February, 2021 – As I was stopped for lunch in a small town in Texas, whose name a can’t recall, I watched a heavy hauler negotiate an impossible corner turn. They have a trick up their sleeves; the trailer can be steered itself, turning much wider than it normally could.
The tractor has swung very wide to clear the corner – note that the trailer (what I’d call a dolly) wheels are going straight even though the tower itself is already turning…..
…and the corner is cleared! Note those rear axles still turned a bit.
And the heavy haul rig continues on.
In February, 2021 as I cruised along the nearly empty I-10 through Texas en route to Louisiana, I came upon a crew working with a big rig tow truck and a semi to load a burned out motorhome. It was a fairly high-end coach, a diesel pusher, and it was completely destroyed. It appeared that perhaps an engine fire engulfed the whole coach. What a catastrophe for someone. So sad. (Click to enlarge, and then click again for a huge photo.)
March, 2021: As soon as I crossed the Colorado, back in Kalifornistan returning from that Louisiana trip, I passed this super heavy hauler. I suspect that it was parked due to some permitting issue. The tractor shown is the pusher tractor. A puller tractor pulls from the other end. Note the heavy weight placed over the drivers (rear axles of the tractor) for traction. More info is available at superheavyhaulers.com:
September 26, 2019 in Norfolk, NE: Wow! What a rig – according to what I could find on the ‘net about these monsters, the payload here is a wind turbine tower section somewhere north of 100,000 lbs. That would explain the 12 axles plus the tractor’s front axle.
(To appreciate this huge rig, click on this photo to enlarge; click again for even larger.)
Notice what I believed to be huge highway bridge beams on those three 13 axle rigs! Along I-40 in Arizona in June of 2019, we passed this fleet of big rigs at a weigh station. (Click to enlarge; click again for full size.)
Somewhere along I-40 east of Barstow in the vast Mojave Desert, this heavy hauler was parked. Note the jeep dolly attached to the fifth wheel, and the hydraulic steer trailer taking up the rear. A very impressive rig, indeed! (Click to enlarge, click again for even larger.)
I have loved trucks since I was a kid…
As an elementary school kid back in the 1950s I would get into trouble for drawing trucks in class. I loved ’em even then and from those days I always wanted to be a truck driver. Then in the 60s after I was out of high school, I could find no way to learn the trade. There were no truck driving schools back then, at least none I knew about.
I worked a number of other jobs until I was 28 years old. I met a veteran log hauler in Red Bluff, CA at the truck outfit’s yard that was in my neighborhood. I was selling Fuller Brush products door to door at the time, and did Ok doing that, but I still wanted to drive trucks for a living.
Here’s the rig I learned on and identical to the one I drove waaay back in the 70s. The logging trucks of today are much improved but still have about the same appearance as this old timer. These loggers had walking beam suspensions that rode like a crippled duck and we drove many miles each day over washboard logging roads. They were powered by Cummins 335 engines and had twin stick 5X4 main/Brownie transmissions.
That fine fellow, Paul Fox, put up with me for three months as he taught me how to drive a 1960s era Peterbilt logging truck. It had a Cummins 335 and two transmissions; the main which was five speeds and the Brownie which was four speeds. I learned how to shift the old “main and Brownie” twin sticks in the woods and mountains, and we shifted gears virtually all day long. If we weren’t driving off road, we were driving along two lane mountain highways. It was “old skool” truckin’ and it was hard, dirty work. We drove many miles off road to and from the landings where the logs awaited loading, then we hauled them to the mills.
Click to view some of the old iron I used to drive – and the captions.
I loved this Freightliner, old #34. She was my assigned tractor when my employer hauled sugar and molasses for Spreckels Sugar and also chemicals from near Death Valley. This was one of my favorite rides; she had a Cummins 350 and a 13 speed Roadranger transmission.
The old milk tanks I pulled with a Freightliner powered by a Detroit 318 with 4X4 transmissions. That old Jimmy sang to me all day long. Here I’m unloading at the old, long ago closed Carnation canned milk plant in Gustine, Calif.
