Profile For Cold War Surplus

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    1 year, 6 months ago

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Posted:  1 day, 7 hours ago

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What you wish you had

Your truck may already have a fridge, inverter or APU. Every company has their own policies though. For example, every truck at CRST comes with a fridge, you have to pay for your own inverter and there is no APU option.

NO company trucks come with carpeting, but it's nice if you want to go barefoot in the cab. I pick up two bath mats at Walmart, lay one down the middle of the cab and one parallel to my bunk. Much cozier than vinyl and easier to clean.

Before you buy any appliances get a measuring tape and know exactly how much room you have to work with. I once bought the smallest microwave in the store thinking it would work great in my Cascadia. It barely fit in the cabinet over the fridge and had to be held in place with bungies while the truck was moving. To use it I had to unpack it and place it on my bunk. Smaller appliances made for R.V's and trucks are much more expensive than regular household models. Check out Dometic products for tight spaces.

Many of the truck items will be available at truck stops. I understand you don't want to pay full price for these things but you'll earn ~$100/mo in points just buying the fuel you need to do the job and those points can only be spent at the truck stops. My GPS, CB radio, annual internet subscriptions and some Christmas presents for friends and family were all paid for with points.

For news and entertainment I bring my iPad on the road. An audio cable connected to the truck's radio lets me listen to free podcasts or audio books. I have unlimited data with T-mobile that lets me stream shows on my down time from Amazon Prime, iTunes or my HBO subscription. France24 has a nice 30 minute free news broadcast for world news and you can find Fox News or CNN (depending on your preference) live streaming on Youtube for US news.

Posted:  2 days, 10 hours ago

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Your Favorite Truck Stop

Are the TA's of America the most "modern" truck stops?

Nope. TA and Petro are usually have the largest parking lots and offer the most services. You won't see a TA with 13 parking spaces like the Love's in Las Cruces, NM. Each of the major chains has its quirks.

Love's started out as a chain of, "country stores". Convenience stores like 7-11, Circle K, etc. They grew into truck stops. I have to tell trainee drivers to be careful when driving in Oklahoma not to just turn into a driveway with a Love's sign because it may just be a convenience store! They skimp on amenities , but bribe drivers with up to 4 points per gallon on their loyalty program. If you find a Love's with a driver's lounge, a sit-down restaurant or a full-size truck parking lot you can than the Federal Trade Commission. When Flying J merged with Pilot the FTC would only allow the merger if they agreed to sell 20 locations to Love's. Oak Creek, WI; Concord, CA and Troutdale, OR locations were all formerly Flying J. If you're not sure, look for keypads near the shower doors. They'll be disabled but they're often visible.

Pilot/Flying J locations are uneven. The Flying J stores are generally nicer and have better parking than the Pilot stores (compare the Flying J across the street from Iowa 80 with the Pilot on the other side of the freeway). Typically they have services inside the store (restaurant, driver's lounge) but they haven't had service/repair facilities. until recently their focus has been on attracting four-wheelers in addition to CMV drivers so their stores are brightly lit with wide aisles (reminds me of Target). Recently acquired by Warren Buffet, Pilot/Flying J are now opening hundreds of truck maintenance facilities and setting up a chain of clinics with healthcare plans for drivers.

TA/Petro doesn't skimp. The largest parking lots by far. You know you'll get a sit-down restaurant and a 24-hour shop at most locations. The showers are the nicest of the three. Unfortunately, they have fewer locations than the other two (271 vs. Love's 430 and Pilot/Flying J's 550) and their rewards program is the stingiest of the three - 10,000 gallons before you reach free showers on demand).

Posted:  2 days, 13 hours ago

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Your Favorite Truck Stop

Jubitz off I-5 exit 307 in Portland, OR. There's an old school truck stop on one end of the property and a hotel on the other with an enclosed mini-mall of travel services between them. Barber shop, full laundromat, movie theater, several restaurants, convenience store, shoe repair, DOT physicals, mailboxes, etc.

Ever wonder what would happen if a billionaire decided to make some nice truck stops just because? The owner of Sinclair oil did before he passed. Officially, Grand America Hotels and Resorts, little America on I-80 in Wyoming and I-40 in Flagstaff, AZ are some of my favorite stops. Great food, fair prices, marble showers and an upscale look and feel that will make you forget you're in a truck stop.

Posted:  2 days, 14 hours ago

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May Trucking Company pay options: CPM (0.35 for me as a rookie) vs. $105 daily minimum with 90 day extra pay based on miles.

