Driven to Invention
Like many over-the-road drivers, George Hartline worried about his retirement. He didn’t think it would ever be possible. He missed his family and horses in Fort Payne, Ala., and didn’t see a better future anytime soon.
But three years ago, Hartline retired at the age of 58, and now he spends all of his time at home. His retirement fund is padded with the profits of his invention – a portable shower for truckers.
Hartline is one of several drivers that Truckers News profiled who put his time, experiences and ideas on the road to good use.
“I prayed to God to send me something for retirement because I was a trucker and didn’t have much social security,” Hartline says.
His prayers were answered, he says, when he designed the shower in 1999. By trusting in God, Hartline says he was able to come up with the design, find a manufacturer and make payments.
“Geraldo Rivera has one,” he says. “Some people put them in their office buildings. People in horse shows use them.”
The list of users also includes campers and the military, says Hartline.
The shower, which folds into a 36-inch round plastic casing, comes with two six-gallon water tanks, a shower curtain with hooks, feeder and discharge hoses, a heating element and two water pumps. The shower extends to almost seven feet tall and fits in the back of most condo cabs. Water is heated and pumped through the first tank by two external adaptors. After it runs through the shower, water is pumped into the second tank. No tools are required to set up the shower.
“I tell people to cut out a 36-inch circle of cardboard and stand on it in the back of their trucks. If they fit, the shower will,” Hartline says.
Hartline is praying for a deal with a truckstop chain. In the meantime, the portable showers are sold from Hartline’s website, www.truckshower.com for $345. The shower stand is an additional $58.50. He also sells power adaptors and an independent power source. The curtains are sold in blue, white and camouflage.
Side-View Mirror Cleaner
Gary Waters, a retired regional driver from Lee County, Calif., says he spent his entire driving career having to pull over on the side of the road to clean his mirrors.
“I drove a truck over 30 years. When I’d go over the Sierras with all that snow and dirt, whenever someone drove by, it’d cover my mirror in slush,” he recalls. “It’s a safety issue. You have to pull over on the side of the road and clean your mirrors. You have to make sure the shoulder of the road isn’t too soft for the load you’re carrying. And you lose time stopping so much.”
After Waters retired, he decided to do something about the problem. He designed a sensor-activated automatic side-view mirror cleaner. The device uses a rubber squeegee blade on two vertical tracks to slide up and down the surface of the mirror. The mirrors are sprayed with solvent via tubing connected to a truck’s windshield washer fluid container.
Waters was granted a patent in December 2002, which allows him to manufacture the device for use on such things as boats and ships, high-rise building windows, security cameras, airplanes, fire trucks and other places.