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Whenever he gets in a fix…

By on January 1, 2016

When I go trailer trucking, a sizeable duffel bag full of items that I need, or might need, while out on the road always rides shotgun with me. Typically, when I’m in the yard saddling up to begin a trip, other truckers razz me.

“You want some help getting that bag into the cab? You don’t look strong enough to manage it.” “What have you got in there, trucker? Taking your cement block collection for a ride?”

“With that bag, I sure hope you have an overweight permit.”

I take no offense because I know it’s in the spirit of fun — and because I know that I’ll be ready for any situation.

Handyman special

There’s that bottle of liquid dishwashing soap. Naturally, it can be used for washing one’s hands. But suppose you’re overweight and you can’t get the fifth wheel or trailer tandem axles to slide to adjust the weight. The soap can be used as a temporary lubricant. While we’re on the subject of sliding tandems, my bag also has a set of locking pliers. I use them to hold the disengaged locking pins in place when the release arm doesn’t function properly and there is no one around to help.

Duct tape, Teflon tape, self-fusing silicone rubber tape, plastic cable zip ties and rubber tarp straps are other staples in my bag of tricks. So is a toolbox with a mix of screwdrivers, pliers and wrenches; a hammer and small sledge hammer; and an assortment of bolts and screws. These things are useful when you have to improvise a repair. The School of Hard Knocks taught me that it’s very aggravating to discover a minor problem that could be easily repaired with a common tool that you don’t have with you.

A case in point: In the middle of the night at an unattended trailer yard, the trailer I’m to pick up was missing the handle to the landing gear. What did I do? (No I didn’t take a handle off another trailer. That just passes the problem on to the next guy.) I stuck a screwdriver into the slot where the handle would go and was able to wind up the legs.

The replacements

Another time, after hours, I went to hook up to a trailer and discovered a glad hand badly leaking air due to a missing gasket. But my bag always has glad hand gaskets. So, I was able to quickly replace the missing one and head on down the road.

My bag of tricks also has bulbs, circuit breakers, a small tube of electrical grease, wire, wire crimpers and an assortment of crimp butt connectors. Electrical problems left unrepaired can become costly. More importantly, having lights out while trucking at night is a safety hazard and a CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) violation.

So yes, I now have a headlamp in the bag. Seem excessive? Not when I was about two miles from a weigh station late one night and, over the CB radio, a trucker informed me that the scale was open and that I had a headlight out. If I had a spare headlamp handy, I could have changed it out and avoided problems with the DOT.

Weathering a storm

There is also a bottle of water, some energy bars, a few ready-to-eat meals and reading material. I’ve written the date on the food so I know how old it is. These items were added to my bag after I got stuck in a blizzard for 18 hours with no nourishment onboard and not much to do to pass the time.

The contents of the bag continue to grow, because you never know what you might need on the road to avoid problems and truck safely and get to your destinations without delays.

It won’t be much longer before I outgrow my current trucking bag and will need to find an even more substantial one. When I do, I have no doubt that the jabs from other truckers will get bigger, too.

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