The Evil Overlord and I have driven quite a few different trucks in our driving careers, but I’ve been through more than my fair share of trucks recently. It all started with “Hell Week 2: The Sequel” and continued with my most recent truck crapping out on me last week.

I’ve also owned quite a few personal vehicles in my life. But I’ve never had the same assortment of sounds from them that I’ve experienced in the cab of a big rig. And that’s where we truckers excel in our MacGyvering skills.

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Every truck has its share of squeaks, clicks, and creaks. The trick is finding them, as many of these sounds only happen when you’re driving down the road. But finding them is of utmost importance because listening to a continuous squeak will eventually cause you to yank out fistfuls of hair. Now I kinda like my faux-hawk, but I’ve got no desire to have a real mohawk. I’ll leave that to the punker dudes.

I feel sorry for solo drivers when it comes to squeak-hunting because it’s rough to track down a noise that only happens when you’re scooting down the road. That’s where team drivers have a distinct advantage because one person can hunt down the noise while the other drives. This is especially important because as a team driver one of you is always trying to sleep.

Hearing even the slightest persistent noise when you’re trying to sleep is akin to buying a Ford Explorer. Let me explain that. You may never notice how many there are until you start driving one. All of sudden you see them everywhere. Likewise, once you hear a noise in a truck, you’ll always notice it. You can try to ignore it, but it’s completely impossible. You may as well face the fact that until you crawl your cranky butt out of bed and find the squeak, you’re never going to get back to sleep. Once you figure out where the annoyance is coming from, it’s time to whip out the trucker’s MacGyver kit.

Just as MacGyver could make a bomb out of a stick of Juicy Fruit and a cigarette lighter, a trucker can stop any noise with whatever is at hand. Duct tape, paper clips, toothpicks, bungee cords, paper towels… you name it.

The Evil Overlord was the master MacGyverer. When a cabinet door rattled, a properly placed folded paper towel silenced it. If it was placed too high or too low on the door, the squeak persisted. Only when placed in one particular spot did the squeak quit driving us crazy.

Other times, the canned goods in the cabinets would “click” together from the road vibration. That’s when you’re glad that the cashiers at Wal-Mart think that each cup of ramen noodles deserves its own sack. All those extra plastic bags were perfect for shoving down between the cans.

The Evil Overlord brought an extra towel from home to keep one of our coolers from rubbing up against the side of the cabinet. She’s crammed everything from toothpicks to Q-Tips to small pieces of cardboard in between the plastic moldings on the interior of the bunk or on the dashboard.

Other times the MacGyvering falls to me. If the offending noise requires WD-40, duct tape, bungee cords, or tools, The Evil Overlord reluctantly sets me loose and stands clear. As a typical man, you really can’t make me any more giddy than encouraging me to jury rig something. There’s just something about the smell of a fresh roll of duct tape and WD-40.

I believe the truck designers have it out for us truckers when it comes to the drawers in these trucks. I’ve had problems with the drawers in more than half of our trucks. Either it squeaks like a frightened mouse or it won’t stay closed. We’ve managed to fix the squeaks with strategically-placed paper towels, but I’ve had to resort to bungee cords to keep the stinkin’ thing closed at times.

Naturally, if the noise is coming from the exterior of the truck and there’s even the remotest chance of sweating, that’s my job too. I’ve had to bungee the heck out of a catwalk (the walking platform behind the cab of the truck) to keep it from rattling. I’ve had to cram an old towel in between some load locks and the rear of the cab. I’ve had to pull over on the side of the road after The Evil Overlord grumpily woke up with a pigtail (the electric cable between the truck and the trailer) thumping against the rear of the cab. I’ve even had to use a big piece of folded cardboard to keep the hood from squeaking.

So if you ever need to locate and stop an annoying squeak, call a trucker. There are few things that a trucker can’t rig when given a challenge. Now if I could just figure out how to MacGyver a small bomb out of a stick of Juicy Fruit and a cigarette lighter, I’m sure I’d be up for “Uncle of the Year.”

I know you all have your own rigging stories, so let’s hear ’em. Leave a comment so we can all learn new and exciting ways to use duct tape.

Photo by striatic via Flickr

About the Author
I'm a 22-year truck driver with an interest in tech stuff. I do the Trucker Dump podcast and blog, which is all about life as a trucker. I have also written two trucking books, "Trucking Life" and "How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job."
7 comments on “TD72: Big Rig MacGyvering
  1. Lisa Nowak says:

    I’m sure my husband could swap all sorts of stories with you. It drives him nuts to hear a squeak or rattle in a car when we’re going down the road. Mostly I don’t notice them unless they’re really obnoxious or someone points them out to me.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Well, if he’s a rigging expert, we should all benefit from his knowledge. Get that guy over to the comment section and let him share his skills. 🙂

  2. I’ve heard duct tape is also an excellent baby sitter. Oh and sorry about your drawers. Sounds like a personal problem to me. 😉

    1. Todd McCann says:

      That’s an awesome use of duct tape! I guess it takes a parent to think of that. LOL

      All right, smarty pants. I guess I should’ve been more clear about my drawers. Wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was using a bungee cord as a belt! 😉

  3. rose L says:

    I so enjoy reading your articles! You are rather witty. When we used to do a lot of camping, I found bubble wrap, rubber bands, cotton balls and erasers to be helpful in various incidences. We discovered that styrofoam is NOT good to use as it squeaks worse than any original squeak!!!!
    Lisa Nowak is a friend of mine!!

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Oooooooo. Bubble wrap… the toy for boys of all ages. May have to stock up on some. 😉

  4. Stevie says:

    Hey, now, I like McGyver, he’s cool! And my favorite Mcgyvering stuff, duct tape & bungee cords!

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