Rest Area 300m: October 2005

Monday, October 31, 2005

Rolling Tar.

A long day today. This tanker with about 23000 litres of hot tar aboard fell over north of the Awakino Gorge this morning.

The driver, was remarkably lucky, and though cut and bruised, was not seriously injured.

The real fun ( and traffic hold ups ) start with the arrival of the cranes.

The first part of the recovery exercise went smoothly and the tractor unit was detached, and lifted onto a recovery truck.

There was some concern about the tank rupturing and spewing 140 degree tar everywhere. We were lucky and the spillage was small.

We dumped dirt on it with a front end loader, and then scraped the road clean.

But what a long hot hungry day...

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hung Out To Dry...

"Upon arrival, the engine company found a vehicle still running, hanging on the telephone wires by its right front tire.
Witnesses also reported that the driver jumped down from the vehicle and ran to catch a bus prior to the arrival of Engine 2 and the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

The vehicle ran for over an hour until the oil had completely drained from the motor and it seized."

via Grow A Brain

"Scalpel, ...Retractor, ... Jack Hammer."

We too do forensic science.
Fortunately without the blood and gore.
Here we are starting a postmortem on a stretch of highway that is giving us a lot of grief.

A series of test pits will be dug down through the road. The material excavated will be bagged and analysed for moisture content, material composition and strength.
Tests will be done to see what the best remedial tactic will be, maybe the addition of a lime stabilizer for instance.

A keen eye also helps.
We noticed tiny pin holes in the seal. A truck tire would force water through these, washing out the fines in the road metal and leaving a small cavity.
The seal would then fail as it cracked, under load.
You can see the grey staining from the road metal below my fellow worker's boot.

My money is on "Seal Failure".

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Love So Big ...

In The Plasticine Era, when I was 5, I was a truck.

I made 3 point turns around the kitchen making engine noises.

I Loved trucks.

So do Elephants.....

Mlaika is a 10-year-old adolescent female African elephant living in Kenya in a group of semi-captive elephants. During the day she makes sounds you might expect.

But she moonlights as a truck.

"When she is with the other elephants, she makes normal elephant sounds," says Stephanie Watwood of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. "But at night, when she is by herself, she can hear the trucks from a nearby highway and imitates their sounds."

Live Science

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Weigh Hey

Today I played trucks.
This consisted of loading up with a level load of road metal and then weighing truck and load, and calculating axle loadings.
I now have an idea of what I can cart without falling into the clutches of the dreaded God Squad.
It's a very exacting science this truck driving ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


"Truckers use CB for a variety of reasons. The have an almost obsessive interest in the location of police cruisers and road conditions, but much of the chatter concerns day-to-day working activities. Drivers talk about their equipment, the loads they are hauling, and complain about their bosses and fellow drivers. At times the radio is a diversion to stay awake on a long haul."

I have a CB in the truck. I don't really find the chatter very stimulating.
There is little in the way of philosophy, political science, or even juicy gossip & scandal.
NZ Truckers usually just greet each other with news of what is ahead of them, "Roadworks at so & so, a cop on the straights, etc."
If they are travelling together then some chatter on about, .... Trucks.
A lot of them travel the same route at the same times, so there is quite a little community thing going on.

So generally I just "read the mail"

At times though, they are incredibly useful.
When trying to find a reported "tree down", a truckie can save you a long trip in the wrong direction. They can also alert you to a hazard, or someone who may need help.

When there is torrential rain, slips everywhere, and a foul night, the truckies can help you work out which to tackle first, and warn all other trucks bearing down on you.
They often thank you too.
It makes up for the times when you hear their displeasure at being held up at road works....

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

But Beautiful

A blissful day. Fine & warm and a rested crew after no weekend incidents.

I happily trundled up and down the highway carting rubbish to the landfill in my new truck, grooving away to Boz Scaggs in air conditioned comfort.

Out in the heat, there is a hive of activity on our stretch. Weed spraying, bridge repairing, patching, and sealing as fine weather & the construction season get into full sweaty swing.

I did wave to them.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Holiday Traffic

It's a long weekend in New Zealand, and so far it has been quiet on our stretch of highway.
Lots of traffic, but no call outs. (so far...)
Not that I would mind, I want to try out my fancy new lights.

