Triletter Update - A Year After CDL School

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Larry E.'s Comment
member avatar

I still follow the threads here and learn on awful lot, but just haven't had much of "interest" to share. I have been driving part time (2-3 weekends and breaks ) since September and full time since June with a regional company who was willing to give a shot straight out of CDL school. Was a couple of years from retirement as a teacher, but with a buy out offer and a layoff notice, my "retirement" date was moved up just a bit. Luckier than a lot of my layoff peers, I had an idea of what I was going to do. The dry van has been fun, but I have had a desire to try flat bed.

Melton has invited me to orientation followed by 2 weeks with a training instructor since my driving has not been consistent/constant and I am only 5 state regional verses their 7 state requirement. Not the biggest guy in the world, but that hasn't stopped a lot of other men or women in the field, so I figure I will get a workout on a regular basis and get to use my brain for securement and tarping. When I told my current dispatcher what I was going to do he just shook his head at me. I told him if it didn't work out I may be back, hat in hand, looking for a full time position. As he walked away, he said, "I hope it doesn't work out." Having worked with him for a while, I will take that as a backhanded complement. lol

I am certain I will be back here asking questions since I know Starcar is flatbed and a couple of others. This is a great site for getting good objective information, so Brett and the other moderators, keep up the fine job of introducing wanna be and new drivers to the world of trucking.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.
Starcar's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Larry...you scored !!!! Now everyone flatbeds a little different. bUt the great thing about it is, that all the other drivers will be glad to help you out, and answer any questions about securing cargo, and tarping. I will tell you that if they give you NEW TARPS....they will not be rolled right....so before ever leaving to pick up your first load, get someone to help you roll them right, or your first load will be the worst for a very long time ( ours was...trying to tarp, in the dark, on snow and ice covered load of lumber, with new tarps...folded wrong...we're lucky we lived thru it). As far as special tools, the company will supply the tarps, chains binders, straps, bungees or rubber rope, and hopefully a decent aluminium ladder ( I liked rubber rope, but TSB hated it...I hated the bungees). The odd things that I liked to use were a 5 ft ladder, with the front legs and flip tray taken off, then drill holes under the top step, and run a piece of rebar thru it, and make MATCHING hooks on both ends of it. Its a great ladder for hooking on the rub rail on the side, and back of the trailer, where you need to get up and hook a bungee, or tie the beaver tail down. TSB hated it, until other drivers started borrowing it. ( I spray painted it hot pink to peeve TSB off, I admit...I GLOWED under that trailer when it was secured for travelling...lol) But for vertically challeneged people like me, it sure made the job easier. ALSO, at a truck stop, pick up a 5th wheel hook...and get the one that has the extra straight tine sticking out by the hook...its perfect for hooking bungees up high...and the very best for hooking a tarp to pull it off a load, and alot safer too. I also bought a strap crank..its a little deal you can get at a truck stop. you twist it down on the rub rail, and it rolls your straps up nice and neat and FAST. If you have tried rolling straps ...you will have carpal tunnel in 6 months..and its worse when they are wet. You put the tail of the strap in and wind away... I could write a book about flatbedding, as I'm sure Old School could too. But just remember that the drivers are very helpful...they will wander over and help you fold tarps, pull straps, and just shoot the breeze...it was one of the very best things about going flatbed. Had it not been for what we asked, and were told from other drivers, we never would have made it. But as always, if you have any questions, hop in here and hollar...we'll do the very best we can.... Larry the Skateboarder......I kinda like the ring of that !!!

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Starcar's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

And Larry....the most important creed for a flatbedder is....if your little inner voice tells you to add another chain, or strap....DO IT. You can never have to many, but you sure can have to few....AND be sure that they are all nice and neat when you float thru the scale house....cuz in thier book, if its on there, it better be right and tight ( a DOT guy told me that). I'll add extra straps for no other reason than to hold my tarp tighter... ( we bought a couple of 2 inch straps just for that) or to strap down the tarps on the back of the trailer, or extra beaver tail on a low load..they come in handy.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Larry !!!! I was wondering about you !!! I keep a list of the rookies after they finish school and go with their first company....So you are loved by family, and missed by them and us !!! You'll enjoy flatbedding...its the only area of trucking I like. Now if they would let me DRIVE all the cool machinery we haul, I"d be happier.... When you get closer to the flatbed gig, give me hollar, and I'll give you my hard won insight into what you may need besides what the company puts in your truck...we've found a few things that will really make your life easier. And you will find the flatbedders are very helpful to one another...We call it the Tarped Brotherhood.... They will all help you, you can ask any questions...I've never got that "you should be home with an apron on" attitude from flatbedders...hummm...go figure... So keep in touch.. we like to see our little birdies who have flown the nest come back and chat....

Larry E.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks for the support, Starcar. I will let you know as I get with my trainer. So far I am really impressed with the company; they are making regular calls to check in with me and see if I have questions. Looking forward to the challenge. Maybe I will start a thread on newbies and flat bedding. That is if I am not too whipped to even log on. embarrassed.gif

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Larry, it's really good to hear from you! Glad to hear you're thinking about flat-bedding, it's a great choice if you're cut out for it. I started out in a flat-bed and am still loving it. I can't emphasize how nice both my shippers and receivers have been. They are usually glad to see you, and glad to get you loaded. Just yesterday I loaded 47,000 lbs. of I-beams at a steel mill, and I was only there for a total of one hour and that includes my time of securing the load. Now, not everyplace goes that well, but for the most part it's a much easier time of it than hauling a reefer unit. I talk to Melton drivers all the time at various places I'm loading or unloading, and they all seem like they are just as enthused about their jobs as I am.

