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Today, the first full day of harvest, started off slowly. There
were three new combine drivers and a new Challenger driver. I
made two runs to Mission, hauling about 53,000lbs per load. The
Kenworth I'm driving has a turbo'd diesel Cummins, similar to
the General I drove before,
but has highway gears in the rearends and doesn't pull as well
in the field. Out on the road though, it loves to do 60mph. The
shifter is a slightly different setup than the previous Fuller
Roadranger I was used to. This one has a toggle on the front
for low and high range, and a seperate lever for splitting ranges
in high range. After the first run in, it felt natural to use.
The truckers spent a fair amount of time sitting around while
the cutting crew came up to speed. I'll post some pictures tomorrow
of all the action.
I arrived at the farm around 6:50am and saw the van heading out
with the combine and bunkout wagon drivers. I had fueled my truck
the previous night and was ready to roll. I made a total of three
runs into mission, averaging 53,000lbs again with a GVW (gross
vehicle weight) of about 80,000lbs. That is right on the limit
for a tandem axle semi towing a tandem axle trailer. ODOT doesn't
pull trucks over for spot checks in the area yet, but we are
trying not to push it.
I've gotten used to the shifter setup in the Kenworth and actually
like it better than the other Fuller I used that had a single
switch for low, direct, and OD gear ranges. Here's a picture of the truck
I drive, another picture of the trucks in a row, one
of Troy sitting outside
his truck reading a book while waiting for a load, and 1, 2, 3, 4 of Cody coming
in with one of the Challengers to load the trucks.
All in all, it was a good day, a bit warm (high 90's I think)
but I'm getting used to my truck and really like towing a trailer.
Funny that, the truck runs about the same as the General did
last year, yet weighs 30,000lbs more when loaded.
The combine crew knocked the rest of yesterdays field out (only
took a few minutes) and it was moving time. We headed out to
a field on Stockton road, north of Helix. The drive getting to
Stockton road, and Stockton road itself, is pretty hairy. It's
made up of a lot of switchbacks and 20mph corners. Stockton road
is gravel, and turns to mainly dirt when we got close to the
field. I'll try and get some better pictures of the nasty part
tomorrow. Made two runs into the farms own grain bins, about
52,000lbs net per trip.
Photo's for today:
Picture from the top
of Troy's truck, looking back at the combines coming down through
the big gulley. Photo of the Mike's truck with a header
card and the combines. Two pictures of the wind farm behind the
field 1, 2. The crew down
in the gulley finishing off
the first field. The hillside is much steeper than it looks.
The bankout wagons are sitting, ready to unload the combines.
A nifty picture showing what
happens when a crop duster mixes Round-Up in with other selective
herbicides and flies a nice straight line over the field. The
Round-Up pretty well eliminated the selective part and killed
off a long skinny patch about 120 acres in size.
The combines were down over the edge of the field doing some
cutting on a couple really steep parts of the field today. The
trucks all pulled down through the field we had been cutting
and dropped onto a dirt road between fields. The Challenger guys
loaded us there, and we drove out through the old farm house
area and back up the dirt road. I made two runs, averaging 53,000lbs
A small rant: The only part about this job I don't like is dealing
with idiot car drivers! Today I almost had a major accident when
turning on to Hwy 11. Checking both ways a few times, and seeing
no traffic coming from my left, I pulled out into the road and
accelerated. Checked my left mirror again and literally out of
nowhere a car came flying up at probably better than 75mph. There
was a double yellow line (no passing) and the yahoo proceeded
to jet around me anyway and avoided an oncoming U-Haul truck
by probably 50 feet. Both I and the U-Haul driver blew our horns
at the guy but he didn't even seem to notice. People just seem
to think they are invincible and that they have just as much
right to be on the road as the larger trucks. While that may
be true, trucks simply can't stop or swerve like a car can. People
just need to be more respectful of what's out on the roads.
We won't be cutting Friday and Saturday. Some of the crew (bosses
included) are going to the Chief Joseph Days celebration in Joseph
Oregon. We'll be back at it on Monday.
