Profile For Tim L.

Tim L.'s Info

  • Location:
    Uvalde, TX

  • Driving Status:
    Rookie Solo Driver

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    6 years, 4 months ago

Tim L.'s Bio

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Posted:  5 years, 7 months ago

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My First Mentor

When I read stories like this one, I am so thankful I had a superb trainer/mentor. Although I have been solo for several months now, we became friends and I still talk to him almost daily. He has 24 yrs experience and has a wealth of knowledge to draw from. I hope things are working out for you with your new trainer.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Coming to a stop tips.

I too suffered problems coming to a stop and downshifting when I first began driving a truck. What I found out is that you must give yourself more time to slow down and downshift. I think at least for me it was just being used to driving cars. If you don't start your slow down considerably sooner driving a truck, you will find that you just don't have time to get down to fifth gear. You will be rushing trying to do it, and that makes for problems. Simply begin your stopping process sooner than you might think is necessary, and it becomes much easier. BTW, don't worry about what the bozos behind you might think. LOL.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Being on the road....

Amanda, glad to hear you are doing well and enjoying it. I too had a great trainer/mentor. I have called him a number of times after going solo to ask him questions, and he still is more than willing to help a rookie out. Learn as much as you can under his tutelage, because when you get solo, he/she will not always be there anymore. You will need to make many more of your own decisions, and it can be scary at times. The up side to that is you will learn faster that way when you do make a mistake.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Preventing sliding back on up hill stop without stalling engine.

What I do is keep my foot on the brake pedal while letting out the clutch pedal just enough until you feel it engage. Then I carefully let off the brake as the truck begins going forward. If there is another way to do it, I would like to know.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Does your company get you home in time?

FFE got me my time off on time, although this is just my first time off. I was out almost seven weeks before going off. It almost got sabotaged by a reefer breakdown though that was not the companies fault. I have not heard of any real problems yet with my company from others either.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Hey congrats Tim! Oh man, time to go solo - steppin up to the big time!!! It's a blessing because you get to make your own decisions, but at times a curse because you alone have to make your own decisions.

rofl-3.gifsmile.gif

Looking forward to hearing how it goes!

Wow, what you said sums it up perfectly.

After training, there was not a truck for me immediately available, so to give me some miles, I was dispatched to do a recovery along with its load........in the middle of Chicago! This is how my first solo experience went.

After waking up at 8am, I caught a Greyhound from Dallas bound for Chi town at 1:30pm. Was on the bus for 21 hours. I am very tall, so I am squished in like a sardine, so no sleep for me. Got to Chicago okay and caught a 20 minute cab ride to the terminal. Found the truck okay....but the trailer load I was supposed to pick up was not there. I was then dispatched to pick up a trailer at a local shipper. I had never been to Chicago so naturally, I got lost, not once but twice during heavy afternoon traffic near O'Hare airport. Finally got there and the reefer unit was not working. Hooked up and got rolling and scaled, then finally got out of Chicago. I am so sleepy I could not safely drive more, so I pulled in to a TS where there was no available spaces. Had to park on a side street next to the TS where a couple other trucks were parked and hope I don't get a ticket. After waking up, I get going and I finally made it to my fuel stop in Springfield IL, where I was then told to go back to Bloomington to get the reefer repaired. The load was only needing cooling at 65 deg, but OSD did not want to chance it. After a few hours, the reefer was repaired, but now there is no way I can get the load delivered to Fort Worth on time. I drove very hard the rest of the way to ensure the load got there as soon as possible, but by the time I got to the receiver, dropped the trailer, and returned to the home terminal in Dallas, I had 12 minutes left on my clock. Whew.

To sum it up, I don't know how a rookie driver could get get a much tougher experience on his first solo trip unless wrecking or something. The truck I recovered was a ProStar, and I trained in a Cascadia. I did not realize until I drove the ProStar just how different the two are in feel. I really hated the ProStar. It was basically a terrifying experience in places, and overall was not enjoyable, but I learned many lessons that I will take on to the future with.

