After Treatment And Self Care - Overhauled S1E12

After Treatment And Self Care - Overhauled S1E12 is now on your favorite podcast app!

Want to be a guest on Overhauled? - https://www.diesellaptops.com/pages/podcast-guests

In this podcast your host Melissa Petersmann (The Diesel Queen) discusses after treatment, self care, safety on-site, and many more interesting topics in a style that only she can bring - raw and unfiltered. 

Melissa welcomes Michael Sieperda, mechanic, and business owner.

As always, thank you for watching and listening!

Connect with Michael Sieperda:

Website – https://www.facebook.com/m3servicestx/ 

Transcript for After Treatment And Self Care - Overhauled S1E12

Melissa Petersmann:

Hey guys, welcome to Overhauled with the Diesel Queen, AKA, Melissa Petersmann, which is me. I am on here today with Michael. Today we're going to cover some things about after treatment and some other fun topics. He's currently trying to start up his own business. So I would like to introduce you guys to Michael. Michael, why don't you introduce yourself, give us a little bit of a background.

Michael Sieperda:

My name is Michael Sieperda, I'm from Dublin, Texas, and that's where I'm currently trying to start my business, working on Class A trucks and using road service and building a small little shop we got and bringing in trucks. We just got a deal with a local trucking company to maintain their trucks. So we're happy about that. And given the last couple days of here, being frozen, not getting a lot of business, but it'll pick up once they can drive back to our shop. So that's good.

Melissa Petersmann:

Frozen in Texas?

Michael Sieperda:

That's amazing, ain't it? It's crazy. Two days of ice and the state shuts down.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, I've always heard that, but I've never... Obviously growing up in Wyoming and then now living in Indiana, winter's a normal thing.

Michael Sieperda:

School here, they canceled the school before it even iced over.

Melissa Petersmann:

I should have lived in Texas when I grew up. That would've been nice, unless it was 36 inches of snow and you had a drift that was blocking your doorway, you went to school, or if it was below negative 40, then you were allowed to stay home.

Michael Sieperda:

Hey, when I was a kid, we still went. These days, not so much. Everybody's afraid to wreck their cars in the ice, because everybody's forgotten how to drive on ice nowadays.

Melissa Petersmann:

Facts. All right, we talked about this before we started recording is, the whole after treatment thing. So you said that you entered the industry right when aftertreatment was coming into Class A trucks. What kind of challenges? I understand, I entered the construction right industry as this was getting big in the, obviously because they came way after for after treatment. So I want to talk to you about the challenges of having to deal with that new, because that's a lot of stuff. Even though initially, it was only IT4, interim Tier 4 stuff, and then it was final Tier 4 with the DEF. And so, I want you to dive in a little bit on how that changed your job and the challenges that came along with it.

Michael Sieperda:

All right. So I started it '07, after I'd gotten out of the military and got into a leasing company, Penske Truck Leasing. And when I got into it, of course it was '07, so they had a whole bunch of brand new trucks, if anybody knows anything about giant rental fleet business. Working with them, they got me on the ground around about all this stuff. Even though I was going to technical college, that really didn't do anything for me at the time. So I quit doing that and getting into the industry and then seeing it, how simple the '06s and '07s. You had the EGR stuff, and that was the basic of what emissions was called for. And you still had the blow by tubes, old, dripping everywhere and no one cared. It wasn't that big of a deal. If there isn't an oil slick under a Detroit, it's probably out of oil, kind of thing.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. Good old days.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, the good old days. '08 rolled around. We got our first set of, the first ones I remember being in were the Cascadias, Freightliners and '08s. And they had that pre Tier 4 system just with a DPF. And it was nice because it didn't break there in the first few hundred thousand miles, but it's when those systems started messing up and we had to sit there and run diagnostics. If you weren't familiar with the program and no one told you what to look for, you were sitting on the phone a lot with people trying to figure this stuff out. And with that particular fleet, we didn't have dealership access. So it was really hard to run through and figure it out.

The nice thing was they did give you a step by step diagnostic page to run through it and follow. And it made it work really good, made it concise, somewhat understandable, but it was just diagnosing it and watching it and figuring out was the biggest challenge to everybody. And there were a few guys that I worked with that were contemplating on quitting because of this. So it was a whole entire change of the industry, which to me was a good thing for me, because then I got to learn on the ground, right off the bat, this whole new system.

So it was really great from an education standpoint, really sucked when you went to work on it, because you didn't know what you're doing and you're breaking apart systems that you may or may not know how to do. Looking at the DPF filters, figuring out why they weren't working, and then they put the DEF on it, which made it really complicated, because then you had the knock sensors and crap like that. You're like, "What in the hell is this stuff?" And going with knocks. And the other issue was, they still had bug in the system, so it was like, "Holy Moses."

So everybody was all sorts of confused and pissed off and a lot of people didn't buy a lot of those units there in the beginning, because they were waiting. Everybody was waiting in the industry. And so, experienced mechanics in that system were even hard to come by even two or three years afterward. So it was a very complicated time. It sucked. And we were putting in to diagnose a aftertreatment system all day. It was a 24-hour thing. There was no way you're going to figure it out unless you exactly knew where the problem was.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, as us mechanics know, the first step to being able to properly diagnose something is understanding how the system works, having a very clear understanding of how it works. And especially on new things like that, where I got the luxury of going to a technical college that was actually for semis. So obviously, we covered all that aftertreatment stuff, but for people that entered the industry right as that was entering for class A trucks, that's a hard system to understand and especially when DEF came into play. There's a lot of going on in those aftertreatment systems, and if you don't fully understand how the system works', as all mechanics know, it's hard to figure out what's wrong with something if you don't know how it's supposed to run when it's not broken.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, that was the biggest thing is, when we were dealing with it and I was in the same boat as the other guys in the shop, we all started on the same foot as trying to figure this out. And it was interesting and we didn't know how the system worked, because ironically enough, every time we saw it, it was already broke. We're like, "What's it supposed to do?" We don't know what it's supposed to look like, and if you understand the premise of the idea, but even then if you had a DPF that burned through and you still couldn't figure out why it was throwing a code, because you didn't physically take it apart yet.

All of a sudden you take it apart and there was a giant hole in the middle of it. It's like, "Oh, that's the reason why. That was a big thing there in the beginning. Then you had EGR coolers that would break, like, "What? It's losing water. Okay. Just replace the EGR cooler and go down the road." Nope. If someone had did that in a previous repair and it didn't fix the DPF like they were supposed to, you would have problems and not away. And of course the blown turbos was another issue. I was like, "What do you do?"

Melissa Petersmann:

You got to replace all that shit, a lot of times.

Michael Sieperda:

The customer was pissed off, because all of a sudden now he's sitting on $10,000 worth of exhaust parts.

Melissa Petersmann:

At least.

