up for last week when there were none...lol...). It's a Freighliner and a GMC pulling circus equipment and animals.

So... The circus is in town. It must have been 15 years since I went to the circus. As you can see, I never made it into the circus tent here.... but they're here for one more week, so perhaps next time I'll make it past the big rigs and in to the actual show ;-)

(Note: I actually didn't stand outside the entire night and take photos until the sun came up... I came across these truck at night so I took a few shots, then came back to take some better ones during daylight the next day....)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Big Rig Chronicles: The Peterbilt

One truck that most people will know the name of, even if they’re not at all interested in cars or trucks, is the Peterbilt. It’s a truck I can actually mention to people, and they’ll nod and actually know what I’m talking about, because everybody knows the Peterbilt.

As with the Kenworth, the logging industry played a big part in the development of the Peterbilt and indirectly, so did World War I.
World War I spawned a need for more efficient deliveries of food and supplies, and the government was forcing more and more motorized trucks into service. Previous to this, there had been a lack of good roads to drive on, which had held back the trucking industry. As the need for better transportation grew due to the war, so did the need for better highways and the government willingly provided them.
This development sped up society and increased efficiency on many levels. T.A Peterman’s lumber business was growing fast and floating freshly cut logs down the river from the forest to the mill, or hauling them off to the mill by horse, no longer seemed efficient enough, so he started developing technologies and building trucks that could accommodate his needs.
(Peterbilt 350 - one the first trucks built after WWII)

Peterman started by rebuilding army surplus trucks, constantly upgrading and making them into better models by improving the technology. Soon he developed a need for a place where he could build custom logging truck chassis, and in 1938 he acquired the assets of a virtually dead truck manufacturer (Fageol Motors, Oakland, CA) and started producing custom trucks. Peterman’s trucks were built exclusively for his lumber company and they were specifically designed and customized to meet all his needs within the industry. His trucks became available for sale to the public in 1939. Peterman was mostly concerned with the quality of his trucks and produced only 100 trucks a year. He started sending his engineers into the field so they could make modifications to their trucks based on issues that truckers were facing in their day-to-day operation.

During World War II, Peterbilt was contracted by the government to produce heavy-duty trucks. The experience and skills that Peterman and his engineers acquired during this time was invaluable, and were later applied to his commercial trucks after the war.

In 1945, Peterman passed away and his widow sold the trucking company, without the land, to seven Peterbilt managers, who were able to expand the business and soon Peterbilt became a large-scale producer of big rigs.

(1955 Peterbilt)

In 1958, Peterman’s widow decided to sell the land and develop a shopping center. The owners of Peterbilt were reaching retirement age by this time and had no desire acquire more debt by buying another manufacturing plant for the business. They ended up selling Peterbilt to PACCAR (Pacific Car & Foundry Co.), who in the past had been better known for manufacturing railroad cars. In 1945, PACCAR had bought Kenworth Trucks and they were becoming a renowned manufacturer in the heavy truck industry, so Peterman’s Peterbilts would be in good hands with them.

T.A Peterman’s passion for his trucks and his dedication to the quality of his product spawned a loyal following of truck lovers and truck manufacturers from the very beginning. Through the years, the trucking world’s loyalty has not faded nor strayed, and that is why the Peterbilt is still one of the most known and reputable trucks of today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wide Load - What are they transporting?

Do you ever pass a truck hauling a strange looking trailer, wondering

“What’s in there?”

It's entirely possible that this is not a common thought unless you actually are in to trucks… I really have no clue what normal people are thinking.... :))

Anyway, regardless of that, I wonder sometimes as I pass some of these trailers, what they contain, so I wanted to post a blog on different types of trailers and cargo.


Every truck transporting some kind of chemical has a colored placard on the back of the trailer with a 4-digit number on it.