May has been offering innovative pay options for years. They used to have three pay options. As an experienced driver I have no problem covering 650 miles a day while driving. There are plenty of days I make nothing though. Make a delivery and find your customer doesn't have an empty trailer available for you to take to your next pickup? You can spend ALL DAY driving across multiple states looking for an empty trailer for zero pay. Pull into the receiver and have the guard tell you, "It's going to be a while. We had 7 dockworkers call in sick today. Give me your cell number and I'll call you when I have a gate." Get a, "camper load" - a load where the delivery date is several days after the drive time needed to get the load from the shipper to the receiver - ie you pick up a load in Rialto, CA on on Wednesday morning to be delivered in Clackamas, OR on the following Monday. Yes, I call and no, they won't accept early delivery. Two days of paid driving and three days parked at a truck stop under load. For these reasons and others you are going to lose whole days of driving time.

It looks like they're trying to use a half-off pay option (600 miles a day @ $105 works out to $.175 cpm) to limit their driver turnover. Who is going to quit in a huff over something minor knowing they've leaving half their pay behind? Most drivers will plan their departures around the 90 day pay cycle and since every driver will have a different hire date that should smooth May's driver turnover. The drivers who stay will make a little more overall since they have a guaranteed minimum. Drivers who quit unexpectedly end up working for $.175 cpm - perfectly legal because the drivers agreed to it.

Posted:  6 days, 11 hours ago

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Dry Van Midwest Regional?

Oh, the promised land - a local/regional driving job with good pay and no OTR experience requirement.

Sadly, you've actually got TWO issues. First, you're looking for a company that offers a path to earning your CDL without you having to pay up-front. There are several companies that offer this but they all want a term of OTR driving in exchange for that training. Smaller regional carriers don't usually offer training. Your best bet is to find a large OTR carrier that offers training and has dedicated, regional routes in your area.

Secondly, finding your dream job won't be as hard AFTER you have your 1 year of OTR out of the way. You live in the heart of freight country. A quick peek at the Schneider (picked randomly could be Prime, Swift or a dozen others) job site shows regional opportunities with hometime every other weekend and a dedicated JCPenny run with weekends off (must live within 100 miles of Lenexa, KS). I'd suggest talking to a recruiter and asking how many months of driving OTR you would have to put in before you could transition to a dedicated regional run.

Posted:  1 week ago

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Dry Van, Reefer,Advantages and Disadvantages

The biggest differences are noise, time and attention to detail.

Dry van is often drop and hook. You don't need to wait your turn for a live load/live unload. This can take hours on both ends of your trip and you often earn a fraction of what you could be earning if your wheels were turning. If you like watching tv I guess that could be an advantage.

I pull dry van, but I've parked next to a reefer truck at truck stops. Reefer units are loud enough from several feet away. I can't imagine trying to sleep while hitched to one.

A sealed dry van requires little supervision. A refer has to be set to the proper temperature for the load every time. The internal combustion engine that keeps the reefer cool is running more than the truck's engine so breakdowns are a fact of life. One more thing that can break, take you off the road and take money out of your pocket. If your load shifts and a box blocks a vent that was keeping the load cool an entire load could be rejected. In a nutshell, more work, less pay, more hassles with reefer.

Posted:  1 week ago

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Schneider drivers I need your feedback

Not a Schneider driver, but I can think of two important advantages about driving for Schneider that I didn't consider when deciding where to start my career.

1) Facilities. Schneider has dozens of them. Laundry, wi-fi, showers, restaurants. It's like having a chain of truck stops that are only open to Schneider drivers. Must be nice to have a place to park your truck instead of roaming the earth looking for an empty parking space at the public truck stops after dark. CRST has FOUR terminals. By default they send you to the terminal closest to your home of record when your truck needs maintenance. I have to go to Riverside, CA - a mere 1,207 miles from my home! Other drivers who live in L.A. just drive home for an extra day or two of hometime.

2) They know where their trailers are!!! Their smartphone app will show you a map of empty trailer locations based on their satellite tracking. I have spent many 11-hour days driving across multiple states looking for trailers that aren't there. I earn nothing on those days.

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

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Nikola Truck

The problem is our industry is slow to adopt new technology and resistant to change. Rear-backing cameras, collision avoidance radar, headlights bright enough to make it seem like you're driving in daylight - all standard even on mid-grade family sedans yet not coming to your CMV anytime soon.

There are several attempts to move from diesel currently and have been in the recent past. You don't have to look too hard to find LPNG pumps (Liquid Propane Natural Gas - methane) at truck stops. You can't blame the trucking companies. They have to pay more for the truck up front, risk uncertain fueling options and then face a lower resale value for the truck.

A live load once took longer than expected so I had to limp into a truck stop after dark hoping to find somewhere to park. All the regular parking spaces were occupied so I asked the manager about parking options. She suggested I park next to the LPNG pumps. I asked, "Won't that be in the way if someone wants to fuel their truck?" She replied, "No. We put that pump in 8 years ago and we've only used it once!"

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

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Is it appropriate to give your fleet manager a gift

What kind of gift would be appropriate?