There have been close calls....

Police have labelled Pat Ratu a hero for jack-knifing his truck on the road south of Piopio in King Country on Wednesday night to stop a 44-year-old Waiuku woman who had driven drunk for hundreds of kilometres...
The truck driver said he thought the woman was going to drive off the road or into the path of a northbound vehicle. "I don't know how she missed any other cars. She cut into the wrong lane at almost every corner, and just as she pulled back to her lane a car or a truck would come past. It was a miracle."

Tomorrow we will check the road for the inevitable damage to signs, and haul away a heap of rubbish.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

This shows why the rest of the crew are in favour of the new truck.
The tray has been slid back and lowered and we have filled a hole with premix, a fairly easy job now that we can use a shovel at shin height.
You can also level it by pretending to be a grader.
In the centre of the headboard, you can see the hinged flap through which you can feed a winch rope.
The winch is hydraulically powered and could probably pull a super tanker off the rocks, or move the Fart debt mountain a metre or two.
Well certainly pull a roller, tractor, or car onto the back.
I have also been pondering the boat launching possibilities...

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My new office.
I was duly presented with the keys this morning.
160 delivery K's on the clock.
I joined the crew who had found the sloppiest, muddiest, slip they were clearing.
I managed to prevaricate till we moved to a dryer one, backed into position, and the first bucket full of rubble hit the deck.
My truck is a virgin no more.
I even did a bit of overtime.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Time to start burning some sounds for the new truck.
It's got a cool CD player.

An Obvious start......

The Highway Is Like A Woman (Albert Collins)

"The time has come, I got to hit the road again
I said the time has come, I've got to hit the road again
'Cause I travel with a passion
And the highway is my lady friend

You see the highway's like a woman
Soft shoulders an' dangerous curves
You see the highway is like a woman, like a woman
Soft shoulders an' dangerous curve
If you don't know her when you start travelin'
Boy she can really upset your nerve

But if you respect her when she warns you
I swear the highway treat you fine
But if you respect her when she warn you
I swear the highway'll treat you fine
When she's wet an' she's slippery
Then watch out for the detour sign "

"Watcha Doing Mister!"
These fellows were fascinated with my drain & culvert clearing today. Quite a critical audience.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Wobbly Weekend

There must have been something in the water over the weekend. Possibly the planets were in an odd alignment, maybe it was the full moon.

A car punched through the fence near the Fart residence. (speed)
A truck took out a sign, again near Fart Towers. (fatigue)
A car lost it in some road works of ours, and ended up in a swamp. (speed)
A car sailed off a bank and ended up on an old tennis court. (fatigue)
A motorbike also went cross country in the morning fog. ( ? )

Then we discovered that the truck we gave a cheery wave too, carrying a digger that past us last week, was not off to do a job for us, as we thought, but was in fact stolen.

It was found, minus the digger this morning, fire damaged.

I gather the digger has also been recovered.

My shiny new virginal truck, is now having radios (CB & RT) fitted at our workshops.
In a bid to make sure that it stays top priority, I have resorted to traditional bribery.
Everyone has their price .

Sunday, October 16, 2005

My Dad Had a Bloody Hard Day

We are holding
up the Bypass

Me and my dad
having a top laugh.

I'm sitting on the tool box
I'm so glad I'm not a schoolbus

I'm so glad I'm not at school.
JCB Song & Video
(thanks David)


Goody, Goody,
Plep is back

Signs & Stuff

Peternz asked if I would elaborate on the setting up of signs. He made the point in a comment that some seem to be forgotten, and often they are unattended.

Firstly we can't just put up signs unless we have a good reason for doing so, especially temporary speed limits. A trained person must do it under delegated authority. They carry legal weight.

There is a manual (download) we use for the various traffic plans, forms to be filled in, and a record kept of the time they are set up and taken down.

In practice this is a routine. We can do very little on the road without setting up signs. They may be as simple as the working man symbol, or the full monty with speed restrictions, lots of cones, etc.
When we have finished working on the road, If there is even a slight risk of danger to traffic, warning signs are left up.

