Profile For Rex M.

Rex M.'s Info

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    Experienced Driver

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  • Joined Us:
    7 years, 6 months ago

Rex M.'s Bio

I have returned to trucking after being off the road since 2005. All together though, I have a solid 15 years trucking experience, but still learn something new everyday. At least that is what I consider a productive day, 1) If I can apply my knowledge 2) If I can learn something new.

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Posted:  6 years, 10 months ago

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Battery Appliance Question

Most trucks have an amp meter. I drive a 2013 Peterbilt, and my company had to install an additional bank of batteries.

The thing to consider here, is how many amps will your system allow to be pulled at any given time without idling. In my case, my truck doesn't like more than 10amps being pulled. When I idle, (which is hopefully as little as possible) I can draw up to 13amps. How long can you draw a given amperage for an extended length of time, in our case a 10 hour break. (required by law). That is going to be a question I recommend you bounce off your shop guys. Ask one of the mechanics at your company shop or if your not with a company that has mechanics, then try asking either a maintenance person at the dealership of your make and model of your truck, or ask a mechanic at the nearest truck repair center. They may be able to help you better.

Good luck.

Posted:  6 years, 10 months ago

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I'd like some advice on becoming a truck driver....

My two cents without any political correctness is this.

When I tell women considering on entering a trucking career, "it's a man's world", that is not saying men are better than women or any such nonsense, what I am saying is women have more risks, and hardships out here on the road. I know plenty of women out here, whose work ethics and determination and not to mention skill would put any man's to shame. So as far as ability to do the job goes, gender has very little impact. What I do believe is this...

A woman out here puts herself at risk with the simplest of things most men take for granted. Parking overnight, can be a hazard for women. Very few of the truck stops and even rest areas have much of anything we could call security. Parking areas tend to have minimal lighting at best, amenities for drivers at most shippers and receivers most generally are coed, which ultimately means that women are sharing the same restroom with men. May not seem to big of a deal at first but when you are standing around waiting for your turn to use the rest room, other drivers out here will have seen what truck you are driving where you are parked, and other facts which can expose you to risks. Its a dangerous world out here, and do not let anyone play that little tid-bit down.

I am a 46 year old 220lb bald man, I stand 5'11" and do not carry myself like a victim. Even I have had my fair share of trouble out here. The latest being a run in with some hoopleheads in Hinton, Ok at the Love's Truck stop. In broad daylight, I had 3 guys try to lure me to the back of my truck so they could jump me. When I turned to avoid the conflict, the leader followed me into the truck stop and didn't even flinch! I was made a target because one of the guys watched me get some money from the ATM. Something as simple and innocent as getting a few bucks to eat at Sonic can mark you as a target. So, as a woman that risk might be double. Just saying...

Plain and simple, women are at more risk out here than men. That's not sexist that is just bare boned truth.

As to being thick-skinned I recommend that no matter your choice of career. I am always amazed by the stories I am told by my dispatchers, and other folks in the office who tell about a driver who files a complaint over someone else calling them some sort of name. Most generally the name calling rarely ever takes place face to face. (I suspect that has something to do with cowardice but that's just my hunch) I am not advocating for rudeness nor excusing it, but honest truth, no matter who may not like to hear it, your typical average garden variety truckers out here these days tend be people who for what ever reason place very little importance on respecting of others. Call me negative all you like, but at the end of the day a thing still is what it is.

If you choose to become a trucker, you will be insulted from time to time. No matter how much effort you put into your job you will be cussed at for doing a crappy job at some point. No matter your level of professionalism, at some point you will be lumped in with the turd trucker who ticked off the receiver or shipper or (gulp!) DOT Agent. This is only a very small portion of all the grime you are going to smell and get on your shoes while simply doing your job and trying to mind your own business. Its really not much different than any other job in that respect. Except out here, like someone pointed out you will be on your own which makes it pretty tough to handle at times.

Now all that negative stuff being said, I would never be one to presume to tell another person what to do. However, I think that the fact that I started trucking back in 1991, and spent the next 14 years trucking, then got out of the truck and after going to college for a teaching degree, I decided to return to trucking last year, says a lot about trucking... Why? Well I am a bit crazy suppose, I mean as I write this I am getting ready to head out after being home for 5 days. Leaving my beautiful wife, and my mind blowing amazing kids sleeping in their beds. Why? well simple

1) I got bills to pay, and

2) In spite of all the college credits I have under my aging belt, I am pretty damned good at trucking. I know it, and it knows me.

