BROWNSVILLE, Texas — If you’re transporting something as big as an M109 Howitzer (a tank mounted with a huge gun), it helps to have a sense of humor, oversize load hauler and author Doug Cannon has found.
When asked by a Canadian what he was “going to do with that gun,” as Cannon was hauling the mammoth piece of equipment to an Air Force base in Limestone, Me., to be refurbished, he didn’t bat an eye.
“We’re going to set it up in Maine and shoot shells into Canada,” Cannon said, never cracking a smile. He promptly got cussed out, Canadian style.
In Cannon’s line of work, even more important than having a good sense of humor is having the right data on what load is permitted where, which routes to take, what time of day one can transport an oversize load, what constitutes an oversize load, whether a flag vehicle is needed and so on.
“Every state is different, that’s why I put this book out,” he said. “Truckers can use this to plan their routes and their trips.”
Cannon got tired of the lack of useful data in the oversize permit books that were on the market so he decided to compile his own.
About three years ago he started collecting information from every state in order to come up with valuable but easy-to-understand oversize load permit and regulation data and the “OVERSIZE LOAD Oversize Reference Book” was born.
In it he gives the number to call for each state’s permit department, times of day that oversized loads are permitted to travel, city curfews that must be obeyed, allowed axle weights, when an escort is needed, how long the permit is good for and more.
If he meets a trucker who tells him there’s a new updated regulation somewhere, Cannon checks it out.
It was slow going at first for the 54-year-old trucker to get the book to its intended audience.
Out of the first 1,000 “Oversize Load” books printed Cannon sold only 300 and had to throw 700 away. “My wife Rosa could have killed me,” he said. The second year he sold 1,200. That was more like it.
Rosa does all the computer work for the books, which now are selling well and available at various truck stops around the country including all the Iowa 80 Truckstops, one facility which “gave me my break” in getting the booklet before truckers, Cannon told The Trucker recently.
The other was Speedy’s near the New Mexico state line.
Just keeping up with updates to the book is a job in itself, and now, with the economy still somewhat sluggish, Cannon has added ad salesman to his data collection and heavy hauling jobs. He said the ads are necessary to help pay for updating and publishing the now 132-page book.
“This is a lot of work,” he said.
Of course an oversize load hauler is used to grindingly hard work, and Cannon’s sense of humor brings some much-needed relief.
While hauling a huge windmill tube tower a gullible motorist asked Cannon: “What is that?”
“That’s a new subway for bringing the bullet to Japan” he said, adding that the person actually “believed me. People are so gullible they will believe anything.”
At one point, he was hauling an A-7 aircraft wrapped in white storage tape and heard a four-wheeler exclaim: “Oh my God, it’s the Space Shuttle.”
Cannon just scratches his head in disbelief and keeps on trucking. It’s all he’s ever wanted to do. He’s been a trucker for 30 years and for 25 of those he’s hauled oversized loads because he finds the work both “challenging and interesting.”
He’s hauled nose cones for the Atlas rocket system, stretch loads up to 17 feet tall and 120 feet long, a restored, WWII Sherman tank, fire trucks, and myriads other oversized contraptions and pieces of equipment.
He estimates he’s probably traveled 3 million miles by now “and every day,” he says, “I thank God that I’ve alive, that I get to haul oversize loads and for my book.”
They sell for $13.95 each and if ordering them add $2 for shipping and handling.
They’re being sold at all Iowa 80s, Bosselman’s, Sapp Brothers “and independent truck stops,” said Cannon.
His website is www.oversizereferencebook.com. Or, write him at: D.R. Cannon, P.O. Box 8164, Brownsville, TX 78526-8164.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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