Over that Next Hurdle

Pushing on from buying Nightshade, my first truck, I have been really concentrating on maximising the profits to build funds quickly. The aim was to expand my original garage and get to the point where I could afford to buy a second truck and employee a driver. I bit the bullet and accepted that upgrades to Nightshade were a luxury that I couldn’t really afford except for an all important gearbox change. I had to wait a while for the planned upgrade to become available – I wanted the 13 speed Eaton-Fuller with retarder and the game limits the availability according to driver skill level. The reason for wanting this upgrade is two-fold. The 13 gears give a significant improvement in flexibility when shifting heavier loads which means you can maintain better economy than the 10 speed will allow. The other advantage is the retarder – using your brakes is expensive as you are relying on friction to slow you down. Additionally, using your air brakes too often results in a loss of effectiveness as they heat up or the brake reservoir becomes depleted. The retarder gives an additional means of slowing down that doesn’t rely on friction or air pressure in the brake system. Instead it relies on a hydraulic torque converter or an electromagnetic drive being geared onto the drive-shaft of the truck when activated either by the driver or automatically when the truck is running under cruise control. These retarding systems are very effective at slowing a truck travelling at speed but less so as the truck slows. The retarder won’t bring the truck to a stand – you still need to brakes to do that but you can understand why this is a desirable safety feature for a truck driver 🙂

When I had the money and the 13 speed box was available I promptly upgraded Nightshade. I did indulge myself a little by also upgrading the front bumper to one with lights on the corners and I replaced the steering wheel – I did say I would! So the cab now looks like this…

New Steering Creations wheel in place of the Peterbilt standard version.

New Steering Creations wheel in place of the Peterbilt standard version.

All the time I was seeking to achieve good fuel consumption to maximise my profit on each run.   To achieve this with a 370hp engine (and no retarder to start with), I initially only hauled loads below 25000lbs (around 11t). After upgrading the gearbox I started taking heavier loads up to around 40000lbs (18t). My average fuel consumption over the period since I bought the Peterbilt 389 has turned in at 7.36mpg which is good. My worst run was up to Elko from Bakersfield where slow traffic and gradients on the single carriageway meant consistent changing up and down – 5.69mpg. My best was from Elko to Oakland with a very light load of electronic components on Highways and Interstates with more down than up grades which came in at 8.22mpg.

I expanded my original garage during my travels.   Tonight I did a high speed run back to Bakersfield from Holbrook on a tight for time job where I pushed Nightshade really hard through Arizona at the 65mph governed maximum.  Back in my home city I visited the local Peterbilt dealer and purchased a new 579 Duty Cab truck and employed a driver. New employee Jacques has the 370hp engine but will benefit from the 13 speed box with retarder from the very start. Hopefully he will quickly start to make money. Now we need to work to get the next truck so I can expand the company with another driver. Then, I hope to upgrade the engine in Nightshade and get myself a sleeper and 6×4 chassis 🙂

A few images from my travels…

Shifting Diesel for Texaco from Tucson to Oxnard - an 18t load.

Shifting Diesel for Texaco from Tucson to Oxnard – an 18t load.

The road to Elko north of Pioche - this is all new following the rescale.   There's a ravine off to the right which I must try to get a shot of!

The road to Elko north of Pioche – this is all new following the map rescale.

In a previous post I christenbed this buiding 'The Adams Family Motel' and hoped that it would survive the rescale - it has but you can only access when travelling westbound.

‘The Adams Family Motel’ has survived but it’s westbound access only.

A light load of cars (7t) to Holbrook - even so, a changedown was required on this climb.

A light load of cars (7t) to Holbrook – even so, a changedown was required on this climb.

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