This placard identifies exactly what’s in the tank, that way if an accident and a spill occurs, emergency crews will quickly be able to identify what type of liquid they are dealing with. The numbers are designated by the UN or DOT and are referred to as UN/NA numbers or DOT numbers. The placard will immediately identify which type of chemical it is (explosive, corrosive, flammable etc) whereas the numbers provide more specific info on which particular chemical is being transported.

(This is actually a good piece of information to have, in case you are ever in such a situation and need to call 911. Informing the dispatcher of the DOT number & placard will be very helpful!)

One of the most common placards is this one for gasoline, I'm sure everyone has seen this one:

Here’s a placard for liquid oxygen:

I actually looked up what liquid oxygen is used for, because I see this transported a lot. Other than the fact that it’s really cold, I didn’t really know its purpose. Not a big shock to learn that it’s used in the medical industry, but the military and aircraft industry also use it as a source of breathing oxygen and it is also used in the space craft industry.

Just one of many, many chemicals that I have no clue what it’s used for, but the frequent sighting of trucks carrying liquid oxygen finally prompted me to look up what the big deal was :-))

Here’s a DOT placard I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen on a truck:
It means “dangerous when wet” (and yes, get your minds out of the gutter, I can see it splashing around there!)
It means that the chemical can potentially become flammable, toxic or explosive when paired with certain ratio of water. (Again…the gutter….get out…. )

I’m not going to post the entire list of DOT chemical numbers here, but if you are curious of what some of them are, here is a website with a complete listing of numbers and placards:


Drivers need special endorsements on their driver’s license to haul hazardous materials as well as to haul liquid bulk.

Ok, now let’s move on to other transports.

Here’s a trailer I never knew what contained:

Turns out these are for dry bulk transport, such as grain, flour, sugar, animal foods, wood chips etc. (Trailer photo borrowed from http://www.beall.com/)

Reefer trucks (nope, they don't transport stuff that's illegal!) – also known as refrigerator trucks.

These trailers have become pretty fancy. They are equipped with mechanical cooling systems, or some of them use CO2 to cool off the trailer, either in form of dry ice or liquid co2. I’m partial to this photo I found, as it has a cool-looking Kenworth pulling the trailer. Photo was borrowed from http://www.oocl.com/.

Milk Truck refrigerated tankers transporting milk from dairy farms to the factory so you and I can enjoy our Oreo cookies the way they should be enjoyed --- thoroughly dunked in cold milk!

This last one is just a cool pic I found while looking around for funky transports... Looks like the entire road needs to be roped off for this bad boy to pass through. Not much passing room there!

Well, I could post a lot of photos of a lot of different trailers, but I just wanted to touch on some of the more curious ones... Should the urge be there to further explore the different trailers, there is an excellent trailer identification chart to be found here:


(Don't ask me how I find these sites...lol....but I'm sure they'll welcome your visit!)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sharing the Road with Big Rigs - Blind Spots

(The following post was accidentally deleted and has been reposted, so to some of you it may seem like you've read this before.... :-))

I want to dedicate a lot of this blog space to traffic safety when it comes to cars & big rigs.

75% of all car-big rig accidents are caused by the driver of the car, not the truck driver and that’s a stat I believe.

I commute a lot. I drive about 35 miles each way to and from work, 5 days a week, and boy do I see some stupid driving, especially when it comes to small cars vs. semis. (And mind you, ALL cars are small compared to big rigs….)

In this post, I want to write about blind spots.

Blind Spots.

All cars have them. There is nothing as scary as readying yourself to change lanes, you think that the lane next to you is wide open and then all of a sudden you spot a sucker that has been lurking in your blind spot for the past few minutes. It’s enough to give a person a heart attack.

On a regular car, the blind spots are few & they are small. We also have the luxury of being able to turn our heads and look over our shoulder before we merge, to make sure nobody is riding in our blind spot. A truck driver can’t do that. If he turns his head and looks over his shoulder, he’ll see the back of his cab!

