A visual diary of a log truck driver's day...

November 27, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

A day in the life off...a pictorial essay.

So a invite materialised to ride in a logging truck for the day, so who was i to say no. Capturing a diverse set of imagery from pitch dark to a blazing hot spring day certainly provided some challenges and contary to what many would believe the ride is not that smooth at all. But the view was great...

Had some internal discussion about how to present this blog and in the end decided that most readers would only relate to log trucks as another truckie making his or her way down the highway going about their daily thing and would have no knowledge of what the work is like behind the scenes and never get the chance. With the H&S [Health and Safety] rules, yours truly also needed to be outfitted with safety work boots and high viz regardless of the fact that i could not get out of the cab at work sites. You need to be inducted into the individual areas with their own H&S requirements. Consequently, for a day's voyaging about it was easier to just get the cab view with the camera with some artistic interpretations to present a laypersons viewpoint so that most non-truckles could understand and relate to.

The layout of this blog follows the day from start to finish in a chronological order...

 

7767 cab start blog7767 cab start blog Its 3am, at least it's not raining. So being photographically orientated there's a camera bag and stuff to also cram into a not so big cab of a big truck so that's nearly a oxymoron. A bit of stuffing here and there seemingly gets the job done. The start point is a park up yard in the industrial area at Greerton, Tauranga which is handy for the Port of Tauranga to round out  the day for logistical purposes.

7771  cab blur  blog7771 cab blur blog As a quality image this really misses the mark  but does accentuate the fact that its not always a smooth ride even with air bag suspension. Those potholes that just jump out at ya are just as annoying in a truck as a car. The lights are on and the music cranking...

7778   cab logs  blog7778 cab logs blog A hour or so later its arrival time at the first log skid site after negotiating the single mettle track in with numerous calls on the CB advising our position and travel because two trucks on a narrow winding access track crossing each other is something to be avoided. Needless to say the empty truck does the backing up and especially in the dark not so easy to avoid the drains waiting to grab a wheel. Its a whole lot of avoidable drama to just call up...

The view of the log stack is a bit limited...it is still 4.30am or something and the only illumination is from the digger doing the loading and the trucks themselves with backward facing flood lights.

7784  cab logs  blog7784 cab logs blog

The load is on and now the chains go over to secure the logs from moving about. Iknow that having a load move when driving is a totally un-nerving experience having driven trucks myself so all care is made to ensure the load is balanced  just right with the loader driver. We have to move away from the skid site to chain up and it also helps to bed the logs in better before tensioning the load. All load weights are measured by on-board weigh scales so its at its permitted load weight for the truck configuration - in this case a 8 axle combination.

7797 truck  logs  blog7797 truck logs blog With modern lighting set ups facing to the rear its like having flood lights in your back yard. 

7814 truck  logs blur  blog7814 truck logs blur blog Getting a half decent image with the cab interior in focus whilst trying for the blur of the road outside with all the rocking and rolling  was problematic. Yay for digital cameras and memory cards is all i can say. Lost count of the times trying for this image. Meanwhile the suns up and its off to Rotorua and a sawmill. 

7816  truck  logs weight station   blog7816 truck logs weight station blog Arrival to the weigh station where the load is weighed in before unloading at the Rotorua mill site. The opposite happens on the way out to calculate the load so that the guys on the skid etc can get paid. Usually a good thing...

7825 log unload   blog7825 log unload blog Same rules apply re H&S so its a combination in this image of unchaining the load , with a wider mill site view of the log stack from the cab. Watching the mill in operation the logs were being processed reasonably quickly by the rate that they were disappearing up the conveyor system. You would expect to see a reasonable log stack on hand as a buffer in case of some supply event such as road closures etc. This mill produces timber for the local framing market for new builds and other timber products.

7832  log unload   blog7832 log unload blog If anyone ever wondered how the trucks get their trailers off the ground and onto the back of the truck well here's your answer...

At each delivery site there is a crane system similar to this  which latches onto a permanent chain and hook system on the trailer by which the trailer is lifted into the air and the front draw bar is swung around into the reverse position and locked in under the trailer frame so that the truck can reverse under the suspended trailer to line up and lower onto the truck. At the skid site the digger loading the logs does the crane work of lifting the trailer of, the drawbar dolly is swung back into its towing position and then re-attached to the truck. Hopefully that's clear as mud...Otherwise you would have empty trucks and the trailers adding to the traffic. 

