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  • They're mega pit stops,

  • and a home away from home for heavy haulers.

  • Offering everything from automated showers [shower #5 is now ready]

  • to a treasure trove of chrome,

  • to your very own electrified parking space,

  • massive scales,

  • inspections on the fly,

  • and revolutionary fuel

  • that'll get you on the road again.

  • Well, the truckers tell me they do get better gas mileage.

  • Buckle up. It's time to get trucking.

  • Now: Truck Stops, on Modern Marvels.

  • Trucks ...

  • each year in the United States, they travel over 1.5 trillion() miles,

  • hauling more than 11 billion tons of freight.

  • That's more than 9 trillion dollars worth of cargo.

  • Any product that you buy in a store, it got to that location by a truck.

  • What I always go by is

  • Without trucks, America stops.

  • Just as trucks keep America moving,

  • an army of more than 3 million men and women keep the trucks rolling.

  • These weary road warriors spend weeks hooked up in a cab.

  • But they have an oasis on the road,

  • the truck stop.

  • We have some place to park, a place to eat,

  • do laundry, take shower, uh...

  • There are some things 'side sitting here holding a steering wheel.

  • When the normal person goes home from their day of work,

  • they like to sit on their easy chair and relax.

  • Well, that's what truck stops offer the drivers.

  • Drivers can really kick up their feet at the Iowa 80 trucks stop in Walcott, IA.

  • Built as the world's largest truck stop,

  • It plays host to more than 5,000 truckers everyday.

  • Iowa 80 sprawls across 225 acres,

  • 4 times the area covered by the average truck stop.

  • That's two-and-a-half times the size of Disney Land.

  • There are now parking spaces here for 800 rigs.

  • and the main building spends more than 70,000 square feet.

  • The fuel center alone is double the size of most truck stops.

  • It can dispense diesel to 15 big rigs at once around the clock.

  • Now it's time to fuel a truck

  • Do it the same way you do, when you gash(?) your card up.

  • We enter the truck number,

  • the mileage,

  • and the driver ID.

  • This authorizes the prompt, so that they know who's using it.

  • Then you simply turn on the prompt, open up your tank,

  • and put your nozzle in.

  • But we as truckers have one more thing we can do. Let me show you the trick.

  • Most trucks have 2 fuel tanks.

  • So when it comes time to fuel the other side,

  • we come over and use another pump.

  • These dual dispensers can fuel both tanks simultaneously.

  • One dispenser is a master unit.

  • That controls the fueling and records the sale.

  • The fuel flows from the underground tank to a metering system in the master dispenser

  • and then onto both nozzles.

  • A pipe from the master unit carries the fuel underground to the other dispenser,

  • called the satellite unit.

  • Took 167 gallons,

  • about $440 worth.

  • Fuel is expensive, but without fuel these trucks are not going to move.

  • This lasts me probably 1,200 miles. So I probably won't need a fuel

  • for probably another 24 to 36 hours.

  • Before dual sided pumps became an industry standard in the late 1980s,

  • fueling the passenger side tank was anything but a gas.

  • We had to take the hose and throw it underneath the truck.

  • It'd sometimes get full of dirt, so we'd have to clean the dirt out.

  • Now that we have 2 pumps.

  • it goes so much faster and so much cleaner too.

  • After drivers fill up at Iowa 80,

  • they could head over to the Truckomat.

  • It's just a spot for big rigs that need big bathes.

  • [--Truck & trailer wash? --Truck & trailer. --All right]

  • The truck wash uses a combination of manpower and machine power.

  • We hand scrub the rigs because it's the more traditional way of doing it

  • but the size of the trailer has to be scrubbed

  • and if we did by hand it would take 20 minutes probably.

  • So we fabricated this machine to do that for us.

  • The brush comes out with

  • air power and spins on both sides of the trailers.

  • As the machine's going, we don't have to do anything. We're just doing our job

  • and the machine will do its job. And

  • that's it.

  • Washers even clean under the hood.

  • Wielding a high-pressure wand,

  • it sprays more than 1,500 pounds per square inch of water.