Michael Sieperda:

It was insane. So yeah, there was a lot of people that were mad when we first got into that business, into that emission stuff and having them pay out of pocket for this crap. It was insane. And of course, everybody bitches because they didn't think it needed to be had anyway, because the engines were developed so good. They really don't need anything.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, people that live in the southern-most part of California don't like black smoke. So here we are.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, my dad was there during the '60s and '70s and he remembered what it was like before all that stuff. And that was when the emissions first round went through, back in California. So I understood reasons why it was done and I still didn't like it.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, it's interesting with diesel, because people don't think about emissions in gas vehicles, because you can't see the emissions. The only reason it's a giant, huge problem and has brought the diesel industry to the point where the new trucks and the new equipment with this, I think they're actually at Tier 5, believe it or not, which just rolled around a year ago maybe. The engines are producing, they're actually cleaning the air now. And the only reason we had to get to that extreme is because Karen doesn't like black smoke rolling out the stacks.

Michael Sieperda:

And the thing was, it wasn't the big semis that people were bothered by. It was the smaller pickups. They got smoked out, they smoked out their Mercedes-Benz and stuff.

Melissa Petersmann:

Guilty is charged. But obviously there's emissions, but diesel, from what I understand, diesel emissions just in a normal diesel engine, are way less than a gas engine.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, for the most part. And from what I understand now, and I've done the experiment before, of taking off certain pipes and running the engine without it and leaving certain things hooked up and letting the engine run. That thing hardly soots at all. It's amazing at how good they don't soot for... It's ironically enough from when I saw it, they run almost as clean as a 60 Series if not better, without the emission stuff on.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, if you think about it, the cylinder temperatures, if you have a high enough cylinder temperature, you're not going to get as much black smoke. So Isuzu had a little bit different approach with the emissions initially, because they didn't have, even their final tier 4s originally, I do not believe, had DPF and the DEF stuff. And what they did is, they played with the cylinder temperatures, because obviously if you have low cylinder temperatures, you're going to create less nocks, but you're going to have way more soot and particular matter you need to filter out.

But if you raise that cylinder temperature way up, you're going to have way less soot. But you're going to create a lot of knocks. And I know that Isuzu played with EGR coolers and they had, the last engine I worked on that was in Isuzu had six EGR coolers on it, but they were lowering those cylinder temperatures. So they had less nocks and they didn't need to run DEF. And I thought that was interesting. Obviously they can't get away with that anymore. The standards are just too tight for them to be able to get away with that, regardless of whether or not the engine had emissions.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, exactly. Which I thought was stupid, but I didn't make the rules.

Melissa Petersmann:

I had one customer with a deleted excavator that I worked on, and although the guy that deleted it had some... He probably could have done a better job programming it. That thing, it was the same thing. It didn't hardly smoke. I was out there in the work pile, because I was working on it and I had to test it, digging for 30 minutes. And it didn't puff like those old machines, that puff, just fucking roll out smoke. It didn't do that, but it is what it is. I don't think we're going to be able to convince the EPA that we don't need that.

Michael Sieperda:

And of course here recently, they got their hands slapped and a lot of people are allowed to delete their systems now, at least according to the Supreme Court. They can't enforce that rule, from what I've heard. I don't know if that's actually on the books yet or not.

Melissa Petersmann:

I heard that there's companies for diesel pickups and stuff that do deletes and do tunes and stuff like that, that are getting in trouble. I actually heard that... Yes. I was just going to bring up Diesel brothers, because they were deleting shit and they got publicly in trouble for that, which I guarantee you, if you go into their shop right now, they've got deleted shit. That's just not something they show on their TV show anymore.

Michael Sieperda:

They don't discuss it. They did discuss the EPA fund and stuff like that, and that was over a year ago, but right after that, and he wasn't the only one. There are quite a few independent companies out there, especially Arizona, Utah, all those guys, they all got in trouble. And from what I gathered on different other podcasts that I've listened to, that they got fined and all that stuff. And when that happened, a whole bunch of people complained and then that's why the EPA got their hand slapped, because everybody thought that was excessive. That was a bunch of crap, and it really didn't hurt anything. I'm hoping that's the reason why the Supreme Court said, "No, enough's enough. You've overreached."

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, if you think about it, all these new trucks getting sold, 90% of the people that buy these new trucks are never going to pay $10,000 to get that thing deleted. Honestly, most of the people that don't want to deal with emissions have what I have. They have 20 year old trucks that just don't have it in the first place. And I know that my parents bought a brand new... Oh, the fucking Nissan with the Cummins in it, because it's actually a V8. It is, it's small V8, but it's a V8, which why the fuck Cummins decided to do a V8 when the inline works so great? I would've rather seen a four cylinder in that. I would've rather seen it in line four, but it's whatever.

I don't think that people that are familiar with diesels understand the torque that you gain from having an in line six, which is a whole fricking point of having a diesel. And the V8s are better for horsepower ratings, not torque ratings, but they were talking the other day about deleting it and they're like, "Oh, we want to delete it. We want to be cool." I'm like, unless you're willing to work on that yourself or you've got a really good mechanic that can do that tune for you and can guarantee that work and work on it, you better not fucking delete that thing, because the dealership won't touch it.

Michael Sieperda:

Yep, that's exactly right. Because we had that in a semi industry, surprisingly enough. Well, it's more notorious for the south go. We had a truck come in when I worked for MHC that had been deleted down in Mexico. Well, there was no programming done.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh, Lord.

Michael Sieperda:

So they drove it from Mexico all the way up to Waco, and they got stuck and they asked us to fix it. And we're like, "Okay", thinking it's just a regular old truck. And of course we get into it, we see all the codes and stuff. We're like, "Yeah, something's wrong with the DPF. This thing's not heating up. We don't know why." So we continued to take it apart and I'm the guy working on it. I'm like, "Well, this is cool. Wow, this has been taken apart before. Huh? I wonder why that was. Oh, that's unplugged. That's not supposed to be like that. Okay, let's continue." Take it apart, and they drill holes and then it was in a Kenworth and-

Melissa Petersmann:

I'm shocked it didn't derate.

Michael Sieperda:

It did. That was the thing.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, I'm shocked it didn't derate sooner, immediately leaving the shop.

Michael Sieperda:

No, uh-huh. It gives you a little bit of time before it decides it wants to eat you. So it'll make sure you make it 300 miles away from the shop before it dies. So I take it apart and they drilled holes in the DPF. And I went, "Okay, well there's your problem. Sorry. We can't do nothing about it." We had dealt with customers before that deleted their stuff and we worked on their trucks and gave them a little bit of a deal, but we weren't allowed to touch the exhaust system. Which is fine with us, because if we have to touch it or replace anything, we got to replace everything. We got to bring it back to stock. And we told this guy, "Sorry, we can't do nothing for you. You can either pay us to throw it all in the truck and go down the road, or you can pay us to replace it all, because we can't let you leave.

We know it's an issue now. We've already put our money into it. We can either stop right now, we throw all the parts in the truck, you can drag it out of here and call it a day, or if you want it fixed, we have to replace everything. That's $10,000, $12,000 grand right". And he threw a fit, all walleye fit, and he just told us to fix. And I'm like, "Nah, dude, we have no choice. We are a dealership. We have to comply with these rules. If you went down to blow schmo down the street and have it looked at, he can do whatever he wants. Us on the other hand, we're required by rules to replace all that stuff. I can't just let you walk out."