3) Being honest with myself, I love this job.

Number 3 in my not so humble opinion, is the key to anything in life. Be honest with yourself. Don't BS yourself on ANYthing. After all in this world you can get all the BSing done to you by other people at much less expense. Be honest with yourself as to why you want what you want, and what you know you are willing to do or perhaps more importantly NOT willing to do.

I wish you all the success you deserve, and encourage you to keep on learning. True enough, trucking is not for everyone, but then again, we need more truckers out here, who have integrity, professionalism, and honest folks who know think its important to respect their fellow man... errr woman... err I mean person.

Posted:  6 years, 10 months ago

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For the most part drivers still have CBs. However I suspect the percentage of drivers carrying a CB is shrinking. I was shocked to discover that the CB is steadily becoming more uncommon. At one point, it was nearly impossible to have a conversation due to all the chaos on channel 19. (use to be called Sesame Street BTW) You can now drive from St Louis, Mo to Amarillo and not hear one squawk of RF BS up on 19. I say that although that does have some advantages, it is still a stark reminder that somewhere and somehow between the time I left the road in 2005 and my returning in 2012, someone came along and sucked the soul of trucking nearly dry. Trucking use to have a whole lot more networking than it does today. Drivers seem to mostly stick to themselves and interaction and camaraderie are nearly all gone from the industry.

My grandpa use to say, "The only thing that changes is everything, and the only thing that stays the same is nothing".

Posted:  6 years, 10 months ago

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Cabool Scales In Missouri on US 60...

Years ago, I hauled grain locally, (meaning within 150 mile radius of our yard). About twice a month, I would be sent towards, West Plains, Mo for a delivery and the route meant I would have to cross the scales in Cabool. Back in those days, Cabool scales had a reputation of being really tough. I learned first hand about that one afternoon. You see, in the early morning, the West bound side would generally be closed so I could get past them easy enough, however once unloaded, I knew that I had the East bound side to contend with, and there was a little trick I learned from some of the old hands I knew. You see not too far from the scales was a small truck stop with a really nice cafe. If you waited till around 12:30 in the afternoon you had a real good chance the scales would be closed for lunch, and to help you along all you needed to do was pay close attention to that truck stop and if you saw the white DOT pickup truck parked at the cafe you knew that the scales would be closed because the officers were taking their lunch break. Well that all worked fine for a while until one day...

I was traveling East heading back to the yard. (which was in Northeast Arkansas) I saw the DOT pickup parked outside the cafe and figured I would be able to slip past the scales while they were closed, however what I didn't know was there was a new officer at the scales, and she didn't go to lunch with the other officers. The scales were open and I had to enter. Now I was empty so I wasn't worried about my weight, nor was I really worried about the condition of my truck, what I was concerned about was all those horror stories from other drivers who told tales of how they came out of those scales with fines, tickets, and other complications. This scale has always been known for being really tough as I said earlier. As I went across the scale I saw a female officer at the desk and was immediately given the red light to pull around. I parked and gathered all my paper work and went inside. As I approached the desk I noticed she had her ticket book already opened and also she had already filled in the name of my company, I knew right then I was in for some trouble. The officer then asked to see my logbook. I tried to explain to her, that because I was local I did not keep a record. She told me I was wrong, and proceeded to write out a ticket for not having a logbook, she was explaining that she was going to place me out of service and that I would not be able to go anywhere until I could produce a logbook.

Now I was not about to sit there and argue with a cop, my personal philosophy is this. You have no practical rights while you are being detained by an officer of the law. Granted we all have legal rights, but until we are allowed our first phone call, our rights are only that which the officer will allow. Anything outside of that, is just giving the officer probable cause. (Just my personal philosophy and experience)What saved my wallet that day were the other DOT officers returned from their lunch and the older fellow explained to the female officer that I was not required by law to fill out a logbook. He then told me I was free to go. I thanked him and immediately left. I saw no need to sit around and hash anything out, after all, the female officer was not happy to say the least.

