braking on big mountains...

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by elharrison, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. elharrison

    elharrison "Iam on my way"

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    Feb 8, 2007
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    i know this probley has been covered but i think it can be helpful...

    how you yall go down a steep mountain with out a jake and heavy load?

    i know most trucks now have jakes, but i think it would help to know how to if you are ever in a truck that doesnt have an engine brake...

    ive heard to different ways, light brake pressure all the way down

    and by the book, 5mph below safe speed, release brakes, let it speed up and repeat...

    but i dont know what is the best way is.
     
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  3. Cybergal

    Cybergal Road Train Member

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    I was always taught to gear down at the top of the hill.

    Use your brakes sparingly, and proceed cautiously. Try not to over heat your brakes.
     
  4. elharrison

    elharrison "Iam on my way"

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    Feb 8, 2007
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    yeah i meant to add to gear down, i figured thats given
     
  5. Designors

    Designors Light Load Member

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    Gear down 2 gears from what you came up in .... if you went up in 7th come down in 5th .... with an engine brake its normally 1 gear down from what you went up with

    Brake only when you need to slow down a little .... but coming down 2 gears below you should be good
     
  6. Little John

    Little John Bobtail Member

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    Jul 15, 2007
    Orlando, Florida
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    my company teaches high gear of the low side of the tranny with out a jake, and low gear in the high side with jakes, and with both light pressure (between 5-10lbs app pressure). Worked when i went down donner before they turned the jake and a 79k gross meat load, so i cant complain
     
  7. lilillill

    lilillill Sarcasm... it's not just for breakfast

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    The very FIRST step when going down a steep mountain is to stop before you go down the hill and check your brake adjustment. This is no joke... I had a hellacious scary ride down Black Mountain in North Carolina because I neglected to adjust the brakes on my trailer first.

    Most of the trailers we had were brand new 53' and had automatic slacks... a few of the older 48's still had manual slacks--I got kinda lazy about checking because they were always good. As you can probably guess, I was pulling one of the old 48's.

    About half way down the hill, I was having to step on the brake pedal fairly hard to get it to slow back down. I decided to pull to the side and stop... and that's when I found, it wasn't gonna stop! The tractor brakes were just smoking because they were doing all the braking while the trailer was doing mostly nothing. I let off the brakes and pulled back out in the lane. It was late at night so traffic was fairly light, mostly trucks thankfully.

    I panicked and got on the CB asking the other drivers, who were at the bottom, if there was anything in the way... that I had no brakes. They helped reassure me that there was nothing in the way and to "let 'er ride".

    I reached the bottom of the hill, coasted to a stop on the side of the highway and did what I should have done before I even pulled that trailer one inch--ADJUSTED THE BRAKES.

    One scary ride like that will knock the complacency about pretrip inspections right out of you--I went over the brakes with a fine tooth comb every day afterwards. I can not stress enough... even with automatic slack adjusters... CHECK YOUR BRAKES with your eyeballs--pulling on the Johnson bar in the parking lot won't tell you anything.

    Now then, after you're good and sure that your brakes are working and adjusted correctly, it really depends on the hill and your gross. Monteagle going south in Tennessee is about a 6 percent grade. If I was loaded near 80k, I'd pick a gear that the RPM's topped out at about 35-40 mph. Then I'd let 'er ride until 30 mph... brake back down to 25 mph... back up to 30... brake to 25, etc.

    If at any point, it feels like you're having to step on the brake pedal harder to slow it down, stop the truck immediately and let the brakes cool. Sometimes with a heavy enough load and a high ambient temp, the brakes will fade no matter how good they are adjusted. I used to have to stop halfway down the hill when hauling copper bars out of Globe, AZ... it was a really long hill.

    HTH
     
  8. TrooperRat

    TrooperRat Medium Load Member

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    Dec 29, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
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    "If at any point, it feels like you're having to step on the brake pedal harder to slow it down, stop the truck immediately and let the brakes cool. Sometimes with a heavy enough load and a high ambient temp, the brakes will fade no matter how good they are adjusted. I used to have to stop halfway down the hill when hauling copper bars out of Globe, AZ... it was a really long hill."

    That hill you are talking about coming down into Superior has been the subject of numerous truck crashes over the years. I don't know why, but for some reason it takes drivers by surprise - I guess people don't think Arizona has hills in it, it must all be flat desert : )
    I used to haul gypsum rock out of a mine back in the hills there and would have to drive through Superior every day. There is a towing company right on the main drag - there is almost ALWAYS a semi-tractor that has been crunched and wrecked, sitting there as a testament to the fact that some driver didn't do something right (unless, of course, a 4-wheeler is to blame). I have seen so many trucks fresh off that hill with plumes of smoke billowing out of trailer and tractor brakes. One guy had that "condition" going and just kept rigth on driving, didn't bother to stop at the bottom and let'em cool off.
    One truck had smoked the trailer brakes at night, got to the bottom and pulled over alongside the road where there is space to park to go to sleep for the rest of the night. That driver didn't know there was a fire cooking back there which ended up toasting the entire trailer and truck - it was a car hauler so all the vehicles on that thing were fried as well.
    Just writing that to second the motion that there is a reason there are pull-outs at tops of hills with signs saying to check your brakes.
    I've had my own share of scares over the years that took the complacency out of my bones and caused me to do a thorough pre-trip every single morning, regardless of my schedule, or how cold it is outside, or however much of an inconvenience it is. Same thing at tops of steep, long grades. It really doesn't take that long.
     
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  9. lilillill

    lilillill Sarcasm... it's not just for breakfast

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    Yep Trooper, that jogs my memory... I couldn't remember exactly where it was 'cause it's been 16 years since I did that run. I can still picture what the town of Globe looks like though--coming into town down a windy road... a big steel elevator. Funny, I can't remember what the actual mine or place I picked up at looks like, and I went there a lot! Getting senile I guess.:biggrin_25525: I'd haul the bars up to Southwire in, um... Utah? Wyoming?... anyhow, they'd turn 'em into wire.
     
  10. D16

    D16 Light Load Member

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    Jul 11, 2007
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    Here in a Canadian Rockies with average gross of 95,000 I'm never use foot or trailer brakes going downhill,only Jake brakes(playing with levels).Reason of that is when you need emergency stop then you have ace in your sleeve-cold and ready to use foot brakes.:biggrin_25522:
     
    scottied67 and cynicalsailor Thank this.
  11. psychocreep

    psychocreep Light Load Member

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    Flagstaff, Az
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    Trooper and lil,

    Another problem spot in Az is I-17 Stoneman Lake 6% percent grade and Black Canyon City right outside of Phoenix. I see alot of accidents in those areas when I'm going down to phoenix. Even four wheelers have a prob with that area. They just take those passes way too fast.
     
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