Often times flat-bedders will help each other out when at shippers or receivers, not all of them are helpful, but a good many are. Also, there's been many a time when I have a tarped load at a receiver that someone at the receiver will come out and help me get my tarps folded. At one place I even had a teenage kid, after watching me do it, that wanted to hoist one of my tarps upon his shoulder and set it on my trailer for me just so he could see what it was like. I told him to "break your back", and he darn near did!

There's a lot of variety with flat-bedding and a lot of physical work, but I've also found that I'm getting a lot of miles. I couldn't be happier with my choice, and I hope you'll enjoy it just as much as I do.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Larry E.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Old School, thanks for the information. I have never had a job that involved much manual labor, but I have never been afraid of hard work either. While it may be significantly different, I have trained for and completed 4 Ironman distance triathalons, a few longer distance mountain bike races and several stand alone marathons. At 5" 10" and 155 pounds, I figure lifting the tarps and chains and throwing straps should keep me in some sort of shape and maybe bulk me up a bit. I enjoy a challenge so we will see how this works.

I also like the idea of the camaraderie of assisting and learning from others. If I am going to be waiting for a load/unload, I might as well be doing something productive. I follow the school of thought that what goes around, comes around.

Trust me when I say I may be back to pick your and Starcar's brains for ideas.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey, great hearing from ya Larry! Glad things are going well for ya!

I'm sure flatbed will be a great experience, whether you decide to stick with it or not. Trying something new always gives a better perspective on things and brings lessons with it that will help you throughout your life.

Sure hope you'll check in from time to time with updates. Always like to hear how things are going out there.

smile.gif

Starcar's Comment
member avatar

Larry HAS to check back in.........or I won't tell him how I use a dog toy to get my straps over the load.....and why I have a hot pink little ladder with only 2 legs....and what a "sidewinder" really is for a flatbedder.....and why you would like to have a 5th wheel hook hangin' around...we flatbedders have our secrets....maybe..just maybe I can teach old school a new trick !!!!!

Larry E.'s Comment
member avatar

Starcar (Brett and Oldschool, too),

Was told by Melton today that I had enough OTR based on my regional driving since June and my previous part time experience that I could attend orientation (Monday the 12th) and then have my own truck (T660) instead of 2 weeks with a trainer after orientation. Wasn't looking forward to two people in a truck for a couple of weeks, but now I'm sort of antsy about 4 days of just orientation/securement training and on my own. good-luck-2.gif So instead of picking a trainer's brain, I'm going to ask you for any tips on securement, tarping and "must haves" equipment for flatbed OTR or OTR in general since I have been slip seating since day one with my first company.

I know for a while I will be slow on securement and tarping, since like any new skill you just have to do it to get better. I have the basics of GPS, atlas, 5th wheel puller and cleaning supplies. I am used to living out of the truck exclusively for a week at a time, but will be eating truck stop fare until I get a truck fridge or back by the house for my cooler until I get said fridge and a microwave. I am open to any and all ideas from everyone as I embark on this new phase of my adventure.

Thanks in advance for ideas. What a great place to be able to turn for assistance and advice! smile.gif

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Starcar's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

Larry...you scored !!!! Now everyone flatbeds a little different. bUt the great thing about it is, that all the other drivers will be glad to help you out, and answer any questions about securing cargo, and tarping. I will tell you that if they give you NEW TARPS....they will not be rolled right....so before ever leaving to pick up your first load, get someone to help you roll them right, or your first load will be the worst for a very long time ( ours was...trying to tarp, in the dark, on snow and ice covered load of lumber, with new tarps...folded wrong...we're lucky we lived thru it). As far as special tools, the company will supply the tarps, chains binders, straps, bungees or rubber rope, and hopefully a decent aluminium ladder ( I liked rubber rope, but TSB hated it...I hated the bungees). The odd things that I liked to use were a 5 ft ladder, with the front legs and flip tray taken off, then drill holes under the top step, and run a piece of rebar thru it, and make MATCHING hooks on both ends of it. Its a great ladder for hooking on the rub rail on the side, and back of the trailer, where you need to get up and hook a bungee, or tie the beaver tail down. TSB hated it, until other drivers started borrowing it. ( I spray painted it hot pink to peeve TSB off, I admit...I GLOWED under that trailer when it was secured for travelling...lol) But for vertically challeneged people like me, it sure made the job easier. ALSO, at a truck stop, pick up a 5th wheel hook...and get the one that has the extra straight tine sticking out by the hook...its perfect for hooking bungees up high...and the very best for hooking a tarp to pull it off a load, and alot safer too. I also bought a strap crank..its a little deal you can get at a truck stop. you twist it down on the rub rail, and it rolls your straps up nice and neat and FAST. If you have tried rolling straps ...you will have carpal tunnel in 6 months..and its worse when they are wet. You put the tail of the strap in and wind away... I could write a book about flatbedding, as I'm sure Old School could too. But just remember that the drivers are very helpful...they will wander over and help you fold tarps, pull straps, and just shoot the breeze...it was one of the very best things about going flatbed. Had it not been for what we asked, and were told from other drivers, we never would have made it. But as always, if you have any questions, hop in here and hollar...we'll do the very best we can.... Larry the Skateboarder......I kinda like the ring of that !!!

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Starcar's Comment
member avatar
Great Answer!

And Larry....the most important creed for a flatbedder is....if your little inner voice tells you to add another chain, or strap....DO IT. You can never have to many, but you sure can have to few....AND be sure that they are all nice and neat when you float thru the scale house....cuz in thier book, if its on there, it better be right and tight ( a DOT guy told me that). I'll add extra straps for no other reason than to hold my tarp tighter... ( we bought a couple of 2 inch straps just for that) or to strap down the tarps on the back of the trailer, or extra beaver tail on a low load..they come in handy.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

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