A big rig has a lot of blind spots, and some of these blind spots do in fact span across several freeway lanes. Let’s go through them.

1. Front of the Truck: This blind spot ranges out about 20 feet ahead of the semi. The driver won’t see you there. Merging in this close to a big rig can be fatal. Make sure you leave about 4 car lengths between your car and the big rig.

2. Rear of the Truck: About 30 feet directly behind the trailer and you should keep a distance of 25 car lengths. The problem is that when you drive behind a big rig, you can’t see what is going on ahead of you in traffic. You can only trust that the brake lights on the rig in front of you are working properly and that the truck driver is able to hit his brakes in time should something cause a sudden stop. If you are driving too close to the rear end of a big rig and a sudden stop happens, it too could be fatal.I suppose that if you are driving behind a big rig, which sometimes happens, especially on busy freeways, you should drive at a speed that will allow you to stop in time should a sudden stop occur.

3. Left Side of the Truck: a 3-lane span, starting at the end of the truck cab and running down the entire length of the truck. Passing on the left side of a big rig is the correct thing to do, however don’t linger. Make your passing a quick one so that you will be visible again to the driver as fast as possible.

4. Right Side of the Truck: Some trucks have a sticker on the back that says:

<< LEFT - Pass ********* RIGHT – Suicide >>

This sticker isn’t for comedy or posted as a joke. Passing a big rig on the right had side could very well be the last thing you do in life. I don’t mean to be morbid, but that’s a fact. The blind spot on the right hand side of a big rig also fans out for about 3 lanes and runs the length of the truck, but this blind spot is a lot less forgiving than the one on the left.The truck driver may very well see you when you enter the blind spot, but if you linger there and he no longer sees you, he could forget that you are there. If by any chance he has to make a sudden swerve to avoid a collision or an object in the lane, there is no chance he remember that you are still next to him if he can’t see you.

I bring up the word “fatal” a lot because if you end up in an accident vs a big rig, the chances of you walking away could be minimal. I read somewhere that 78% of small cars vs big rig accidents end in fatality. 78%! And these small cars are the ones I constantly see darting in and out of traffic, passing on the right, passing on the left, cutting off big rigs left and right (and everyone else for that matter). Seriously. You may think you’re the best driver in the world but be cautious when passing big trucks. Unpredictable incidents in the roadway happen a lot, and you want to be visible to a truck driver at all times so that if he does have to make a sudden move, he knows you’re there!

So…blind spots. We all hate them. I’m sure truck drivers despise them. But they’re there. Just be aware of them. And don’t pass on the right!

Sharing the Road with Big Rigs - Braking Distance

One of the dumbest maneuvers I see in traffic is that of small cars cutting off big rigs. This move is plain out idiotic, not to mention dangerous.

A fully loaded big rig can weigh up to 80,000 lbs. Your car weighs in at about 3000lbs, maybe more, depending on the vehicle. We don’t have to be geniuses to see that the difference in weight here is huge and will severely impact the way a big rig reacts on the road as opposed to a regular car.

One difference that everyone should be aware of, is the braking distance. A loaded big rig requires 20-40% extra stopping distance than that of a car, a the percentage that increases with bad weather conditions such as rain and snow. And an empty big rig actually takes even longer to stop than a loaded one.
Some information I’ve come across regarding braking distance states that at 60mph, it takes a big rig 450 feet to stop.
I don’t believe that this estimate includes all the factors that are involved in stopping a car in moving traffic, which in addition to actual brake time also includes perception time and reaction time. When combining these factors with the weight and the length of the vehicle, the total time it takes a big rig to stop at 60 mph comes out to 626 feet, which is the length of over more than 2 football fields.

