Mr. Truck 10-12-09
I don’t usually humiliate myself in an article but this lesson may help someone.
I tow doubles (two trailers) across the country to horse expo’s. I stopped at Popup Hitch in Kansas to load more displays on the way to Kentucky, and had to unhook the rear trailer. Back on the road a couple miles, a pin on my coupler came out and dropped trailer number two on the pavement at 70 mph. I was glad I had the tongue jack all the way up, as using the trailer brake controller kept the flatbed inline behind the horse trailer until I could get stopped. I cross the safety chains so they cradle the trailer coupler if it comes off. I used a bolt this time in the coupler instead the quick pin. I only lost 15 minutes with little damage. This is where it’s important in an emergency to know how to grab the trailer brake controller first and not the foot brake. Using the trailer brake independently keeps the trailer behind you instead of hitting your truck or swaying out of control.
From what I’ve seen there are only a handful of states that have green pumps for diesel and gas. In 2006 when Ultra Low Diesel first came out, I saw yellow pumps and handles in the Midwest for awhile. Now everything is Ultra Low Diesel with mostly green handles at the pump. I generally buy diesel at truck stops on the Interstates. Not at the semi-truck fuel islands, but the auto and RV pumps. For some reason the majority of truck stop franchises charge truckers cash fuel price what they charge credit card fuel prices for us small guys.
I had a great show at NATDA Convention. In the three years I’ve been on tour at expo’s around the country, I have never ran my truck battery down until this year. I guess we ran the gadgets a day too long. The truck batteries were too low to boost so we had to switch to the truck batteries with the deep cell batteries on the trailers. Back on the road, two hours late and low on fuel because of fire marshal rules inside expo buildings, 100 miles into Indiana, with the fuel light on I pulled in at Corydon. The first station didn’t have diesel so they directed me to their second station.
I was glad to get there as I have glided into fuel stations a couple of times on fumes. I saw a diesel truck fueling up so I pulled in swinging my two trailers around to the last pump. I left the truck running to charge the batteries and grabbed the green handle. I thought the nozzle was small, but it didn’t set off the warning as that side of my brain fell asleep replaying the events of the week.
You can figure it out from there, knocking noise, smoke and no power. I babied it to the Ford store next door, still not knowing exactly what the problem was. The next day the Ford tech asked if I put gas in it. Surprised and forgetting to grab my receipt the night before, I went to the station and got that sick feeling when I saw “regular gas” on the pump I used. I asked the station clerk about it and she said it happens three or four times a year. This was a common theme as the Ford service tech told me they get trucks with my problem three or four times a year.
When I sold trucks, I worried about the lot tech’s putting gas in the new diesel trucks I sold. I’ve never done did this before. With all the trips I do across the country, I usually look at the pump a couple of times before fueling.
I guess I’m still human. All it takes is a distraction, like being tired. Another blessing was, my auto insurance paid for the repair including my hotel. I just paid the deductible for being stupid. Yes I’m happy with Esurance, besides my wife and daughters annual accidents. The gas took out four injectors and the fuel filters were due anyway – all totaled up it cost $2,450. But overall it was an important lesson with minimal damage.
Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site, http://www.mrtruck.net.
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