Profile For Pianoman

Pianoman's Info

  • Location:
    Colorado Springs, CO

  • Driving Status:
    Experienced Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    6 years, 6 months ago

Pianoman's Bio

A supervisor a few years back suggested I consider a career in truck driving, since I enjoy driving and it pays well. I thought about it but thought I couldn't since I have insulin-dependent diabetes. Long story short, I decided to actually start looking into it and discovered I could get a federal exemption. Eight long months later I finally finished going through the tedious process of getting an exemption. After a few months of thinking about it, I finally took the leap and signed up for company-sponsored training with Swift. The rest is history!

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Posted:  20 hours, 32 minutes ago

View Topic:

My new gig

Glad to hear you're liking it. I'm assuming that you probably end up loading and unloading outside of the metro area? Denver traffic is a pain. Sounds like a fun gig though.

I can definitely relate about sleeping better on the truck and being home more exhausting than being on the road. The old lady usually has a ton of stuff for me to do and hen pecks me to death when I get in.

No lady in the picture here but I still have a hard time coming home and going straight to bed. I just can’t fall asleep that easy.

Yeah I usually start off picking up a load in Pueblo and most of the customers and other shippers are in Denver. We also load in Florence over by Canon City. The traffic is the worst part of the job. Most of the time I do a decent job of avoiding rush hour in the city but people are just aggressive and extremely impatient here. I know I just described drivers everywhere but Colorado has been getting worse for a while now and you can tell a marked difference the moment you cross the border into Colorado. There’s not enough enforcement so 90+ mph is the norm around here. I know I’m preaching to the choir but I’ve forgotten how aggressive people are around here. I did a lot of local work over at System but most of it was in Utah or in the Denver area, not all up and down I25.

Posted:  20 hours, 41 minutes ago

View Topic:

My new gig

That sounds great. So happy for you! Sounds like something even old fat and lazy me could do 😂

Yeah the worst part is when the fittings won’t come apart on the hoses but some pb blaster and a hammer usually fix that right away. Everything else is cake haha

Posted:  20 hours, 44 minutes ago

View Topic:

My new gig

Pianoman,

I always felt that dry pneumatic was the best job anywhere if driving a truck. Many years ago, 1970 to be exact I started my career where my father was the shop steward for a chemical distributor. We picked up ground coal dust that they used to make those old hard cased car batteries with the soft tops. We had R600 Macks with Maxidynes, 5 speed trans. and those turbo conveyor pumps on the exhaust. The tankers were Butler and I never enjoyed driving for any company more than that one.

Yeah it’s a blast! The job is simple so I just do my job and go home. But it’s fun, so I go have fun all day and then go home. I like it that way lol

Posted:  2 days, 6 hours ago

View Topic:

My new gig

Sounds like a great new job. Steady schedule and home every night! Hopefully you get used to sleeping in a real bed again.

Is there any incentive to taking a heavier load? I know you said you get paid by the load. Just trying to figure out if you get more money if you have them load you to the max of 97,000lbs. Your trucks look great!

Thanks! I’m enjoying it so far. And yes I hope so too haha. I’m working consistently 2-3 hours a day less than I was before and only have to drive 20 minutes or so round trip commute daily and the work is a lot easier but I have been absolutely exhausted since I started. There are just way more distractions at home.

No incentive so we don’t do it unless we have to. It actually kinda works against us if we do because it takes longer to load and unload. Dude this truck is a beast. If I set the cruise at 65 it will maintain that speed unless I’m going up an actual grade. It’s crazy

Posted:  2 days, 6 hours ago

View Topic:

My new gig

Oh yeah I forgot lol. You guys probably want to know WHAT I’m hauling hahah. Cement powder. There are different kinds and I don’t really know all about them but I really don’t get to see what I’m hauling because it’s a closed system. But it’s really fine and powdery and gets in your clothes and all over everything so it’s best to make sure all the connections are sealed well before you turn on that blower and start unloading lol.

Posted:  2 days, 7 hours ago

View Topic:

My new gig

I wasn’t gonna post about this yet but some people asked about it so…yes I just started a new gig hauling pneumatic trailers (aka “dry bulk”) locally for a smaller company with 100-200 trucks. Not much to it lol, and it’s not nearly as cool as G’s new gig which I’m definitely jealous of haha.

The pay is kinda weird because it pays by the load but the load pay varies based on the load (who it’s from and what customer is getting it). I do get a guaranteed minimum but it’s not as much as I was making over at System.

The work is really easy. When I get to the shipper I pull up next to or under a platform and I or one or the workers climbs on top of the trailer and opens the hatch. Then I pull onto the scale under the silo and they drop a chute down to the hatch on top of the trailer and load her up. It’s all done by weight so I just tell them how much I want and they keep loading until I hit that weight. I’ll usually load to like 79500 so I don’t end up overweight. We do have permits to run up to 97000 on surface streets in Denver but I have yet to do that.

When I get to the receiver I back up to the hoses next to the silo and hook it up to my trailer and blow everything out of the trailer using the blower on my truck. I don’t have any good pictures today but I’ll take some tomorrow and add them to this thread. Loading typically takes 10-15 minutes and unloading usually takes about an hour or so.

