PITTSFIELD — Town officials were hoping that its 2004 Sterling waste transporter truck would last a dozen years without any major repairs. Unfortunately, the goal fell a few years short.

The Pittsfield Town Council learned Tuesday night that the vehicle needs about $7,500 in repairs following an unusual mechanical failure last month.

Don Chute, the town’s recycling coordinator, said that the driver called him after the truck made a strange noise “and then didn’t move. I saw a trail of oil behind it, and that’s never good.”

Upon inspection, Chute discovered that the drive yoke had pulled out of the rear end. So they made arrangements to have the truck towed to Whited Ford in Bangor, where the vehicle is serviced. Chute said that the service manager at Whited originally thought that the truck only needed a new yoke and pin.

“But when they called me up there, they took the axle pan off and there were all kinds of little metal parts in it,” Chute said.

Chute recommended that the council authorize spending up to $7,500 for a new rear end and differential. Although the engine has 230,000 miles on it, Chute said that it should be good for 400,000.

“Those diesels are tough, and we take a lot of pride in that truck. The oil and filter is changed every 10,000 miles. It pulls a lot of weight around,” said Chute.

The town’s maintenance account has $92,000 in it, so it won’t require a money transfer, according to Town Manager Kathryn Ruth. The only major inconvenience was hiring a contractor to take the town’s waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Center while the vehicle was down.

The Town Council also approved some planned expenditures at Tuesday night’s meeting, including purchase of a 2013 police cruiser from Quirk Ford of Augusta for $22,659. This includes a $3,477 trade-in allowance for a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria with 136,000 miles on it, Ruth said.

Ford has replaced the Crown Victoria cruiser with the Ford sedan Police Interceptor model. Councilor Chris Carr, a Maine state trooper, described the vehicle as “a Taurus on steroids. It has heavy-duty suspension and all-wheel drive, which is good for (patrolling) around here.”

Councilors also unanimously approved a letter drafted by Ruth to Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt urging the agency to add Somerset Avenue to its 2014-15 work plan.

Ruth also pointed out in her letter that Pittsfield is the home of several major corporations such as Cianbro, UTC Fire and Security, C.M. Almy and Walpole Woodworking. “With many partners, customers and owners coming into town to visit and conduct business at these locations, the impression is not positive,” Ruth wrote.

The town manager added that the road has deteriorated to the point “where it has become an obstacle course with people driving all over the travel lane to avoid the worst spots.”


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