Load Security

Colin Black : Colin Black lives in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Posted By Colin Black : Colin Black lives in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland. On 2024-05-18 20:19:29

Load security wasn’t a problem in the parcel delivery firm where I got my class 1 licence. I drove a three-ton box van with plenty of room for the 56 daily deliveries that people, usually the lady of the house, ordered from shopping catalogues. When the new catalogues came out, it was a nice easy Sunday shift, seventy-five deliveries and no collections. You could pile most of them in the cab so you didn’t have to keep going into the back of the truck. And as it was Sunday, you got double time. (Whatever happened to that?)             

When I left there, I got my first real trucking job with a company whose main contracts were with the whisky industry. Again, load security wasn’t a great concern. As a rookie driver, I was put on bulk grain trailers and then tankers. You could get a little seasick when you stopped at lights if the tanker had no baffles. But, as long as you ensured the lids and valves were closed, nothing would leak out. Hauling barrels was a little different. It didn’t matter if the barrels were full or empty. The first barrels in the box van had to be stood on end, which was a two-man job when they were full. Then, an eight-by-four sheet of plywood went on top, and the rest of the barrels were rolled off the forklift onto the plywood sheets. When you got to the end of the trailer, a spring-loaded pole was placed across the trailer to secure the last barrels.

With my next job, my training as a general haulage trucker began in earnest. My wife’s uncle Mitch asked me to join him and his two buddies at Rosehall Engineering. It was a small four-man firm that had grown out of a contract they got making parts for a new steel mill being built in Newport, South Wales. Mitch took the parts down to Wales and got return loads to pay the price of the diesel back home. The other two drivers were long-time pals of Mitch and had been drivers for most of their lives. With Mitch chasing contracts, the work soon outgrew the three drivers.

All their work was with flatbed trailers, so my experience securing and tarping different loads was really put to the test. I knew the theory by watching other drivers, but as for practical experience, I was sadly lacking. Things started to take off when they got a big contract with a local company that made wire rope for fishing boats and other firms. Martin Black wire ropes was an old firm in an old factory that hadn’t been built for 40-foot tractor-trailer operations, so the under-cover loading dock was not the easiest to get into. You backed the trailer down a slope and into the one-trailer loading dock that was set at an almost 90-degree angle to the dirt road. Thankfully, you were backing in off the driver’s side so you could keep an eye out the cab window.

 I had never loaded anything like these big wooden reels of wire rope, but Mitch and the guys kept me right. The wooden reels were craned out of the factory and straight onto the trailer. They sat on two wooden 4x4x8-foot battens, so they were not sitting on the trailer floor.  
I preferred the wire rope going to the docks for the fishing boats as it wasn’t wound onto wooden reels. It was coiled and bound with wire so it could be loaded onto the trailer on its flat side, which meant the load was much lower and easier to tarp. With the help of three experienced men, I managed to get by without any serious incidents. Although coming back to the depot with a load of empty reels, I looked in my mirrors in horror and saw a wooden reel slip over the side of the trailer. Luckily, it missed all the traffic and rolled to the grass verge. I stopped and got it back onto the trailer before the cops came. A quick tighten of the ropes, and I was on my way.

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