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Saturday, January 30, 2016

5 surprising things you didn't know your tablet could do

Article thanks to Kim Komando and Links provided:

DEC, 2015  Here's the scenario: You open that rectangular present sitting under the Christmas tree. One whiff of that new tablet smell and you know it’s going to be great.
You quickly power it up, get it on Wi-Fi, set up Facebook, login to Netflix and play around for a while. Then you set it down to go do other things, and that's about as far as you go with learning what your tablet can do. (Note: Here are 10-must have apps for your new tablet.)
While some people don't really need to know more than this, it really helps when you do. Here are five tricks your tablet can do that will make using it so much better.
A tablet gives you quite a bit more screen space than a smartphone, but a lot of the text can still be too small for some people. Fortunately, you can bump up the size to something a little easier to see.


Go to Settings>>General>>Accessibility and turn on "Bold Text" and "Larger Text." You can choose either one or both, depending on your preferences. You will need to restart your phone for Bold Text to take effect.


Go to Settings>>Accessibility. Under "Vision," tap "Font size" and set it to "Large." Some phones include the even bigger "Huge" option if you really want to get crazy.


Did you get a seriously hard question right in Trivia Crack or spell an amazing word in the Scrabble app and want to share it on Facebook? Maybe your friend posted something unintentionally hilarious on Facebook and you want to snag it before they edit it away. You can take screenshots of your tablet's screen with a simple button press.


Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button, then press the Home button to take a screenshot or two. You should hear a shutter click every time. The screenshots will appear in your Camera Roll or Saved Photos section.


Press the Power button and Volume Down button at the same time. You should hear a shutter click and/or see a white border flash around the edges of the screen. The image is saved to the Captured Images folder in your Gallery app.


Touch screens are nice for zipping around Facebook, play games or scrolling websites, but they're lousy for typing anything more than a quick Facebook status update. Fortunately, tablets let you hook up a real physical keyboard.
You can find a variety of Bluetooth keyboards on the market that connect wirelessly to most tablets. Some of these are full-size computer keyboards and others are built into tablet cases for easier travel. Either way, they'll help you write longer emails, journal entries or even that novel with much less frustration.
This is just one of the reasons you can replace your computer with a tablet. Learn more about why you might want to buy a tablet for your next "computer."


While you can always make the text on the screen bigger (see point 1 above), sometimes it would be nice to not look at the screen so much. Both iPad and Android can read what's on the screen and even give additional information you wouldn't immediately notice otherwise.


Go to Settings>>General>>Accessibility and turn on "VoiceOver." You have the option to practice with VoiceOver, set the speaking rate and other tweaks to make it easier to understand. And you will need to do some playing around to get used to it.
For example you can touch and drag your fingers around the home screen to have it read what's there. Note that in VoiceOver mode, you have to double tap to activate an app. A single tap will give you details about the app.
VoiceOver will read directions to you in Maps, have your camera tell you how many people are in your shot, and get spoken photo descriptions. It will also read you the text from Web pages and text messages.


Go to Settings>>Accessibility and tap TalkBack. If you don't see it, you can download it from the Google Play store. Once you turn it on, your phone will read whatever you touch on the screen, along with incoming notifications. Hint: To perform a regular swipe gesture, you have to use two fingers instead of one.
To adjust your TalkBack settings, go to Settings>>Accessibility and tap "Text-to-Speech" options. You can adjust the voice engine and speed it speaks. To turn TalkBack off without going in to the settings, you just need to press and hold the power button until your Android vibrates.
You can also go into Settings and turn on "Hands-free mode." This will tell you who is calling or messaging.
You can also have TalkBack read eBooks to you if you bought them through the Google Play store. Open the Google Play Store application. You can find this on your main list of applications. Once you do, go to Books>>Book settings (three horizontal lines icon)>>My Books>>My Books settings (three vertical dots icon)>>Enable Automatic read aloud. Then load up an eBook and go.


If you like to listen to music to fall asleep, you might find that a tablet makes a great music player, as long as you have it hooked up to an external speaker like the Komando Connect Bluetooth Speaker. However, once you fall asleep you don't want it to keep running all night, especially if it isn't plugged in.


Go to the Clock app and tap on "Timer," then "When Timer Ends." From here, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the screen and select "Stop Playing." Then just set how long you want the Timer to run.


Depending on the music player you're using, you may or may not see this option. Samsung's default music player, for example has it under Settings as "Music auto off." However, Google's Play Music app doesn't have an auto-off options.
However, you can get a third-party app like Sleep Timer that works on a timer, or Music Off that has a timer or detects your body movements to know when you go to sleep. Warning: If you're setting your gadget on your bed, make sure it doesn't get covered or it can overheat and become a fire hazard.