I was happy when I got back to be issued a 2010 Century. After driving her around the lot, I already like her much better than that ProStar. Even though it is an older model, she seems sound and in good shape.

This is where I will end this thread, since I am solo now, but will continue to post in the general forum as I can. Thanks for reading. Hope my experiences helped people.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

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Yet another newbie ...

sorry guys, I know you probably get tired of hearing the words "hey I'm thinking of truck driving for a career and have a few questions" ... but here I am, and hey I'm thinking of driving a truck for a 'new' career and have a few questions.

A little about me ... I am currently a high school teacher and am looking to retire either next year or the year after (or maybe even one more if the incentives to stay are right). I'll most likely be 57 years old when I retire, am in decent physical shape with no serious medical issues. I do have high blood pressure which I control with medication. I am a Navy vet having served in the 80's active duty and as a reservist for 10 years on and off in the 90's. While in the reserves I learned how to drive a "deuce and a half" (2 1/2 ton) truck that hauled a surveillance van around.I didn't get to do it much beyond getting my license cause it was fun and I was pretty low on the totem pole at the time.

questions 1) will my age be a factor at all? I've read that many companies gladly accept and train retirees ... but I'm probably not going to want to drive for much more than 8-10 years. 2) I'm divorced, children are grown and gone to college ... I like my own company, and don't mind being alone at all. I would actually prefer the OTR aspect ... being away for weeks at a time, etc. Living obligation free ... From what I've read, that desire sounds like it might be greatly to my advantage, yes?

3) I'm accident free, not a drinker (outside of the occasional beer), or a drug user. Apparently being a school teacher has pretty much the same requirements as being a truck driver. I'm reasonably intelligent and am good at keeping my mouth shut and eyes and ears open. I appear, to myself at least, to be an ideal candidate for just about any truck-driving school. Yes?

4) I do have two brothers who have driven a variety of different trucks over the years who have warned me away ... saying that truck driving schools and companies are essentially similar to "puppy mills". My response to them more or less mirrors the attitudes I see on this site. That YOUR attitude has as much to do with how well you get along as anything else.

Even though I'm at least a year away from pursuing this dream ... I'm pretty excited about it. So much so that I couldn't help but go ahead and post on this forum to ask questions.

Last question ... aside from reading everything I can find on this site and working through the test preparation materials ... is there anything else I can do to learn more about this career? I'm a pretty shy retiring kind of guy ... so just walking up to a trucker and starting a conversation ... well I'm not sure I could do that. I might see if I can locate a truck stop and go have a cup of coffee sometime though.

Anyway thanks in advance for any advice and/or encouragement.

clif

Clif, your situation is almost identical to mine. I am 58, retired military, and needed a new career. I even have bp issues that you do, plus the added issue of hearing loss. You can get into the job without much problem. I had always wanted to drive a truck, and now I am doing it. Just carefully consider what you want to do as far as a driving career, whether OTR, LTL, flatbed, reefer, dry van etc. This site has awesome info on all, along with some great training aids.

I decided to attend company sponsored training through FFE and pull reefers (KLLM takes over in Nov.), and am just coming out of training and upgrading to my solo truck. I have been happy so far. You can follow my whole process in the CDL Training Forum on this site.

Posted:  5 years, 11 months ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Hey all. Well, today I road tested with FFE and passed with little problem, attended a mini-orientation, and tomorrow I will get my truck assigned. I believe I am ready.....I hope, lol. So much to learn and retain. My trainer thinks I am good to go.

I am telling ya I really lucked out getting the trainer I did. Six weeks with him 24/7 and not a single argument. He gave me his phone number today and said give him a call any time with questions. Can't beat that with a stick. About the worst things I had to deal with were the upper bunk, which was awfully hard and narrow, and the lack of choice in healthy foods. I bought some new sheets for my new full size twin mattress in the sleeper berth, and I am sure looking forward to sleeping better.

