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Cold weather wreaks havoc on semi trucks

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The extreme cold weather this past week has been hard on many vehicles, but none worse than semis. One towing company says it has taken several hundred calls since Sunday night just for stalled-out semi trucks.

Workers at Homer's Towing and Service on Milwaukee's northwest side say they have been receiving calls every couple minutes, adding it's been nothing compared to Monday morning.

"It's organized chaos and I don't know how organized it is, but it is chaos," said owner Homer Schultz. "I've been in business since 1965 and never seen a winter like this."

Schultz says by late Wednesday night, January 8th, his office responded to about 400 calls for stalled semis.

"I counted 35 semis sitting on the side of the road that were obviously gelled up -- no additives or maybe broke down for a particular other cold reason," said truck driver Henry Sherman. "If you don't run additives in these things, you're basically going to have gelled up fuel, sitting on the side of the road like the rest of them guys."

Schultz agrees, saying the most common problem he's been seeing are drivers who didn't put enough additives to thin out the diesel fuel, which prevents it from gelling up.

"The thick fuel, the moisture in the fuel, when it comes into the filer, the filter just basically plugs up. Then the engine starves for fuel and it quits running," explained Schultz.

With the temperatures slowly on the rise, workers at Homer's are finally catching up.

"We're still fairly busy -- we've got all our trucks out," said Schultz. "I got about three hours of sleep last night so I feel pretty good."

The Wisconsin State Patrol says they haven't seen an unusual number of calls for stalled semis recently. Schultz says they may not have been on the freeways, but they were definitely out there.