Well that was back in 1997, and just yesterday I drove US 60 West and came up on the Cabool scales they were closed, but the old cafe was open. I had to stop for old times sake. They have some of the best coffee and great service too boot. As I sat there drinking my coffee I sparked up conversation with a fellow across from me. He told me that the female officer still works there but now is the boss. I found that to be funny. I mean it sort of stands to reason, the one officer there I personally experienced to be the toughest, eventually becomes the boss. Sort of makes sense really.

Anyway, not that any of this is important to know, but Im feeling a bit nostalgic and thought I'd share that little story.

Posted:  6 years, 11 months ago

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Some more questions...

1-while on the road this weekend I noticed a few trailers with a green light about half way up the trailer on the drivers side. What is it for? My guess was that they were reefers and that was some kind of light the driver could see in their mirror related to reefers. I don't remember the carriers but I know I saw a ton of central refridgerated trucks that day.

On refrigerated trailers, late model Thermo-Kings specifically, will have a green light to indicate that the temp is within set parameters. On some trailers, equipped with the newer ABS system, there is generally a light either at the very rear of the driver's side of the trailer or the very front of the driver's side this light is generally amber in color if the light remains on then that means there is a problem with the ABS system. Normally that problem has more to do with the sensors than it does the actual ABS system in itself. (just my experience thought not to be taken as gospel truth)

2- are all the gauges on the dash the same from truck to truck with maybe different placement on different makes?

Although placement of the gauges vary according to manufactures, there are some gauges required by law, Air gauges, and warning systems, Most generally if you have seen air gauges in one model of truck you have seen them all. There are differences though, my 2013 Peterbilt has manifold temp, and axle temps as well as suspension load gauge, (love that one by the way) Short answer to this question is yes most gauges are pretty much standard.

3- are cd players pretty much standard in company trucks? Most videos I see it looks like sirius is stanard and/or aux inputs but I'm going to make a cd for my first solo haul with some open road music.

The CD player is quickly becoming the Cassette Deck player of the 21st century. Aux inputs seem to be standard for all stereo manufacturers. However word of caution about this. If you use your Smart phone or other electronic device to listen to music via the aux input, remember the federal law about cell phone and operating a commercial motor vehicle? Yeah the hands-free requirements still apply. Something to keep in mind as you are searching for which playlist you want jamming while you roll away the miles.

4- is the lack of a lot of companies hiring in florida because of how difficult it is to get them home?

I can't speak for companies in Florida, what I can speak to though is freight availability. Most often the case with Florida, there is more freight going in than there is coming out, which ultimately means that freight coming out of Florida is "cheap". I always wound up being brokered through CH Robinson, (which is nicked named Cheap and Heavy freight Robinson LOL) So add in the fact that Florida also has some tougher rules on commercial trucks and registration,not to mention higher fuel costs, and you have a huge deterrent for trucking companies hauling freight into Florida, ergo smaller need for drivers in Florida.

5- can someone explain what kind of power sources you have in a truck? I don't know anything about apu's or inverters. Do you need a lot of the cigerrete lighter things? Do you need a bunch of random converters? How many power sources do you have? I'm talking about newer trucks with apu's.

OK the "power source" in a truck is the batteries. Just like your car. The engine recharges the batteries as you roll down the road, or idle (which these days idling has been reduced to an all time low) many companies will install what are called power converters.

Trucks run on 16 volt DC power, which if we were in Europe would just fine to plug our coffee makers into, however seeing how most every appliance we use in America runs on 110volt AC current 50cycles, we need to convert DC to AC. Now add the fact that nearly every truck has an onboard CPU which pretty much runs the entire show, we run into a problem with drawing amps from the system.

This explains why its a big no-no to go out and buy an AC converter that plugs into your cigarette lighter, (AKA DC power outlet) Power converters today need to be able to prevent voltage surges and as well stay within a certain range on drawing amps. My truck requires that I do not draw more that 12 amps.

Our trucks run refrigerators which are hard wired into the system and 110 volt AC converters, which shut down if the voltage to the truck drops to a certain point. This is to protect the CPU. The problem we had with our trucks was most drivers could not make it through a 10 hr break before the system shut down and left all of us in the cold. That was a huge pain! However the shop guys installed and extra bank of batteries and now things are all good. An APU (axillary power unit) has two purposes, 1) Provides power to the truck in order to run heating and cooling system, your Air conditioning, and your heat. Also the APU recharges the batteries if the voltage drops to a set point.

