This is the true story of one day cutting pulpwood. Granted, it was an unusual day – but this all happened on one day.
We usually started early, because it was cooler. On this particular day, Rick’s cousin Gene was helping us out – he was doing the stacking up on the truck. I’d drag the cable out and wrap it around six or seven pieces of wood, Rick would operate the winch to pull it in, and Gene would stack it and unhook it.
We hadn’t been working very long when Gene broke his toe. See previous post.
Being concerned for Gene, we stopped work immediately, got him in the truck, and backed up so we could turn around. You have to realize that this was a 2 1/2 ton truck – it was the same size as the trucks you see delivering soft drinks to grocery stores – so it was pretty long, and unwieldy in tight areas. In our haste, we failed to notice a stob (a piece of wood sticking up out of the ground – in this case, a sapling that had been shorn of branches by the falling trees) – this stob happened to take out the rear brake line when we backed up.
Since the truck was not now safe (well, as safe), we stopped, unloaded Gene, and walked (hopped, carried) him back up to the house where his car was. He left, presumably to go to the doctor. Hmm. I wonder if that was the same foot he shot with a .22 a year or so before? But that’s another story.
Rick and I went to town in my ’65 Mustang junker to buy another brake line for the truck. We were hurrying, because the forecast called for major thunderstorms that afternoon. Since we were working in the bottoms, which flood frequently, we knew we had to get the truck out of there before the storms hit. If we failed to do this, we might come back to find the thing buried in the mud; we joked about finding the boom sticking up out of the ground, later in the summer…
About this time, the skies were getting darker, you could hear thunder in the distance, and someone way upwind had a fire going, to boot. Smoke was drifting through the trees. It was actually a bit spooky.
So, back at the truck, I slid up under the back and removed the old line. There we were, laying on our backs under the rear axle of the truck, wrenching away at the brake line. Rick’s beagle Bandit was wanting to help… it’s thundering outside, rain imminent, and wood smoke drifting along the ground. I’m thinking, I’m directly below the lowest metal on the truck. I asked Rick, “What happens if lightning hits the boom?” – he said, “What if I hit you??”.
So we got the new line installed, and we got ready to bleed the brake lines. This is the process you go through to remove air in the lines; if you don’t do this, the brakes are mushy if they work at all. This takes two people – one slowly pumps the brakes in the cab – the other opens a valve at the brake housing end of things until fluid and not air comes out the port.
So Rick was in the cab, and I was laying on my back under the truck, with a beagle walking across my chest, trying to open the valve to bleed the brakes. The valve was stopped up, so I shouted at Rick to push harder – the sudden stream of brake fluid made me jerk my head back to keep from getting it in my eyes. Rick said he heard the ‘whang’ as my head hit the differential, all the way up in the cab.
We got the truck started out of the woods, just about the time it started to rain. This is called ‘success’.
Although we didn’t make much money that day; at least we still had all our equipment.