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Tales of a Hay Hauler: Shared shop antics

Brad Nelson for Progressive Forage Published on 30 April 2021

Big outfits usually have their own big shops. Medium-sized outfits will sometimes have their own shop space or may heavily use a dealer or an independent mechanic and/or lube shop.

Shop space becomes an interesting proposition for outfits with just one or two rigs. A repair done where the shop floor is the sandy hill behind the house (the walls are the wind and the roof is the sky, with not even foliage to make it a “shade tree” mechanic’s spot) can be the best place a fellow has.

A friend of mine had his own medium-sized shop, and later I was able to rent a parking space from him where I could plug in the truck’s block heater in the winter. I was also able to occasionally use shop space and when needed hire the use of his excellent truck mechanic. (Bill McCreary was pushing 60, and just listening to him was worth more than any textbook directions could ever be.)

In the same area was a shop from which ran a trio of potato trucks. In addition to the three, an independent mechanic (a close friend of mine) did his work. A number of independent truckers used this fellow. It was anybody’s guess as to who or what equipment would be in the shop on any given day, and it always made for an interesting visit (fellows who sit behind a steering wheel for long periods have lots of time to dream up hijinks).

One fellow spent most of a day cutting steel rods to length then bending them so they would be tarp tie-down hooks when welded to the sides of his trailer. He left his work in a pile on the shop floor and went home midafternoon. Another independent, who was waiting for parts and was bored, took these V-shaped pieces and tack welded them together into a chain. The tacks were so “just barely” holding that to drop the chain on the floor would have broken most of the welds. Finished, he hung the completed chain on a big nail in the wall near where the V pieces had been left. The next day, their owner came in to proceed with his project. He didn’t say anything to anyone, just walked around and around the shop mumbling. Guys who were in the shop at the time he finally spied his parts said he yelled out, “Those dirty sons of … (puppy dog mommas)!”

A day or so later, the perpetrator’s truck (which had been in the shop before, during and after the chain incident) acted like it had run out of fuel. But when the perpetrator pulled into the shop, it was three-quarters full. He discovered the tank on one side of the truck (the side the engine drew the fuel from) was empty. The tank on the other side of the truck was still three-quarters full. Someone had closed the valve to the crossover line that let fuel flow from one tank to the other. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the culprit was.

The “chain” owner was a medium-sized fellow who drove his potato truck for a living. The one who had his fuel line shut off was an oversized hay hauler (who shall remain nameless). The hay hauler didn’t notice it, but the other guys told him the “tater” hauler had been carefully avoiding him for six weeks. The hay hauler didn’t even acknowledge it happened, let alone fixing blame.

I was going to Boise for parts one day when Leo (who was sharing shop space with me that day) asked me to take the turbo from his truck and have the shop I was getting parts from look at it, to rule out it being the cause of his truck’s issue. He asked me to call as soon as I had an answer. I did. Carl (father of the shop’s owner) answered. I told him there was nothing wrong with Leo’s turbo, but I asked him to tell Leo that his turbo was in too bad of shape to even qualify as a “core” for trade for a rebuild.

Carl let Leo stew and rant for a bit, and when he couldn’t hold a straight face any longer, told him the truth. Carl approached me when I returned and said, “Do you know what that man said you and I were a pair of?” Well, I can guess.

Let me share two things about pranks I’ve learned through the years:

1. If’n y’all have in mind to prank someone, it’s a good idea to have your own stuff elsewhere.

2. One of the best ways to remove yourself from the list of those to prank is: When the inevitable happens and you’re on the receiving end, smile. Maybe laugh a bit. Then walk off like nothing happened. Since now you’re no fun to prank, you’ll usually be left alone.  end mark