TruckingTruth logo

SAGE Technical Services training diary

Topic 18893 | Page 4

Page 4 of 4 Previous Page Go To Page:
Ed T.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Pete, I'm down here in FL..I'm glad to hear u r doing good with backing skills because am having hard time with the 90 degrees and my offsets r inconsistent...can u tell me what works for u because that might help me out , how u do ur 90 degrees?, and for the offsets do u pull up to boundary line, hard turn the wheel, back up till u see ur trailer V or to second landing gear? walk me thro it

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Howdy Ed, I'll answer you as best I can... but I'm still learning too so my answers will be more conceptual than actual step-by-step. The improvement from my 'Day 1 disaster' to my 'Day 2 I got it' came after thinking about what happens when you turn the steering wheel... to the right: rear of the trailer moves to the left, while the front of the tractor swings around to the left. Conversely, when your turn the steering wheel to the left, the opposite happens: rear of trailer moves to the right, front of tractor swings to the right. I actually backed up luggage in my hotel room to help learn this concept. Felt like an idiot, but it helped. Whatever it takes.

With the off-set backing, yes, I begin at the forward boundary of the range. On our range there are markers on the ground that we use. When beginning the maneuver, rotate the steering wheel left or right and turn until the fender mirrors cover the marker, then turn the wheel the other way. I've backed two different trailers, the first was a belly-dump and much shorter trailer, the other was a 53' trailer. The wheel movement is two full turns initially with the longer trailer, one full turn with the belly-dump trailer. After the fender mirrors on the tractor cover the ground markers, four full turns (with the 53' trailer) in the opposite direction. That's two turns to get the wheels straight again, two more turns to turn the wheels. There is a point where the cones behind me disappear in the mirror; that's when I straighten out the wheel and continue backing. It's important to remember that you don't have to turn the wheel to turn the trailer. One of the most common mistakes rookies make, and I'm still making, is to over-steer. My instructor has completed 90º turns while touching the steering wheel half the time.

If you have created an angle with the trailer, it will continue to turn while you are backing up, with the steer wheels straight. Try to plan your move 15 feet out from the rear of the trailer. I haven't spent much time looking at my landing gear. I do look at the side of the trailer to determine when it is straight in line with the alley. Remember, when the nose of your tractor is pointing to the left, and your trailer is behind you, relatively straight, and you need to get in front of it, turn your wheel to the left to get your tractor to swing around to the right to get in front of it. When the nose of your tractor is pointing to the right, turn your wheel clockwise to the right to get the tractor to swing around to the left to get in front of your trailer. When doing the off-set, I will do my pull-ups pretty far forward, as long as I don't go out-of-bounds. Use all of the space you are given. It doesn't have to be a thing of beauty, it just has to get you your CDL.

With the 90º backing, I'm only more vague, and I'm sorry. I eyeball a point where I feel it's necessary to start turning my trailer, and because we're doing 90º backing to the driver's side only, no blind 90º backing, it's always turning the wheel to the right to get the trailer started turning to the left and towards/into the alley. I finally figured out that over-steering creates a lot of problems than seem impossible to get out of, so I try real hard not to. After my initial turn to the right to get the trailer turning left, I let go of the wheel for a minute and let the trailer back up and see where it goes. I'm looking 15 feet behind the trailer and envisioning where that trailer is going to go. The first move I will usually make with the wheel after the initial turn is to straighten the wheels, because remember, if the trailer is already at an angle, driving the tractor back with wheels straightened will continue to turn the trailer.