  • That's 50 times stronger than the average garden hose.

  • It's 180 degree water; It takes off all the grime,

  • and dissolves the oil and whatnot that collects on the engine.

  • And I'll often find oil leaks and other fluid leaks they might have.

  • After less than15 minutes of scrubbing leaves the rig squeaky clean,

  • the truck driver finds a parking spot to let it air dry.

  • Iowa 80 has come a long way since it opened in 1964.

  • Bill Moon, original manager for Standard Oil,

  • selected the site for his company.

  • It was strategically located along the emerging Interstate 80.

  • I-80 was stretched from San Francisco almost 3,000 miles east across the country

  • to become one of America's first interstate routes,

  • a critical artery spanning all the way to New York City.

  • When Iowa 80 opened however,

  • traffic was light and so was the demand for truck stops.

  • When we started out, we had maybe 2 gas pumps and about 3 diesel pumps,

  • and we had a small store.

  • And parking for maybe 8 or 10 trucks. And that was it.

  • In 1984, Moon purchased the truck stop from the oil company.

  • Under his management, the site flourished. and innovated.

  • You know, in here is one of the best things I've ever found in a truck stop.

  • It's a trucker store.

  • This 30,000-square-foot showroom is the trucking industry's Bloomingdale's.

  • stocked with chrome,

  • stainless steel and more lights than the biggest strip.

  • As we do our yards, as we fix our houses, fix our house up,

  • truck drivers feel that way about their trucks. They're in them all year round,

  • and they want to make 'em look nice

  • The showroom features a wall 20 feet tall and 40 feet wide.

  • displaying 500 illuminated LED lights.

  • Although safety regulations dictate

  • that every tractor trailer be equipped with at least 22 lights,

  • many truckers like to light up their rigs like Christmas trees.

  • And if they're shopping for a different kind of dazzle,

  • 3 decked-out semis flaunt the truckers' delight.

  • Chrome, the protective shiny metal that makes rigs glisten in the sun.

  • We've added a lot of chrome accessories to these show trucks.

  • They have full fenders to a step, 6 inch stacks.

  • And of course, the custom front bumper.

  • Chrome is slang for chromium,

  • a highly reflective blue-white metal resistant to tarnish and corrosion

  • It's added to other metals like aluminum to form a protective and attractive covering

  • through a process called electroplating.

  • First, the aluminum part is wired to the negative pole of a battery,

  • and chromium to the positive pole.

  • Next, both metals are immersed in a solution of chromic and sulphuric acid

  • to permit the flow of electricity

  • Since the aluminum is negatively charged,

  • it attracts the positively charged Chromium.

  • Automakers in the 1950s

  • began using chrome to produce cars with a flashy appeal.

  • Soaring tail fins and grinning wide mouth grills lined the highways,

  • and chrome became a household word.

  • Today chrome has taken a back seat in passenger car design,

  • but modern big rigs carry on its glistening legacy.

  • After dishing out their dough on a sparkling chrome accessory,

  • drivers can retire to the truckers' area.

  • It's home to 23 private shower rooms

  • a driver's den, a 60-seat, Dolby Surround Sound movie theater,

  • and a barbershop.

  • There's even a dentist.

  • If there is such a thing called an emergency room of dental care,

  • this would be it.

  • I'm usually the truck driver's best friend,

  • because I am taking them out of pain.

  • Although perks like a dentist and a barber

  • may entice a driver to pull into this mega pit stop,

  • a home-cooked meal can really draw a crowd.

  • The restaurant's the heartbeat of the truck stop.

  • Drivers like comfort food, and they like large portions,

  • and they want to feel like they're getting a lot for their money.

  • The Iowa 80 kitchen restaurant serves more than a million cups of coffee,

  • two million eggs,

  • and 90 tons of, meat each year.

  • When you can find a truck stop that's got homemade food, boy, you live for that.

  • I'm going to live high on the hog today.

  • This type of road side pit stop dates back to the 1920s.

