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. 🙂
Here’s a few photos of a burned trailer Jack took some years ago. He came across it north of Coldfoot. He’s not sure how the tires caught fire, but somehow they did. It could’ve been that the driver got a couple of flat tires and kept driving, or that the brakes locked up. He suspects the brakes did not release for some reason. There’s more explanation on the captions, click on the first one and scroll to the right to see them all.
This truck may have been going to auction or it could have been on its way to a new job site.
Somehow the fire did manage to burn the cab somewhat.
This diesel tank probably burned because there was fuel in it. It didn’t explode. At some point the metal straps that were holding the tanks up to the truck melted and the tanks dropped onto the trailer. The burnt piece of wood most likely came from the wood deck of the flat bed.
You can see the back of a brake can on the right side and one of the brake springs on the left.
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.
Jack is driving a new truck, a Freightliner. He’s discussed this a little in the comments section of the About page. Jesse Aird asked: “Why the Freightliner? Hard to beat a W9.” Jack answered:
“Well, my bosses asked me if I wanted to try it out and I know a lot of owner operators have them up here and like them, so I did. Turns out the engine is great (DD16), there’s lots of room in the cab, and I don’t feel exhausted at the end of several trips in a row, maybe because of the comfortable seat. The truck rides better. I don’t care what brand it is as long as it’s comfortable and reliable.”
He added to Pete Wylie aka Straight Arrow: “There is something about the Freightliner that makes a better ride. It takes bumps better.”
So there you have it, why Jack is driving a Freightliner.
Here is a quick video from when Jack went through the cleared lane that the State of Alaska loader made after the avalanche on Atigun Pass. Don’t forget you can change the settings in the lower right hand corner if the video looks grainy.
A few days ago Jack was held up for a couple of hours because of this avalanche that blocked the road on Atigun Pass. To me, it looks like a small avalanche. But Jack says this is the average amount of snow that usually falls on the road in this spot. Other areas involve more snow, or less.
If a truck was caught in the path of this avalanche, it could have pushed the truck over the guard rail and ended up rolling it down the hill. This is very rare nowadays since the State of Alaska does more avalanche control, shooting artillery at the mountain to dislodge the snow.
You can see the blocked road, the loader removing the snow, and also the melt water that was running alongside the road before the avalanche and which is crossing the road afterward. The last photo shows the loader dumping water as well as snow. They are best viewed if you click on the first one and scroll to the right. I had to substantially lighten the photos because of low light conditions. You can see the sun over the next hill and all the trucks waiting on the other side of the blockage. This is about 10:30 at night.