Melissa Petersmann:

The guy with that deleted excavator tried to do the same thing. Well, similar. He was having a lot of issues with, at first it was the fan drive motor and shit, which obviously I'm going to work on that. That has nothing to do with your delete. So I fixed that and I did some AC work on it, some hydraulics shit here and there, and he kept having this... It was the turbo outlet temperature too high. Turbo outlet temperature... It was something like that. That's actually a calculated value. That is not a sensor, that is a calculated value from the after cooler temperature sensors and a couple of the EGR sensors. There's four different sensors that helped for this calculated measure. And I'm looking at it, I'm like, "Bro, one of the sensors, now I can sit here and try to diagnose three of these sensors, but you do have two of them that are intentionally unplugged because it's deleted.

So I can't diagnose this." And he's like, "Well, I don't fucking understand. I don't know why not." I'm like, "Well, first off, if it has anything to do with the sensor that is supposed to be plugged in, I can't get into your ECU. I can't reprogram your ECU. If I try to reprogram your ECU, this thing ain't leaving the shop, because it's going to immediately know that all the stuff is gone." And I'm like, "I can't. You're going to have to take this back to your tuner." And he argued with us for two months about that. And then finally he took it back to his tuner and he is like, "You were right. It fixed it." I'm like, "Yeah, I know." Unfortunately, my hands are tied with some of this stuff.

Michael Sieperda:

And that's the thing about working with a dealer and stuff like that. In working with an independent shop, dealers don't have a lot of leeway, and being an independent...

Melissa Petersmann:

We weren't even supposed to have that in the shop. We weren't even supposed to accept that as customer, but we were scraping for work, because we were having a hard time finding work. So we worked on it.

Michael Sieperda:

That was one of those things that a lot of the dealerships ran into, especially out here in Texas, because out here in Texas, we don't care about the EPA emission stuff. Certain cities, Houston, San Antonio-

Melissa Petersmann:

Wyoming doesn't care either.

Michael Sieperda:

Austin, Dallas. And we're like, "We don't care." If you live in a city, they care. But out here in the country, they don't care. Nine times out of 10, I have yet to see anybody get pulled over and smog tested.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh, yeah. Nobody in Wyoming gets smog tested. There isn't even emissions in Wyoming. The whole state just said, "Fuck that. We're not doing that."

Michael Sieperda:

When you only have a couple thousand in the state. Makes sense.

Melissa Petersmann:

Wyoming has a population of, I think between 500,000 and 600,000 people in the entire state. The city limits of Denver, Colorado are bigger than that, but that's great. That's what I love about Wyoming. Oh, and hunting is great there. Wyoming takes care of their residents. We have the constitutional carry, which Indiana does now too, but Wyoming's had it forever, is a constitutional carry. Which means it doesn't matter if it's a pistol or a rifle or whatever the case may be, you can conceal carry a loaded gun anywhere you want, besides obviously federal buildings, and it's legal as long as you are a resident of Wyoming. No emissions, no state income tax.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah. And then the lovely winters and the high winds.

Melissa Petersmann:

I had a Facebook memory pop up the other day of a couple years ago, 2020 actually, when we got 38 inches of snow in five hours, along with 60 mile an hour winds, and it blew the interstate closed. Well, it took me four days to get out of my driveway, because I lived out of town. And it took me and my neighbors four days to get out with a backhoe, and an old county plow truck, and a skid steer. But it blew the interstate closed to the point where they had to send out road graders and loaders to move the snow out of the interstate. So yeah, that was cool.

Michael Sieperda:

It's always the classic pictures of, oh, sleeping trucks in their natural environment.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh, yeah. There's a video on I80 of a state trooper that had someone pulled over, so he was sitting on the side of the road and his cam on his car watched a semi blow over. That's a normal occurrence. That happens all the time. Well, people don't listen. They don't read to the sign, theres giant signs all over the interstate that says "Close to light, high profile vehicles." And then it tells you 80 plus mile an hour winds. If you're an empty semi, that means you, bro. Shit, even trying to haul a horse trailer or something like that on those days is sketchy.

Michael Sieperda:

See box trucks are just as bad. They don't weigh as much either. We worked on those over at Penske. And I was like, "Yeah, that's insane." Those things are just scary to drive in their own right, even without wind. You get out there in 30 mile an hour winds, that's sketchy.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, I'd rather have a trailer. All right. So back to the normal topic. The emissions thing and trying to get a grip on that. Your shops, did they pay for you guys to go to training to try to learn this? Was that through your shop? Did they pay you guys to go and try and learn it? Or were you guys just thrown to the wolves and you were like, figure it out?

Michael Sieperda:

Well, in the beginning, of course, everybody was thrown to the wolves in it. And later on, a few years down the road when they started... See, there in the beginning, there really weren't training classes available, at least to independence, like Penske Truck Leasing and stuff like that. So all the dealerships were getting their people up to speed on it. And they had all their online stuff, which I joined dealership later, Rush Trucking and MHC, and they paid for my education. Penske paid for some of it to go learn about a little bit of it. Theirs is a more basic overview, while the dealership, I went through a lot of Cummins program and diagnostic, and they paid me to sit there and sit on the computer, fill out slides and take tests. And so, it wasn't really a bad deal, a good learning experience. And ironically enough, even though I've been ever since that started, it's what, 15 years later, 13 years later, and there's still a lot of people out there that still don't have a good grasp of what to do with the system.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh, yeah. Well, as you know, being a mechanic, you're constantly learning. Anybody that says they're not learning anymore, they know everything, is obviously just the lube guy. There's no way they're working on everything else. It took me even a while, even in a sense growing up into the emissions and learning it. Even then, John Deere's initial aftertreatments had lots of issues, but we started getting the new ones, and for the most part, they really didn't. The biggest issues we had were things like skid steers, that weren't ran at full capacity all the time, or with the occasion that a DPF was poisoned from coolant or oil. But for the most part, I grew up in this, and even then I'd catch myself trying to diagnose something, but you learn the hard way.

I've always known the theory behind passive region, active region, parked region, and a service region. I have always known the general basis behind all of those. And I understand how the systems work pretty well, but it is a completely different animal when you are out on a field call and you're plugged into this machine and you cannot figure out why it's not going into region. Or I actually caught myself during this is, I thought it wasn't going into region and I was sitting there watching the computer. Because John Deere doesn't have, if you click, I want to do a parked region or whatever the case may be, or a service region, it doesn't really tell you. It just says you can now disconnect the computer. Then you can choose if you want it to shut the machine off, after the region.

Because some of these regions, like a service region, can take hours, four to six hours. And I sat out on an excavator one point in time, which there was something messed up with it originally, and I fixed it. At first I didn't think I fixed it, because I'm looking at the computer and it's not doing anything and it keeps asking for a region. I'm like, "What the hell?" Well, I wasn't watching the temperatures correctly, and I didn't actually, as much as I'd spent years and years and years at this point in the classes for aftertreatment and all that stuff, I never fully understood the numbers of what I'm supposed to expect in the exhaust temperatures and stuff like that, to know that it's actually in a region. So I sat there for, obviously because service regions take forever and parked regions take forever.