Google Maps is great tools for navigating on a smartphone, but they don't work on the go when you're using a Wi-Fi-only tablet. Fortunately, you can download offline maps of an area while at home so you can navigate later even without a signal. Just note that Google will delete the maps after 30 days to save space on your gadget.
In Google Maps for Android, put in a location then tap on the icon with the three horizontal lines to bring up the sidebar menu. Tap "Offline areas" and then the plus sign in the lower-right corner. Choose what area you want then tap the "Download" button. Give it a name and tap Save. You can now find it in the side bar menu when you need it.
Google Maps on iOS used to have this ability, but the latest update doesn't. It might be coming back in a future update, in which case the process will be similar.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Trucking company suspends driver who bragged on Facebook
A prime example of "stupid"! Article thanks to and Ryan Raiche. Links provided:

Trucking company suspends driver who bragged on FB that he drove 20+ hours with no sleep.
Nov, 2015  LAKELAND, Fla. - The Florida Highway Patrol is now looking into a truck driver's posts on Facebook, bragging that he drove more than 20-hours straight without sleeping in order to get a good pay day.
The driver, Kerry Cuthbert of Chicago, was making a run from Wisconsin to Lakeland. At the start of his trip, he posted on Facebook, "Forget sleeping, money talks."
Federal regulations limit truck drivers to 11 hours of driving per day before resting for ten hours.
"Either they're lying or they're really breaking the law," said Oscar Nunez, Instructor at NBI Truck Driver Training in Winter Haven.
The first questionable post on Sunday said "… need to be in Lakeland by 6am Tuesday. Forget sleeping, $$$ talk."
In another post -- and between videos taken while driving -- Cuthbert brags to his friends about driving 1,100 miles in 20 hours.
It appears he took a four hour nap near the Florida-Georgia line, according to another post.
"I don't care if you don't have your eleven hours, if you're fatigued, take a break. Do not get behind the wheel until you feel safe," Nunez said.
He said, these days, it's much harder for rogue drivers to skirt the rules because many companies now use electronic records that track your every move.
Truck driver fatigue became a national conversation just last year after the tragic accident that injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend, James McNair.
It is believed a tired truck driver caused the crash.
In this case, Cuthbert works for the Chicago-based trucking company International Logistics Group.
His manager, Mike Thomas, told me they use electronic records and -- with me on the phone -- traced his driver's real time location to a truck stop in Georgia.
But a post on Facebook said Cuthbert just checked into the Saddle Creek Logistic Services in Lakeland, Florida.
Thomas had no clue he was actually in Lakeland and later described the Facebook posts as just "jokes with his friends."
The Facebook page has since been disabled.
The owner of International Logistics Group told ABC Action News that Cuthbert has been suspended while they investigate his driving. They maintain he did not break the law and say they are proud of their clean safety record.

The president of transportation at Saddle Creek Logistics in Lakeland tells ABC Action News that their security personnel positively confirmed through video surveillance that truck driver Kerry Cuthbert checked into their facility at 9:14 a.m. Tuesday and left the guard shack at 11:50 a.m.

According to the company Cuthbert drives for, International Logistics Group in Chicago, he was supposed to be in Valdosta, Georgia at the time.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Legal Pot in Colorado: How it's Affected Trucking

Article thanks to and Greg Fulton. Links provided:

Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, shares his thoughts on how his state's legalization of marijuana has affected the trucking industry.

Nov, 2015  It’s been almost two years since Colorado officially legalized marijuana. With other states considering similar measures, it's a good time to reflect on the Colorado experience and the impact of the law on the trucking industry.
Colorado voters passed a voter referendum in 2012 that authorized the legal sale of marijuana for recreational use, treating it in a manner similar to alcohol. The law took effect on January 1, 2014. Many proponents of the measure viewed enforcement of marijuana laws as a poor use of law enforcement and court resources. They also felt that passage would also eliminate the black market in this drug. Further, many saw that the taxation of this product could significantly increase the state's revenue, which could be used for primary education as well as drug prevention and rehabilitation programs.
Colorado’s experience has been a mixed one of both anticipated and unforeseen developments.
First, the legalization has been a boon for the state’s tax revenues, generating over $70 million in additional revenue annually. While much needed by the state and local governments, this amount falls short of original expectations. This may be somewhat explained by the fact that it is a cash-based industry because of legal limitations associated with the use of credit or debit cards. A pure cash business does not lend itself well to tracking or an audit trail, and some estimate that revenues for this industry may be significantly under-reported.