My company had all sorts of problems with APUs to include stricter idling laws which restricted the use of certain APUs, so we switched to the electric cooling systems and have electric heaters which use diesel. They are not as efficient in my humble opinion but they do the job.

Posted:  6 years, 11 months ago

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What to do if you get hold of a real crappy trailer...

As some of you may know, I came back to trucking this last year after being off the road for nearly 7 years. I was fortunate to find a company which although is small by most standards, has an exceptional maintenance shop and my boss keeps our fleet up to date. The oldest trailers we have in our fleet are the 2004 models. All of our trailers have the air-lock and air-ride suspension and tandem locks. Really makes life easier I can assure you.

I am not trying to be negative here, nor am I posting this to make claims my company is better, actually I decided a few weeks ago, that I wanted to post something I saw in Oklahoma City with a driver of a very well known and very big trucking company.

I had pulled into the Pilot on Morgan Rd because I needed to scale my load to give my self a good idea as to how much fuel I could sling on in order to make my next stop. When I got the scales, I was delayed because a driver was trying to slide his tandems in front of the scale. (presumably he was doing a re-weigh) I noticed he was having serious problems and instead of sitting there complaining and griping I figured the fastest way through this mess was to get out and see if I could help.

The problem was the driver had picked up a loaded trailer that had a busted spring lock on the tandems. Meaning, he could not lock the pins out in order to slide them. This trailer required two people in order to slide the tandems. I told the driver to show me where he needed the tandems and to hop up in his truck I would hold the lever while he slid and then we could all go back to our business.

Everything worked out fine, and the driver was grateful for the help, however, I decided I would offer my unsolicited advise as fee for my help.

From just one quick glance at his trailer I noticed at least 3 different issues which would have been more than enough cause to place that trailer out of service. There was a huge gash along the drivers side, which you could see the freight, there was a tire which was completely bald and was definitely what I call a "may-pop". Then the issue of the leaking wheel seal on the rear axle was another issue all to itself. The point I was trying to make to the driver was, if he had simply reported this trailer unsafe to operate when he was inspecting it, the tandem lock issue would have been repaired as well.

I am no stranger to cutting corners, lord knows I have done my fair share, however, I have also learned my lessons on how to work smarter and not simply harder. It is our responsibility according to Federal DOT regulations, and our company policies to report issues we find in our pre-trip inspections. We are required by law to complete a pre-trip inspection every time we drop and hook trailers, etc etc. The time to deal with a broken trailer is when we are first assigned to it, NOT when we get 65 miles down the road and learn we cannot even slide the tandems in order to safely adjust the load in order to make the thing legal.

I urge every driver to be diligent and picky in their pre-trips, and report every issue, every time. After all its a simple matter of CYA. I mean if you don't report the damage on the trailer, its possible that damage will placed on you, all because you decided to cut a few corners. In the long run, we are all better off to place those unsafe trailers our of service, it makes sense, and its the law. Right? Sorry if this sounds too preachy, but its sort of important you know?

Posted:  6 years, 11 months ago

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PLEASE help drug test question...

I can say with most certainty that the drug test will include testing for any Schedule IV drugs, under the controlled substance abuse act. Xanax is most definitely among those drugs. Drug testing for Benzo's which are most typically called a psychotropic drug, are notorious for being abused via casual consumption, and most definitely effect the person's ability to operate a motor vehicle.

If you test positive for ANY Schedule IV drug and do NOT have a prescription that is actually a felony in many states and needless to say a HUGE no-no in the eyes of DOT not to mention the prospective company's policies in regards to either zero tolerance or standards.

Long story short, no matter how much experience you have trucking whether starting off from trucking school or you have 30 years under your belt the very last thing you want to happen is to burn a drug test, by testing positive with a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, the very presence of the drug in your system without a prescription indicates substance abuse and NO trucking company I know of will want to take that sort of risk.

I hope the best for you, and as well hope this will not be one of those lessons in life which comes at too high of a price.

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