I sat there for hours looking at this thing, not understanding, like, "I don't understand why it's not going into region. Why is it not going into region?" The air intake valve's not opening, the exhaust temperatures aren't getting high. What's going on? Well, I didn't actually understand that, what I was expecting these numbers to do was a parked region, not a service region, because I'm looking for... I was smart enough to try to look for it, the fuel dosing, the intake valve percentage, all this shit. None of that was happening. And I'm like, "What is going on?" Well, long story short, one of the smarter mechanics ended up figuring... Well, we had a in-house dealer assistant guy that would help with technical stuff. And I talked to him and it took him about five minutes of me reading off the numbers to tell me that, "Melissa, it's fine. It's doing a region, just leave it. It's fine."

Michael Sieperda:

Right. And that was going back to learning about this. There in the beginning, we were confused, but the guys were sitting there, old guys that I was talking to when they threatened to quit when OBD2 came out and I heard those stories. I'm like, "Eh, man, that's crazy." And of course a year later, go down the road and people were getting pissed off and threatening to quit the industry, because the emission stuff and all those computers that were being put on these trucks. Not surprising. So I got a taste of that and I just stayed in it. And after a few years of being into it, people were saying, there's no way you can lead this industry and expect to remember everything and come back into it in five years and expect to know everything.

There's no way. Back in the day you could do that, nowaday you can't. Because I left for a couple years of not seeing any of that stuff. I worked for independent companies that didn't really deal with it for a couple years, and now I'm donating it by myself. If I want to go back to a dealership, everything's changed already again. And then, even using this new diagnostic software, these laptops, that's helping me figure out all this new stuff, because I was still on the Tier 4 stuff when I learned and they were just bringing out Tier 5 when I quit working at a dealership and dealing with these newer trucks. And so, now with these newer trucks that I've got, and it's Tier 5 or higher up, whatever it is, and I'm like, "What?" All the numbers that I used to look for aren't there, it's not reading the right pressures. I'm like, "Well, why is this thing still messed up and looking fine? It passed all the tests. What the crap?"

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, now they got all kinds of things of, it's not just the differential pressure to figure out if the filter's clogged, there's differential pressure, but by the way, there's three different kinds of differential pressure. There's time based, there's fuel based, and then there's pressure based.

Michael Sieperda:

The ash load is our biggest issue. The temperatures may look right and it progresses to the system just fine, and then throw knocks on top of it. And there in the beginning when it first came out for DD 15, when you sat there and regioned the long service region, we had a region that sat out in our parking lot and did it for two days. It regioned eight hours straight. We're like, "There is something wrong." And like I said, it was that first generation with a lot of bugs in it and we're like, "What in the crap is going on?" So we did it twice and then we took apart the system. It was a new truck, it was 100,000 miles on it. We're like, "what is the deal?" Took it apart. We burned a hole through the DPF filter.

It had gotten too hot and this computer didn't kick itself out. We're like, "What the...? How is this possible?" We didn't even think that was possible, but no, sure enough it burned a hole right down the middle of it. We're like, "What the hell? This is crazy." So it's going from that kind of stuff to doing the stuff now with the DEF, DPF, SER system. And our biggest issue the other time was the crystallization in the SER system, where this big balls of death we're like, "What the crap?" And of course, it was was always the nozzle or the DPF metering valve or DEF metering valve or pump. It was just a constant aggravation of fighting, and then getting the smell of ammonia on you from that DEF stuff.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh, isn't that great?

Michael Sieperda:

Oh, you go home and just smell like it, even though you wash yourself 10 times.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, well it makes your skin feel gross. Coolant and DEF are just, in diesel fuel are... I have eczema and that's just something that those two things, I could take a bath and hydraulic oil and be fine, but DEF and fuel and coolant are just, no, thank you.

Michael Sieperda:

Well, it's always lovely when you're sitting under something and you're taking DEF lines off and that stuff runs down your arm, into your shirt and into your armpit. You're like, "Oh." Coolant, same way. You just want to change right there. Just like, "No, no, I'm done." It's just asty. And everybody says, what, asbestos back in my day, everybody says, "No, it's fine. You can pick a bath and then you'll be okay", 15 years later. 15 years from now, everybody will say that crap is bad for you and it gives you all sorts of health problems. We were all debating that there in the beginning, when they first brought it out like, "How safe is this stuff really Should we really be concerned? I don't think we want to mess with this too much."

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. Well I've watched mechanics clean their hands off with break clean. So it's like that's asking for it, do you want skin cancer? I just wear gloves, because back to how I have eczema, it's not necessarily that I mind having my hands dirty. And obviously, when it's hot and I'm sweating and I rip every single pair of gloves I try to put on, I'm over it. I'm just going to not wear gloves. But my dad has skin cancer still, he's a logger and he's worked on all his own machines for a long time and he told me he's almost 100% certain it's from working on shit and getting the oil and the grease and the dirt and the break clean and shit like that on his skin. And he's pretty sure that's why he got skin cancer. So he was on me all the time about wearing gloves. And now they're coming up with better green solutions for parts cleaner tanks and stuff like that, but it's... I don't know. You're going to die eventually.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah. That's another part of our industry that a lot of people forget about, is the health of it. There's a reason why my last job that I was at, and it was interesting point of, I've been doing it for so long and of course growing up on a dairy as a kid, being a farm kid, stuff like that. Always being around mechanics, and then getting to the age I am now, it's the things you don't think about as a kid, 20 years old, 25 years old, thinking you're all tough and invincible and stuff.

Melissa Petersmann:

Especially the men, no offense.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah. And it's come to bite me here in my later years, my health has suffered, because of my lack of proper safety in dealing with certain chemicals and even just lifting stuff continuously and repetitively. I had created a nerve injury in my neck, because I was looking up so much, sitting under a truck. And it just progressively got worse and it finally got so bad to where it pinched a nerve in my arm. I couldn't lift anything anymore. It was just so painful. This is why I swore myself when I first got into it, I'm not going to become one of those old crippled guys taking 10 medications a day just to make it to work, working on the floor. I was like, "Nah, by the time I'm 35, I better be running a shop or I'm just going to quit doing it. Uh-huh, I am not going to end up that 60 year old old guy hobbling around."

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, that's had three knee replacements and a hip replacement and back problems. And he is still wobbling around the shop.

Michael Sieperda:

And his hands are the size are freaking baseball gloves, because they were just all arthritic and stuff like that. And I'm like, "No." And after I got myself hurt and had that injury, I'm like, "Yeah, I've got to figure out something else to do." But that's the nature of the beast and our health is, if we want to continue to do it and continue to learn and make money doing this job, the number one thing that everybody even getting into it or people that are in the middle of it now, really watch yourself.

Melissa Petersmann:

Work smarter, not harder. Use the tools that are given to you, as an aide.

Michael Sieperda:

And kids, they'd use tire bars, they wouldn't use even though it was provided, they'd have a little tire dolly thing, putting tires on semis and stuff. And I started using those tools as I was getting older. I was like, "Wow, this is nice and convenient." It's irritating to have a tool, because it's bulky and in the way, but at the same time, it saves me a lot of struggle, pain, and effort. And that's what a lot of these kids nowadays need to really start focusing on and understanding, hey, yeah, you dropped something on your foot and it's sore for a while, but years later, that could come to bite you in ass, because you have may have feet problem after that. Because I've fallen off of stuff. I've lifted stuff wrong. I've thrown my back out a number of times, hit my head.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh, God, been there.