Second, a key area of concern was the impact of legalization on crime and highway safety. Opponents of the measure had predicted that crime would increase based on the financial needs of users. Proponents felt that crime would drop, as the decriminalization would reduce drug trafficking and the crimes associated with it. The facts fail to support either premise. Crime levels are similar to what they were prior to the passage, without a significant increase or decrease in key categories.
In regard to traffic safety and accidents, the impact has been difficult to determine because of the lack of a good, quick, roadside test for marijuana as there is for alcohol. Recent reports do indicate that traffic fatalities involving a party who has marijuana in their system have risen, but overall Colorado’s accidents and fatalities are not significantly greater than prior to legalization.
Third, usage levels for marijuana appeared to increase across all age groups since the legalization. This has created a particular problem for the trucking industry and other employers in Colorado that either by law or choice require a drug-free workplace.
Legalization has made an already critical shortage of drivers worse. While motor carriers continue to tell their truck drivers that they are in violation of the law if there is even a trace of marijuana in their system, our companies continue to see high failure rates on drug tests.
In addition, other positions or jobs in the trucking industry where employees are tested have also seen a spike in failed tests. As an example, one company hiring dock workers specifically told all applicants before they applied that they would be drug tested prior to consideration. Even with this prior warning, 70% of the applicants still tested positive.

Unexpected consequences

While our industry anticipated the challenge associated with a higher failure rate for drug tests, we did not foresee some of the other challenges associated with legalization.
One major surprise was the space/storage requirements for the marijuana industry. The marijuana industry is much more than the local shop that sells the product. It requires an infrastructure of "grow houses" and warehouses to support the business. The magnitude of this demand and its impact on industries like trucking was clearly underestimated. The price of warehouse space as well as terminals (that have been converted) has risen dramatically, and there is now a shortage of space.
A recent article noted that between 2009 (the year when medical marijuana was approved) and 2014, marijuana businesses accounted for more than a third of all industrial space leased in the Denver metro area. As a result, prices have soared and industrial space is at a premium. This led to several trucking companies being forced out of properties that they had leased for many years due to higher rents or the repurposing of these sites by the marijuana industry.
The most recent example of “collateral damage” from the shortage of space due to legalization was the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. That group lost their previous space and was desperately looking to find warehouse space for storage and distribution for this Christmas season. In the past, companies donated space for this worthy cause, but the shortage of space brought on by legalization of marijuana changed things. Toys for Tots found itself for the first time ever making a plea to the public for space. Fortunately, a trucking executive member of CMCA helped to arrange for space after a significant search on our part.
We anticipate that the shortage of terminal/warehouse space may be alleviated as new industrial sites are built, as well as the possibility that legalization of marijuana in other states may reduce sales within Colorado.
We do not see an end in sight, however, on the greater challenge that legalization has created in finding drivers, technicians, and others for our industry who must be drug free to work in it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

5 Ways to be a Healthier, Happier Driver in 2016
Article thanks to The RoadPro Family of Brands and Jim Sweeney. Links provided:
Truck drivers are a stubborn bunch. You have to be to persist through everything the job throws at you.
That’s why setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions ought to be easy. What’s dropping a bad habit compared to fighting through rush hour traffic on Chicago’s Kennedy Expressway?
Last year was full of alarming news about driver health. Truckers don’t live as long as people in other professions; they smoke more; they are more likely to be overweight and have diabetes; and they don’t exercise enough.
This might not all apply to you, but odds are at least some of it does. Let this be the year you do something about fixing it. We offer up five ways to be a happier, healthier driver.   
New Year’s Resolutions
  1. Eat healthier – No one’s saying it has to be all kale, all the time, but skip the pizza in favor of the salad bar. Drink water instead of soda. Pack carrots and low-fat dip as a snack instead of chips and dip. You’ll feel better, stay healthier and lose weight.
  1. Cook in the truck – Dining at truck stops is not only unhealthy; it’s also expensive. With a little planning and some practice with your 12-volt appliances you can make some remarkably good meals in your cab. Road Tested Living is one of many sites that offers recipes, tips and encouragement for in-cab cooking. And if you don’t like cooking in the truck, bringing a cooler full of healthy snacks and beverages is a good idea.

  1. Get some exercise — Don’t let your truck be the only thing doing the heavy lifting this year. Exercise will help you lose weight, improve your stamina and look and feel better. If your fleet offers an exercise program, take advantage of it. If not, sites like The Healthy Trucker and are full of  exercises you can do in or next to the truck with minimal or no equipment. A growing number of truck stops also offer workout facilities and outdoor tracks or trails.