Today started off cold (yesterday evening was rather cool) and
I got two good loads in. I don't know if anyone else runs into
this, but if I have a break over a weekend or something, I seem
to start the Monday off doing better. Example, today my truck
driving was MUCH smoother than it was last week. It's almost
like I had time to relax and start fresh. I didn't miss a single
We finished off part of the field and moved south a bit. The
combines knocked off a small patch and then moved on to the last
part of the field. It'll take two full days to finish it, if
Pictures for the day:
Photo of my truck on the dirt
road waiting for a load. That dirt is ankle deep after having
trucks run through it for a few days. Photo's 1 and 2 should give
you an idea of how steep some of the hills are in these parts.
You can see the combine just about maxed out on the leveling
system if you look at the tires. A couple photo's, 1 and 2, of Corey cutting
up the hill on the last piece of the field. The field levels
out up on top but is far too steep for the trucks to run up there.
The Challengers will haul out to us with their bankout wagons.
Got in three loads today (although I couldn't dump the last one
as the kid running the scale had left.) One of the trucks lost
a tire (1, 2), and we should
be out of this field tomorrow. About time as the wind and dust
is just awful. It's been fairly cool though, nothing too hot.
We finished off the Stockman field and it was moving time. The
trucks went ahead and waited at the next field back close to
Adams. An hour or so later we heard over the CB that one of the
combines lost a rear wheel out on the road. I jumped on one of
the service trucks to go and lend a hand. Turns out that the
9750STS had the right rear hydraulic motor assembly come off
when the four mounting bolts snapped. Photos: 9750 with the rear
tire lying on the ground, Midway elevator is in the background;
Larry starting to work on getting the lug nuts off the tire; Mike surveying the situation;
a look at the end of the axle lying on the ground; bolting
back on the axle; finishing up the job. We tried to lift
the axle up with the boom truck the farm has but it pulled the
front of the truck off the ground. One of the guys ran back to
the farm and got the air/hydraulic jack to lift it. Mike welded
nuts onto what was left of the bolts in the wheel motor and was
able to turn them out. A short while later the 9750 was ready
to roll again.
To catch up on the time lost, Larry, Mike, and Harmon decided
to cut till late and Troy and I drove bankout wagons. What fun!
Those Challengers are really rough riding on uneven ground, but
it was still a lot of fun. The guys were cutting at almost 7mph
because this particular field had poor wheat on it. The dust
was something awful. We finished up around 11:45pm.
Today was spent finishing up the other section of the field and
we were done around 4pm. The combines got ready to move again
and the truck drivers (including me) had the rest of the day
off. The next field they are cutting has to be hauled to Walla
Walla, across the state line, and our AG truck endorsments are
only valid in Oregon, so Mike had to have another group of truckers
haul that load. I get to sleep in!
The truck drivers arrived around 10am after the field had been
cleared off by the combine drivers and the other hired trucking
crew. All the equipment moved back to the field we were at the
first day of harvest and we knocked out most of the rest of the
field (a large patch on the east end.)
A few hours of work in the morning finished off the field, and
we moved down the highway to Milton-Freewater. We were hauling
back to the farm pit so I got in some good road time. It was
the first time that the truckers were kept busy, we only sat
for about twenty minutes between loads.
We finished up the field over near Milton-Freewater later in
the day, and the crew moved the combines and other gear to the
next field that is closer to the farm while I took a load into
The combines cut a field surrounding a crop circle and then moved
across the road to another larger field. Brent managed to get
his combine stuck when it suddenly dropped into some mud. Seems
the pipe running the sprinklers has a leak :-) Photo of the stuck
combine, one of the front
wheel, Troy getting hooked
up to the back of the combine by Mike, the hole the wheel made.
Picture of Troy getting
a load on his truck from Roy.
Later in the day, Mike showed me how to drive around the big
John Deere 9400 wheel tractor. What a sweet machine. It's articulated,
has a nice big engine, and rides like a Cadillac. I made a couple
runs into the pit and drove the tractor around some more. Getting
the chance to drive various equipment really breaks up harvest
and is a nice change.
We cruised SE a bit and cut out a field, and then headed back
to another field near where we cut yesterday. It was DNS (another
wheat variety) and had to be ready for another trucking crew
to take it to Walla Walla. Some of the crew (me included) stayed
till about 9:45PM getting it all cut. One other truck and mine
were waaaay overfilled, but they weren't going to be moved, they
just needed to hold the wheat until morning when we'd use a portable
auger to load into the other trucks. I'd say my truck was probably
pushing 90,000lbs, boy did the tires bulge.