I gave my FM a spill-proof, vacuum-insulated coffee cup from Contigo (<$20 on sale). Simple, inexpensive, keeps her coffee hot all day and sits on her desk acting as a reminder of her favorite driver.

Posted:  1 week, 4 days ago

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Getting started in trucking with an 3 year old DUI

Start here: Trucking Companies That Hire Drivers With DUI

While having a DUI does limit your options you can still go forward. Prime is an excellent choice. I don't know what you consider close. Prime trains in Springfield, MO - a state that borders Illinois. I had to go three states away to train without a DUI!

You've got two things going for you right out of the gate. 1) Time is on your side. The list of companies willing to hire you will get longer the longer it's been since your DUI. You're in the heart of truck country. 2) Several large OTR companies are headquartered (and run schools in) Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri.

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

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I-70 Colorado mountains

CRST's trucks aren't allowed on I-70 west of Denver. You get a nastygram on the Qualcomm telling you to get off of I-70 even if you're just taking I-15 over I-70!

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

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Car hauling

I took a gig driving for an auto auction house before going to CDL school. I would drive the vehicles from the dealerships to the auction house and then to their new owners after the auction. There were also two CDL drivers who drove car haulers there. I asked them a lot of questions about driving while I was there. I remember three things they told me:

1. Car haulers are very low with minimal ground clearance. You have to be very careful or you can get stuck on railroad tracks, curbs or anything that isn't flat, level road.

2. Car dealers pack their lots with cars so there's usually no room to drive your truck onto the lot to load/unload. Most of the time you'll be unloading on the center lane of the road in front of the dealership as cars whiz by on either side of you.

3. You're responsible to all damage to the vehicles. Fair enough, but if a salesperson or lot attendant at the dealership has a fender bender after you've delivered the car in perfect condition they don't always do the right thing. Given the choice between admitting a mistake and possibly losing their job or claiming, "It came that way off the truck" many will have no problem blaming the driver. To protect yourself you MUST take pictures of every car you deliver on all sides.

Posted:  1 month, 2 weeks ago

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When the trucks stop

Hasn't been getting much coverage, but truckers in Brazil have been on strike for the last week over the price of diesel. It hasn't taken long for things to go off the rails:

8 airports closed (no fuel), 64 million chickens killed (no feed), empty store shelves, 12+ hours in line to buy gas

The government is trying to hold things together with the military and the police. A scary example of what can happen if we don't go to work every day.

Posted:  3 months ago

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CRST Questions

CRST actually uses several schools to train drivers. The two main schools are located at their terminals in Riverside, CA and Cedar Rapids, IA. You're closer to the school in Cedar Rapids so you will go there UNLESS you are a veteran of the armed forced. CRST (and Stevens Transport) sends veterans to Careers World Wide in Keenesburg, CO for an accelerated training program. CRST also uses several feeder schools throughout the southern states. These drivers go through orientation at the CRST terminal in Oklahoma City, OK. My answers will vary slightly from millionmiler24's because I attended the school in Keenesburg.

CLP testing occurs before dawn on Wednesday. Your entire class will load up into a van, drive to the DMV office in Denver and wait in the parking lot for the DMV to open at 8. The DMV employees know you're coming - a new class shows up at that office every Wednesday.

Week 1 your class will split up into trucks with usually 4-5 students in a truck. You will rotate with one student driving the truck forward and back in a straight line and the others sitting in the sleeper berth watching and waiting for their turn.

Week 2 is a lot like week 1 only now you drive the truck forward into a road parallel to the one it started out at, then back into the new lane, then pull forward into the first lane and back to your starting position.

Week 3 you will work on alley backing in the morning and after lunch you will take the truck out on the road with an instructor. You'll take it on the freeways and stop in small towns and rest areas.

CWW is still using trucks with manual transmissions.

If you don't make it through on your first attempt they will work with you and give you every opportunity to improve. You basically get a dedicated truck and instructor to work with you to get you test ready.

CRST doesn't have APU's. You will get power from an inverter and optimized idle. You may purchase an inverter at your own expense (1,500 watts max). You can buy one at the truck stop using your points. It must be installed by a CRST tech at a terminal. There is a small fee for this but once you have paid the fee once you can have inverters installed or removed as many times as you want for no additional charge.

Your inverter will draw power from the battery while the truck is parked. When the battery gets low the the optimized idle will start the truck automatically and recharge the battery then shut the truck off.

Posted:  4 months ago

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TV service

For my tv needs I depend on a combination of Philo and T-mobile. Philo offers 37 channels for $16/mo. AMC, IFC, History and Discovery are included and have everything I need.

My iPad is 4G capable. With the 6gb/mo. data plan and my veterans discount I can connect to TMO for $21.25/mo. While 4G data is capped at 6gb/mo. streaming video doesn't count against the cap. All the Youtube and Philo I can watch even if I've already used up my 6gb. Sweet deal.