One other thing that did bother me a bit. My trainer made a couple of decisions on running harder than I thought necessary, but after all it is his livelihood and his truck, so I kept my pie hole shut. Those days were totally exhausting, but I still learned from them, and I now know how much endurance I have sitting in a truck seat, lol. Of course, going solo I won't have to stay in that seat near as long as running "super solo" with my trainer.

I will try to post very soon on what kind of truck I get issued, how I outfit it, and how my new job as a company driver with FFE gets going. Hopefully it will be of help to others entering the industry.

Posted:  6 years ago

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FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Hard to believe that in only two weeks I will be getting my own truck. Training is flying by. Perhaps I just got lucky, but I gotta say this trainer/trainee thing is not that bad. About the only things I really don't like I have already mentioned. Perhaps the hardest thing that I don't think I have mentioned has been running as a "supersolo" where I drive 8 hours, my trainer drives 8 hours and we take off 8 hours at the same time to sleep. The tough part is being in the seat for 16 hours. The good thing about it is we get a large portion of the benefit of team driving, but I have the benefit of always having the trainer awake and in the passenger seat. We have run a couple of 20 hour stretches, and my bones were hurting after that. I will certainly be ready for my own truck when the time comes.

We have really been running hard. Since my last post we have gone from Miami to New Jersey then all the way to Portland OR where we just left. We are heading for Laredo, TX, which will complete a circle all the way around the country.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Downshifting into 5th isn't too bad. Any lower than that gets really difficult. Those lower gears are spinning so fast that the window of opportunity to get it into gear gets smaller and smaller as the gears get lower.

You will certainly get better with time. Nobody ever gets to a point where they never grind a gear. You can drive for 100 years and you're still going to grind gears sometimes.

Well, here I am 8 days later at the three week halfway point on the road with my driver trainer. All is going very well. I have been a part first hand to some of the issues that plague drivers. We sat at one stop for a load of frozen turkeys for 11 hours waiting to get loaded. We have dealt with surly shipping/receiving clerks. We have dealt with mistakes by our dispatch. We have had two breakdowns that required the truck going into the shop. I am dealing with living with another big guy 24/7 in a very small space. My tail end aches from long hours sitting. I am sleeping in a top bunk that is hard as a rock. You know what? I am still loving it. I knew this was what I was cut out for all along, and I wish I had got into this many years ago. In just three weeks, I have already been to thirteen states, seven of which I have not been.

As for my driving, it has progressed nicely. My shifting is finally getting where I want it. I am much smoother now, with both up and down shifting. I had a tendency to apply too much throttle when upshifting, and my downshifting is better because I am giving myself more room when slowing down for intersections and turns. I no longer worry about getting down below fifth when downshifting either. My turns could still use more work as well, but I have not run over any curbs yet, although I have nicked two of them. Backing is improving as well but I know that will take a lot longer to become truly comfortable and/or fully proficient (if that is actually possible).

I had my first very close call on the highway today. We were eastbound on FL 60 not far from Vero Beach which is a two lane at that point. I was driving down the road chillin' when a car that had been following me for miles comes flying by passing me, with another car oncoming west bound. The idiot passing me missed a head on literally by inches at high speed that would have happened right in front of me. There was not time to apply brakes. All I could do was make a small move to the right because there was no shoulder. That was a very frightening experience. Inches were the difference in multiple fatalities occurring because of a drivers extremely poor judgement. I hope I never see that again, but it is just wishful thinking I am sure.

All for now, but more to come.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

I don't know how your trainer is recommending you do it, but there's no reason to downshift through the lower gears when approaching a stop. If you downshift to 6th and keep slowing down you should be able to just about come to a stop before the engine starts getting bogged down by the low RPM's. Then you can kick it out of gear and stop. I know they obsess about "never be out of gear" so do whatever your trainer says right now. But once you're on your own you'll be able to do it any way you like. Coasting a little while out of gear in reality doesn't hurt a thing.

Oh, and you'll also be floating gears, not double clutching once you get on your own so shifting will be 1000 times easier.

Glad you get along well with your trainer though! That's really huge!