My work day is usually about 12 hours and I start early so I’m done early. Monday thru Friday with alternating Saturdays so I have a consistent schedule and I’m home every night so I can take care of my house and my dogs.

Right now I’m driving a 2019 (I think?) Peterbilt 567 automatic 18 speed with a 500 horse X15 Cummins that freaking PULLS haha. Technically I’m 99% sure I don’t need to use logs because of how short my runs are (I haven’t figured it out for sure but I’m pretty sure I run in the 150 air mile radius) but we just run slogs anyways because it’s easier to make sure we’re in compliance that way. We use this app called Samsara which is pretty cool. There’s a unit that attaches to the truck but we control the logs remotely on the app on our phones and it works way better than the clunky slow Qualcomms I’ve been using for years.

Oh, something interesting about this gig is that I don’t need any endorsements for it. I guess it’s because there’s no liquid in the tank so you don’t have to worry about the sloshing you would with an actual tanker.

Here are some pics of the truck and trailer. I also drove one of our new daycab Western Stars over the weekend while my truck was in the shop so I’ll include a couple pictures of that one too. We run mostly Western Stars with some Petes but I think that’s it. The old Western Stars with sleepers all have 13 speed manuals, the Pete’s have 18 speeds some auto and some manual, and the new daycab Western Stars have auto shift 12 speeds (they’re basically nicer looking heavier duty Freightliners). I really like the Pete I’m in but I asked for one of the older Western Stars because I like manuals and they said I should be able to get in one later this week probably.

Overall it seems like a super chill place to work and I’m loving it. I’m having a super hard time sleeping at home though and have already spent one night in the truck so I could get some good rest lol

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Posted:  2 days, 7 hours ago

View Topic:

Flatbed truckers! Tarp?

Here to say the same thing as Turtle lol. Not only does it depend on what season and what you’re hauling but it also depends on what company and fleet you’re on. At System on the Denver fleet I tarped on average once every week or two if even that. Easily 90% or more of my loads were either not tarped at all or they were pre tarped because of the contracts we had with shippers (we pulled a lot of dedicated freight). I have a friend who just started over at Central Oregon trucking doing Denver regional and he tarps maybe once or twice a week so far

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

My Journey Continues - The Latest Gig

I know you already told me about your gig earlier but congrats again! Looks like a ton of fun. I just started a new local gig myself hauling pneumatic trailers delivering concrete powder so I know what the PTO is now!

Posted:  1 week, 3 days ago

View Topic:

Owner operator advice

Dude what you’re trying to do is leech off the industry. You want to own a trucking company? Get your own authority and insurance and hire a driver that way. You’ll find it hard to do even then but there’s no legitimate reason for someone to work for you when they could just work directly for Schneider or get their own truck through them and not have a middle man.

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

View Topic:

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT

Truck ownership is definitely not something to decide about in the moment just because your other truck broke down. It requires a lot more planning

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

View Topic:

Mixed Feelings on Helping

Good on you for helping.

I like to help also and often do help newer drivers that ask me for help in person or call me with questions. BUT if you ask me for help and then want to argue for 30 minutes or don’t want to take my advice and put in the work you can go **** yourself.

Posted:  1 week, 5 days ago

View Topic:

New chapter in my life

Congrats PJ!! Getting to haul directly for the manufacturer is a huge plus. Let us know how it goes!

Posted:  2 weeks, 1 day ago

View Topic:

Should I be concerned if I never drove a 10 speed but got my CDL A in a 6 speed?

Hell yeah man!

Posted:  2 weeks, 2 days ago

View Topic:

Why Does This Crazy Stuff Keep Happening To Me?

Some owner operators are like waiters who exaggerate the amount of tips they get every day. I always got the feeling for waiters it was a way of justifying why they were only waiting tables and not doing something more "prestigious."

Jokes on you because alot of servers make very good money lol

Posted:  2 weeks, 2 days ago

View Topic:

Should I be concerned if I never drove a 10 speed but got my CDL A in a 6 speed?

No I didn’t double clutch

Oh ok yeah then you'll need that practice you signed up for. Since it's not a DOT road test just a company road test they won't mind if you float gears if that ends up being easier for you but you will have to learn how to match the road speed and rpms just right since it's a different animal in a non-synchronized tranny.

Let us know how it goes

Posted:  2 weeks, 2 days ago

View Topic:

Should I be concerned if I never drove a 10 speed but got my CDL A in a 6 speed?

Sorry if this is an ignorant comment lol, but was the 6 speed you tested in a non-synchronized transmission? (i.e. did you have to double clutch in it?) The shift patterns aren't that hard to learn and the main difference is going to be that you won't let the rpms drop as much between shifts in the 10 speed since there are more gears. As long as you already know how to double clutch or float gears it shouldn't be hard to adjust.

Posted:  2 weeks, 3 days ago

View Topic:

Why Does This Crazy Stuff Keep Happening To Me?