Old #34 when I hauled lime from Ridgecrest, California near Death Valley. This load was likely heading to Salinas, CA.
A Mack conventional that I dearly loved to drive. It had the Maxidyne and a very slick 5 speed transmission. With its airbag under the back of the cab, it was one of the nicest riding trucks I ever drove.
After hauling logs I learned to haul lumber and considered it a much better job simply because I was off the rough old logging roads and full time on the highways.
After the three months of learning I was hired on, and that first load I hauled on my own was a mighty proud moment. I stayed with log hauling for that year, including winter, and drove on mud, ice and snow. I looked forward to a highway job to get away from the mud and slop of log hauling. I eventually learned the ropes of hauling lumber. I hauled lumber and plywood from saw mills in Northern California to the lumber yards in Southern California. It was a lot different than hauling logs and I liked it!
Click to view a very cool GMC Astro I drove:
Another truck I drove during the sugar and chemical hauling days. This old “Jimmy” Astro was a good looking truck and the interior was awesome.
The very cool interior of a GMC Astro tractor similar to the one I drove. Even these many years later I think it’s futuristic looking, but alas, GMC quit the big rig business decades ago.
Once on the highway full time I drove for a few different companies which included hauling lumber, ag products such as rice and tomatoes and bulk milk.
My last trucking job, near the town of Stockton, CA, included hauling molasses in tanks to and from Spreckels Sugar plants scattered all over the Central Valley and also bulk chemicals from near Death Valley to the various sugar plants. I loved that job but eventually, after five years with that company, I wanted a life outside the cab of a truck.
In 1980 I started a landscape maintenance business and my trucking employer allowed me to drive gradually fewer days each week ’til I built up a sufficient number of gardening customers to be full time. I’ll always be thankful for their cooperation!
Once in my own business I never went back to trucking, but I’ve always said that trucking was my true calling and my favorite job of any I ever had – there was just too darn much of it! During my trucking years there were times that I literally lived in the cab of a truck and spent many an hour in a sleeper. It’s too bad it can’t be just an eight hour a day job, but it sure isn’t.
Having the truck history I have, I am always admiring the big rigs of today with whom I share the highways when I RV around the country. So, instead of posting a photo of an interesting truck on each travelogue to get lost and forgotten over time, I will now also post them to this page so they will be available on one page. I hope like minded truckers and those interested in trucks will find this page entertaining. Enjoy!
June, 2017: You know you’ve been passed right properly when one of these huge Utah rigs, up to 105 feet and 129,000 pounds, passes you! This rig cruised by us along I-80 as we crossed the salt flats of Utah.
More trucks that caught my eye on the June, 2017 trip to Denver and home; click to enlarge and read:
Also in June, 2017 this fleet of bottom dumpers waited in line during a construction project on Utah’s salt flats on I-80.
June, 2017: We saw four or five of these Brad Paisley rigs heading west for his next concert.
May, 2017 in Montana: Another monster load to photograph.
I believe this was South Dakota in May, 2017: A monster set of doubles! Imagine the weight of that rig!
Also in South Dakota in May, 2017: This rig is referred to as a “turnpike doubles” with two (53′?) trailers and fully tandem axles!
A few miles later, I believe still in South Dakota, this monster wind turbine tower section was sitting at the top of an off ramp. I cut off a portion of the trailer axles, but count those axles and check that length. I don’t recall seeing a bigger load.
Same rig seen from behind.
Another South Dakota rig with unbelievable number of axles and wheels – I read that such rigs can gross over 170,000 pounds! Generally, 18 wheelers gross a maximum 80,000 pounds.
That huge white “tube” in the series above is a base of a wind turbine. That one is being hauled on a “Schnable” trailer. They are designed to let the base ride as low as possible. Here is a video about those incredible rigs:
September, 2017 as we headed east along I-80 in Wyoming, this monster 13 axle rig was parked on the westbound side. I believe that load is a huge transformer. (Click to enlarge, click again for an even larger photo.)
