Thursday 11 February 2010

Knob-jockey of the day

I'd like to say hello to my knob-jockey of the day - the driver of BGY71U. There I am, tonking down the street towards a T-junction with my right arm outstretched indicating that I am turning right. I had heard this character coming up behind me - he had the typical "exhaust the size of a baked bean can" appendage on his car, and I had an inkling that he'd be less than civil as a result.

Yep, my instinct was right. He simply cut right in front of me and turned left, even though I was indicating that I was going right.

Maybe he'll do that same trick in front of a truck one day. Back in the day - late 1980s that is - I got to fang around in one of these - a Mack truck. Not for long mind you, and I wouldn't really call it "fanging". I did discover though that if you blew the air horn when passing a herd of cows, they'd all lift their tails, poo explosively and run away. I also discovered that cow farmers did not find that amusing.

Have a look a the front end of this baby. When I was given my first spin in one of these, my instructor warned me that not long before, a Commodore had cut in front of one as the Mack was pulling up at a red light. The Commodore ended up being half its normal length, with the rear axle somewhere in the back seat and the bumper of the Mack resting on the head of the driver (who was crushed).

Mastering the art of the gear change in one of these was something that took a while. I was pretty good with the crash gearbox in the F1 6x6 (pictured below), but the gearbox on the Mack was something else.

By the way, the photo of that F1 was taken in Vietnam in 1970 (not by me - I was still in nappies back then). Just to give you an idea of how long the military keeps stuff, I drove one of these for the last time in 1990 (I think).

Back to the Mack. If my memory is still working, it had a line on the tacho for gear changing. You'd double-de-clutch, and whilst in neutral, you'd have to wait for the revs to drop to that line before pressing the clutch again and going into the next gear. That was the same going up and going down. I never gained enough experience in the driver's seat to do it by ear - I had to watch that dial like a hawk and rely on it for my changes. If you tried too soon, or left it too late, you'd never catch the gear you wanted. Such was life when we were young.

I seem to have drifted off thread somewhat. Ah well, stuff happens.


1735099 said...

Memories.....I travelled a few Ks in those things (F1? - we just called them trucks), but not behind the wheel. In Oz we sat facing in, in SVN facing out - apparently in case of ambush.
Getting on and off the bloody things was an issue with a backpack because of the height of the tray, but it beat walking.

Boy on a bike said...

When I started driving, the Unimog was just coming in. We had about 4 F1s to each Mog. By the time I left, the ratio was the other way around. I am sure that a few of the F1s that I drove had been to South East Asia in the late 1960s.

Changing the seating in them was a never ending chore. You'd be tasked to move cargo, so the seating had to be set up on the outside. Then you'd be tasked to move troops tactically, and the whole lot had to be pulled out and moved around. We did a lot of anti-ambush drills with a sand bagged floor and that sort of thing. We'd occasionally get a truck where the locking pins that held the sides in were rusted in place, and we'd spend ages under the truck bashing away at things in order to move the seating around.

When the Mog came out, it all changed. It wasn't setup for centre seating, and the tray was too high off the ground for troops to safely jump off. The fantastic ground clearance came at a price. We used to grumble about how nasty it would be if we ever got ambushed in a Mog.

I loved the F1. Tough as old boots. Could be used to bulldoze a track if the trees were small enough. The Mog is all plastic and fibreglass - you brush against something, and something expensive breaks and falls off.