Michael Sieperda:

Hit my back on stuff, gotten electrocuted. I'm like, "Ugh." All those little things add up and make into bigger things.

Melissa Petersmann:

And they could be avoided if you're not in such a rush, or you paid more attention, or you're wearing the proper equipment. Obviously accidents happen. I've had stitches three times from being in this industry and my knees are shot, because the old guy in the shop telling me to stop jumping off the pieces of equipment. I was like, "I'll be fine." Obviously I'm not fine. I have knee issues now that even though I haven't been in the industry for seven months, still, with lifting and stuff like that, I've got knee issues and I'm pretty sure it's from not only walking on a concrete floor for 10 hours a day every day for seven years, but it was also the jumping off pieces of equipment. Little things, you don't think you're jumping off tracks that are this high. You're like, "Oh, it's fine, it's fine. They'll be fine." No, it's not fine. He was right.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah. That was the thing I was always told, "You're a young kid, you don't need to jump off stuff. Just crawl down." Well, it's faster to jump down. "Well, you're not realizing what you're doing." Okay, whatever. Yeah, years later I kept doing it and doing it. And the first time I noticed it was a problem is when I landed on my feet and my foot went numb and I pinched a nerve and almost made me buckle to my knees, because it hurt so bad and it was just irritating. And it was a Huber or something that just made my feet hurt. I was like, "Golly, what the hell?" And yep, solve a problem with good footwear. Good footwear in a shop environment is always key. Soft shoes, good shoes. Not those cheap junky ones the company tries to provide for you.

Melissa Petersmann:

If you pay under $100 for your work boots, they are not proper work boots. I spend $350 on Red Wings, because I get the good insoles, the custom insoles, and obviously... Well technically Irish Setter, because I don't like the... Yeah, but it's sold by Red Wing and I bought my first pair of those when I was in WyoTech, going on eight years ago. And I have bought the exact same pair, pretty much the exact same pair for the last seven years. And I swear by those things, it's worth it. It is so worth it.

Michael Sieperda:

It is worth it. And I wear them until there are holes in the sides before I get rid of them.

Melissa Petersmann:

Mine usually lasts a year and a half, two years. And that's with, I'm not a clean mechanic, so I'm getting oil on them all the time and I'm constantly kicking shit because they're steel toes and it's just a habit to kick shit. Yep, but I get the coating you can put over the toe of your shoes.

I started doing that after my first pair, because I wore a hole through my shoe into that steel or the composite, whatever it is. I think they were actually steel. Well, you see these guys walking around the shop with Walmart work boots and they're coming apart, the soles are fucked, it doesn't look comfortable and they're always complaining that their feet hurt. It's like, "Well yeah bro, the company pays for up to $100 or $150 for work boots. Go buy yourself a pair of good work boots." Because even if you had to pay the full $350 or $250 if you don't get the fancy insoles and the toe covering, it's worth it. That's $250, even if they only last a year, per year, that's completely worth the cost.

Michael Sieperda:

It's a year of being pain free on your feet. And that makes a giant difference, because if you're in pain all day, you don't work as efficiently.

Melissa Petersmann:

I agree.

Michael Sieperda:

And it's just not comfortable. No one wants to work all day in pain. No. And that was the same logic that I'd come to early on is that, the first two years when I was a young dumb kid having work boots, it just didn't work for me, because I always had sore feet. And I finally bit the bullet, went out and bought some decent work boots and I've been able to work on my feet for a long time, just because the decent work boots. I know when my feet start to hurt again, it's either you get a new pair of boots, a new pair of insoles.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. And my dad beat that into my head, because he buys... As a logger, you spend a lot of time on your feet. And a majority of his career was actually spent running a chainsaw by hand, so hand falling. And even when he was working in machines, he surveyed all of the timber sales and stuff that they were working on, because he had to figure out how to properly move this operation along that was the most efficient way, given the landscape. And he swore by whites, that's what he buys, his whites. And those are $400 a pair, which I'm not going to go quite that far, but he's got ones with the little spikes that you can thread into the holes in the bottom, like log spikes. And he's got a pair of summer boots that are non insulated, and then he's got a pair of winter boots that have the removable insulation stuff in it. And that's what he told me. He's like, "You need to invest in good work boots." And so, that's what I've been doing for my entire career is, I wear the almost identical pair of Irish Setters.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah. And I have the same set actually, ironically enough, and that's been my staple boot for a number of years now, is the Irish Setter Red Wings. They're on the expensive side, but I like the slip-ons. The only disadvantages is when you're welding or torching, hot ash, hot embers and slag tend to drop down the top of your boot, but it's better than burning your lace.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, Red Wing sells those leather laces now, that are fire resistant laces, which is what I like to buy, because I have the lace up ones. Women's work boots, we have three options in the whole store. You have the really, really light pair of Red Wings, which is stupid. I don't know why, I'm not going to... It's going to be stained with black patches in a day. So it's either that, then you have the short Irish Setter lace ups, or you have the tall heel. And I've been buying the tall heel lace ups for forever, and I get the toe coated and I've never actually never burned through laces. My ex that I had, had the higher boots that were lace up that were Red Wing and he'd burned through a couple laces, welding and torching, but I never did.

I never had an issue with that. I had more of an issue with getting sparks and down my shirt than I did getting them on my... I learned very quickly, I learned this cutting off a butter bar from an excavator, which anybody that knows about butter bars and excavators, usually that involves welding a cutting edge, an old cutting edge to the teeth, which is hardened steel. So it's not going to cut for shit. Hardened steel doesn't cut for shit. And the first time I tried cutting a butter bar off, I got spark shower and that's when I learned that I should button my shirt all the way up as high as it goes. And then I have a big leather welding jacket that I wear and I do that, because that sucks.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, that was the one thing. And I always tell the guys the well number one issue I'm working with dealers is, their cheap uniforms. That nylon, polyester.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yes, I agree.

Michael Sieperda:

"All right, now go over there and cut this stuff up." "Why?" "Because you need to." "I don't have a right shirt for that." "What are you talking about? Just go over and cut it up." "Yeah, if you want me to catch myself on fire."

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah.

Michael Sieperda:

Uniforms at a dealerships is cheap stuff and I've burned holes through it. I've almost caught myself on fire a few times like, "What are you doing? Why don't you supply us with better uniforms and stuff like that. You're paying us quite a bit of money, but spend some money on some decent uniforms for once." But no, they never did. All they do is provide washing [inaudible 00:49:14].

Melissa Petersmann:

Hey, it's better than washing shit in your own washer. I've done that. It turns black rapidly.

Michael Sieperda:

Yes it does. That's why I always had a spare washing machine just for my nasty clothes.

Melissa Petersmann:

I learned from my dad with his rigging pants and stuff and his work clothes. That home washer is for normal clothes and if you want to wash your other clothes, you take it to a laundry mat thing and wash it there.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, that's what we had to do quite a few times, especially when I was working in the field. Washing clothes for being a diesel mechanic. Golly, that's nasty.