While Harmon loaded the semi's with the auger, we moved all the
equipment back over to the SE field area and cut out one of the
fields. The entry for the field had some very fine powder dirt,
and even with the diff locks engaged, all the trucks almost got
I got the last load, and followed Troy into Mission. While waiting
at the scales, he asked what the funny noise was coming from
my truck. We popped the hood and such a wonderful sight awaited
us. The pulley that spins the cooling fan clutch had lost it's
bearings and was basically eating itself. Each time I moved closer
to the scales (as trucks moved through) I had to shut down. I
was able to nurse the truck home by keeping the revs down to
about 1200RPM's. I finished out the day driving an older Freightliner.
What a tank.
We started the day off right at the farm. There was a field of
high yield wheat right along the driveway. It took most of the
day to cut as it was upwards of 120bu/acre, and was slow going
for the combines. We got quite a few truck loads off the field
which is good.
We thought we'd be able to get the old Kenworth up and running
(the green truck) but it appears that the pulley which needed
new bearings had part of the belt sheave broken away. We'll see
if we can find another one in the morning. If not, I'll be driving
the Freightliner which isn't too bad, just no A/C.
Photo's from Mission: The line in front of me, behind me, and the
elevator dumping wheat out in
I hooked up the Freightliner and drove it out to get a load of
barley we were cutting. The field only took three trucks to haul,
the yield was fairly low and the grade was low as well. It got
hauled to Athena. I hadn't unloaded there yet. The elevator is
very old and small. You have to weigh the tractor and trailer
seperately. Definitely slow unloading.
I decided I'd had enough of driving without A/C, so I went over
Sunday night and put the Kenworth back together. The fan clutch
setup is really interesting. It's made up of a splined air chamber
that is actuated by an airline which is controlled by a solenoid.
The fan clutch is engaged whenever the temp starts to rise. I
ended up running the fan set to manual so that the A/C worked
even when the truck wasn't moving. It was great to be back in
the truck again.
The barley field was finished Saturday and we moved North to
another small field. The crew got it knocked out in one day.
We moved another mile or so up the road and started cutting on
some steep ground. We had to run the trucks up a very narrow
twisty gravel driveway, and even cutting the corner as wide as
possible just barely let the trucks make it through.
After finishing off that field, we moved back south about a mile
and the crew started to cut out the last field we were doing
while I hauled a load in to Mission.
Mission was running out of storage space for low protein wheat
which is usually purchased by the Asian market. Mike decided
to have Troy and I haul into the Pendleton Flour Mill.
Talk about a challenge. The trucks head into Pendleton heading
west, go about two blocks and then have to make a VERY tight
left turn onto a side street which isn't even perpendicular to
the main street. There's a used car lot there and the owner likes
to park his shiny Cadillac right out on the curb. So...with traffic
piling up behind me, I just barely squeeked by his car. It was
pretty crazy. The wait at the elevator took forever. I made a
total of three trips in, and the last one took over 1 1/4hours
to dump. I was hot, tired, and a bit grumpy :-) I did have a
chance to chew the fat with a couple other truckers waiting to
dump as well. That was fun.
After hauling my last load into the mill, I met up with two of
the combine crew to cut a small field that had been used by the
OSU AG Research station. They mowed through it like nobodies
business. That load would have to wait till tomorrow to go in.
It may have to go to Hermistion to a livestock feed factory as
it's a mix of various types of wheat.
Yesterday was the last day of harvest and today was cleanup day.
Cody and I took the headers off of the three combines and put
them on the header carts so they could be moved to storage. I
ended up hauling my load into Athena as the place in Hermiston
didn't need it. I was kind of looking forward to a bit of road
time, but maybe next year. When I got back, I had to run the
Freightliner into Mission because it didn't get completely emptied
yesterday for some reason. That load was a whopping 2,750lbs
We worked on cleaning up the equipment, moving trucks around,
and other odd jobs until 1pm when we had the harvest BBQ. Good
burgers! After that, some of us headed out to a bar (I don't
drink) and had fun playing darts and just talking.
This year was my first experience with a full size 18 wheeler
and I must say I had a blast. It really makes you think and slow
down as you have to plan everything in advance. I had a LOT of
fun with this crew and we got along great, for the most part.
I'll probably be working for them again next summer.
to sign my guestbook!