CHAINING...are you ready?

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by otherhalftw, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. skellr

    skellr Road Train Member

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    Rookie! :D
     
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  2. STexan

    STexan Road Train Member

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    I'm ready. But avoid chaining whenever possible, like today ....

    Listen up new guys and girls. Winter weather happens but winter weather and wintry roads are hit and miss. Montana in fall/winter is a great example of where experience pays and why driving nights is not necessarily a great option

    To make a long story short, winter weather across Montana occurs frequently and even between major winter systems. Montana road crews do very little work at night, even on passes. Ice can/will accumulate on roads, especially after dark. Heading east from Seattle to Allentown, I decided to hold up at St Regis even though I had 5 more hours to run. I was monitoring the current weather and forecasts (two different things), and had a feeling it was going to be "one of those dreaded trips across Montana in winter". And I was right.

    I figured roads would get bad around Deer Lodge [which was my original target] as they often do and don't like running black ice after dark if I can avoid it. So, I held up at St Regis. I roll a few hours before sunrise. Roads are good, until, sure enough at sunrise and south of Deer Lodge, it's packed snow/ice. The crews did no plowing or salting overnight. But when I hit the ice, there was daylight and going was good at 55 mph.

    Approach Butte [and Homestake pass] about 08:30, the chains required light advance notice sign is on before the truck stops, but the sun is starting to come through and I know soon, they will shut the chains light off. I stop at Rocker for 30 minutes to shower and sure enough the app indicates chains required has been lifted. So, I breeze over and across.

    There was a lot of patchy ice and wet roads between Butte and Columbus, but travel was mostly relatively good. But there were a number of car and truck crashes but they were all FROM THE NIGHT AND EARLY MORNING HOURS PRIOR!

    Point is, especially this time of year, you need to understand several things
    • Places like Montana and others do very little plow/salting work at night. They usually wait until around daylight and begin work
    • At nights, there is little traffic, so even light snow showers can/will accumulate and later get packed and turn to ice before the plows come in in the morning. If you're going to drive at night, try and get parked by midnight. After midnight, traction will deteriorate fast. And in the dark, it can be hard to see problems ahead.
    • It takes a few hours after the salt [or whatever they're using] gets put down to begin to work, and this benefit is especially accelerated with sunlight.
    • Even daylight that is obscured with clouds can do wonders after a few hours if temps are above 25F. But a little direct sunlight can clear a lot of ice VERY FAST, even with no salt application once the sun gets more 20 degrees above the horizon .
    • Driving on ice at night and driving on it in daylight is two different things. Yes, there is less traffic at night, but they're crashing all over the place because IT'S SLICK AS CRAP out there.
    • In fall and spring, wintry weather and slick roads can happen very quickly, but they typically improve very quickly after sunrise and before late evening. Don't be sitting around when roads are wet or improving, and travel is as good as it's going to get.
    • Regardless, in mountain areas, always use extreme caution in shaded areas. Ice can remain for days in these areas. Expect shaded areas around corners and drive accordingly. This is another reason to try and avoid driving nights if possible.
    I say all this to say ... Don't sit around all morning because the chain lights were on at 06:00 when you woke up. Wait until perhaps 09:00 and check again. And there's a good chance the roads will be refreeze overnight and the next day will be a repeat of today, so GO WHILE THE GOIN' IS GOOD
     
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  3. 51.50

    51.50 Heavy Load Member

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    Hang 4 singles in 30 min, no problem.
     
  4. STexan

    STexan Road Train Member

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    Longview, TX
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    I stopped for 30 minutes [at a point the lights were still flashing], took a nice hot shower and never touched the chains or dealt with the potential problems associated with running passed on chains. No problem. Had to break anyway.

    All I’m saying is to work smart. Be aware of the situation on the ground. SOME TIMES you can easily avoid the unnecessary hassle. Homestake is about 10 miles chain on to chain off. Furthermore the Homestake chain areas are miserably small and a cluster f##k So, yes. If I can break for an hour knowing the lights will soon go off, I’ll do it every time.
     
  5. Lepton1

    Lepton1 Road Train Member

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    Wait, are you saying you can't just hold the steering wheel and lick the window?
     
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  6. striker

    striker Road Train Member

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  7. striker

    striker Road Train Member

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    On some of the WB chain stations, they will let you take your 10 if you're close and it makes sense, but some of the EB chain stations, not so much. EB Vail at the 178 and EB at Silverthorne you better be fully out of hours before they will let you during chain season. There is a chain spot at the 184 on Vail where I've seen them let guys take their 10, otherwise, you need to chain and get to the summit. Years back, WB 70 at around Bakerville or Silverplume, it wasn't uncommon to see guys sit for 3 or 4 days waiting out the chain law, now, I think they will give 24 hrs, after that you're paying for rental chains to get to Silverthorne and then you can sit and wait for Vail to clear up.
     
  8. striker

    striker Road Train Member

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    If some of the predictions hold true, this could be a long and nasty winter in the Colorado mountains, the chain law could be up for extended periods of time. Today is an example, they are getting hit hard, overnight and into this morning, it was up from the 259 to the 178 at one point, they are slowly starting to lift it.
     
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