This is how the math is done:
A big rig at 60mph will cover 88 feet of freeway per second.
Perception Time: The amount of time it takes from the moment a driver sees a hazard in the road to the time the brain recognizes the hazard is about 1 second, which we now know is 88 feet.
Reaction Time: Then we need to allow some time for the brain to signal the foot to step on the brake pedal, and this takes another second…or another 88 feet.
Braking Distance: Now we have a total calculation of 176 feet before the brakes are even engaged, and once you add the 450 feet it will take the rig to stop, you end up with … 626 feet.

This is the minimum distance. This number increases drastically on wet asphalt, and even more so if there is ice and snow on the road. The condition of the driver should also be taken into consideration. A driver may be tired, sick or distracted in some way, which means his or her reaction and perception time will increase.

The braking distance for a truck hauling an empty trailer is even longer! This is due to the fact that when a trailer is heavily loaded, it provides the tires with extra traction, which shortens the retardation time for the vehicle. The braking system on a big rig, as well as tires, springs and shock absorbers, are designed so they work better when a truck is loaded. Once a truck has been emptied, the loss of the extra weight means losing traction and it’s more likely to bounce and lock up the wheels, moving the vehicle into a skid.

And really…. This isn’t like being hit on the bumper by a Prius for a Honda Civic, which is something you would in fact feel and that may cause a whiplash or a broken arm. This is being hit on the bumper by a 80000 lbs big rig, in which the possibility of this interaction being fatal is really high. I think I quoted this number before, but I’ll say it again: 78% of accidents involving a small car vs a big rig ends up being a fatality!

Most truck drivers are safe, reliable and experienced on the road, but unpredictable incidents on the road are many and can throw even the most experienced driver off balance. Leave room for the big rigs.

So play nice out there and stop playing with fate!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Famous Trucks - Rubber Duck's truck ("Convoy")

“You ever seen a duck that couldn't swim? Quack, quack!”
What better truck to start a “famous big rigs” series with than Rubber Duck’s ole Mack from the movie “Convoy”. I love that movie. It’s cheesy but it’s full of funny quotes and good action and personally I am also a big fan of Kris Kristofferson, both as a musician and as an actor.

And, last but not least, “Convoy” has a lot of nice eye candy for a truck enthusiast such as myself.

Surprisingly enough, for a trucker movie as famous as Convoy, it wasn’t very easy to dig up actual facts about the truck that was being used for the movie, but finally I reached a website that was in fact dedicated to the Convoy trucks! It was a very cool website and I suspect I’ll be visiting it for more information on trucks in the future. I have posted the link at the end of this blog. (Yep, I don't want you all to run over there without reading my blog first ;-) lol...)

Although it says that Rubber Duck’s truck was a Mack RS 786LST, it was actually played by 4 different Macks throughout the movie. All these trucks served different purposes for necessary shots, movie angles and big rig action.

The main truck that was depicted in most promotional photos and movie shots was a 1977 Mack RS-712LST.

The truck’s appearance was in fact designed by EMI themselves, no doubt to fully maximize the vision they had for this movie and for the “star” truck that was to appear in it. Once it was designed, they commissioned Mack to build the truck for them, much due to the fact that Mack was famous for their reliable, tough trucks and it was a truck model that was well known to the public.
(I suppose the phrase “hit by a Mack truck” didn’t spring out of nowhere...)

After the movie was complete, the truck, sadly, was as good as wrecked. Regardless, it was sent back to Mack, who replaced the entire exterior, making the truck look as good as new again. The truck was sold off and made into a dump truck. I guess that’s Hollywood for you, eh? From movie star to dump truck in the blink of an eye.

This Mack truck is still in existence. It has been revised and reworked, many parts have been replaced over the years, but the old legend still roams about the American highway. If you put it on your EBay wish list, you may have a shot at it the next time it comes up for grabs.

The second truck being used for this movie was a 1973 Mack RS-797LST. It was gutted during filming and was used for props and stunts, as well as for in-cab scenes, which were made possible by removing doors and windows on the cab itself.
The truck didn’t survive this movie and was reduced to scrap metal after filming.