  1. Stop smoking — You’ve heard this before and, chances are, you’ve tried to quit before. Try again. There is nothing else you can do that will be better for you and you will begin to feel the results within days of quitting. There are a lot of places to go for help. See if your employer offers a program. If not, the American Lung Association and other organizations offer advice and encouragement.

  1. Stay in touch — When you’re on the road, it’s easy to let your world shrink to your truck, truck stops and terminals. It’s important for your physical and mental well-being to have regular contact with friends and family. Call, Skype, text, chat on Facebook – whatever the medium, but communicate with people every day. Remind yourself of why you’re out there

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Full-time RV living: Should you buy a 5th wheel or a motorized RV?

Article thanks to Howard Jaros and Links provided:

Oct, 2015  For those starting out full-time RV living, there is an important decision that has to be made — choosing a fifth wheel RV or a motorized one. Now that does not mean you can't full-time in a travel trailer, because we have friends who do, but the majority seem to face the decision of buying either a fifth wheel RV or a motorized one.
My wife Pam and I have traveled more than 65,000 miles in RVs. We started renting RVs 14 years ago. Once we decided on what we wanted, based on our rental experiences, we purchased our full-time RV home in 2008 — a 2005 Freightliner Sportchassis and a 2006 Newmar Kountry Aire.
We have rented Class A gas and diesel RVs, we have rented and owned Class C gas RVs, and we owned a large fifth wheel RV for six and a half years. We logged many miles on that fifth wheel RV.
So, I feel comfortable being able to share my opinion on the pluses and minuses of each. Now this is my disclaimer: I realize everyone has his own opinion, wants and needs. Mine is based on our experiences and our changing needs.
As a matter of fact, Pam and I are heading to Arkansas for a month's worth of business meetings, the NRVIA National Conference and to teach an RV inspector advanced training class. As I write this article, Pam is driving the Class C motorized RV. We left Pennsylvania yesterday and are traveling through Tennessee on our way to Arkansas. I am in the co-pilot seat with my laptop, while Pam keeps us moving toward our destination.
So, given that fact, here is a major advantage of a motorized RV. While you are traveling, you have instant access to what you need: the refrigerator, the toilet, the TV, all while rolling down the road.
We have even switched drivers in heavy traffic so the driver could make a potty stop. We did similar things in our fifth wheel, it was just not as convenient. Since we are on the move all the time, we enjoy the convenience of the motorized RV. It's easy to park, easy to set up and easy to move.
We had the fifth wheel setup and departure routine pretty well orchestrated, but it was never as easy as it is with our current motorized RV. We have been in about 20 different locations this summer. Comparing that much moving around based on living in our previous fifth wheel and our current motorized RV, we find our current RV much more favorable for the full-time RV lifestyle.
We have been in situations while traveling in Class A RVs that involved boondocking in Walmart parking lots and casinos. After being parked for a few hours, there were times we got concerned about our safety. Because we were able to just turn on the motor and not have to get out of a trailer to get rolling, we were kept safe and able to get away from any potential danger.
Now, motorized RVs tend to be more expensive relative to a comparable fifth wheel RV. We have good friends who have a Redwood fifth wheel RV. They are beautiful inside and offer many amenities that are only found in motorized RVs that cost $250,000 and up.
Also, for folks who plan on having a full-time RV lifestyle that does not involve lots of moving around, or only moving a couple of times a year, the fifth wheel RV might fit that need better. They are like living in a small, one-bedroom condo.
Our 40-foot fifth wheel RV was roomy inside. Our three favorite features were that it had a spacious kitchen — allowing us to prepare meals as we would in our "sticks and bricks" home — a large shower and an apartment-size washer and dryer.
When towing a fifth wheel RV, I found I always had to plan ahead and be sure my route was able to accommodate the length and height of my RV. It was important to be sure my route did not include bridges with low clearance, narrow roads and tight areas where I might get into trouble. Its 13.5-foot height had to be considered. I especially had to pay attention to the RV parks at which I wanted to stay to be sure I would be able to navigate their premises.
Now, I have driven 40-foot Class A diesel RVs that I got in trouble with, but not as much as in my fifth wheel. I could always get the Class A RV into an RV site, but backing the fifth wheel could be a bit more of a challenge.
I have observed other fifth wheel RV owners struggle getting settled into their RV sites. We have watched fifth wheel owners damage their new RVs because they had no idea of how to handle the trailering aspect of owning that type of vehicle.
This really seems to be the big challenge and difference between a fifth wheel RV and a motorized one. The less you know about trailering and backing a long trailer, the more stress you will have when it comes to moving it from place to place.
We always suggest to new RV owners that renting an RV before moving forward and purchasing one is a good idea. That is how we started, and we found the experience helped us choose wisely based on our needs at that time.
Motorized RVs are easy to rent. You can also rent towable RVs. You may have to go to an independent dealership to get set up, but you can rent anything you want to try if you do some research.
Your needs and wants in a full-time RV home will be different than ours. The idea here is to investigate different people's opinions on this subject, rent what you can and weigh that information against how you will use the RV type you choose.
The goal is to purchase your full-time RV home and get it right the first time — no regrets. And how do you do that? Keep researching until the time is right and you can make an educated decision on your purchase.
Pam and I wish you all the best as you work towards being able to enjoy the full-time RV lifestyle!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

People can't comment without insult?