Posted:  4 months ago

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Possible self driving/ autonomous trucks opinions and time frame?

Self-driving trucks are not going to have any impact on trucking for a very long time.

I beg to differ. The fear, uncertainty and doubt created by all the hype IS having an impact - young people are ruling out driving careers as a viable option because they perceive it as a dead-end. " Oh noes! Why invest three weeks of my life to get a CDL when the trucks are just going to drive themselves?" This combined with retiring baby boomers is shrinking the pool of available drivers at a time when demand for drivers is at an all-time high. Look for massive signing bonuses, higher cpm rates and improved benefits to continue for the foreseeable future.

Posted:  5 months ago

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Never say never

I have two predictions for you:

1. You'll be getting more phone calls asking you to stay. 2. A set of "golden handcuffs" are coming your way - a bonus provided by an employer to discourage an employee from taking employment elsewhere. They give the cash up-front to stay for a given period. Laws vary by state, but most of the time if you leave early you have to pay back a pro-rated percentage of the bonus.

Posted:  5 months ago

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Cdl question

First the bad news - without a 160-hour training certificate your options will be very slim as others have already stated. That said, there's nothing stopping you from taking the CDL class at your local community college after you have your CDL to clear that hurdle. Yeah, it's about $2-3K to go that route but you should easily earn that back in your first year. The college won't have a problem taking your money and the insurance companies don't care that you got it after you got your CDL as long as you have it.

Now the good part. Every year from Oct thru Jan parcel carriers are SLAMMED covering Santa's back. UPS, FedEx, USPS, OnTrac, etc. hire THOUSANDS of seasonal drivers just to cover the surge. Since most drivers drive year-round there isn't a lot of interest in these positions so they have lower hiring standards than they would for their year-round drivers.

You don't mention what part of the country you're from so I can't tailor my recommendations to your region but some other ideas are driving the harvest to market/canning plant for farms in the Fall, delivering heating oil in the northern states in the Winter or Driving busloads of skiers to the slopes.

Posted:  9 months ago

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Why all the hate...?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with the fact that the large mega-carriers are run more efficiently, have lower operating costs and are able to haul loads profitably at a much lower cpm rate. You are their competition. Instead of adapting to the changing times they've chosen to fight tooth and nail to keep the profession as it was instead of moving forward. Instead of trying to compete effectively they've chosen to blame the competition for low freight rates and make spurious accusations about their safety records. Don't worry about it - these dinosaurs will disappear soon enough.

Posted:  9 months ago

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Linehaul questions.

You're probably going to take the company that will hire you. Every region is different in linehaul but these jobs pay well and LTL carriers usually don't struggle as much as OTR carriers to find drivers. I've heard stories of trainees being offered linehaul positions right out of school in the Northeast. In the Northwest there's a regional LTL carrier (Penninsula Truck Lines) that wants five years of verified OTR experience before they'll consider you. Consider my remarks as applicable to the Northwest market, but other markets aren't that different.

The big advantage with the union carriers is the insurance. Usually, it's thrown in at no charge to you beyond paying union dues. Unions were exempted from Obamacare so you can still get a, "Cadillac plan". The big hitch is the wages. Yellow/YRC/New Penn/Holland/Reddaway starting pay is on the low end of the scale (51.56 cpm/$20.83/hr. to start) and then there's the 15% giveback - they deduct 15% of your earnings back! UPS wages are o.k., but they tend to starve out new drivers giving them 1 or 2 runs a week. Compare Yellow's starting wage with SAIA (64 cpm w/2 years exp.), Old Dominion (68 cpm), Estes (68 cpm).

As an entry-level linehaul driver you'll be working the extra board (sometimes called the system). A typical linehaul terminal will have 12-15 drivers on bid runs and those drivers will have 3 or 4 weeks of vacation time each so 36-60 weeks where they will need someone to fill in for them. Bid driver sick days and extra freight during the busy season will fill out your runs. Seniority comes into play when bidding on a regular run. After you've worked the extra board for a year or two you will probably have enough seniority to get a bid run. Seniority also comes into play for weekend work.

Traditionally, P&D drivers get promoted into linehaul but their wives usually veto this in favor of having them home at night. The big problem you're going to face is external competition. If a terminal has one opening and another driver with a clean record and 5 years of experience applies you won't get called back. If that other driver doesn't apply you will get the job.

Pulling doubles and triples isn't the hard part - wrestling with the dollies to hitch your set is the hard part. It can be extra difficult if you're doing it in an uneven, gravel lot. The driving part isn't that much different than pulling a single 53' dry van. Doubles and triples have fewer accidents than singles. Parking can be a challenge since 84' of trailers takes up a lot more room than a single and backing up isn't an option.

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