Help! My Story And Why I’m Learning To Shift Now

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Josh G.'s Comment
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Hello community, I’ve known about this site but hadn’t needed to reach out until exactly tonites episode. My story so you understand my situation... Been driving almost 2 years now with 2 different companies. I went to cdl school but only drove a manual for about 10 hours all together since we only got 45 min on the road runs once a week! After graduating I started with a company who trains in automatics. I was trained in an auto and then assigned an automatic. For about 6 months I did good and then found a better company. Since I didn’t learn shifting I requested an automatic. So since until 3 days ago I’ve been in an automatic. Recently my father who’s been driving since 1976 told me I should learn how to shift. I totally agree with him and asked to be switched out of my cascadia automatic and into a Kw t680 10 speed. Now it’s been only 3 days on my own and learning by myself. Some days I float them like butter and feel confident but tonight I missed the pilot entrance cause I was looking at my rpms and speed and got lost on a back road where I was able to turn around. The whole time panicking of worrying I would go down a restricted route , my mind was on getting turned around and not shifting. I totally butchered the tranny and in one second I totally forgot all that taught myself. 30 mph speed limit and I was going 15 in 6th gear for a mile. I’m so upset at myself for this and yes I’m tough on myself cuz my dads an old timer and pokes fun at how I can’t drive a stick. I want to prove him wrong and show him I can be like him. My question is how long did it take you guys to learn and get it down where you don’t have to think about it , it’s second nature. I know it’s only 3 days but yesterday I was doing good and tonight I just threw all I learned in the crapper. Sorry for the drawn out story. Some advice for someone getting into trucking is.... don’t let companies train you I an automatic it’s only gonna old you down in the long run. Thanks

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.
MC1371's Comment
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For myself, about 2 months to get to where I didn't have to think about it on a regular basis... Then they moved me to a 13, similar but could be a pain when heavy and in traffic. But an absolute joy when running hills an mountains.

Pete B.'s Comment
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Hang in there, it'll probably be several more months before you really get the hang of it, shifting without thinking. You seem like a quick study, so maybe sooner.

Josh G.'s Comment
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Thanks for the reply man! Ok so I guess it’s gonna take some time. It’s just hard cause the things I do wrong normally if I trained in a manual I would have a trainer helping and teaching me. My dad sucks at teaching and he lives far away from me so it’s sometimes tough just learning on my own from self error. Thanks

For myself, about 2 months to get to where I didn't have to think about it on a regular basis... Then they moved me to a 13, similar but could be a pain when heavy and in traffic. But an absolute joy when running hills an mountains.

Pianoman's Comment
member avatar

It'll come pretty quickly. I taught myself more or less, just like you're doing. I trained on a manual in cdl school (very little time behind the wheel) and had an auto during my company training and first six months. Switched to a manual 10 speed for the next six months before going local and slip-seating in mostly automatics. It only took me a couple days to get functional at it, a couple weeks to start getting comfortable, a couple months to be pretty good at it. I drive a manual now, and honestly, it's something I still improve on. There are little things you learn to do to shift more smoothly.

In general, try not to rev too high before upshifting. The shifter has a tendency to get stuck if you rev more than 1500 rpms, at least in the lower gears. In the lower gears, you only have to rev to like 12 or 1300 before shifting, and you rev higher as you start getting into higher gears. Don't be afraid to use the clutch until you start getting a better idea of the right rpms.

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.
Rob's Comment
member avatar

I've had my license for just under 2 months now and spent the first month training in an automatic. I've been in a manual for the past month and my shifting is decent. I still grind gears sometimes. I pull a PUP trailer and tend to start in 4th gear if I'm loaded less than 13k. This morning I had about 16k in the box so I started in 3rd.....unfortunately 2 times I ended up shifting from 3rd to 6th because I couldn't pop it into gear (embarrassingly). It just takes time, if you feel going out with a trainer will help you id suggest requesting it but it seems you have the basic concept of it down. Just takes practice. Theres day where even experienced drivers grind gears, or struggle backing. THATS TRUCKING!

Josh G.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the advice from all you dudes it’s been a real help. This morning started out ****ty and had to go to rail yard in Memphis TN. Towards the end of the day I did better a lot better especially with traffic in crashville. I honestly wish I could go back out with a trainer for a month to get the much needed 1 on 1 help but unfortunately my company does not train. All I can do is take advice from here and other drivers and my old man. Thanks again and be safe out there.

I've had my license for just under 2 months now and spent the first month training in an automatic. I've been in a manual for the past month and my shifting is decent. I still grind gears sometimes. I pull a PUP trailer and tend to start in 4th gear if I'm loaded less than 13k. This morning I had about 16k in the box so I started in 3rd.....unfortunately 2 times I ended up shifting from 3rd to 6th because I couldn't pop it into gear (embarrassingly). It just takes time, if you feel going out with a trainer will help you id suggest requesting it but it seems you have the basic concept of it down. Just takes practice. Theres day where even experienced drivers grind gears, or struggle backing. THATS TRUCKING!

