Profile For James S.

James S.'s Info

  • Location:
    Kingsley, MI

  • Driving Status:
    Company Driver In Training

  • Social Link:

  • Joined Us:
    5 months, 2 weeks ago

James S.'s Bio

25 years working on ships and tugboats. Interested in changing careers.

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Posted:  4 months ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Went to the SOS and passed the hazmat, doubles and tanker today. Also received the paper cdl. 3 weeks for normal card to come in the mail.

So I am all done with that. Now its time to figure out employment.

Posted:  4 months ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

I was cruising through the pre trip with no issues when we came to the trailer suspension....I saw the shock absorber and suddenly didn’t remember mentioning it on the front suspension. So I said something like” i forgot to mention the shock absorber on the front suspension and I would have inspected that as I am doing here”. Turns out i totally skipped the front suspension but because I went over all the other suspension properly and said I would check the front in a similar mannner, it was good enough that it didn’t fail me. I am sure I lost some points there.

The maneuvers all went well. 1 pull up on both offset and alley dock just to be safe, it look good but I didn’t want to chance it when I could pull up once to be sure and not cross a line.

Road test went well enough. I asked for his critique afterwards and he said I need to check intersections better and that I missed a gear when accelerating after a turn onto a busy road. I rushed the shifting again there and somehow didn’t get 8th so I grabbed 7th and proceeded from there.

2 hours and 15 minutes for the entire test, including paperwork at the start and waiting on the sand truck to cover the ice before the backing tests.(the lot was packed snow with a layer of ice)

Happy to have that part finished. Now I will study for the hazmat and take that along with doubles and tanker when I turn in the paperwork to the SOS.

I have a couple of days left at the school and they said I could use the simulator to practice on 13 and 18 speeds, that should be fun.

Posted:  4 months ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Passed the test this morning. I did make a couple of mistakes, still passed. So that's nice. I am in a trip planning class this afternoon so I will update later.

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

A couple of hours of driving today. So far I am doing well but when I rush my self pulling out onto a busy road I rush the shifting and rev to high. Causing problems. I am always able to recover but its something I need to work on.

We also discussed logs books and electronic logs in class. After that we went back out on the range where I did well enough but not as good as the last couple of days.

They have decided I am ready to test so tomorrow at 10 am I will be testing. Ill take an hour in the morning to go over the Pretoria on the truck and trailer I will be using as they are all different. I am a little nerved up but after a good night sleep and a decent breakfast it should go well.

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Ill take your advice and make a point not to relax in a casual manner. As I get more road time I hope to be able to spend less time thinking about individual actions and more time observing the overall situation. Each day gets a little better.

Today I drove for a couple of hours and it went well. Driving in town there was a lot traffic, maybe shift change at the factories. The instructor recommended I call out every intersection to ensure the tester knows I am checking them. Also says i should read significant road signs out loud such as speed limits and school zones. I did make a couple of mistakes, one was stopping before turning at a flashing yellow. I didn’t really see what I needed to do to make that sharp turn soon enough to just drive around it in that traffic so I stopped and shifted into 3rd then made the turn. It went well but he said I should have stayed in 5th for the turn. We also had one of those” slow down, slow down....SLOW DOWN!” Moments coming up on a round about. It went fine but with the snow and ice he just wanted me to idle through it.

After the pretest, maneuvers and driving I was told I would have passed the test and they are going to schedule me to test next week. I spent the rest of the day on the alley dock and offset backing, made it every time and that was nice. Not a bad end to the second week

Posted:  4 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Today we spent the morning on regulations and then some backing videos. After that, off to the simulator to practice the in cab.

In the afternoon we drove through town and dopwn the highway a ways then back on the side roads. The driving went well though when I am pulling out on to a busy road I tend to rush and rev the engine to high before shifting. Otherwise shifting is going well. i do recall that on the simulator I get a little out of sorts with the in cab inspection as there are no wipers so I don’t seem them and think to mention them. Also the visual of the air brakes knobs is a little weird and I tend to hit them a couple times to see if they are engaged or not as it doesnt have the same feel as the truck. When we got back we worked on the alley dock and i got it 3 times in a row so I was happy with that. The last time i did pull up 3 times but I made it.

I feel that i will be close to passing all the minimum standards by the end of next week though I am definatly not confident driving without the instructor yet, I have only been on the road twice and I need a bit more road time to help relax and have less tunnel vision while driving.

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Spent the morning reviewing the CFR’s, SMS and general regulatory information.

The weather was freezing rain on snow again and the lot was ice so they put the trucks inside for the day and we reviewed pre trip inspections.

I also spent some time on the simulator focusing on roll over prevention.

Is any one here familiar with NTB (Nationwide truck brokers)? For what I hear it is a good company and they are offering regional work with 48hrs home each week. I looked them up on the FMCSA site and there numbers are good.

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Starting School at Career Tech... got questions!

The first time I took a **** test I didn’t know it was coming and must have been dehydrated. I sat in that office for an hour and drank 11 cups of water before I could take care of business. The next test I knew about, so I drank an entire pot of tea prior and the test came back as possibly diluted(retested the next day with an observer). So now I just try not to be dehydrated and drink a normal amount. No problems for 25 years.