Those are the basic concepts that once you learn, nothing else other than practice, practice, practice, and more practice, will help. There are numerous replies in this forum where people have gone into great detail about how to back up. I've tried not to do that because (1) I'm still learning, and my left-to-right off-set backing is UGLY, and (2) I'm just not good enough to go into greater detail, and really, who can remember all those details when you're sitting in the cab and actually doing it? Just try to remember what effect your steering wheel is going to have on the tractor and trailer when you turn it. Concentrate on this... if you stop thinking and turn the wheel in the wrong direction and start moving, you will get yourself into a pickle in just a few seconds.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

I hope this helps; certainly, I couldn't have been more discouraged after my first day, but continued practice has enabled me to figure it out and given me confidence. You'll get it. Think about all of the trucks you see on the road... and the tens of thousands you don't see... no one driving those knew how to back up initially, it's not an instinct we're born with, it's something we learn, and with practice, you'll learn too. You got this; just be patient, know in advance of turning that wheel what effect it's going to have on the tractor and trailer, and it'll come to you. If you've got four hours to spend on the range, I'd only get out of that truck to take a pee break. Stay in it and utilize every minute that you've got. I show up early, do the minimum pre-trip to drive the truck before my time even starts, and usually get in and going before my scheduled time. Other guys waste their range time pre-tripping the truck before they get in... No. Practice your pre-trip before or after, but not during your range time. I have watched my instructors and ask them about the minimum, and they just want to be sure there's oil in the truck, fluid levels are o.k., and that's about it. Look around the truck for obstructions... the other day I found a bottle of diesel fuel gel someone had put on the catwalk, and put it back inside the truck, and I will do the brake check on the tractor and trailer, but all that takes about 5 mins. You've got plenty of time to practice and study the pre-trip without using your range time for it.

Good luck, and I apologize for the long-winded reply. Sad fact is, I've got nothing else to do today but help with this! Good luck, I know you'll get it and be fine. Stay in touch, I want to hear about your success!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Beginning of Week 4

Today was my 4th session driving a truck; the previous three were spent on the range practicing backing, whereas today the Peterbilt's gears were in serious peril as I ground my way around the outskirts of Billings, MT. I never thought I'd say this, but I actually feel more comfortable backing up right now than I do driving forward. As with backing, I expect to get better with practice. The morning started with about 20 laps around the two blocks near the school, as I repeatedly worked up through the gears and then back down before heading out onto the interstate and to a rural country road that featured some nice curves as well as several long ascents and descents. I did well checking the mirrors, bringing the truck to a smooth stop, accelerating from a stop through intersections, handling my first long descent using the jake brake, and keeping good spacing around the truck while on the interstate, but holy cow, my shifting leaves an awful lot to be desired. I got no rhythm! That seems to be the crux of my problem. My left leg isn't working well with my right arm and right leg. I've never had any rhythm; I could never dance well, could never carry a tune, but that's not going to excuse me from learning how to shift in the truck.

I'll be back at it tomorrow afternoon; I imagine my instructor is working on his 5th bottle of Pepto Bismol right now. He has the patience of a saint. He's giving me first-class instruction, I'm just not putting it to good use. Tomorrow I'll do better. A good learning opportunity occurred while I was pre-tripping the tractor & trailer... the outside tire on the rear driver's side trailer tandems was very low, requiring air before we could leave the lot. We pulled an air hose from the tools compartment, connected it to the glad hands, and filled the tire on-the-spot. I don't know what truckers keep as standard equipment in their tool box compartment, but I would think an air hose that reaches all tires on the tractor trailer with the air valve connection on one end and a glad hand connector on the other end should be a standard piece of equipment.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Han Solo Cup's Comment
member avatar

Happy to be of some motivational help. I wish we could have grabbed a cup of coffee over Easter... I'd love to pick your brain about school but I'm in Ohio. Haha

Keep with it and keep us posted.

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thursday/Week 4

Back in a truck the past two days... yesterday, driving around town, on the interstate , and to my instructor's favorite rural road, a nice stretch with lazy curves, few cars, and several ascents/descents... the perfect place to practice working up and down the gears. Today: on the range, practicing backing.

My shifting improved greatly over the previous day, but I still have a long ways to go. I depend on the tachometer, especially with the downshifting. I had many more good sequences of smooth shifting up and down through the gears, but still had several moments where my brain farted, I missed gears, and just got completely lost on which gear I needed to be in. I also may have run up too close to a stop sign on two occasions; if a truck had been making a left turn onto the road I was on, he probably wouldn't have had enough room for his trailer to get by as my nose was stuck too far out. I've got at least two more road sessions (eight hours) remaining, maybe three, so I'll have more chances to redeem myself and develop my road skills.