The last two trucks were both of the same model, Mack RS-731LST.
One of them were gutted and used for props & stunts, like the truck we mentioned above.
Here it is, plunging to its death and final destination as scrap metal.

A couple of fun facts:
· The truck used for the shootout scene on the bridge had been damaged so badly, that it broken down right before filming and had to be pushed across the bridge by a bulldozer in order to complete the scene.

· After Rubber Duck and Pig Pen’s trucks crash through jail, the grill guard on Rubber Duck’s truck is missing. Mysteriously enough, it came back on for the remainder of the movie.

· Trucker convoys were created due to the 55 mph speed limit that was enforced on US Highways, which made the truckers’ schedules very difficult to keep up. As a result, multiple trucks started driving together at a higher speed, thinking that the police speed traps would only be able to pull over one of the trucks.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The World's Largest Truck - Liebherr T 282B

Ok, so I wanted to try to vary my big rig content so that first of all, *I* don’t get bored writing this blog and secondly, people don’t get bored of reading this blog.
(Oh wait, the readers should probably be my first concern, huh?)

Anyway, I’m constantly trying to come up with various topics, preferably topics that somehow include big rigs somehow.

Today it was my curiosity that finally lead me on a Google-powered chase as I started looking up what the “World’s Largest Truck” is.

The world’s largest truck is a mining truck named “Liebherr T 282B”. This is a German truck that saw daylight in 2004. Although developed by Liebherr, the truck is built by hand in Newport News, Virginia, where they have a 10 acre factory that can accommodate 4 trucks at a time.

Accommodating 4 of these babies at once is no small feat, as you will understand once you read the stat of the Liebherr T282Bs :

Body Length: 50 ft 3 inches
Body Height: 25 ft 9 inches
Wheelbase: 21 ft 7 inches

Empty Weight: 224 ton (including a 11.5 ton engine!)
Max Capacity: 400 ton
Max operating capacity: 653 ton

Comparison: A regular sedan weighs about 3000 lbs - so 1 of these trucks equals the weight of about 150 Nissan Altimas...

Horse Power: 3,650
Max. Speed: 40mph
Fuel Capacity: 1,250 gallons

PRICE: $ 3.5 million …

(CD and air conditioner is optional…you would think for that price, it would be included? Then on the flipside, if you spend that much for a truck, paying for CD player and AC may not seem like a big deal….)

The truck is actually a hybrid. Its 11.5 ton, 90 liter diesel engine powers two electric engines that are located in the rear axle of the truck, and as stated above, it can get up to a 40mph speed.

Isn't this the coolest truck ever? :)

(See how teeny a person is next to this monster? Rumor has it a
driver of one of these trucks once crushed a regular sized service
truck and didn't even notice it.....)

Note: The information for this blog was gathered from various trucking websites, but most of it is from wikipedia, along with the photos. The photos are from the Virginia plant where these trucks are being built.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Big Rig of the Week - Killer Transport

So far, I don't have a big collection of big rig photos that I've taken on my own, so I decided to create a "Big Rig of the Week" series as a motivation for myself to get out there and photograph trucks.

I'll post a new photo each Sunday Night/Monday morning.

This week, I am posting a couple of photos that I took while I was back home in Norway on vacation this fall. Let me show off this truck before I explain any further:

Here is the big rig, about to pass us.... Not really sure what that says about my brother's driving ;-) I guess I owe it to him to say that he was driving slow so we could enjoy the scenery.
My husband, who is an American, was a legitimate tourist after all! :)

The rig is a Scania R470 by the way. Scania is one of the major big rig models roaming about Norwegian roads. Due to truck length regulations, most trucks in Norway are cab overs.

It turns out we were surpassed by Death. Literally. "Toten" in German means "To Kill". In Norway, Toten is actually the name of a city but nevertheless... as legit as this name is in Norwegian, I'm not sure how much business these guys are getting from Germany.

Luckily, he kept moving.....