Melissa Petersmann:

Hey, scrub it with Dawn dish soap and stick it in the washer and pray. That's all you can do. And then, most of the time it's permanently stained, but that's why you have work clothes that are only dedicated for that.

Michael Sieperda:

Yep, that's exactly right. And always my preferred uniform now is just an FFR welding shirt and blue jeans and I don't have an issue. I did burn a hole, because I have the slip on Irish Setters and I put my pants over the boot and burned a hole through the top of it. And so, into my pants and that hole goes right down the center of my boot. And I didn't realize it the day I was doing it. All of a sudden, my feet started getting hot and I was like, "What the? Oh man." Had to pull my boots off, because so much slag had dropped down there. I was like, "Ooh, that hurts."

Melissa Petersmann:

And by the time it gets down there, it's definitely just going to burn you and it's going to scar.

Michael Sieperda:

And you're going to be uncomfortable the rest of the day.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. Trust me. Try getting burns in your bra line, and then that's rubbing all... It's horrible. It was horrible. Like I said, I did that one time and ever since then, and every now and then I still had issues with it. But if I was going to go cut something, I would as high as I can, button that shit up.

Michael Sieperda:

It's that and the hair. It's the smelling of burning hairs is always [inaudible 00:51:28].

Melissa Petersmann:

I haven't burnt my hair. I have not ever had an issue with hair, but everybody always asks me that, because I used to have really, really long extensions and stuff like that. "I don't understand how you work. You're going to get that caught in a creeper or something." I'm like, "I've worked in this industry long enough to know how to not do that. Trust me, I'm fine." Never burnt it.

Michael Sieperda:

A recent thing, I never had my hair this long.

Melissa Petersmann:

What I did when I was welding is, I'd slick it back, which yours isn't long enough to do this, but I'd slick it back and put it in a bun. And then I'd put a welding cap on or a normal hat backwards to keep slag from falling down, and then a welding hood. Or even when I was torching, I like to use those big green face shields, and then I'd just put a hat backwards and put my hair in a bun. People don't understand that. They see that I have one picture that I have my fucking hair in a long ponytail. I'm like, "You realize I'm not stupid. If I'm in a creeper, I'm going to tuck my hair in my bra strap or something or put it up better." Or if I'm welding or torching, obviously I'm not going to be torching with a giant long ponytail in front of what I'm trying to torch. I'm not that stupid. I'm an idiot sometimes, but I'm not that stupid.

Michael Sieperda:

See, with me, it was always, I was sitting under a truck and I never had any of the face shield stuff or anything like that. I lived dangerously, and I'd be under a truck and you hit those air pockets cutting welds and stuff and it just [inaudible 00:53:02].

Melissa Petersmann:

But it pops. Yeah, I hate that.

Michael Sieperda:

And all that crap goes, and you're sitting under it and it blows up in your face and all of a sudden I feel every... I smell first and then I feel, "Oh crap, my hair is starting to catch", and my beard would be half burnt to crap and top of my head, it'd be a little bit burnt. But of course it was shorter than. And I was trying to put myself out and make sure I didn't catch myself on fire. And of course, then you got to live with a burnt hair smell the whole day.

Melissa Petersmann:

Have you ever used a thermal lance or an air arc?

Michael Sieperda:

No. Uh-huh, I have yet to have that level experience, because everybody I worked for was too cheap to buy them.

Melissa Petersmann:

So if you're working on semi's, it's probably not as common to use, but thermal lances were used for pins, for gouging out the center of pins. And what a thermal lance does and how it works is, you hook it to a battery for electricity, and then you hook up an oxygen bottle to it and it's got this big long copper looking electrode thing that you put into a gun, just like an arc welder looking thing. Only it's got oxygen that goes through it. It's like a gun, and you strike it on a ground, which obviously the positive is hooked to your thermal lance. The negative is hooked to whatever you're trying to lance out. And the first time I did this, I had an old welder guy at the first shop I worked at teach me and he gives me this big leather jacket, cow hide, straight up leather jacket thing.

And he says, "Okay, you need to put this on." I'm like, "This feels a little excessive. I know how to use a torch and a welder, I'll be fine." He's like, "No, you need this." And he made me put a big blanket over the windshield of the grater that I was working on and he's like, "All right, strike it and then just drive it through." I'm like, "I got this, it'll be fine." Well, I struck that arc and I started shoving that into the pin. And what I was not prepared for, was the lava that comes out of the center, because it blows, there's nowhere for it to go because you're driving into a pin, it blows right back in your face. I'm like, "I am so glad I listened to him and have the leather their jacket on right now."

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I've blown pins out with regular torches. That sucks.

Melissa Petersmann:

That sucks. That takes forever.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah. And then, cutting freaking that one inch steel, 3/4 steel with just a regular torch and trying to find the biggest tip possible and turning up all your bottles and trying to get it just clean. I'm like, "Ahh." That was so painful doing that in the field, because that's all we had. You're supposed to weld pieces of equipment together, and that was one company I had a lot of welding done that I worked on a lot of welding, was a power line company. And they had a Watson drill rig that had a 10-foot auger on it, with reamer bars on it. And I had to build boxes for the reamer bars, for this auger, so they could get just a little bit more out of it. And that was a lot of cutting with one inch steel, a lot of welding with it. And by any means, I am not an expert at any of that stuff. I'm not a welder by trade or anything. So I cobbled it together good enough. And as far as I know, all that stuff that I welded is still there.

Melissa Petersmann:

I wouldn't claim to be a professional welder either, but I can do enough to get my job done. The last welding job I did was for the last shop I worked at, I had a excavator that... Typical sales job. They're like, "You need to put this thumb on this excavator." It's like, "Well, this thumb's not even for this excavator." So instead of getting the right thumb, we cut the pin bosses off of this thumb and had them relocated to center them right, and then you had to weld them, which we didn't cut them off. We had a company air arc that off, and then I welded it. And so, I had to run root passes obviously, I did root pass with dual shield. Because you can get it really hot, we had really thick gauge wire for our MIG welder for the dual shield.

So I did the root passes, unfortunately I did not get to do the cover passes, but that was a learning experience, because that metal was really fucking thick like you're saying. And you got to preheat it and if you don't preheat it right, can't really be too hot or too cold and it's got to be even. The preheating, to get those welds to really penetrate, was a challenge. But I got it. I did it and as far as I know, everything I've ever welded as far as I still know, is good. The most proud moment I've ever had of welding. And this is going to be stupid, because it's such a stupidly small thing is, the first shop I worked at, we were an 870 bucket cylinder, which for those of you that do not know what an 870 is, an 870G excavator is an 87 metric 10 excavator.

So it's pretty big, big motherfucker. And we had a bucket cylinder and it had a nut on that piston that was this big. And we took it off, it was loose, I believe, because we've had issues like that with excavators, where the nut is not actually tight and it'll sit there and vibrate and it'll actually completely fuck up all the threads. This one I don't think got to that point. I don't remember the whole story about how we got it apart, but what I do remember is putting it back together and I had to weld a socket for this thing out of flat stock to hydraulically torque that nut, which is 15,000 foot pounds, by the way, some insane number.