At this point, I'm not worried about backing at all. Today on the driving range I worked in a different truck than I'd been using; it's a Kenworth with dual stacks, making it difficult to hang your head out the window during the 90º/alley dock backing, but I tried anyway. My weakness remains the right-to-left off-set backing, but I've got four more hours on the range tomorrow and then most of the day Saturday to continue practicing. Saturday's a bonus day on the range; no one's scheduled to drive Saturday, but an instructor will be at the school anyway to hold make-up classes, so I've made it known that I'd like to show up and use the range for additional practice. Well, I'm going to be here anyway, I've got nothing else to do but prepare for my CDL exam, and the trucks and range are available. I'd be stupid not to take advantage of the opportunity.

The instructors are really cool about letting us practice when we can, when we're not scheduled. As long as we're not keeping them there past quitting time at the end of the day, they're o.k. with us using the range. And when I say "us," I mean "me." It doesn't seem anyone else is too interested in being there except when they're on the schedule. Maybe they don't need extra work. All I know is that next Friday night or Saturday morning, I need to be on the way to my new job, CDL in hand.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Good stuff Pete. Quick suggestion, start to use your ears to know when it's time to shift. Eventually you won't look at the tach. Keep up the great work.

Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Thank you G-Town; I'm trying, my ears just don't recognize the shift range yet, at least in that Peterbilt. In the Kenworth I was driving on the range today, I could pick it up easier, there was a higher-pitched whine to the engine when it wanted me to shift, but the Peterbilt must have a quieter engine.

Friday/Week 4

Today I went onto the range brimming with confidence in my backing abilities, and was then served a nice healthy portion of Humble Pie. An instructor got into the cab with me to observe my backing, and sat while I did a nice right-to-left off-set backing; I got backed in with only one pull-up, which I thought was good, but then I somehow screwed up pulling straight out of the lane and straight ahead to get set for my left-to-right backing. When I got to the forward-most boundary, the truck was at a ridiculous angle, not at all conducive to the next maneuver. So the instructor told me to drive around the range again so he could show me how to do the right-to-left. I was confused, because I thought I'd done that pretty well, but followed his instructions and got set up again. On the 2nd go 'round, he gave me instructions and I followed, but ended up having to take 5 or 6 pull-ups to get 'er in. After next doing the left-to-right off-set, which went well, it was time for the 90º backing. I got it in well enough, taking three, maybe four pull-ups, but the instructor didn't like my starting position and tried to coach me on where I should have started the maneuver. Well, because I figured that I'd already figured this out, I didn't listen and kept doing it my way after he left. And I proceeded to screw it up time after time after time. I didn't know what had happened, that suddenly it wasn't working for me... I kept running out of room at the forward boundary, not leaving me any space at all for a pull-up, and actually turning the tractor over the boundary while trying to 'chase the trailer.' After the umpteenth time of not getting it, I went to the instructor to ask him about the starting position he tried to coach me on earlier.

I suppose he had been watching from a distance, because he was ready for me when I came to him. I listened to his instruction, backed it in easily on my first try doing it his way, then a second time, then I screwed it up on my own, prompting another visit and another lesson, and then... EUREKA!! And pretty much every time after that, I got it. Consistently. Before he helped me, I had been having success with the 90, but admit it wasn't comfortable, as I always seemed to get the tractor trailer in an awkward jackknife or extreme angle, but somehow always seemed to pull it out and get it in without any real problems, but I think that must have been beginner's luck, repeatedly. Now I'm getting it backed in, once all the way in with 0 pull-ups, while leaving me with plenty of room at the forward boundary with which to work, while also not swinging the tractor over or even near that boundary. Late in the afternoon as the instructor was walking past, I rolled down the window and told him if he was a woman I'd kiss him, and he just grinned and kept on walking.