I got this comment from a reader on a post I did in 2013 about my experience using the early Smart Shift Automatic transmission. This guy felt it necessary to tell me I was "dumb". In fact, I did another review of the D12 Automated Manual about 6 months later, it was a good experience and I wrote about it. The links to both posts are below, if you'd like to read them.
  1. I'm 21, and I learned to operator tractor trailers when I was 14, because my father owns an O/O company. All I ever knew was older models, 1985-2002s, and I think you're being dumb. I found a CDL School that allowed me to just take the test for way cheaper rather than doing the unnecessary learning bullshit. They gave me
    2 attempts to do everything, and I passed it in one shot, easily. The weird thing is, that they had automatic trucks, and I had never in my life used one until that day. I have to say, it was fairly easy to use. To be very honest with you from perspective, I've been all over the country with my father as a kid, teen, and to this day, oh hell I even work for his owner op company now.... but as I'm saying, I think in my opinion, a truck is a truck and I don't care if it's a 9, a 10, a super 10, 13, or even an 18 speed, i will drive it if assigned to me. Before you say anything about my age or whatever it is you feel, I've operated most of today's Manuel transmissions, over the course of these years, and I feel as long as they stay within a safe measure, I could care less what I'm driving. At the end of the day, I'm more worried that I'm going to have to fix the darn thing or even change some tires for no pay, just for the fact that I respect my father enough too. Stop complaining and keep learning on HOW to keep safe, because just because you aren't used to it, doesn't mean it shouldn't be on the road. I've met so many people, and it really astounds me that so many are hating auto transmissions. I understand for the maintainence, but really for safety? It's fine, just master it. If you prefer the manual, then go ahead, but not everyone is like you. I could care less what kind of transmission it is, as I learn to use it, and can operate safely and properly, I'm fine. I've only ever used them a handful of times, but honestly who cares. Got my CDL when I was 18, and I could give 2 craps

    1. I'm being "dumb"? I wrote an article that expressed my opinion of the Smart Shift Automatic. Everyone can have their own opinion, I don't have any problem with that. If you click on the attached link to another post I did about 6 months later on the DT12 Automated Manual, my opinion changed after experiencing the much better control and ease of use.

      Comments are welcome, but I don't know why you feel the need to insult, Thanks

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Escape From Baja - 1983 Car and Driver Road Test

1983 Mexican Torture Test of Audi 5000S, Datsun Maxima, Dodge 600ES, Pontiac 6000STE, Saab 900 Turbo, Toyota Cressida, VW Quantum, Volvo 760GLE

The following is a good read thanks to Brock Yates, Car and Driver Magazine and their archives about a comparison test they did in Mexico back in the old days. Links provided:
From the July 1983 Issue of Car and Driver

Ten gringos face floods, frijoles, and federales…and live to tell.