I think it was 15,000 foot pounds is what it was supposed to be torque to, which ended up being in the thousands of the PSI rating that you were supposed to, because obviously it goes by PSI when you're twerking hydraulically. And I welded a socket together and me and my boss at the time, actually Troy, who's been on this podcast, we welded that together. Well, I welded it and that torqued the nut to 15,000 and it didn't break. And I was so proud of that. I'm like, "If that's not a tensile strength test of your welds, I don't know what is." Because we were running the hydraulic cylinder with a remote, standing as far away from this thing as possible, because we did not have high expectations of that.

Michael Sieperda:

Of course. And that works and we had to do the same. I had to fix, I had to... This last job working on a truck, we had to repair a cracked frame on a truck and everybody's all sorts of worried, "Oh, we got to do this, got to do this." And it wasn't as complicated as we made it out to be. But doing that pre-heating, welding thick stuff, insane amount of time to take them.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, especially with frame rails too, because you can't just run a single bead. You got to do it in pieces or you'll warp it.

Michael Sieperda:

And that's where my brother would come in very handy. He was a professional welder by trade and did it for almost 20 years now. And he did anywhere from building buildings to working pipelines. So this guy knew how to weld. And so, we had him come out there and do it. I watched him do it and I was like, "Yeah, that's..." From what I was taught, it was all the same thing. He taught me how to do it, I just don't have the technique down. So he did it and it looks fine, as far as I know so far, that truck's still going on the road.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, we learned frame rail modifications. Not a of lot of people know this, but when I was in chassis fab, I took motor sports... When I was in WyoTech I took motorsports and chassis fabrication as an elective, because it had MIG welding and plasma cutting and TIG welding. Actually I can TIG weld. And that was one of the things we learned with frame rail modifications, because there's a whole way of doing it. You can't just cut it in half and weld it back together. You got to do fish mouths and you got to do cover plates to do it right, and there's a certain way you need to cut it apart to make sure it's the strongest. And then obviously like we just covered, you can't just weld it all in one go or you run a risk of warping it. So you got to run a little bit, let it cool and then run a little bit and let it cool. Yeah. That was interesting.

Michael Sieperda:

You have to dig your cool and the heat up cycles, so it won't twist when you get everything together. All the different things you learn in the mechanic industry is amazing. It is in its own right, a jack of all trades and we work with diesel engines for the most part. There's everything that goes into it. Ag industry, you have a whole lot more hydraulics. Trucks, it's a lot of road safety, a lot of rules and regulations you have to follow and safety deals and a lot of torque specs you got to deal with and keeping engines together just like anything. But our main thing is just safety on the road and high speed, which for automotive and class A trucks, it seems easy, but sometimes it's really not.

Melissa Petersmann:

The dealership that I worked at, they were also a dealership for Grove and Manitowoc cranes and I've actually certified to inspect cranes. But those are the same way, with the safety aspect of them, because when you're running a crane like that and you're lifting heavy components, you got to make sure everything is functioning correctly and you know what you're doing, because you will kill people if it's not right. Same thing with over the road trucks, that thing gets out of control or it wrecks or something happens, good possibility you might kill someone.

Michael Sieperda:

Well, not only kills someone, but kill a lot of other people in the process. It's more along the lines of ruining other equipment in this process. It's one thing when you destroy just one piece of equipment, it's the other equipment that gets hurt and other people that get hurt. I've worked on cranes, Groves and the Manitowocs, truck mounts and just regular runaround-

Melissa Petersmann:

Nationals.

Michael Sieperda:

Old Grove... Yeah, Nationals and stuff like that. And we had a Old Drove from a '72.

Melissa Petersmann:

Oh Jesus.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, I had two of them. These things were ancient, an 80 ton and a 60 ton and they blew up the engine in one of them, had to replace it. That was an interesting ordeal, because I had never worked on cranes before. So that was a fresh, interesting start for me. And replaced that, and then all the safety mechanisms, the wiring. It was Basic as anything, but it was still complicated, because there's just wires everywhere. And of course, with all equipment, you have everybody else's repairs in there, jumping around safety things and stuff like that. And you're like, "Holy Moses it's amazing somebody even inspected this stuff to make it pass."

Melissa Petersmann:

I was always super anal about my inspections and I had a couple customers, like United Rentals, that I knew the shop manager and I knew if I put something down as a recommendation and not a deficiency, he would fix it. The only time I put something down as a deficiency is if it was a major, major problem. But for normal customers that I didn't trust or I didn't know, I would put deficiencies down and they'd get mad and they'd cry and whine. I'm like, "Dude, I'm not going to be responsible for this crane killing someone or hurting someone. Spool your goddamn wire right." Make sure your cable's spooling correctly. The worst people about that are freaking service truck guys. They don't care. They don't pay attention. They got a bird's nest back there. I'm like, "That is asking for a problem."

Michael Sieperda:

Oh yeah, I know. I've run a couple cranes in my service trucks before. And oh, when you first get it from somebody else that had no idea what they were doing, they're like, "Oh, what the crap." So what's even worse is, that they don't know what the trips are for their safeties and can't reset it. And I've run it, and then you have the ones that are just broken and no one knows how to fix it. Especially the little wireless remote ones. I've gotten a lot of used stuff out of that and nine times out of 10 and the wireless remote was broke, because those guys would get off and throw it, because it wasn't working. I'm like, "Why throw it?" "Oh, because it's already broke." "No, you probably just broke it worse." No, that's why I never got into that crane thing. I didn't do heavy equipment, I just stuck to class A trucks. I was like, "Eh, that's a little too risky for me because I'm not exactly a very safe person anyway. I'm probably not the best person to be inspecting this stuff."

Melissa Petersmann:

I don't know. I've always been anal like that with things. I made a TikTok that actually went viral, close to viral about this exact problem was, I'm anal, right? So when I inspect something, I inspect it fully and I write everything down and I will turn it in, and then I will sit at my computer and be like, "I really don't want to do half the shit on that list." But I wrote it down. So then you have this internal battle of, should I have even written it down? Do I want really want to fix this? But I'm like, "If I don't write this shit down, I'm not going to sleep at night."

So I'd rather just suffer through these repairs that I don't want to do, because this customer doesn't approve it, then that's on them. It's their fault. I don't want it to be on me that's something... And that's even down to just inspecting loaders and stuff like that. I was super anal about stuff like that. Well, do you have anything... Yeah, I'm glad we got to cover the safety stuff a little bit. That's a topic that I haven't really covered much, but is there anything else you'd like to add about safety or aftertreatment systems and diagnostics or any of that stuff? Is there anything you'd like to cover or add before we wrap this up?

Michael Sieperda:

The one thing I always made sure I didn't have when I was married, I had a wedding ring on and I always made sure and took that stupid thing off.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah, don't wear wear wedding rings.

Michael Sieperda:

Just don't wear necklaces.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yeah. No jewelry at all.