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Day 4 wen well n the morning. Started with the alley dock and tried something i saw on YouTube. Didn’t help at all for me. Went back to what I had been doing and I am at about 90% right now. Another week and I should be solid with that.

For the afternoon we went out on the road. Riding in the back while someone else learned to drive was the scariest thing I have done in a long time. I ended up wedging myself in the sleeper and holding on to a strap. Once in the seat it, the first thing I did was kill the engine as the other guy had left it on the range selector up. I had never used the range selector and it didn’t occur to me to check. After that shifting went well and the entire drive was fairly easy. I realized I didn’t know the truck well enough to remember where the windshield wash was and I didn’t want to take focus away from the road. I was pretty well “task saturated” as they say in the army. There are 5 different trucks and I hadnt gone through the Pretoria on this one, the other driver had while I was out doing maneuvers.

As this school is 32 miles from home I am able to go home every night and now have the week end off. This is the primary reason I chose this school. So far it is working out well.

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Day 3, more backing. Offset and alley dock. I did better on the alley dock yesterday. Today i was a mess. Just not consistent. I have been just doing the backing by feel without any system. So I am now reading more about methods for the alley dock portion of the test. Spent an hour troubleshooting a truck that wouldn’t start. Seems to be the clutch safety switch. Just have to press really hard on the clutch to get it to turn over. Hopefully they replace it soon.

Posted:  4 months, 2 weeks ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Today started with a couple of hours in the simulator. First shifting, which I found to be a great way to learn, I was glad not to be tearing up a real transmission. Then simulated driving and town. I think the instructors got distracted and just left me in there for a couple hours. Which was fine with me. Then I listened to someone try to do a Pre trip inspection for and hour and a half.

After lunch I was in an old Scheider truck going through the various maneuvers required in the test. It took me a couple of tries to get the 90 degree (alley dock) but after that I could get it every time with one pull up and getting out once. The offset backing wasn’t too hard with the left mirror but when shifting from the right to the left and focusing on the right Moro’s I found it harder. Might also have been the ice as the entire lot was frozen, packed snow. Hard to walk, i had to slide my feet rather than lift them just to get around.

Tomorrow I hope to practice the pre trip rather than watch others. Sounds like we will be going out on the local roads if the road conditions permit.

Posted:  4 months, 3 weeks ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

I went to the TSA a couple of weeks ago and started the process for Hazmat. Today I started at the truck driving school. First half of the day was classroom and general overview. Second half was pre trip inspection/familiarization. The weather was rain on snow so I watched the lot turn into ice and saw trucks having trouble getting around on that. The trucks are all older Freightliners with 10 speeds. No class tomorrow due to the holiday, back at it on Wednesday.

It’s a small school with a small lot (and a simulator). So far the instructors I have met are all very experienced and good teachers. This looks like it will be a fun process.

Poor conditions on the drive home, saw a car flipped over in the median. I hope you are not on the road in northern Michigan tonight.

Posted:  5 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Thanks for the links. I am reading all I can. Going to the TSA next week to start the HAZMAT process. I already have other non DOT HAZMAT endorsements but unfortunately they don’t cross over. Michigan doesnt even allow the TWIC background check to reduce the hazmat cost like in some other states.

Yes, most companies require at least 1 year of OTR experience. Some very ambitious people are able to find local companies to take them on and train them. However, we highly recommend you start with these.

Then getting free training with Paid CDL Training Programs. Good luck.

Posted:  5 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Schneider National Apprenticeship Diary (5 Week Schneider CDL Training)

I look forward to hearing about your training. I also live in Michigan and will be starting at a local CDL School on the 31st. I was just talking to Schneider yesterday.

Posted:  5 months, 1 week ago

View Topic:

Changing careers

Hello, I have worked in the marine construction industry(tugboats+heavy empty) for @25 years. I have worked in the engine room of ships and tugs, spent many years as captain towing a variety of things and can fix most things on the farm including rebuilding engines and transmissions. Genneally speaking, I have lost interest.

We have a small farm and are starting a small direct sale meat business, just enough to cover my wife’s time and input and I would like to be more available to help the farm be a success. This year I was gone 254 days, laid off in the Winter.

I went in and got the cdl learners permit and will be attending a local driving school that is 30 minutes from home. I intend to get some type of local job, maybe a construction company, maybe beer deliveryk log truck or some such thing. I have read I may need to put in a year or so OTR to get there, we will see what happens.

One question I have is, what is a casual driver? Part time? On call?

I have Ins and retirement already and am just looking for cash income. Will this allow me more options in employment in trucking? Are there any companies that would be looking for someone they don’t have to offer ins and retirement too?

I have no commercial driving experience.

P.S.

When I was a kid, before my father died I remember have it the, what are you going to do when you grow up talk. I said astronaut, he said you don’t physically have what it takes to do that. I said farmer, he said you have to be born into that and you would end up land poor at best, I said musician and he said our family has never had any musical talent.( i liked the guy, i am not being negative here, he was just honest.)

Later in high school i had that talk with my mother, and being in the rebellious wanna be biker stage i said truck driver. She paused, then said, “That is an honorable profession”. I have always remembered that.

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