Drivers' Corner - Lookin' Back

Screaming Banshee

By Marvin Kiser

Well, drivers, I have told you some of my experiences pulling tankers. This time I will tell you about some of my experiences pulling another kind of tanker called a pneumatic tank.

I am sure some of you drivers have heard an air starter on a truck. Well, if the muffler for the starter is still on and in good shape, it still makes quite a bit of noise when the truck is being started. If it is an old truck and the muffler is gone or bad, it really makes a lot of noise. It sounds something like a screaming banshee or worse. So, let me tell you one of my exciting experiences with a load of cement going to a paving job on I-75.

It was in a small town between Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, and back then all the people from up North used that road going to and from Florida since the interstates were not finished yet. Now, the trucks we were using were pretty much worn out and had air starters on them and the mufflers were off most of these trucks.

They also had hydraulic clutches and, just my luck, I lost a bolt out of the slave cylinder for the clutch and I was in the middle of the intersection of this small town blocking traffic from all directions. I decided to cut the truck off and try to start it in gear so I could move it out of the traffic and not be blocking the roads, but guess what my luck was? My air pressure went down and it wouldn't start. To make matters worse, the big fat cop in town came and told me that if I didn't move the truck he would put me in jail. I told him if he thought that would start the truck let's go, but instead he called a small wrecker to come out there.

It was one that would've had a hard time pulling a farm truck so he wanted the wrecker driver to jump me off with cables. We both tried to tell him that I needed air to start the truck. If he would help us get another truck up next to me we could get air from the other truck to start mine. Meanwhile the wrecker driver found a bolt and put it in my slave cylinder, but we could not convince the cop that we needed air. Nothing would do him but for the wrecker driver to try to jump me off with jumper cables.

The driver showed him that would not work and that I needed air from another truck. Finally he agreed to help us get another truck up beside me to give me some air. So, when my air tank was full and I hit the air starter, the only thing that kept that bad-talking cop from climbing the wall of the drug store was that he couldn't get enough traction. He got part of the way up the wall anyway. The sound of that air starter scared the soup out of him.

When you are driving on I-75 between Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, and beyond also on I -20, I-475 and I-40 up around Waynesville, North Carolina, think of me. With all of the cement I hauled to help build those roads you will probably be driving on some of it.

Well, drivers, thanks for reading my stories and drive safely out there on the big highways. Some of you out there may remember me since I was a CDL instructor for ten years.