  • As cars and trucks began dominating America's roads,

  • the original mom and pop truck stops sprouted up.

  • They catered to truck drivers by providing just the basics--

  • food, fuel and a mattress.

  • They'd have bunk rooms,

  • basically a spare room in the back of the station

  • where people would be pretty crammed in.

  • But it was a place to rest for the night.

  • The trucking industry had gotten a jump start during World War I,

  • fueled by America's need for efficient transport.

  • As military traffic clogged the nation's rail lines,

  • trucks started to crowd the roads to make shorter hauls.

  • You had thousands of trained new drivers,

  • as well as thousands of vehicles that were created for the war effort,

  • so the industry really took hold and expanded rapidly.

  • By 1935, about 40% of all communities were dependent upon truck service.

  • More mom and pop truck stops started dotting America's local highways.

  • But by the end of World War II, these small operations

  • were primed to be super-sized.

  • The return of the nation's GIs and the postwar building boom

  • made it clear that

  • the U.S. highway system could never effectively absorb truck traffic

  • stretching from coast to coast.

  • Though more than 200 highways crisscrossed the United States in the 1950s,

  • they were jammed with vehicles

  • and inadequately designed for the era's faster and wider trucks.

  • The Federal Interstate Highway Act of 1956 changed that

  • by launching the creation of a national system of superhighways

  • that promised a quicker means of moving goods.

  • The launching of the interstate system,

  • really, it resulted in some mega stops.

  • Truck stops no longer became something feasible

  • for an independent owner to construct and run.

  • It was when the oil companies really got into

  • the... the game big-time.

  • When Standard Oil opened Iowa 80 Truck stop in 1964,

  • it sat on roughly five acres.

  • Since then, its owners have developed more than 75 acres,

  • reserving plenty of room to expand.

  • But there's more to an ultimate truck stop than size.

  • How about a high-tech hookup

  • that not only makes a trucker's life a breeze,

  • but also could save more than a billion gallons of diesel each year.

  • The average truck stop in the US

  • takes in about $7.8 million revenue each year.

  • The truck stop at night.

  • From a distance, it seems peaceful and serene.

  • But up close, it's a deafening hum of idling engines.(engines growling, humming)

  • Truckers idle their engines for various reasons,

  • including keeping the heat on in the winter,

  • the air conditioning on in the summer,

  • powering their laptops, their DVD players, charging up their cell phones.

  • Idling trucks burn about a gallon of diesel every hour,

  • and America's army of truckers idle away 1.7 billion gallons of diesel every year.

  • Idling also adds wear and tear to the engine

  • and, not surprisingly, dumps pollutants into the atmosphere.

  • One company thinks it has a better idea.

  • IdleAir allows truckers to shut off their engines while still powering up their toys.

  • IdleAir is advanced truck stop electrification.

  • Basically, what we've done is devised a way

  • to deliver all the creature comfort services to a parked truck.

  • At the Petro travel stop in Knoxville, Tennessee, 114 trucks can plug into IdleAir.

  • All drivers need is a ten-dollar window adapter to connect to the system.

  • One of my favorite things about using the IdleAir

  • is that it enables me to turn the engine off at night,

  • so that I don't have to listen to that rumbling and the constant vibration of the truck.

  • You sleep a lot better.

  • I typically spend two to three months at a time out on the road.

  • So the IdleAir, to me, with the Internet access and

  • the phone hookup on it, allows me to keep in touch at home.

  • The system also offers games, movies on demand,

  • and more than 60 TV channels

  • -- so drivers can keep up with their favorite shows.

  • But there's more to the system than drive-in entertainment.

  • There's also a heater- air conditioner.

  • Every IdleAir unit sits above a parking space along a truss, or support structure.

  • A hose connects each unit to a service delivery module

  • that provides individual electrical service.

  • IdleAir's inventor A.C. Wilson

  • came up with his initial concept in 1999

  • while vacationing with his brother-in-law--

  • a long-haul trucker who'd just received a ticket for idling.

  • I went to bed that night, thinking more about it, you know?

  • How can I help these truckers?