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Top 10 Things Not To Hit with Your Truck on The Road. Beer cans are OK.

Sometimes driving can be a little boring, anything out of the ordinary on the road can often peak your interest. One of my favorite things to do while on a long road trip is to crush aluminum cans with my drivers front tire. The exercise sharpens the skills of the driver. There are however, things you should definitely swerve around.




#10) Tractor trailer tires “alligators” can wrap into a wheel well or even worse damage a fender.


#9) Branches and fallen foliage can easily penetrate tires or thin aluminum coolers and radiators.



#8) Mason or bricks may not do so much damage to your truck, but the cars behind you would be damaged badly.


#7) Lumber can make a good day go bad quick, if the wood doesn’t blow a steel belt in your tire, it can be ejected rearward.


#6) Auto parts fall off every day, avoiding them is paramount.  I cant even begin to describe the pitfalls there.



#5) Cardboard boxes can be deceiving.  They may contain nothing but air, but they also may contain nails, steel, or kittens.


#4) Mattresses seem unassuming, soft and springy.  What could go wrong?  Wrap one around your driveshaft and learn.


#3) Live animals are more capable of evading your direction than dead ones.  Try to avoid them both.  Antlers and bones have been known to destroy a trucks meaty rubber, along with other undercarriage parts.


#2) Disabled vehicles are very vulnerable to collisions when parked on the road.  Ruining two days IS worse than one.

other cars

#1) I shouldn’t have to elaborate the points of concern around avoiding your fellow human.  Don’t hit people!



There are, of coarse many other things you shouldn’t hit.

These are the things we here at STL Diesel make a point to avoid.

Don Harbaugh

STL Diesel



Practicle Jokes, 10 Safe Ways To Stir Things Up + 10 Unsafe Ways.

Every job has its difficulties, and auto/diesel repair is riddled with them.  One way to offset this dark element of employment is to commence practical joking.  Many technicians prefer not to disturb their cohorts while working, but there are moments of the day that aren’t filled with diagnostic or repairs.  This time can be used constructively, or not.  Here are ten things I have seen in a shop environment that would be considered the most common and relatively SAFE ways to stir things up.

  1. Grease under tool box or car door handles.
  2. Reorganization of tools in others tool boxes.
  3. Throw a charged capacitor to an unsuspecting operator.
  4. Actuating a car horn at inopportune moments.
  5. Blowing up a coolant or oil jug under someones tool box using shop air.
  6. Closing a hood on some one in a compromising position.
  7. Pulling strategic fuses in a vehicle to exhibit acute symptoms.
  8. Covertly drop a tailgate on a truck backing up.
  9. Long zip ties attached to driveshaft.
  10. Use a rack to lift a large tool box high off the ground.

These next ones should NOT be performed by anyone, but have been documented as “Impractical Jokes”

  1. Brake clean torch
  2. Air bag discharge
  3. Acetylene contained in a bag or balloon. (cant say how it works, or how to do it)
  4. Use silicone to adhere tires to the ground.
  5. Baby oil in washer solvent tank.
  6. Detaching an automatic transmission’s linkage.
  7. Open cans of tuna under a cars seat.
  8. Disconnect inner door handle linkage on vehicle.
  9. Remove schrader valves from tires or fuel system.
  10. Baby powder in air vents.

It should be assumed that retaliation would be acceptable if you perform any of these against your peers.  Be warned that payback is a Bi#ch.

Do you have any practical jokes, if so please comment.


Shop Music, Line in The Sand? Will Streaming Music Make Things Easier?

If you have ever visited an independent shop or dealer’s garage and heard faint sounds of a familiar local FM station playing, bet your self someone in that building HATES it.  The choice in music is personal and can be the most important detail to the days productivity.  I have found no other single object that exists in a shop that is more sensitive to altercation than the radio.

Most shops now have a wide spectrum of technicians ranging from late teens to late 60’s.  Settling on a station that satisfies the whole rowdy group IS an impossibility.  I am from St Louis Missouri and bias to the variety we have here.  The rural areas of this beautiful country may have fewer options to contend with.


OLDIES – Rock and Classics – 1960-1990 (MOST COMMON)

Oldies rock seems to be the least intrusive on listeners with easy instrumentals and words everyone knows.  However an oldies rock station is very repetitive, because there cannot be any new old hits.  After about a four week period of this redundant commercial ridden rock opera, the technicians may need a change of pace.  A brave soul will comb the FM band for something new, eventually landing on an alternative rock station.

ALTERNATIVE ROCK – Metal, Emo, Grunge, Punk, Party Hits – 1991-Current

Alternative Rock in a shop environment has a faster pace and is easily adopted after the oldies have played out.    The rhythm of alternative rock generally keeps things moving in the shop.  A station like this will play for as long as there isn’t TOO much heavy metal in succession, this will get the station changed to country music faster than the speed of sound.

Country – 1960 – Current

The twangy sounds of country music can be uplifting and widely accepted into most skilled trade environments.  Soft melodies and a slower tempo allows for clarity of thought and attention to detail.  This type of music is relatively inert and the least capable of causing an argument with fellow technicians, but will be changed none the less.

When the trend of “radio station retaliation” appears in a shop, you can bet its going to end on a Rap or Pop station before the radio magically breaks and works no longer.

The point is music is very personal to the listener, and can expose emotions of distaste towards others choice in melody.  The internet now offers a wide variety of streaming music providers with an infinite combination of songs.  Using abilities like “disliking” a song will ban it from playing indefinitely, and “liking” a song will ensure you will hear it more often.  From this platform a group of individuals, who ever they are can come up with a playlist that will hopefully narrow the gap between background music fans.  Or ignite a structure fire.

Is your work radio bickered over?  What is the “Line in the Sand” for you?

Don Harbaugh

STL Diesel


Part 1 of 3: Birth Of A Plow Truck


Snow removal is a very lucrative business when mother nature allows for it.  A garden variety day for a snow removal technician is nothing short of brutal on driver and truck a like.  We are going to focus on the truck in this story.

A plow truck begins its life as a general daily driver pickup in a light duty environment.  After some years, mileage, dents and dings her job title changes a bit.  She may be hauling heaping piles of gravel in the bed, or pulling heavy equipment trailers to job sites.  Either way the later part of this trucks life gets harder.  If this is sounding familiar to your habits, don’t worry it is the natural way of things.

The year dangles into the fall and meteorologists, almanacs, or wholly worms infer a harsh winter.  Snow removal season is upon us in a blink of an eye, and you need to be ready for the first snow, a plow and salt spreader becomes part of this truck.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Life of a Plow Truck, and Part 3: Death of a Plow Truck