Don’t Forget Blended Fuel (Driving a Truck in The Northeast)
Every since you finished Truck Driving School you’ve been going back and forth across the South East corridor. Same routine, Dallas, New Orleans, Miami. It’s been a good route, but the dispatcher needs a favor. There’s this off the wall load that is going to a place called Duluth. When you accepted the load you were thinking Duluth Georgia, just outside Atlanta. You didn’t mind the idea of a change of pace, but this is a little extreme.
When the shipping orders came through, they said your headed for Duluth Minnesota. Isn’t that just north of the Artic Circle? Last I heard temperature there was hanging about -20 below. That’s almost seventy degrees difference from what the radio was saying yesterday in New Orleans.
This isn’t good, you’ve never been that far north in your life. Do they really speak English there, or is it Eskimo?
Time to do a little preparing. Minnesota winters are indeed darn cold, a person who doesn’t understand the serious consequences of what would normally be a minor irritation, could find themselves in real danger.
Hypothermia will lead to death real quick if your not dressed for the elements and your truck quits running. Don’t even think about heading that far north unless you have some serious cold weather clothing. Warm boots, at a minimum an insulated Carhartt jacket, and a good pair of insulated gloves and hat. A set of good old fashioned long johns will be much appreciated too.
Now for the truck. Many trucks on the road today have multiple fuel tanks. With the high cost of fuel it’s desirable to fuel at certain locations where your company may have arranged the best possible price. Plus it’s nice to be able to go more then 400 or 500 miles between fuel stops. Carrying +200 gallons of fuel is more or less a standard load.
Here in lies the problem. You head north not even giving fuel a consideration, knowing you have enough on board to get you to your destination. After you unload it will be off to the truck stop for a fresh load of diesel.
Down South most truck stops pump #2 fuel, it has better lubrication qualities, and temperature, even on cold days is not an issue for truck performance. Not so up North.
When #2 diesel approaches temperatures lower then 32 degrees it starts to thicken. By the time you get down to anything below zero, #2 fuel will turn to JELLO, and not the kind you want to eat for desert.
As you head north, along the way, truck stops will take local weather conditions into consideration when they order fuel. They will either offer blended fuel at a separate pump so you can mix as you see fit, or they will sell nothing but blended fuel. The price is higher then straight #2, but as you blend your fuel you can keep going.
The alternative is to be found alongside the road, froze up and not running. Northern trucks sometimes have fuel heaters installed. The fuel line runs through what looks like a heater core and heat from the radiator circulates around the fuel lines to pre-heat the fuel before it gets to the engine.
By the time you make it to Minnesota, the blended fuel you can buy is pretty much straight #1. This doesn’t guarantee you won’t still have problems when the temps really take a serious nose dive. At -30 nothing wants to run right. At those kinds of temperatures, steel becomes brittle, hoses break, the potential for disaster raises ten fold. When it’s that cold, the fuel in your fuel filters will freeze up, it’s common to wrap insulation of some sort around your fuel filters to keep fuel flowing.
When you’ve had enough of the cold in your truck and want to spend the night in a motel, remember one thing. You turn that truck off for the night, and your going no where the next day.
Driving a Big Rig in the extreme North of the country isn’t all that bad. People are friendly, and we all know what your feeling, heck we live here year round. Just remember to stop for fuel along the way, remember #1 is thin, #2 turns to Jello. Dress for the weather and watch the road conditions. Be Prepared and Be Safe.
Even if you do raise someone on the CB, that’s willing to give you directions, you wouldn’t be the first person to be lead down the primrose path. More often than we like to admit, other drivers will go out of there way to lead you astray. Especially if they find out your new to the world of over the road trucking.
Don’t rely on maps, there hard to read, and many aren’t detailed enough to do you any good. Get your self set up so you can type in a specific address, and have turn by turn directions on how to get there.
With GPS you can out smart them, be prepared. Have your course plotted out well ahead of when you need it. Drive into the city, confident that you know exactly where your going, even if you’ve never been there before. That’s part of being a Professional Truck Driver and will help you establish yourself as a true professional.
Article provided by: Curtis Carper