One winter many years ago we could not get away from the snow and chains.  The final straw happened on a team load running the I-5 corridor.  We totally exhausted ourselves by chaining.  It seemed as if every few miles we were putting on chains and then taking the chains off.  By the time we delivered the load we were both exhausted.  That year we about wore our chains out.  One time while chaining and keeping the defrost running on the windshield we came back to a very long crack on the passenger side.  Each time we got out to either put on or take off the chain we got soaked, our shoes got soaked, and then we had to deal with the mess in the truck.  By the end of that winter, we knew it was time to get serious about automatic chains. 

After much research, we decided to use Onspot automatic chains on our drive axle.  While the chains were being installed we toured the facility and were doubly impressed.  What was most impressive is the chain itself as it will not get into a bind.  There are the right side and left side chains due to how they are made so that when the chain goes under the tires the chain is at its maximum length. 

Over the years we have deployed the chains most often away from the main roads.  The interstate might be clear but the side roads, rest areas, and customer locations are not.  We also have a tendency in the winter to get stuck in docks that are slanted as the ice forms at the bottom of the ramp right where our drives are located.  We have deployed the chains to get out of the fuel islands, to leave a traffic light or stop sign, to get out of a dock, to get through rest areas, and so on.   Once the truck wants to slip with a push of the button on the dash we have traction and we can safely move out of harm’s way.

A couple times in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area after ice storms we have had the last laugh.  During most of the year on many of the roads it is hard to see that they change elevation but once there is ice on those roads all the sudden it seems as if mountains appear.  We have waited patiently as cars and trucks try to climb the hills to only get stuck and slide over to the side of the road.  Once it is our turn to try the “mountain” we deploy our chains and off we go.

One beautiful night in Colorado going east on I-70 I started driving on ice and I deployed the chains and continued on at about 25 mph all by myself.  For several hours I drove along not seeing but a few other vehicles and I easily went over the mountains and then back down into Denver.  The problem happened when I got into Denver as the snow was deep and there was a lot of traffic.  I let my speed slowdown in the deep snow and promptly got stuck.  Once a short path was cleared in front of the drives and the chains could do their job I was off and running again with a lesson learned.  I could have stopped when I got to the ice and waiting with everyone else till mid-morning.  The herd of trucks would all leave about the same time the sun was starting to melt the ice to creep over the mountain in a pack. Due to the automatic chains, we were already on another load away from the snow and ice when everyone else was climbing the mountain.

We have deployed the chains a couple of times this year and both times have been in ice-covered truck stop parking lots.  I think of the loads we might have been late delivering, the cold, the wet clothing, and the weight of the chains that we no longer have to deal with all due to pushing a button and deploying our Onspot Automatic Chains.  When I hear other drivers say “I Don’t Chain” I chuckle because neither do we.

 

 

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About Linda Caffee

Bob and Linda have been team drivers since 2005 as expediters. They are leased to Landstar Express America. Bob was a diesel mechanic for twenty years before doing over the road and Linda worked in the courthouse.

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