While traveling the highways and byways of the country aboard our motor home, I have a great time watching for unusual trucks of all kinds. The bigger the better, as long as I’m not being held up! There are some real monsters to be seen on the interstates, and here are a few examples:
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.
I loved trucks since I was a kid…
As an elementary school kid back in the 50s 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. This logger had walking beam suspensions that rode like a tractor. They were powered by Cummins 335 engines and had the old 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.
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, and 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:
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. 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 all be available on one page. I hope like minded truckers and those interested in trucks will find this page entertaining. Enjoy!
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.)