This affair began as an honest attempt to evaluate eight sedans in the Europe­an idiom over a 2300-mile route between Southern California and the tip of Baja California in Mexico. Decent, re­sponsible automotive journalism. Road & Track does this high-adventure stuff all the time. On more than one occasion, they have encountered over­cooked cheeseburgers and canceled motel reservations. It even rained once. As for us, it got a little more complicat­ed. In retrospect, that was to be antici­pated, when you consider that our wide­ly esteemed technical director, Donald Sherman, organized the campaign.
Before the mission was completed, the hapless followers of Sherman faced bouts of the turistas, numerous encoun­ters with the Mexican federales, a high-speed collision with a cow, floods, maroonings, the deep-sixing of a Datsun Maxima, and the consumption of more high-octane tequila and stomach-scouring Mexican food than any collec­tion of Americans since Blackjack Per­shing chased Pancho Villa.
But let's not carry this military analogy too far. If our Sherman, and not William Tecumseh, had devised the origi­nal March to the Sea, Richmond, Virginia, would be the capital of the United States and Jesse Helms would be president. So be warned that what fol­lows is no normal meander over tic byways in search of automotive truth. This, Bucky, was a freaking war...
Sunday: We leave Newport Beach (yes, yes, we know, we know) in the midst of the 49th monsoon to hit Southern California this year. Ugly nimbus clouds roll in off the sea. There are ten of us, high-type professionals all. There are eight automobiles: two American (a Pontiac 6000STE and a Dodge 600ES); two Japanese (a Datsun Maxima and a Toyota Cressida); and four from Europe, where this brand of machine was born (a new Audi 5000S, a VW Quantum, a Saab 900 Turbo, and a Volvo 760GLE). Euro-sedans. Four-doors. Priced between $10,000 and $20,000, bracketed by the likes of the Honda Ac­cord on the low side and the BMW 528e on the high. The mission: a two-day, 1150-mile, America-versus-the-world run to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja, then a one-day layover in the sunshine and two days back. Our destination to­day is an oasis in the central Baja desert called San Ignacio.
Reaching the border is simple. Our one nod to preparation is a supermarket stop to grab some bottled water. Other­wise, we exit the United States with the same level of preparation one might employ for a trip to the K mart: no tools, lights, or first-aid kits. When other magazines go to Baja, they're outfit­ted like the Afrika Korps. But we have one trump card: a childlike faith that our leader will bring us through.
A chunky guard waves us into Mexico at Tijuana. The four-lane to Ensenada is pocked with tightly radiused curves. An ancient Volvo wagon with California plates races us at 80 to 90 mph all the way to Ensenada, but none of our eight cars is even breathing hard as we stop for lunch. Our next encounter with Mexican officialdom comes in the parking lot of Hussong's Cantina, where one of the least civilized members of our group [Yates—Ed.] is arrested for recy­cling several liters of Dos Equis against a wall. Lindamood, the only one among us who speaks any Spanish, gets the cul­prit off with a ten-dollar fine by de­nouncing him to the cops as a pig.
We plunge into fast, twisty two-lanes south of Ensenada. Route 1 rides high along some splendid seacoast vistas to­ward San Quintín and then bores inland to the mountains at El Rosario. We wonder but say nothing about customs. Having blasted past the place where the Maneadero checking station was supposed to be, we may be operating as Yanqui wetbacks, without the faintest au­thorization to penetrate so deeply into the nation. No matter: the cars are run­ning well, the night is cloudless, and the road is clear, save for an occasional bus and the odd battered pickup.
Our only glitch comes when we switch cars in the darkness. Several of the party, seeking naps, double up. We drive away, leaving the Maxima and the Quantum at the roadside, and have to race back fifteen miles to retrieve them. The fact that Sherman detected the er­ror so quickly means that his plan is working to perfection.
Monday: Is B. Traven running a hab­erdashery in San Ignacio? Mr. Davis, Jr., is wearing a snap-brim felt hat, last seen on Walter Huston in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The tiny, dust-caked vil­lage sits in a basin clustered with date palms planted by the Spaniards when the Jesuits started their mission here in 1728. We take a leisurely tour of the an­cient stone church before rolling south. Empty roads beckon. Speeds rise. Large signs warn, "Designed to Promote Eco­nomic Development, Not for High-Speed Driving," but make little impres­sion. Nor are we slowed by the curvas peligrosas, which are generally punctuated by burned-out car hulks, rumpled guardrails, and coveys of handmade crosses. Stray cattle begin to appear at the roadside, spavined beasts that pay no heed to the passing vehicles. The im­mense steel bumpers on the big Dina trucks we pass begin to assume a mean­ingful function.
We switch cars, and impressions be­gin to gel. Sherman, Csere, Ceppos, and Griffin are delighted with the new Audi, despite its slightly sterile aura. Committed traditionalist P.J. O'Rourke reveals a quiet loathing for front-drive cars and extols the rather zany handling of the amply powered Cressida, a schoolmarm with a harlot's heart. The Pontiac and the Dodge are pleasant sur­prises. Who can remember a Detroiter that would absorb such extended hard driving without frying its brakes, boiling its coolant, and loosening up like a Hong Kong toy? The Volvo, which ap­pears to have been styled from an old Amapa upright freezer, may entice Elec­tra 225 devotees. The Saab and the Maxima charge along with terrierlike enthusiasm, while the Quantum, for all its quiet competence, becomes the wall­flower of the group.
