Monday, August 10, 2009

Breakdown, It's (Not) Alright

Murphy's Law was in play this week on Ice Road Truckers -- BIG TIME! And, strangely enough, it wasn't just one driver suffering: it was all of them. Lisa was heading south to Fairbanks when she and her passenger Anita (a stranded safety instructor whose flight from the North Slope was canceled when Mt. Redoubt started erupting a thousand miles south right outside Anchorage grounding flights across the state) encountered a breakdown. Lisa began to smell diesel fuel inside her cab. She stopped and discovered that her truck was leaking diesel. After laying out a hazard mat to catch the pollutant and turning off her truck, she tried reaching other truckers on her radio. Unfortunately, no one was within radio contact and she and Anita were stranded on the side of the road with no heat and a cab that was getting colder and colder by the second. After an hour, another truck finally crossed their path and stopped to help. He found the source of the leak, and luckily, had the needed part to mend it and get Lisa back on the road to Fairbanks. Of course, Lisa being female, blonde, attractive and stranded, several other trucks stopped to try to help her a well. She got back on the road and traveled the remainder of the 500 miles with strong diesel fumes in her cab leaving both her and Anita with headaches and unsettled stomachs. Fairbanks and the Carlile lot never looked so good.

Meanwhile, Alex was set to leave Deadhorse for Fairbanks with an out-of-service truck on his trailer when his truck suddenly took itself out of service courtesy of a flat tire. Unfortunately for Alex, this has been a common theme for him this season. He was temporarily sidelined until they patched his flat. He was on his way for the second time when he realized that the broken down truck he was hauling was leaking toxic anti-freeze. So, he had to drain the radiator so there would be no anti-freeze left in it to leak. Luckily, the third time was the charm and he and his convoy partner were finally southbound on the Dalton. Things went smoothly (he even managed to master his achilles heel: chaining up) until he got close to Fairbanks. His engine started to falter as he tried to ascend a hill. He pulled over and discovered that his air filter was clogged causing the engine to stall out. His convoy partner was able to rig a quick fix that carried them the rest of the way to Fairbanks.

Elsewhere, Hugh encountered problems before he even picked up his load in Fairbanks. His exhaust system was on the fritz, so he was stranded while he waited for the mechanics to fix it. They patched it up and had him on the road (with Phil Billy) about 5 hours later than he had anticipated. Later, he struggled with chaining up as he prepared to cross Atigun Pass. Dalton Ace Jack was hauling a crucial load of diesel fuel to Prudhoe. The eruption of Mt. Redoubt meant that the only supply line to the oil fields was the Dalton, so the generators needed to provide power to the buildings and rigs were running desperately low on fuel. Jack's load of 9,200 gallons of diesel would be a welcome site in Deadhorse. Most of his trip was uneventful, but he did have a close call with a southbound truck on one of the inclines. The truck was supposed to yield right-of-way, but continued to navigate the hairpin turn just as Jack was approaching it. A collision seemed imminent, but both trucks were able to pass through the curve without slamming into each other. The only other close call of the episode occurred when Hugh descended Atigun Pass and his "J brake" refused to engage. He couldn't use his regular brakes because they could cause him to jackknife and slide off the slope and downshifting was only slowing him down a bit. He was barreling down the hill when his J brake finally engaged and slowed down his rig. Somehow, no matter how many episodes I see of this show, it still manages to put me on the edge of my seat.

Ice Road Truckers airs Sunday nights on History Channel. To catch up on this season, click on over to where you'll also get show info, driver bios, and an IRT app for your iPhone.

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