William Burnett on Montevideo Road, Jessup is a setup that makes little sense. When you check in, you have to drive all the way around the building and do a U-Turn in a very tight lot, hoping another truck doesn’t follow you in and cause a traffic jam. When I was there there were three trucks trying to get in and out.
Then you have to exit the shipper and drop the trailer in a yard in a different location just past the railroad tracks. This yard is particularly difficult because there is a big hump in the center which makes alley docking challenging because your trailer may jackknife on the slope.
When I returned, the guard told me that the load wouldn’t be ready until 8pm (a four hour delay). So I departed to grab dinner and returned just after 8. When I hooked onto the trailer, I noticed that the left turn signal wasn’t working. So I was instructed to drop the trailer at the outside yard and call Landstar Maintenance. When I parked in a very tight spot with the slope, I was forced to jackknife the trailer all over again stretching the airlines. I knew something was up, when the low pressure alarm started to scream and the trailer brakes had locked up. I hopped out to see air gushing from the red airline like a downburst.
There is a trick to move the trailer when this happens. The key is to hook up the blue airline where the red airline is supposed to go. Then I go into the cab and release the truck brake but not the trailer (since the red airline is not connected). Then I hit the trolly valve which releases air pressure from the trailer brakes allowing me to move and straighten out the trailer. The goal was to move the trailer from the jack knife position so it would not block anyone. The yard dog can do the rest.
Landstar called Roadside service to fix the trailer light. I followed up and asked them to bring over an airline. I waited for a few hours, then it dawned on me that maybe the problem was not the trailer but my pigtail – maybe one of the pins was not making the right connection for the left turn signal. So I decided to drive to the TA and purchased a new pigtail and red airline.
Installing the pigtail was a piece of cake – it’s just plug and play and it did the trick. The airline, on the other hand, took some jiggling. Every time I turned the male end counterclockwise, it would just wind back the other way. The gladhand was also locked tight and I needed to remove it and install it in the new airline.
So I went inside the TA and asked for help. The Truck Service Advisor (TSA) informed me that their one sole mechanic was backed up with three other jobs and it wouldn’t be until the next shift before I could get any help.
“If it’s just taking off the old airline, maybe I can help you,” said the TSA who was eager to get out behind the counter.
Together, we figured out how to remove the airline as well as the glad hand. The key is to first untangle the red from the blue. Then hold the airline straight up so I can use a crescent wrench to more easily unscrew the male end from the connection on the truck. The TSA also used a vise grip and a crescent wrench to remove the glad hand. I could not believe how incredibly lucky I was. TSAs normally don’t help – they’re not mechanics, but this one was willing to give me a hand and didn’t charge me the exorbitant mechanic’s rate of $130/hr.
Now I was ready to go. As soon as I got on the road, I noticed that my headlight lowbeam didn’t seem to be putting out enough light – had to switch to high beam especially when navigating the Big Curve on 495 above 270. I stopped an hour later at the VA State Weigh Station in Dumfries just as my time was running out. There were trucks parked all along the side of the road. Because it was 5am, I was lucky that trucks were starting to leave and I cheered when I found a spot. I hopped outside the truck and confirmed that my driver’s side headlight was out. When it rains, it pours!
On Friday morning, as soon as my 7-hour break had passed, I was ready to hit the road and drive towards the Carolinas. At a truck stop along the way, I was able to purchase a new headlight bulb and now I would be able to drive through the night.
I could have made it all the way, but I decided to stop at a Pilot 35 miles from Spartanburg and spend the night. It was forecast to rain all day Saturday, so I didn’t want to leave so early. I was informed that the receiver would be open on Saturday 24/7 and since this was a drop and hook, I was expecting to make a quick drop and hook onto my empty trailer which would be used for a load the following day to Florida.
When I arrived, at Sage Automotive, security let me proceed inside the grounds. But then when I proceeded to the trailer yard, the second gate remained closed. I tried to call the shipping office to no avail. I walked back to the guard who informed me that the shipping office was closed for the rest of the day and to return on Monday. I was infuriated. Now I had to sit on this load for a day and a half and cancel my load leaving the next day. When it rains, it pours!