We are ambushed by the cops in La Paz. They want a closer look at our new cars. Lindamood is brilliant as she aborts impending arrest by demonstrat­ing the Datsun's idiotic synthesized voice to the awe-struck lawmen.
It is a black night in the mountains. Our little convoy is rushing the final miles to Cabo San Lucas, when Csere nails a cow. He centerpunches a 500-pound black steer, at maybe 60 mph. Protein for the people! One wounded Dodge 600ES, but thankfully, no other injuries. We grope in the lonely dark­ness to assess the damage. The hood is shredded. The roof is dented. The car runs happily, but the radiator is rup­tured. We push the car 60 miles—pri­marily with the purposeful Audi—to our hotel. Angry guests blunt our beach-front attempt to celebrate our arrival.
Tuesday: Too much sun, too many piña coladas, but good news: the Dodge survives. Sans hood, it is ready for the run back home. Lindamood and Ceppos fall to the dreaded turistas.
Wednesday: On the road before dawn, heading back to San Ignacio. The Dodge is gaining fans by the hour. Hard driving in the mountains reveals an in­teresting fact: the automatic-transmis­sion cars—the Volvo, the VW, and the Pontiac—can be driven as quickly as and more easily than the five-speeds. Ominous clouds build in the north.
The federales nail us north of Loreto. Suspicion about the Dodge's missing hood is our downfall. The cop is a young, round-faced kid in a clapped-out Dodge cruiser with bald tires. His girlfriend is riding shotgun. The cop wants to see a report on the cow collision, but we have none. This is not a good situation. We deploy Sherman and Lindamood in the 600ES for the drive back to Loreto with the federale. The rest of us head north to a rendezvous at San Ignacio. It is raining seriously now, and thevados (low spots in the road, meant to allow flash floods to run off) are be­ginning to puddle. The storm hits as we arrive at the La Pinta Hotel in San Ignacio. The wind pounds at the palm trees, the rain hammers on the roof. We toast our lost comrades, who may be rotting in a Loreto calabozo by now, with numerous tequilas and beers.
Sherman and Lindamood arrive late. Because of power outages, they have had to scavenge gas twice to get the Dodge home. The federale adventure turned to comedy: Lindamood ended up driving the patrol car and manicur­ing the cop's girlfriend's nails, while Sherman repaired a copy machine for the cop. Weirdness in the Mexican desert has cost a meager $50 fine.
Thursday: A predawn escape is at­tempted. It is still raining. Sherman is back in command. He should have tried U-boats. Fifteen miles north of town, he crests a hill and skates into a storm-swollen vado. We arrive a few moments later. Our headlights probe into the darkness to reveal the Maxima awash in the turbulent water. Sherman has slogged ashore mumbling about a lack of channel buoys.
We are marooned in San Ignacio. Vados have flooded on both sides of the town. Aaron Kiley is briefly stranded between two gulley washers while tak­ing pictures. The poor Maxima is hauled out of the water and towed back to the hotel. A dry-out will be attempt­ed, but the fuel injection's brain has gurgled its last. Our only alternative is more food and drink in a terrific little restaurant called Quichule while we wait for the creeks to quit rising.
Friday: The parking lot floods, and we move the cars. Save for the drowned Maxima, they are running well. The Pontiac has developed an antipathy to the urine-quality Mexican gasoline and the Cressida's dash has a faint tick, but otherwise the machines have resisted every sort of abuse we could heap on them. More may be demanded, howev­er. Word filters in that the road north is devastated. Weeks may pass before we can escape. Pass the tequila.
Saturday: We devise a crafty plan. There is a back-country trail out of town. It meanders through the garbage dump and over the desert to join the highway. We will double back south to La Paz and evacuate by airplane. Our refugee party is joined by Dick Ryan—Baja veteran, ace dove hunter, and retired Northwest Airlines pilot—who, with his wife, Jody, is trying to return to Santa Barbara. An old Mexican named Luis, who wants to get to Santa Rosalía, is our guide. The seven remaining cars (the Maxima is left behind) scramble tentatively over the rocky trails.
Finally, we are free of San Ignacio, and the road is clear and dry. The federales run us down one more time, threatening a two-day impoundment, arrests for our 100-mph daisy chain, and big fines, but Jody Ryan, who is flu­ent in Spanish and one salty lady, hectors them down to 2000 pesos (about fourteen U.S. dollars). Let's hear it for police corruption. After a shower at the Los Arcos Hotel and one last assault on Mexican cuisine, we make a lucky feint past the customs officials and board an Aeromexico flight to Los Angeles.
Now all we've got to do is figure out what to do with eight stranded automobiles.
Epilogue: Ten days later, Sherman and six assistants flew back to La Paz to liberate the cars. The flood tide had subsided, and the roads were generally in excellent shape. Two days of driving put the survivors back on American soil. (The ill-fated Maxima was trailered to civilization.) There was no further contact with thefederales, and the feared confrontation at the border failed to materialize. —Ed.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Proper Fifth Wheel Maintenance is Important

