The Differential



This huge round black thing is what I call the “pumpkin”.  I heard a man say that once and pointed to this monstrous thing and so it stuck.  If a “guy” can call it a pumpkin then I can also.  Besides, Joe knows what I mean when I call it that.

When I do my inspection I look to make sure nothing is dripping from the bottom of it, there are no tell tail signs of previous leaks that would show up by dark stained areas coated with road dust.  There are bolts on both sides of this big thing and I look to see if the paint is still attached to the bolts.  If it is not that means there has been some work done on it before and I need to look closer for signs of leaks.

Somehow, this thing is connected to one of the rear axles, and the driveline attaches to it by a device called a ‘U” Joint.  The first “U” joint I saw I thought only a man would call the thing that looks like a “Plus” sign to me a “U’.  It was a few years after that I learned it is, in fact, a “Universal” joint and shortened to “U”.  The driveline continues all the way up to the transmission and hidden from my view up there.  Geezers!  Joe just told me that there are two differentials on each truck.  One for each of the two rear axles.  I only look at the one I can see.  The other one is hidden beneath the 5th wheel stuff.  That will be covered in another post.

Inside the differential is stuff that can, and will, blow a huge hole in the pumpkin and spew its guts all over the roadway.  Our blue pickup, Gracie, did just that one time while she was being pulled behind Joe’s set of trucks.  This man is sometimes deaf as a post and can’t hear me when I’m right next to him.  Over 50 feet away, in heavy traffic through Pennsylvania he “heard” something go bang.  I didn’t hear it and my ears are just fine.  We were delivering his trucks to a dealership in Baltimore, Maryland.  When we were unhooking the pickup from the trucks it would not go in gear and it made a strange sound.  Joe crawled around on the ground under Gracie and spotted the problem.  The differential had a huge hole in it and the “bang” he heard was when the insides had burst out through the steel casing.  Joe said it looked as though a canon ball had been fired from inside.  According to Joe, the outer shell of the differential had peeled back in places like a banana.

THAT was a time to remember.  Joe called around to Ford dealerships to see who could get us fixed up right away.  In Dundalk, Maryland he found a Ford place that would get us right in.  Norris Ford, if you are in need of service for your vehicle and you are in the Dundalk/Baltimore area this is the place to go.  They have a massive garage.  Big enough to get both of Joe’s big trucks in and pull our pickup behind.  While Joe was up talking to the head mechanic and discussing how we were going to get the pickup inside the garage I heard Joe say “Yes, we can get it in there and get back out with no problems”.  I’m thinking “How the hell is that going to happen?!  I found out.  I had to get in the back truck and steer it as Joe was going forward.  I could not put my foot on the brake, wouldn’t do any good if I did anyway because I had disconnected them days earlier.  Joe’s idea…”Fire truck”it in.  He gets this devilish look on his face each time he proposes I do that and my guts get all in knots.  We did it though.  Got that long mess inside the garage far enough so the pickup could be detached and pushed into a bay.  Then I got to “Fire truck” us back out of the garage while all the mechanics left their work stations and crowded around the doors to watch the circus that just came to their town!

The repairs to be made to our truck was remove OUR damaged differential and replace it with another one from a salvage yard.  After calling Norris Ford and explaining the situation, they said “Bring it on down.  By the time you get here we’ll have a replacement part here.”  While we were driving down to the Ford garage they had sent their tow truck to the salvage yard to pick up a damaged F-150 pickup similar to ours.  When we arrived at Norris Ford that pickup was sitting in the mechanics bay next to where we were putting our pickup.  You want to talk about service?!  The time line for this repair was….Joe found the problem at 8:30 a.m.  Spending an hour calling different garages, by 9:30 he had located Norris Ford and they said they could fix it.  By 10 a.m. we were in the shop at Norris Ford.  By 11 a.m. we were in the rental car which we played tourist until 3 in the afternoon.  We could not unhook our trucks and deliver them to the International Used Truck Center until the pickup was actually working and running.  We arrived at the dealership at 4 p.m. and by 4:30 we had delivered Joe’s trucks.  What a day that was.  Worked our butts off and played for four hours.

So I just look to make sure there are no holes and there are no leaks.  None of those and all is well.  And I make sure the driveline is attached where it needs to be and not dragging on the ground.

Today has been one of those days.  Start off fantastic and goes down hill from there.  Thankfully nothing drastic has happened, just plans have been shot in the foot — both Joe’s and mine.  Joe had dreams of heading down the road and getting to Charlotte Saturday, unhooking the trucks and parking them in a secure lot, drop the trailer and do a bit of sight seeing on Sunday.  I had planned on taking him up on his offer to find a scrapbook shop in Charlotte.  One in particular that sounded fun just by the name….”Oh, Scrap!”  Doesn’t that sound like a fun place to go in?

The buyer in Charlotte has been chomping at the bit to get his trucks.  We were assured the trucks were ready to be picked up today.  We delivered the final three of the 17 Wal-Mart trucks this morning then headed to Steven’s Transport for the Kenworth trucks waiting for us.  Upon arrival we found that only one of the five trucks is totally ready to go.  The four for Joe and I will not be ready until late tomorrow night or Saturday morning.  Furthermore, these trucks still have to go to a particular type of Kenworth Dealer (a MHC to be specific – whatever that is) to be inspected and have all the extended warranties applied for the new buyer.  That would mean it would be Tuesday of next week before the trucks would be ready.

Three hours of Joe calling one person then another and repeating the sequence several more times, before we left the lot at 5 p.m. we MAY be able to get them tomorrow afternoon/early evening.  No promises either.  We are kind of stuck.  189 miles from home and we can’t go home just in case they will be ready tomorrow.

So, maybe I will be looking for a scrapbook place in the Dallas area tomorrow.


About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

4 responses to “The Differential

  • Maureen Mathis

    Dallas should have several options for you! Too bad you’re not stuck in Dallas the first weekend in June – we could go to the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington! One day……!

    • Message In A Fold

      Anything can happen in the next three weeks :-). We can still hope.

      I did find a cute little store in Sunnyvale – near Mesquite. Purchased a few things for the next Blog Candy Give-Away. Details will be posted tonight after we get our trucks hooked up and then get back to the hotel.

      You are the first to know about it :o).

  • gardenpinks

    To use your favourite word – Crapazoid!! Those folks want to get their fingers pulled out and get on with things. What a big PITB for you and Joe and your plans.
    Glad you found a store to wander around in and love the name of that store ‘Oh Scrap’, a great fun name.

    Another slightly funny story to do with a lorry (truck) when Rod was working at a large garage: The garage was situated on a fairly busy fast road and some of the mechanics would take cars out to test drive them after work had been completed. One mechanic came back to the work shop with a box full of bits, Rod was about to have a hissy fit thinking the vehicle that the mechanic had taken out had been in an accident but the mechanic assured Rod (who was service manager of the garage) that all was well with the car but explained that a lorry came fast along the road when there was a huge bang and all these bits flew out of the side of the engine block. The funny part wa that the lorry driver kept going! The mechanic picked all the bits up so as not to cause any accidents. A little while later the lorry driver walked into the garage and said ‘my lorry has broken down’. ‘We know’ came the reply ‘we’ve got most of the bits here’!!! It wasn’t the differential but a big end or some such that had put a rod through the engine casing and plaited up the pistons 🙂 A new engine job that was.

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      Good grief!! The crazy things that happen to vehicles. At least that driver gave Rod and the rest of the mechanics something to talk about for years to come. How funny :o)

      Yep. TARFU!! Things Are Really Fouled Up. Progress is being made now though and we MAY be heading out tomorrow.

      Love you – Leslie

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