Michael Sieperda:

No jewelry at all. No. I was never one of those, because I was just asking to get hurt.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, even though they make ceramic wedding rings and even that, the only ring that I could get behind people wearing in a shop is just those rubber ones, because that's not going to hurt anything. If it gets caught, it's just going to fucking stretch and rip off. It's not going to crush. Yeah, it's $10 and it's not fancy, but if I insisting on wearing a ring at work, that's probably your best bet.

Michael Sieperda:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, that was my big thing.

Melissa Petersmann:

I've watched people and heard horror stories of wedding ring issues.

Michael Sieperda:

Oh yeah, I've heard it my whole life, seen pictures. In the military, they gave a demonstration of what it does, a lot of safety classes that I took over my years of doing this. It always seems to be the same picture, the same guy getting his ring finger ripped off. It is not one of those things, if you got a weak stomach, don't go looking for it. Because a lot of people get hurt from stupid simple stuff like that.

Melissa Petersmann:

Agreed.

Michael Sieperda:

As much as we don't like some of the policies they put in place, it is there for a reason and we should be following that. As for as lax as I am and not serious about it, it is still serious. And a lot of the people out there that are watching this should take that to consideration. Like, hey, it could be be you one day, sitting under a truck and your your cheap Harbor Freight jack stands decide they want a crap on you and, oops.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. Well it's down to things like, if you're trying to lift something, don't use a strap that's already almost cut in half. I've seen guys do that. They're over there trying to lift boom sections in a fricking National with a strap that's half cut the way through. I'm like, "Are you asking?" But this particular person just was like, he was just didn't give a shit. He thought he was invincible. I watched him do that. I watched him drop half of a loader when he was trying to split it, onto the ground, while he was underneath it. He's fucking lucky that didn't actually get him.

And he had a wife and kids at home. Dude, I understand certain things, maybe not following everything to a tee, but when it comes to lifting and doing big work and being under these big machines, that's shit that can kill you in an instant. You get something in your eye, it might suck. Worst case you lose an eye, but it's not going to kill you. This other shit you're doing's going to fucking kill you. And we don't want to be the ones to have to call your family members and tell them that you died at work.

Michael Sieperda:

And that was one of those things I did experience, as a couple of friends of mine did die while we were on work. We were out in the field and an accident happened, because of lack of safety and lack of, I wouldn't say proper training. It was a situational awareness is what did it. And the bad thing was is these guys were warned about this stuff. It's one thing when no one tells you, but it's a completely different thing when you ignore the rules in the first place. And I lost a couple friends and they got overconfident. They were in a hurry. And that's the other thing in our industry that we have to worry about. Along with, I had a guy I was working with, he was his kid, you knew he didn't hardly know anything. This guy could barely change tire for as good as he was.

And prime example of that being, he did use a jack stand. He did everything right. The problem is, he put it in the wrong spot. The jack slipped and someone was standing next to the truck when it slipped and it hit the ground. It had the front tire off but the jack popped out, because he didn't set it right. It popped out from under the truck and it, wham, hit the ground and it was right there in front of the boss's office and everything. You're like, "What the crap." No one got written up for it, because he did use it. He didn't position it right. It was a firm warning of, don't be doing that shit again.

Melissa Petersmann:

Well, you got to think about shit, even down to things like loaders. You're trying to split it, there's articulation in that rear end and the second you undo the front half of that loader, that's solid axle. That has the possibility of... So you got to block it up. And I've seen people not block that up and it's sketchy when those things start tipping, or taking axles out. Make sure you use the right jack stand to put them in the right spot, because them loaders, the back of them are angled. So a lot of people want to try to put it on that angle, because when it gets flat, is really far. So it seems like it might tip. So what I learned is, you put two big ones underneath the flat part, and then way up top where usually there's a toe hook or something or the counterweight is flat.

Put one tall jack stand underneath that to keep it from... I'd rather use too many jack stands than not enough. But I've seen guys try to use two really tall jack stands that are ehh... Rated for the size of the loader underneath that back of that counterweight that's only that wide. And that's so not safe. That is so horrible, because you got to be underneath the machine to take the axle off. And to undo all that, you got to be underneath the machine and you're going to be tugging on it. Because we had a big giant spreader bar to take these axles out and it's spread across the top. You would lower it down or you would pick it all the way up and you would use big long loop straps to hook around the axles.

And then that's how we did it, at least. Big long loop straps around the axle and you would pull it up or lift it up close to tie it against the frame. So obviously, when you undo the bolts it doesn't just fucking come crashing down. And I usually use the floor jack underneath there, like a transmission jack to keep it from doing this number, because it's got the oscillation deal on it and then it's got the front yolk, which is heavy. I just use that to balance it. But that tug in on that axle, with the crane and getting the bolts out and stuff. The last thing you want is that to be hardly on a jack stand, because if that whole machine drops and you have that whole weight of the machine on them straps and that crane, you're going to fucking break it, it's going to be a bad day.

Michael Sieperda:

That stress load on those straps doesn't do it any favors.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep.

Michael Sieperda:

That was one thing, I worked for the local guy, he did heavy equipment and he was talking to me about a kid that made a mistake in his shop. And it was the belly pan on a dozer and you know how heavy those things are. And that's just the plate itself. That's not including all the crap that's on it.

Melissa Petersmann:

... On that freaking thick. And then he got this much dirt and dust under there, packed in there.

Michael Sieperda:

And he had a kid in there and he said, "Go ahead and take off that belly pen, use the jacks and jack stands and stuff like that and we'll take it down." "Oh no, I don't need all that. I'll just..." Do you realize how heavy that is? And he told the kid, "No. Uh-huh, freaking watch it." And he went under there, helped him take this belly pan off. He said there's over a foot, two, three foot of dirt on top of this thing. It just doubled if not tripled the weight to that plate.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. A plate that's already 500 pounds to begin with.

Michael Sieperda:

And you had to be careful about which jacks you're using, because the instant you think you have it cleared and you think you got it up and you go break that thing loose, that Jack might let go if it's not a big enough jack to hold it up.

Melissa Petersmann:

Or them transmission jacks are only rated for a certain amount and I like to use those for those things, because they got the big, wide plate. And the reason I don't remove axles with just those, which I've seen people do, is because the weight rating, I've washed, especially on used jacks. I obviously have it hooked to the crane and I'll lower it and I'll try and lower everything at once to keep it from tipping. Front axles, you don't have to worry about any of that, but rear axles you do. And I have dropped the crane too much and watched that transmission jack lower under the relief bypass. And if you were just using that jack stand or that transmission jack, if you were just using that and you let those bolts go, it would've dropped to the ground. It would've crushed you. But people don't like to pay attention to weight ratings on stuff.

Michael Sieperda:

No, uh-huh. And that's part of that safety thing, understanding the equipment you have in your own building and how much it actually can do. And if you're not paying attention, it can hurt you. And there's been a few close calls with me and it's always a fresh reminder, and nice reminder of your mortality when you have a close call like that and you're like, "Ugh, yeah, maybe I should be paying a little bit more attention. I noticed I was getting a little lax on that." Because when something bad happens, next time, you may not be so lucky.

Melissa Petersmann:

Yep. All it takes is one time, all it takes is one fuck up.

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