20 March 2011

Bumble Bee

I learned yesterday the aggregate hauler I've been working for since May 2010 has closed it's doors. It wasn't a big company, 10 trucks. Four trucks are being refitted for hauling water, two are being retained because they have the necessary equipment for side dump operations, and the final four are being transported to Las Vegas to the auction. Bumble Bee is one of the four going to the auction.

I had an opportunity to drive Bumble Bee. The guys tagged it with this 'handle' because of it's odd colors. It was definitely a unique piece of equipment. A six speed, oddly patterned transmission for hauling 80, 000 pounds? You definitely needed to use the clutch to shift it. I scratched my head over that one.

There was no getting around not using the clutch, something I'm not used to doing anymore. I learned a long time ago how to shift by listening to the engine rpm's. I fought the shifter for two fourteen hours shifts, and I still didn't get it down so I wouldn't go home in pain, with a sore shoulder, neck and back. Fortunately, the clutch was air driven over hydraulic, way easy on the leg, and a far better clutch system than some rigs I've driven in the last four or five years.

Once I had Bumble Bee up and rolling, it was a piece of cake. It had the power to get down the road with forty tons of material. It just wouldn't go uphill. Was that because the user couldn't get a handle on down shifting? Yup, I'll go there. But even if I did get the downshift where I wanted it, it crept up the hill, screeched, and groaned all the way to the top.

I'm sorry Bumble Bee is going to the auction. But I wouldn't wish it on a rookie driver either. I'm sorry, too, this tiny 'family owned' aggregate hauling company has had to close it's doors due to the slow recovery of the economy and diesel fuel costs.