Actually, Brett, it was at the academy that they kept saying that we must be in fifth or lower to make a safe stop. If it were up to my trainer, I would already be floating, but we have to do it the way we are told. I am sure I will get better with time and polish. I am also very happy I got a trainer I can get along with for six weeks.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Been ruuning hard and covered a lot of miles in 10 days. In that time we have gone from Dallas to Denver, Amarillo, New Caney, TX, Baytown, TX, Cactus, TX, Los Angeles, Bakersfield, CA, and we are now in Pauls Valley, OK. After unloading tomorrow, we are headed to Missouri, then to Miami. We have been running up to sixteen hours per day, with each of us doing about half the driving, then both sleeping the other eight. My trainer is always in the passenger seat while I am driving.

As for my driving, I am enjoying the experience for the most part. I am not happy with my low range downshifting at all. It just seems like I can't get downshifted fast enough before coming to an intersection, etc. I get down to 7th or 6th, but just can't seem to get whoa'ed up enough to get to 5th or lower. I stop safe enough, but just can't seem to get through all the gears. My backing is also not good, but I believe both will improve with more time. I got experience mountain driving, and did several mountain inclines and steep grades without problem. I was very cautious, and was probably the butt of granny jokes on the CB, lol. I was the one laughing at the one dummy flying by with smoking brakes though. I was also shocked to see just how bad some truck drivers are while moving in truck stops.

My trainer has been really great. I have no problem at all getting along with him. He goes out of his way to try to keep me happy. Space is very tight, as we are both big guys, and that gets a little frustrating at times. The top bunk I sleep in is uncomfortable and tight, but barely tolerable. Nothing I can't handle though for a few more weeks. Once in my own truck, I will have plenty of room for my stuff, and will be happy to have it organized the way I want it.

I will post again soon.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Old School is right.  KLLM is merging with FFE.  Both companies will benefit and will become overall one of the largest refrigerated carriers in the country.

The pay is actually going up a bit for the FFE drivers with the merger, and the equipment is fine.  The training academy is very good.  Personally I would choose FFE/KLLM over Raider, but that is just me.  I wanted nationwide OTR, and with Raider you won't get that.

Posted:  6 years ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Congrats on the CDL Tim! By now you may be on the road with your trainer while I am finishing up (actually already finished but I need a ride home lol) with mine. I will tell you now on top of my posts that you will have times where you will want to flip out on the dude (or lady) in the jump seat. Don't. There is a method to their madness. I read somewhere here that trainees will be tested on much more than the driving. That is true. All you need to remember is keep your cool, know that there is an end and every day gets you closer to it, AND no matter how bad you screw up, keep telling yourself that you will improve and be driving your own truck real soon.

good luck and make it fun.

RT, thanks. Congrats on finishing your training period and getting your own truck.

I have few worries about getting through the training period with my trainer, at least up till this point. I have been out a week now with him, and am doing fine. I probably got lucky with my trainer, as he is an older fellow, patient with me, level headed, good natured, and has 29 years driving experience. He is a good ol boy from the Kentucky hills. He never bites my head off when I make mistakes, he just calmly coaches me in ways to correct them. I respond well to that approach.

Posted:  6 years, 1 month ago

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Recruiters

The company I am with, FFE, loves husband and wife team drivers. We had a married couple in my recent Academy training class, and I even heard them being told how much they are appreciated by the company. Unfortunately, they left due to medical issues, but FFE is a good reefer company to go with, and they will not lead you astray. They tell it like it is. With the recent merger with KLLM, the company will be even stronger. You and your spouse agree to a year, and you will not see a single nickel taken out of your pay for the Academy training. There are other good reefer companies that love husband/wife teams as well, as successful teams tend to maximize profits.

Posted:  6 years, 1 month ago

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Life might hit Fast Forward to Trucking. The Million Dollar Question?

