This was Jack’s first heavy haul load. He wasn’t actually part of the a heavy haul division yet but obviously it was a landmark load for him.
You can see the partially melted snow and the dry road. We are almost to that point in the year right now, and you can probably believe that it is an exciting time for us Alaskans who have snow 8 or 9 months of the year!
The drive line of this truck broke coming down 5 mile last summer. Just like putting it in neutral, the motor didn’t help slow him down. While trying to stop the truck going downhill the driver smoked his brakes, then coasted up 6 mile hill. His brakes wouldn’t hold him when he coasted to a stop, they were too hot. So then he rolled backwards into the ditch. There’s more than accidents that go on up on the road but most of it isn’t exciting enough to post. 🙂
The hill that drivers call “Koyukuk” is right next to the Koyukuk River and it’s one of the steepest on the Dalton. It’s about 30 miles south of Coldfoot. The video was taken last winter.
Jack happened to be there to document this huge mod being pushed up the hill by push trucks and also being steered from the back because it’s so long. If you look close you can see someone standing outside on the load as it goes up the hill – he’s steering the rear end as it goes around the curves. The guy doing the steering is one of the former owners of Carlile and he comes up the Dalton for these types of loads that need some special care. (Carlile was sold to Saltchuk Corporation a while ago.)
In case you are wondering, the truck is going pretty slow, about 5 miles an hour in 3rd gear. The last thing you ever want to do, Jack says, is change gears when you’re going that slow with that much weight since you’ll stop before you get it into a different gear. If you stop it’ll take a while to get going again and without the momentum you’re putting a lot of strain on the truck and there’s too much potential for breaking something. The years Jack spent in heavy haul were great years he says, but he doesn’t miss it.
This truck wrecked on the Parks Highway yesterday. The driver is fine but he was cited for negligent driving. The accident spilled about 2000 gallons of diesel into a ditch. Below is a link to a short article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner about it.
It’s quite common for a really heavy load to have one or more push trucks behind it to push when going up inclines. Push trucks are commonly used on the Dalton Highway as well as the Parks and Richardson when the loads are outrageously heavy, otherwise it would take a very long time and so much fuel for the truck with the load to get up a mountain, and it would also impede traffic for long periods of time. The push trucks just follow the load when not going up hills.
Taken 11 years ago, these photos really show how close Jack’s push truck gets to the load he’s pushing (a crane). You can see the pad that the push bar pushes against, how the trucks make contact.