So, let this be a lesson to all you newbies!! When the instructor tries to tell you something, listen! Don't be like me and think, "I got it." If you "got it," the instructor wouldn't be there trying to help you "get it." Especially in the rain. Got it?

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Pete B.'s Comment
member avatar

Saturday/Week 4

I wasn't going to post an entry today, but what the heck. I scored some *bonus* time on the range today, as I hadn't been scheduled but took advantage of an instructor who had to be there anyway to conduct classroom time for several others. I continued to practice my 90º backing and off-sets backing, while also driving the circumference of the range practicing my shifting. I am on the schedule for tomorrow night, from 6-10pm, to knock out my night driving requirement. After that it's four hours on the range Tuesday, four hours on the road Wednesday, four more hours on the range Thursday, and then... the CDL test with the DOT examiner Thursday afternoon, at 1pm. I'm not worried about the pre-trip or the backing, but the road portion of the test makes me nervous. Hopefully after eight more hours of road driving with my instructors I'll feel more confident about it.

I walked to the Wal*Marts after practicing on the range today for more lunch & dinner food; I've been experimenting with my meals since I've been here and it's worked out great. My hotel room included a refrigerator and microwave; after the first day of class I began using them. Since March 28, with one exception, I've avoided fast food and eating out by shopping at Wal*Mart for my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The meals haven't been real exciting, but I'm not tired of them either. The breakfast and lunch food is what I've been eating all my life anyway: coffee, wheat bread and bananas for breakfast, apple, yogurt, and turkey & cheese sandwich for lunch, and dinner has been one of two options: most frequently, a salad of spinach leaves (sometimes romaine & kelp) with carrots, broccoli, and canned tuna or salmon, topped with chunky blue cheese dressing, smoked almonds, and raisins... and option two: potato nuked in the microwave and topped with salsa. I poke about a bazillion holes in the potato with a fork before nuking it. The raisins add a nice sweetness to my salad. As light as the meals sound, I haven't felt hunger pains throughout the day.

This is how I intend to eat once I'm driving. Not only is it much healthier than eating out or getting fast food, but much cheaper as well. I do intend on getting a crock-pot also, so that will vary my meals. It'll be nice to rotate in chicken or soup once in a while.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Page 4 of 4 Previous Page Go To Page:

New Reply:

New! Check out our help videos for a better understanding of our forum features

Bold
Italic
Underline
Quote
Photo
Link
Smiley
Links On TruckingTruth


example: TruckingTruth Homepage



example: http://www.truckingtruth.com
Submit
Cancel

Need help? We have instructions for sharing photos from photo sharing sites



example: http://www.truckingtruth.com/images/header.jpg
Submit
Cancel

Click on any of the buttons below to insert a link to that section of TruckingTruth:

Getting Started In Trucking High Road Training Program Company-Sponsored Training Programs Truck Driver's Career Guide Choosing A School Choosing A Company Truck Driving Schools Truck Driving Jobs Apply For Truck Driving Jobs DOT Physical Drug Testing Items To Pack Pre-Hire Letters CDL Practice Tests Trucking Company Reviews Brett's Book Leasing A Truck Pre-Trip Inspection Learn The Logbook Rules Sleep Apnea
Done
Done

0 characters so far - 5,500 maximum allowed.
Submit Preview

Preview:

Submit
Cancel

Join Us!

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

About Us

TruckingTruth was founded by Brett Aquila (that's me!), a 15 year truck driving veteran, in January 2007. After 15 years on the road I wanted to help people understand the trucking industry and everything that came with the career and lifestyle of an over the road trucker. We'll help you make the right choices and prepare for a great start to your trucking career.

Read More

Becoming A Truck Driver

Becoming A Truck Driver is a dream we've all pondered at some point in our lives. We've all wondered if the adventure and challenges of life on the open road would suit us better than the ordinary day to day lives we've always known. At TruckingTruth we'll help you decide if trucking is right for you and help you get your career off to a great start.

Learn More