I've thought about going O/O eventually but the frustrating thing talking to lease and owner ops is that most of them don't properly describe their actual gross vs net pay. Without having a lengthy conversation and talking nitty gritty details you can't know if they're actually running their business smart or not. If they're netting 3-4k a week are they doing that because they're pocketing money they should be putting back into their business? Or are they really doing well?

I did finally sit down and have a lengthy conversation with one of the lease ops and talk real numbers and found out exactly what he was grossing and netting after everything including pay taxes on his income and he was doing all right. There are alot of successful owner ops that are doing well for themselves but in my limited experience talking to alot of these guys it's typically not the ones going on about how they're taking home 6k a week

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Sent home from Melton flatbed

Bird One false and I will explain.

Not trying to bust your balls but what exactly did BirdOne say that was false? He said you're making excuse after excuse and from where I'm sitting that looks like exactly what you're doing. You're admitting you made mistakes, but then you're excusing them by saying things like no one really uses an atlas these days, and the company did you dirty even though you cost them time and money because of the mistakes you were making. They could have been more patient with you if they wanted to but they were under no obligation to do so.

I'll tell you a little story about my student, we'll say his name is Bob. When Bob upgraded and got his own truck he ran into issue after issue the first few days. Issues with the truck, issues with the qualcomm, issues with one of the trailers, going over on his hours the first day on his own (thankfully that one was fixable), miscommunication with road service and the terminal manager and his dispatcher and with me. The reality is, Bob wasn't actually doing so badly all in all but the end result of all these things put together is that he got almost nothing done in his first three days whereas given the exact same scenarios it would have barely cost me any time at all. I could have helped guide him better but he didn't communicate his issues to me until it was too late and all I could do was help with damage control. The final straw was when Bob misunderstood an assignment he had received from dispatch and I gave him advice on where to park for the night based on the incorrect info Bob gave me. I ended up getting a call from the terminal manager who was none too pleased that I was telling another driver to do the opposite of what he'd told him to do.

Obviously this was all unintentional and, again, much of this actually wasn't Bob's fault. BUT...the bottom line is that we are expected to get stuff done. If we're not doing that and some or all of it turns out to be our fault, it doesn't look so good for us. Even though Bob hadn't hit anything, gotten any tickets, or anything like that, if the communication issues and general lack of productivity had continued for another week or so he most likely would have been terminated within the month.

The lesson to be learned here is not that newbie screw-ups don't happen and they're not ok, because they do happen and they are expected to some extent. But a very important lesson to be realized is that you can only mess up so many times (or mess up so bad) before you will be terminated. An example of a really bad screw-up that would probably get you fired if it happened within your first 6 months as a rookie driver is forgetting to set the brakes and letting the truck roll into something causing damage to both your truck and something else. A little parking lot ding isn't typically going to get you fired the first time as long as you're honest about it, but 3 within 6 consecutive months will often get you fired. Other things like being late for a delivery, going over on logs by a few minutes, having a cargo claim, going out of route and therefore driving extra miles, running out of fuel, etc---most of these are not that big of a deal on their own, but have several of these incidents in a relatively short period of time and the chances of getting let go from your company go up exponentially even if you didn't hit anything or get any tickets. And if you have several of these incidents in a short period of time and are also brand new at your company? Don't expect to stick around because you have no track record to save you. (Sidenote: this is also part of why we don't recommend leaving your first company within the first year. New drivers make more mistakes and your second company is much more likely to let you go if you're having lots of problems as soon as you start with them).

I'm not going to get into it on this thread, but coming soon: I have some personal experience with getting fired. I'm not judging you for your mistakes, but the purpose of going into all this is to hopefully set more reasonable expectations for you and others reading this thread.

TL;DR -- no matter how minor, several mistakes within a short period of time (especially if you're new at a company) is a recipe for getting let go.

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Sent home from Melton flatbed

Not sure where you got that from but people dont use atlases for much anymore. Garmin has that in it. Probably just made a mistake working it since I was a bit rusty with it.

Ouch. I’m not going to say much because you seem like an all right guy, but I completely agree with G Town. You screwed up several times at Melton in what you may have thought were minor things but ultimately these things add up. Be it a big mistake or several smaller ones that got you fired, companies aren’t charities and if they have a worker who is too much of a liability they will eventually let that person go.

It’s understandable that your mistakes don’t seem like much to you now because you’re still very new but again, these things add up. It’s possible Melton was a little on the strict side and could have spent more time training you—that I don’t know because I wasn’t there and don’t know all the intricate details but unfortunately they were justified in making the decision they made.

And yes, people still use atlases. It’s your responsibility to know where you’re going.

Posted:  2 weeks, 5 days ago

View Topic:

Did I just lose my job

Matthew P :

The other place where I am overly cautious and try to be hyper aware is the hell known as truck stops.

This 1000%. I avoid truck stops whenever I can and one of the main reasons is the increased risk there. Anytime you’re in close quarters at all like a truck stop or shipper/receiver remember that these are high risk situations and you need to be watching carefully all corners of your truck and trailer

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