The ability to tie a load down with a few lengths of rope is another lost art of trucking. Truckies of a certain age will be familiar with this technique and have a set of skills which make it possible to hold anything down on a flat top. Of course once you get above a certain mass, the dog and chain would come into its own, but that’s another can of worms to open later.
This simple technique was so ubiquitous, it is second nature to the people who have used over a long period of time, but it is a complete mystery to anyone who came into the industry after the advent of the curtain sider.
I can remember struggling with getting my ropes off a load of potatoes and then fighting with the tarp to get into the right shape to pack away. At the same time some cocky young truckie would pull into the market, roll back the curtains and go and find a fork lift to unload, while I was still sorting ropes and tarps.
Some satisfaction was to be had when the curtain sider didn’t quite do the trick. I would be working my way through the step-by-step process of uncovering my load, which wouldn’t have moved an inch en route. Curtain siders were new then and it wasn’t a surprise when curtains were opened to find the load had shifted and the battle to free the gates would begin.
Of course we have to move with the times and roping etc would play havoc with the driver’s hands. The danger of falling off the load was a constant one and productivity wasn’t enhanced by the 90 minutes or so needed to get the load properly tarped and tied down.
Rope tying will be joined by a few other lost arts, like finessing a Roadranger up and down the eighteen gears, with or without the clutch. Changing a tyre on a truck or trailer, especially one with spiders, is also on its way out for many drivers.
There are also a few arts we hope the industry will lose sooner rather than later. These would include fiddling the log book and working out how to override the speed limiter.
There are new arts to be developed, like finding an actual space big enough to park a B-double safely in the middle of the night on our major freight routes. Another useful art would be getting warehouse staff to hand over the consignment notes straight after the truck gets unloaded.
One art remains with us, and needs to be practiced regularly. That is to talk politely to the road side officer when pulling the truck in for the once over and praying they don’t find anything wrong.