7845 forest road   blog7845 forest road blog The private forestry roads are well maintained for the purpose of heavy loads but lots are unsealed which makes for the dusty trucks that you see on the road. Especially if it's wet you cannot avoid the rougher tracks of the skid sites.All care is taken to remove any thing which may fall from the logs like loose bark. 

7860 skid site   blog7860 skid site blog Skid sites are sort off a temporary camp  for logs and gear. Each stack is a different grade of wood which the crew sort into their various grades. Each load put on the truck is a specific grade for its destination which the driver is advised of on a small data logger in the cab which is connected to the company office thru wifi. Its a series of numbers and names with final destination and when we arrive the digger driver loading is advised of what grades to load and on which part of the truck and trailer. And when loading is in progress the weight is monitored to get the proper loading configuration. The attachment on the digger in the middle is a log grader which measures and calculates where to cut the log to a pre determined length with a inbuilt saw all controlled by a on board computer. This mechanisation of log grading has really sped up the processing time for raw timber on the skid site where there would have been a crew with chain saws and tape measures manually doing that job. In fact on easier country the whole process from felling to loading is all done with machines which makes for more thru-put and less hazards to every one working there. 

7892  skid site   blog7892 skid site blog

Once on board the logs are chained up away from the loading site. No one is allowed around the truck and trailer while the loading is happening. So its a wait until the loading with the correct weights is done. No where to get a ice cream around here...

7903 truck loaded forest   blog7903 truck loaded forest blog Its usually a short run down the forestry roads and a quick stop to check chain tensions before heading the long way back to the highway.

7915 truck loaded forest   blog7915 truck loaded forest blog

I thought this image  just seemed to portray the start to finish of the whole timber production process from the initial plantings thru to the mature logs on their way  to their processing destination. A sort of 'fait accompli' to the harvested trees on the truck , if they could talk they would probably say something like ' Fly you fools'.

7913 parkup  truck  blog7913 parkup truck blog 'One day i will grow up to be just like you and go for a ride', said the little tree to the big log...

7925  truck road   blog7925 truck road blog Its just a trucker's thing. A wave or at nite its 'flashies' where the side and top lights are flashed on and of or using the indicators as a 'yeah gidday'...the larger line haul trucks with all their lights is really a sight with all them flashing on and off. So if you have followed a truck at nite and seen that its a bit like a brotherhood handshake. 

E302B556-1E6A-4E20-B89B-4D77D2D0C38CE302B556-1E6A-4E20-B89B-4D77D2D0C38C

Also if you want to know who has the best food is in the area just look to where all the trucks are parked around meal times. This is a small burger van on the left as you enter the retail area in Putararu going south. They soon let each other know via CB radio about important stuff, like a place that has good food...

7935 POT   blog7935 POT blog

Arrival at the Port of Tauranga with this load of export logs. The main access road on the Mount Maunganui side of the POT is a busy thoroughfare  full of big boys toys. There's just lots of everything. One of the things that strikes you is the volume of logs stacked in their rows upon rows. 

7942 POT  weigh station  blog7942 POT weigh station blog The first step is the weigh in with load on. 

7951 POT  tally  station  blog7951 POT tally station blog Next up is the log talley bay. The talley clerks already have a image of each log stack on the truck from when it left the skid site which gives them a talley as well as the grades on board. Here they physically attach bar codes to some and mark others depending on grade and destination etc. Each log is checked hence the 4 covered bays to keep  the truck's rolling through during inclement weather. After this step its removing the chains holding the logs down in a seperate safety area.

7955 log stack pot blog7955 log stack pot blog Its then to unloading with a log loader which lifts a whole stack from the truck in one grab. Logs every where you can see...

7957 log stack pot blog7957 log stack pot blog And again its lifting the trailer back on but this time the Stevdoors operate the crane which speeds up the process. Anything that impedes the flow of vehicles and materials gets sorted so there's no back ups...usually.

7966 refuel truck  blog7966 refuel truck blog Last job of the day at around 4.30pm. Refuel. Meet Tim, our chauffeur.

Most truckies well know the goings on around log transport but to the average person who passes these trucks on the road it is a bit of a mystery. And with the H&S its not possible to just go see all this stuff. Many thanks to Gilmore Transport from Tokoroa for allowing this passenger to tag along. Much appreciated , and cheers to Tim for the ride...

 


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