Large mining dump trucks are so big that they must be shipped in pieces to the site they’ll work, and are assembled there. Here, its weight and length spread over 13 axles(!), the front of one (note grill and headlights) heads east on I-80 in Wyoming. (June 2017)
On the same trip but heading west on I-80, we encountered this super sized mining truck dump bed that blocked two lanes of traffic and was accompanied by several pilot cars and even the highway patrol – and another identical load. (June 2017)
September, 2016: Along Wyoming’s remote Highway 51, we pulled over for the widest wide load I had ever encountered along a two lane road. All northbound vehicles had to pull to the shoulder to let this behemoth by. It was a large dump body for a monster mine dump truck.
The Pebble Beach Best of Show in 2012 beauty below was photographed in January, 2015 at a K-Mart lot in Deming, NM. If a truck could be poetry, this red beauty is it!
The phrase on the back of the sleeper reads: “Chasing the Demon Wind”.
Driving home from a kokanee fishing trip on New Melones Lake on Highway 49, this logger pulled over to check his load. Having been a log truck driver back in the 70s, I pulled over to check out his splendid rig because it looks to me like nothing has changed about logging truck design. Sure enough, the geometry and layout seem identical to the rigs I drove. This incredible rig is a ’91 Kenworth with a new Cat 600 HP engine installed four years ago. Although this beauty has over 1,000,000 miles, it looks new! The owner keeps the entire rig – even places you cannot see – polished and looking great. His name is Larry Thomas and he’s my kind of trucker!
This 13 axle rig was west bound on I-80 along the salt flats of Utah in June, 2011.
Tanker and double trailers on I-80 in Nevada. That is efficiency!
No, this is not a truck. But back in January of 2011 during a night at a Bakersfield Walmart, this old Greyhound Scenicruiser conversion was parked nearby.
In 1957, I was put on one of these futuristic (at the time) Greyhound Scenicruiser buses to go to a church affiliated boarding high school in Oregon. It was my freshman year and I was 13 years old, and I thought the long drive there from our home near Los Angeles was a great adventure. I was a truck nut even then, and I still remember that drive. I rode those buses at least two or three times to and from that school near Roseburg, Oregon.
Before 1960 they were powered by two (!) Detroit Diesel four cylinder engines, and the sound of those engines was music to my ears. That bus was state of the art at the time – it even had a restroom on board, which was the first bus so equipped.
And so, having come across this old photo recently, I had to include it on this page. If I were independently wealthy, I’d have one of these old buses completely modernized and converted into a motorhome – and I would be tempted to power it with twin Detroit Diesels, as were those buses I rode.
This set of Old Dominion triples (above), and the UPS double 53 footers (below) were photographed along the salt flats in Utah.
This seven axle bobtail crane was cruising along near Tooele, Utah.
This wind turbine was heading west along I-80 in Wyoming aboard this huge 13 axle rig in June, 2011.
My favorite modern tractor is this Navistar, formerly known as International Harvester or “Cornbinder”. This model is dubbed the LoneStar – and is a retro style that I think is just stunning. Taken March 31, 2011 at an I-5 rest area above Sacramento.
This double belly dump rig must net double the usual five axle rig normally seen. This was in Utah along I-80, September 2010.
The following wind turbines towers were taken along I-80 as we headed for Denver and Branson, Missouri in September of 2010.
These tower section must be extremely thick and heavy. I presume that by the number of tires on the ground. I count 13 axles; the usual big rig that grosses 80,000 Lbs. has just five axles:
A section of wind turbine tower.
An off road dump truck heading down I-80 on seven axles!
This is a long abandoned truck stop in Laramie, Wyoming. I cannot understand the locals putting up with this mess, but it was there, along with the abandoned trucks seen below, back in June of 2010 and again three months later.
This had to be a fatal. This is the only rig that wasn’t there in June, but was abandoned there when we visited in September. I’d guess it was an uninsured/under-insured total wreck, and the owners had it dropped there.
These two tractors and the semi-trailer had been sitting just as shown for over three months. I consider them abandoned, and there was evidence of homeless spending nights in the KW cabover. What a sad tale.
Along I-5 in the Los Angeles area I passed this monster mobile crane heading south.