We could be liable if there was an accident caused by the condition we left the road in. In the case of a fatal accident we could end up in court, charged with manslaughter. This has happened before.

"Recent decisions from the Courts and Coroner now mean that road signs are left out a lot longer than previous because contractors are obliged to inform motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists of any problems with the road."

Often they are ignored and we regularly have crashes on road works sites, and lots of them.
Loose sealing chip is the main culprit.
In NZ more motorists are killed in road works then road workers.

We also try and protect fresh new surfaces by slowing traffic. We like you to drive slowly, smoothly, and if it's a hot day, don't stop!

Usually if we must leave a speed restriction it will be 50kph. If we are working, then 30kph.
It seems slow in a car, but I can assure you it is quite fast for us working only a metre or so away from you. Ignore them at your peril.

Where things go wrong perhaps, is in the construction season. Signage can, and does, get forgotten, there is a web site to report them.
Also the trucking companies are not shy when it comes to lengthy road works and delays. They carry a bit of clout too.

In practice though, signs are expensive. They form a big cost to a roading company. They are subject to vandals, damage, and theft. Our boss is always wringing his hands over precious signs being left out on the road at the mercy of the public.

Me; I like the "Home Time" sign from the boss....

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

 In our trade, rain creates work. Lots of rain means lots of work.
A few days of rain after a dry spell are no problem, and often welcome, but continuous rain creates problems.
We get slips, some are big of the road blocking variety, most are small.
The smaller ones still block drains and stop the water getting away. Left to long, the water can seep under the seal and destroy the surface.
Potholes breed with gay abandon when the road is saturated.
Banks give way, culverts and drains block and overflow.
While you are dealing with these problems, some of the more routine jobs get missed. Today I cleared a truckload of rubbish from the rest areas.
It was wet, stinking, and heavy.
I also said my goodbyes to my old truck. I have an older clunker for a few days till the new one arrives next week.
I was getting a bit exasperated with the delay till I heard it was due to air conditioning and other mysterious goodies being fitted.
Now I am a model of patience.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Roadworks in progress.


Current Incidents: North Island
SH3 between Awakino and Piopio
Land Slip - Extreme care required

Another morning, another slip. Just a dark mass in the headlights where there should be road. When there is torrential rain you can be on them before you know it. An SUV driver before me found that out, and the local mechanic made a few bucks.

The first thing we try and do is give some warning.
We will either stay there and use our flashing yellow lights, or get some road cones and signs out.

We get a sign truck on site, and set up a full set of signs with speed restrictions.
At the depot the front end loader is loaded onto a transport trailer and towed out by a six wheel truck.

Soon we are back and forth, carting away from the loader to the nearest tipping site.
If it is a short cart we can really make inroads quickly.
If we have to go any distance it can be a long job.
Today we only had to go half a kilometre.
There may be gates to open and close.(stock in the paddock)
The other problem is soft ground at the tip site. Trucks chew up the ground quickly.
In no time you and the truck are covered in mud.
The truck tail gate can be swung to open like a door.
Slips are full of tree roots, trees & branches, and big rocks.
I usually swing the tail gate open and closed, it is better than having a huge muddy mass jammed up, if you open it normally, from inside the truck.
The down side is that you stop at the tip site;
Get out of the truck,open the paddock gate, drive in.
Get out of the truck. Swing the Tail Gate open.
Get back into the truck. Tip off the load.
Get out of the truck. Close the tail gate.
Get in the truck. Drive through the gate.
Get out of the truck, close the gate.
Drive to Site, Repeat, X times.
It is of course pissing down.

And Yet we get a buzz out of getting our road open.
It's our job.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

A car-breaking rock, part of a slip I discovered early this morning. Then it was all hands to the potholes. I reckon we shovelled 5 tonnes of premix into holes today. So all you get is a crumby photograph. I must away to the couch.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Holy Ground

In the real world of a roadworker, constant rain and a waterlogged road tend to get you down. We are patching this part of the road daily at the moment. We are also dealing with lots of small slips and rocks falling onto the road. It is a life of clammy wet weather gear, being showered with mud and water by inconsiderate speeders, and long days.