About turnover rate. It can be over 100 percent at Swift and still have many long term veteran drivers working. Remember, the rate is based upon turnover over a set period of time, usually a year. Many, many drivers are lost in the first few weeks because they cannot hack the lifestyle change, then many more that replace the original losses are lost in the first few weeks again, etc etc, and the total for the year can then reflect 100 percent or more turnover, because many drivers are hired and quit well before a year has gone by. I hope I am making sense. In other words, if a company employs 100 drivers. Eighty quit after a few months, and they hire eighty to replace them, and they all quit too before the year is out, you have gone through 160 drivers in that one year alone, yet there are 20 that go on to become veterans. That is an extreme example, but it makes my point, which in this case is well over a 100 percent turnover.

Posted:  6 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Congratulations Man! I really enjoy hearing the success stories as they come in. I know it's silly, but you feel like your kid just graduated or something. I think it's because of all the misinformation out there for new people trying to get into trucking. When you realize you've managed to help someone find their way through the confusing maze and see them get that CDL and start out on the adventure of a lifetime, well, it's just downright gratifying.

Again, Congratulations! I'm really excited for ya! Can't wait to hear some more about your journey and about FFE.

Thanks, Old School. I appreciate it.

I was just mentioning the driver for FFE that stopped at the Academy today. He is just entering his third year, and getting a ton of miles. He let us know that it can be a little slow in Jan and Feb, but the rest of the year he is really rolling. I was very impressed with what he is getting. He also mentioned that he loves working for FFE. That is solid information right there straight from a drivers live mouth, and, he is a company driver and not a lease operator. Also, there has been no indication whatsoever that the staff here at FFE has mislead us in any way.

Posted:  6 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

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Day 7. Today we were given our evaluations for PVIM, straight line backing, and parallel parking. A couple of students excelled, but most everyone graded average (me included), and nobody failed.

It was incredibly hot today, with the temp in Fort Worth hitting 106 degrees, and I am sure it was much hotter on the asphalt range. Today was the first day the heat began to bother me some, but I made it through the day and felt better after a cool shower. Most of the day is spent spotting for your team of three per truck, so you spend a lot of time in the sun awaiting your turn.

Tomorrow we have the day off for the holiday, and FFE is throwing the students a barbecue. I thought that was thoughtful of them. The day off will give my aching left leg time to heal. Feathering a heavy spring clutch for three straight days will make it ache until you get used to it.

On Tuesday, we start learning how to shift using double clutching. We will be taken out of the road for the first time. I am really looking forward to the challenge.

double-quotes-end.png

Hello Tim, How is it going now? I,m 50 and about to start my journey. Looking forward to it.

Darrell, I am great. Are you going to the FFE Academy, or if not, who?

Posted:  6 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

FFE Training Academy....My Journey Continues

Hey Tim - congrats!!! That's fantastic news! There's no feeling in the world like passing that CDL exam and getting your license. It's a huge relief and super exciting. Glad to hear it.

Definitely keep us posted on how things progress for ya. Looking forward to hearing how things go for you on the road with your trainer.

smile.gif

Thanks, Brett. I will do my best to post my experiences during time with my trainer.

It turns out that the new one day orientation still has some bugs to work out, but we should be finished tomorrow. Hopefully, Thursday I will be heading out. We had a driver pull up into the Academy bobtailed this afternoon in a 2013 Pro Star all nice, green and shiny. We thought he might be a trainer here to pick one of the graduates up, but it turned out to be a company driver just stopping in to rest and catch a shower before going to a nearby shipper to pick up a load for New Jersey. He gave us a lot of good info, and let us climb in and check out his truck. Nice for sure, but I don't care whether Cascadia or Pro Star, I just want to be rolling.

Posted:  6 years, 1 month ago

View Topic:

Help,Help Help

I agree with Red Gator. I had a gap in my employment for the past two years, and Prime did not even contact me after I applied with them. Their loss in my opinion. FFE contacted me and only required three letters of attestation from people that could verify that I was taking care of my elderly mother, and had no problems. Swift is pretty liberal in that regard as well. As Red Gator stated, keep trying and applying with other companies.

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