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
I honestly wish I could go back out with a trainer for a month to get the much needed 1 on 1 help but unfortunately my company does not train

Nah. You don't need it. You'll be fine.

Your problem during that episode wasn't your shifting. Your problem is that you lost focus and failed to keep cool under pressure:

The whole time panicking of worrying I would go down a restricted route , my mind was on getting turned around and not shifting. I totally butchered the tranny and in one second I totally forgot all that taught myself. 30 mph speed limit and I was going 15 in 6th gear for a mile.

You just needed to take a deep breath, clear your mind, and work through the situation. You weren't barreling toward a cliff out of control or screaming down a steep mountain without your brakes. You just missed a turn, that's all. I totally understand the worry about driving down a two lane road hoping you're going to find a place to turn around ok. We've all been there plenty of times. But you can't let yourself get flustered over it.

You did the right thing by requesting a standard transmission. Good for you that you took the bull by the horns. I commend you for that. Now you just have to remind yourself to keep cool under pressure. This time it didn't hurt you. At some point down the road you're going to be in tight situations which require quick thinking and quick actions. You have to keep cool under pressure or you're not going to make the right moves.

This is something you can practice out there every single day. Anytime you're holding someone up or you're in heavy traffic or any sort of tough situation just practice keeping calm, keeping a clear mind, taking a deep breath, and remain relaxed and focused. No one is born good under pressure. It's a learned skill. Practice it and you'll get better at it, just like with shifting.

Parrothead66's Comment
member avatar
but tonight I missed the pilot entrance cause I was looking at my rpms and speed and got lost on a back road where I was able to turn around

As Brett & yourself stated your main issue there was you panicked, which can be easy to do sometimes when you’re learning and nervous already. Just a couple suggestions that might help. 1. Downshift early, get into your turning gear well before you get to your turn so that when you are at the turn that’s where your focus is and not checking rpm’s, what gear and trying to shift. Eyes are up focused on the turn itself. 2. As others said about keeping your rev low. Try to feather the pedal, almost like there’s an egg between your foot and the pedal. Good luck. PS Everybody misses a turn at some point. When you do it’s your recovery that’s most important. If you’re not sure of the area find a spot to pull over and check your atlas etc....Your phone satellite view can be a good tool to get a visual on where your going and how to get back on track.

Josh G.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks again for all the advice fellow drivers I really do appreciate it be with all the BS over the cb and on fb it’s nice to see drivers still wiling go help a newbie out. Just an update on my shifting. Been about a month now and I’m completely floating the gears fine. Still have issues with 2-5th gear because the one time I drove a cascadia for 3 days it was easier to float since I could hear the engine more and the gears shifted at higher Rpms. This Kw you gotta baby it when starting off. It shifts 1-5 at like 12 to 1100 rpms which I’m not used to. If I’m at a light it takes me like 2 mins to homey thru it. Is there a truck to starting off a little faster? Thanks

double-quotes-start.png

I honestly wish I could go back out with a trainer for a month to get the much needed 1 on 1 help but unfortunately my company does not train

double-quotes-end.png

Nah. You don't need it. You'll be fine.

Your problem during that episode wasn't your shifting. Your problem is that you lost focus and failed to keep cool under pressure:

double-quotes-start.png

The whole time panicking of worrying I would go down a restricted route , my mind was on getting turned around and not shifting. I totally butchered the tranny and in one second I totally forgot all that taught myself. 30 mph speed limit and I was going 15 in 6th gear for a mile.

double-quotes-end.png

You just needed to take a deep breath, clear your mind, and work through the situation. You weren't barreling toward a cliff out of control or screaming down a steep mountain without your brakes. You just missed a turn, that's all. I totally understand the worry about driving down a two lane road hoping you're going to find a place to turn around ok. We've all been there plenty of times. But you can't let yourself get flustered over it.

You did the right thing by requesting a standard transmission. Good for you that you took the bull by the horns. I commend you for that. Now you just have to remind yourself to keep cool under pressure. This time it didn't hurt you. At some point down the road you're going to be in tight situations which require quick thinking and quick actions. You have to keep cool under pressure or you're not going to make the right moves.

This is something you can practice out there every single day. Anytime you're holding someone up or you're in heavy traffic or any sort of tough situation just practice keeping calm, keeping a clear mind, taking a deep breath, and remain relaxed and focused. No one is born good under pressure. It's a learned skill. Practice it and you'll get better at it, just like with shifting.

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