Good morning from California! Obviously we didn't go load another load of drilling sand! At least, not yet. We are in Petaluma, CA. Petaluma is on US 101 almost on the coast and just north of San Francisco. To get here, we took highway 37 around the north edge of San Pablo Bay.
I haven't done a Trucking 101 post in a while, and so today I thought I'd share with you about the challenges of getting the inside of our trailer cleaned! We haul all sorts of products in this trailer. Often people ask what sort of things we haul, and my answer has become, "anything that can be dumped in the top, and then sifted out the bottom."
If you've been reading the blog for a while, you've probably noticed we haul quite a variety of products. For this trip, we hauled wheat mids, or wheat screenings. Basically this is what is produced from cleaning the wheat. Its pretty much dirt, chaff, and bits of broken wheat berries. It looks and feels a lot like sawdust.
Wheat mids are used for feed. We deliver this stuff most often to dairys. This load came to a mill that I believe is making dairy feed. And in order to load this product, we were required to wash the trailer out.
We don't always have to wash the trailer. For instance, we hauled the load of sunflower seed to Fargo, ND, and then we loaded another load of sunflower seed south of Fargo and took that to Colorado. Since it was the same product, we didnt' need to wash. Malcolm just climbed into the trailer and swept out any stray sunflower seeds left in there from Fargo. If we hauled fertilizer, and then we go load pearlite, we can just sweep out really good.
But say we haul a load of crushed glass, like we did last December, and then need to go pick up a load of sunflower seed...
...or perhaps we have a load of poultry meal and then need to load organic apples...
...then for obvious reasons we need to get the trailer washed out.
Sounds simple enough, but it can actually be quite a challenge. There are a number of truck wash chains out there. Its not really that hard to find a truck wash.
|not my picture|
We have pinpointed as many truck washes that we can find that will still wash out hopper trailers and we try to frequent them for all our washing needs, to encourage them to continue servicing hoppers. They are becoming fewer and fewer.
We found one near Denver that will wash us, and so that's where we went to get washed out for this load.
Most washouts cost us anywhere from $25 and up. They tend to be on the lower end of the scale, but you do get those that take advantage of the situation. They know we can't argue The washout in Denver yesterday cost us $63.
We were told recently that the one and only truck wash in Spokane that will washout a hopper is going to close its doors next month. They said they just aren't doing enough business to warrant staying open. This creates a big problem for us. We frequently haul birdseed to Spokane and we almost always have to get washed out in order to reload our usual loads from that area! We're running into this situation more and more.
Another problem we encounter frequently involves our deliveries to rural areas. Say we take a load of fertilizer to the local co-op, and then we're going to load barley 30 miles east of there. There are two towns. One has a bar and a post office, the other has more to offer but its really only a one intersection type of town. Do you think they have a truck wash? Right!
And so the solution is...
Malcolm does the washing, while I stand by and pop in the quarters every time the machine starts beeping for more money.
It's a wet slippery job. He has fallen and hurt himself before, and he always comes out mostly drenched, but the trailer is always 10 times cleaner than it ever gets at the truck washes!
We don't have to washout between every load, but when we do need to, it can be quite a challenge to get the job done.
Jake asked how often we have to change the oil in our truck. We try to change the oil every 20,000 miles. It generally costs about $230 each time. We also get the truck and trailer greased every 10,000 miles. In fact, we had that done on 9/3 and its time to do it again. We're stopping this afternoon to have that taken care of. It costs about $40 each time. Malcolm said he could do it himself, but he most times he just doesn't feel like crawling under the truck to do it. I feel like its worth $40 for him to be able to supervise someone else do it, while he takes a break.
We are unloaded now and heading to Stockton to reload. We're getting fertilizer and taking it to Idaho. Since its just fertilizer, a good sweet out is sufficient, so we won't have to go to the livestock sale barn down here and wash out. Sweeping out still involves climbing into and around inside the trailer. Its not an easy job. But at least Malcolm won't have to wear soggy clothes this morning.