It's a bird, Its a plane ...

Sightings of our superheros have been few and far between, as in Gotham City they hit the mattress.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Capes & Habits

It appears that not only are things not well in Gotham City, there is disturbing evidence of
rampant drug abuse amongst our superheroes.

Not only has Superman been on the booze,
Catwoman has been committed to an Asylum.

"Catwoman's counselor, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, explained that the first indication she had of her patient's psychosis was the costume she had on when she arrived at Arkham Asylum. "It's tragic, really," stated Dr. Quinzel in a taped interview. "When they dragged her into my office, she was wearing the worst vigilante costume in history. It was obvious she was aiming for cheesecake, but had only managed cheesiness."

Wonderwoman has been battling an eating disorder and dabbling with steroids

and the Caped Crusader has obviously been overdoing some rather heavy mind and body altering substances.

Substance abuse seems to be a genetic failing in the world of the superhero. This photo of Batman's grandfather being evicted from a monastery wine cellar, was kindly forwarded to me by Lorenzo

Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's Not Easy Being A Superhero

I don't think all is well in Gotham City.
The Caped Crusader doesn't look himself.

Not content with teaching gorillas to swear in sign language
Evil Scientists have been teaching dolphins to sing.
His Tune, and in an off key whistle.

Dolphins using karaoke torture is bad enough.

Now this week, Nicolas Cage has had a son with 21-year-old wife Kim and decided to name him Kal-El.

...are there no ends to their evil plans.

It's enough to drive superheroes to drink.

superman stolen from

Yellow Peril

For some time there has been concern that the orange fluro jacket we wear, tends to blend in with the visual background clutter of cones, signs, etc on the work sites.
This is especially true when there are a lot of orange cones around.
Sometimes it seems that a tired pair of motorists eyes cannot easily pick the difference between a person and a traffic cone.
One of my workmates above is wearing his yellow wet weather jacket and stands out against the background. The one beyond him just has a fluro jacket. He is easy to see silhouetted against the lighter background, but when he steps back by the loader he disappears. (click piccy for bigger version)
Easy! Just give us yellow jackets.
No, It seems only the Police & emergency services can use them.
The lollypop bearer is not deemed worthy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Today I got a glimpse of my virgin bride.
Though I have seen her before only once, I'd know that tray anywhere.
She was off to New Plymouth for make-up and titivating.
A flurry of R/T calls alerted us to her progress down the highway.
The delivery driver must have wondered why he was being watched so closely.

" In Pagan times the start of summer was when the festival of Beltane was celebrated with outdoor orgies. This was therefore thought to be an unsuitable time to start married life. ... The Summer as a whole was considered a good time to marry and this is partly to do with the sun's association with fertility. "

The Alarm clock better watch it too..

"Seeing an open grave, a pig, a lizard, or hearing a cockerel crow after dawn are all thought to be omens of bad luck. Monks and nuns are also a bad omen. This may be because the are associated with poverty and chastity. They are also though to signal a dependence on charity by the newlyweds."

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The Alarm clock has been going off earlier every morning.
Usually very loudly from a tree by the bedroom window.
I have pleaded with it to return to default settings, but to no avail.
It was getting to the stage where I nearly borrowed a rifle.
Daylight saving has arrived in the nick of time.

Now to find the Sunday, Off, switch.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

We had a bit of a work "Do" on Friday. I still feel a bit seedy.

stolen from

The bobcat driver is getting a tow back onto the road after getting mildly stuck. He is being a bit wary of the electric fence, which can bite. High Tides, and strong winds, had pushed driftwood up the drains, and onto the road.


Getting stuck is an occupational hazard. We are continually pulling over on to the road shoulder which is fraught with risk.
In summer it is no problem, but after rain when the ground is soft, embarrassment is never far away.
Here a small drain on the other side of the truck helped me get into this predicament, the rear of the truck slid riverwards as I tried to get back onto the road.
A fully loaded 6 wheeler pulled me out with no difficulty. It provided no end of amusement to the passing truck drivers.


Male. Lives in New Zealand/North Island/The Road, speaks English. Eye color is blue.
This is my blogchalk:
New Zealand, North Island, The Road, English, Male.

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