I’ve been driving a new Mack Superliner

With a few of our trucks in the workshop, there’s been a brand new Mack Superliner “loaner” truck at work.

The Superliner is very nice to drive and it rides very well, but most trucks do when they’re brand new.  I think the woodgrain dash panel is overkill in a truck, I guess it’s supposed to portray luxury, but trucks are made to work.

I was surprised to see both a traditional AM CB radio along with the more common UHF.  These days the UHF CB is the communication tool everyone uses on the road.  I thought the AM radios had faded away over a decade ago.

The 600 plus horsepower was nice, but the reality for me is that the Mack Superliner is like most modern trucks.  It’s comfortable and gets the job done.  Because this rig is brand new, it still looks really nice with it’s clean paintwork and shiny chrome.

The reason for this post?  To upload some of the photos I took while working with the new Mack, which I’ve also added to my “Trucks I’ve Driven” gallery.

Back to work

Isn’t it ironic that in my previous blog post I wrote about publishing regular blog posts, “at least weekly”, but then didn’t publish anything for two weeks.

Over on Vic Pics, I went on a big photo taking road trip in Western Victoria on the last day of my Christmas holidays, but have only managed to write and publish two posts that weekend. Followed by nothing for over a week.

So what went wrong?  I went back to work.  Working afternoon shift driving trucks, I haven’t been able to find a good time either before or after work to concentrate on my photography or blogging.  When I work a regular day shift, I can come home at a decent time and work on my hobbies after dinner.  When I’m starting work at lunch time, I’m a little reluctant to get stuck into a project while keeping an eye on the clock to make sure I’m not late.  I then get home after midnight, when I’m too tired to concentrate for too long in-front of the computer.

I will be on afternoon shift for the next few weeks, driving a semi up and down the Hume Highway to Albury.  Over 300 kilometres of freeway each way is good for catching up on audio podcasts, but add in loading and unloading times and before you know it I’ve clocked up a 12 plus hour day.  I will really need to be disciplined to squeeze in some blogging and photo processing hours around work while being mindful of fatigue management on the road.

Stay tuned, more blog posts coming soon!

Stramit Mack truck loaded with Iplex PVC coils

Westgate Bridge Closed, traffic stuffed!

The traffic in Melbourne’s west was horrible today, caused by a motorcycle fatality on the inbound lanes of the Westgate Bridge.

I’ve been driving around Melbourne for a long time.  From the early 1990’s I worked weekends as a taxi driver.  In the mid 1990’s I was a courier driver, before moving into heavy vehicles.  Between 2004 and 2009 I commuted from the outer east to the outer west for a transport management role.  These days I’m driving trucks around Melbourne and regional Victoria.  Today was the worst traffic I have ever experienced.

Today started with what should have been a simple job, a quick run across town for a simple delivery.  I left the depot in Knoxfield at 6.15am and arrived at my delivery in Melton at 7.25, which was a good time as the morning peak was starting to wind up.  Ten minutes later I was heading back towards Knoxfield, but I was expecting traffic to get busy as I made my way through peak hour.  Just after the Boundry Road exit on the Western Ring Road the traffic started to slow.  This is normal as you approach the merge with the Geelong freeway.  At 8.30am I heard the traffic report on the radio say the Westgate Bridge was closed, so I sent my boss an SMS to say it might take me a bit longer to get back.  That SMS was my understatement of the day.  Three hours later, I still hadn’t made it to the next exit, Millers Road.  Three hours to travel five kilometres!  Finally I made it back to the Knoxfield depot at 2pm.

Today certainly opened my eyes as to what can happen when the main crossing of the Yarra River, from the western suburbs towards Melbourne, is closed.  I don’t want to get into politics, but maybe there is merit in the Western Distributor Project the current state government is undertaking.  At least it will give us a second river crossing in the west, even if it does mean more tolls.

Truckies Chow Mein

Chow Mein and rice dinner from Euroa Shell roadhouse truckstop

Chow Mein and rice dinner from Euroa Shell

I was covering the afternoon shift Albury run again recently and stopped at the Euroa Shell Roadhouse / Truckstop for my compulsory logbook break and a quick dinner.

I was thinking of just a cheeseburger and coffee from Maccas, but when I walked through the truckies lounge one of the other food stores was open with a window just for truck drivers.  On top of their “specials” board was Chow Mein and Rice and I immediately did a Homer Simpson “Hmmmmmm…”.

Chow Mein was a favourite of mine as a kid, so I ordered the meal (and a coffee) expecting the usual take-away serving, but instead got a big dinner plate full.  The above low-light iPhone photo doesn’t do this meal justice, it was really nice and really filling!  Sure it cost about $10 more than a cheeseburger, but was well worth it.

You’ve gotta love a truck-stop dinner!