Sunday, day twelve, was a day off and I went home.  That was great seeing family, having a couple of home cooked meals, sleeping in my own bed.  All good stuff.

Today we started shifting.  “Dry shifting.”  That means no accelerator, at least not when the clutch is engaged.  We shifted up one gear at a time from second to sixth and then back down.  The trucks are 10 speeds, five in the low range and five in the high range.  Those ranges are simply RPMs.  Once on the road we will be in 10th gear at about 45 MPH.  You also have to do a crazy thing called “double clutching.” Unlike in a car or light truck where you push the clutch pedal to the floor and move the shifter from one gear to another we only push the clutch in about half way, then shift out of gear to neutral.  Now release the clutch and then push it half way in again and shift in to gear.  That is while working up the gears.  In addition when you want to go from fifth to sixth you flip the range selector switch from low to high.  While there are 10 forward gears and two reverse there are only six positions in the shift pattern.  The selector lever is what changes you from low to high range and back.  Kind of like a 10 speed bike. The only time you push the clutch all the way to the floor is to put it in gear from a dead stop and that is in order to bring the engine gear to a stop so it can the line up with the drive gear.  It takes about five seconds from the time you push the clutch pedal to the ground until you can shift in to gear.

Down shifting has some additional things to remember.  After you shift to neutral you have to rev the engine up about 400 RPM and then clutch and shift into gear after releasing the accelerator pedal.  If you have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time this will be challenging.  In particular sixth down to fifth as you have to flip the switch, clutch half way, shift to neutral, let the clutch out, rev the engine 400 RPM, let the accelerator go, clutch down half way and simultaneously shift in to fifth.  Got that? You also can’t skip gears on the way down

The day did go by a lot faster as there were two to a tractor so we spent a lot of time driving and of course doing new stuff helped.  Part of the range intersects with a functioning truck lot so we also had to be aware of other vehicles passing through and make way for them.