BY GIL POTTS
It was just another typical Saturday morning in Van Horn. Up early, listen to the latest news, and head for the coffee shop for a late breakfast. Yep, just another typical Saturday morning. Until that is, someone shouted out, “Hey, what the heck is goinâ€™ on down there?â€ At just that moment, emergency vehicles appeared form all directions to converge down by the freeway exit into town.
Curiosity led everyone to the window and then out to the street. At first it looked like just another oversized truck making the turn onto Van Horn Drive. But as it was making its turn toward town, more of the truck became visible from Broadway. And then more. And more. “It just kept coming around the cornerâ€ said one unidentified bystander. It seemed like it was half way to Broadway before it completed its turn onto Van Horn. Actually, it was more than half way.
The average tractor-trailer rigs we see on the highways everyday are about 65 feet long, and weigh under 80,000 pounds. Thatâ€™s pretty much the standard limitations on the interstate highway system and other federal highways. Truck weights are strictly regulated in just about every state in the country, with weights and lengths controlled by each individual state for state and local roads. The exception would be for the increasing number of rigs that are receiving “permitsâ€ to exceed those set limitations.
The big rig convoy that passed through the middle of Van Horn Saturday carried a generator weighing in at 500,670 pounds. The weight of the rig to carry it wasnâ€™t disclosed, but the length of the rig measured 286 feet, distributing well over half-a-million pounds on 84 wheel and tires. Just for perspective, thatâ€™s 14 feet short of a football field or about the same as four-and-a-half normal trucks parked end to end. More important though, the total weight approaches nearly 10 times the normally legal weight limit.
Siemens, the European manufacturer of the huge generator, indicates that electric power generation stations around the world are buying these things about as fast as they can make them. Aging power plants in the U.S. converting to clean coal and nuclear facilities upgrading their efficiency are prime customers.