Proper fifth wheel maintenance is important to ensure the tractor and trailer stay together.

Article thanks to Denise Rondini and Links provided:

Sept, 2015  Runaway trailer hits minivan.” That’s what the headline screamed. While the details of why the trailer separated from the tractor in upstate New York have yet to be sorted out, the events underscore the important role the fifth wheel plays in truck safety.
Like any safety-related component, the fifth wheel needs to be in good operating condition to do its job properly. “It’s important to maintain the fifth wheel because it is the sole component that connects the tractor to the trailer,” says Rob Nissen, director of field sales for SAF-Holland.
Fifth wheel manufacturers recommend performing fifth wheel maintenance every three months or 30,000 miles.
“You need to lubricate it through all four seasons,” says Charles Rosato, field service manager for Fontaine Fifth Wheel. “That also gives you four chances to inspect it each year.” If you choose not to do that, you should at least clean the locking mechanism every six months or 60,000 miles.
However, lubrication is not the only maintenance needed on a fifth wheel. According to Mike Jones, senior account manager at Jost, it’s important to inspect the fifth wheel for damage.
“Before you can do that, you need to degrease it with a degreasing compound or steam cleaning device,” he says.
Grease can build up on the fifth wheel and attract dirt and debris, so degreasing it prior to inspecting it allows you to see any potential damage more easily.
“Get the old grease off and look for any cracks, broken welds, and damaged or missing components,” Rosato says. “You really won’t be able to see those things unless you get the grease off.”
It is also very important to make sure all the grease buildup is removed in and around the lock jaw, throat and pivot points. This is especially important before winter sets in, Rosato says.
“People keep adding grease [throughout the year] and you might be able to get away with that in the summertime,” he says. “But in the winter the old grease, which has picked up a lot of road grime and contaminants, can freeze. You could end up with a grapefruit-size piece of frozen grease inside your fifth wheel, and that will keep the lock from operating properly.”
His recommendation is to thoroughly degrease the fifth wheel and then regrease the mechanism with a thin coat of 90-weight gear oil. Jones says it’s important to use a lithium EP (extreme pressure) grease on the plate if you want to ensure the fifth wheel operates smoothly.
Just as important as winter fifth wheel service is servicing it in the spring. “The lube get washed off or worn away because of winter conditions,” Nissen says. “In addition, the sodium chloride and magnesium chloride that states are putting on the roads are brutal not just on fifth wheels but on other components as well.” According to Nissen, those deicing chemicals can dry out the fifth wheel and cause rust to form. “When things get rusty and corroded, everything starts moving slower and that is a problem because the coupling and uncoupling of the fifth wheel depends on timing. Things need to be free and loose so the [tractor and trailer] can snap into place.”
A maintenance manual from SAF-Holland sums up the importance of fifth wheel maintenance. “Failure to properly maintain your fifth wheel could result in tractor-trailer separation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.”
Nissen says, “To me it is worth an hour of your time to clean the fifth wheel, look at it, check the adjustment, and relubricate it before putting it back on the street, because one failure can be catastrophic.”
This quick checklist of key points of fifth wheel maintenance was culled from maintenance manuals and bulletins from Fontaine Fifth Wheel, Jost and SAF-Holland. For complete maintenance procedures consult the fifth wheel manufacturer’s maintenance manual.
  • Clean dirt, debris and grease from the fifth wheel and mounting brackets. Pay special attention to the areas around the lock jaw, throat and pivot points.
  • Inspect for cracks, wear and damaged moving parts.
  • Check bracket liner thickness at all scheduled maintenance intervals. Replace liners that are broken or have worn excessively or if liner thickness is less than 0.125 in. at the top of the liner.
  • Replace liners every 300,000 miles in standard-duty applications and every 180,000 miles in moderate- or severe-duty applications.
  • Inspect bracket pin bolts, and make sure locking tabs are properly securing the bolts.
  • Replace worn or damaged parts as needed
  • Apply new water-resistant lithium grease to all fifth wheel-to-trailer contact surfaces. This includes: yoke tips where contact is made with the locks and casting, cam profile, yoke shaft in the area that slides in and out of the fifth wheel casting, secondary lock where contact is made with the cam plate, release handle and where contact is made with the kingpin.
  • Lubricate the kingpin lock.
  • Apply a light oil to all moving parts.
  • For sliding fifth wheels, spray diesel fuel on slide path of the base plate.
  • Check fifth wheel operation. Lock and unlock using a lock tester. The lock should not be too loose or too tight.
  • Check for proper fore and aft articulation.
  • Verify that the fifth wheel closes completely and is operating properly.