Flatbed Questions

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Patrick R.'s Comment
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Hey all, I have returned with yet again...more newbie questions this time in regards to flatbed.

So as it gets closer to the end of Jan with each passing day which is when I plan to call Prime about a start date for the CDL program, I've actually read a few posts on flatbedding...So of course I have questions lol.

1) I've seen pics of people pulling like 80-100+ ft Trailers, is this something that will happen fairly often (monthly-ish)? I feel like they would be REALLLY hard to pull especially as a new driver. 2) After reading tons of posts about flatbedding on this site its pretty common to see people say "spend a couple hours tarping"...COUPLE HOURS?!? I could see why it may take some time to tarp up some of these big loads, which I imagine is pretty much most loads you will get...but if it takes a few hours to tarp something is it really worth it? 3) How do you balance the rumored shower every few days with the notorious 'flatbed filth'?

A little about myself and why I got a serious interest in flatbedding just recently, I work a desk job...its horrible, I've gotten quite out of shape because of it (yea an excuse I could work out but yanno..) I think that once I hate life for a couple months dieing while tarping once my body gets used to it I will love it, I enjoy puzzles and making things work also a some flatbed pics ive seen with great tarp work... defiantly gets the heart pumpin., I also feel like flatbedding will let me see more of the country and more interesting places, not just loading docks at a super store.

Sorry for the long post, as I stated I'm hoping to call Prime at like end of Jan to start like beginning/Mid Feb and every day that goes by feels like I am a week closer. I really don't want to push out my date further then Feb I need to get out of this job before I become a lifer here and wither away, figured better to ask a crap load of questions now then find out the hard way later and end up with a 'bad taste in my mouth'.


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.
Cwc's Comment
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Those extra long loads are more towards specialize drivers , and I think you'll find people bathe as they want.

I'm not a flatbedder , cause it's really cold out but if I were I might try to get loaded and tarped and chained and get to a scale if need be and while at the truckstop I could shower. Just a for instance.

Also if your still employed "I" would wait to jump into flatbedding till it warms up... But that's just me. I also hear that tarps are a pain when it's cold out. But if your not a wuss like me when it comes to being cold out by all means tell me to shut my trap.... but at least I can admit it.


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.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Cwc's Comment
member avatar

If you haven't found PatMs' flatbedding post that has hundreds of photos on it... Your missing out... He hauls all kinds of cool stuff. And any questions you have might be better asked in that thread. It's been going for a couple of years and should be easy to find.

Patrick R.'s Comment
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Ya i saw its pretty great. I love the cold...not so much the heat though lol. But i live in NC so its hot...and humid!

Cwc's Comment
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I live in South East VA so I'm right with you.

Harry the hat's Comment
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I'm a flatbedder that cane from the same thing as you, office work. I was getting soft and large. Been doing this for almost a year, and a have finally getting back in shape. Now, if you search the forums for the mcelroy truck lines thread, you'll see that I've posted on there. It can be some hard work. I pulled tarps and straps of in blowing snow and 40mph winds at 4am off I-80 in central Pennsylvania Mountains. Driving in the snow in my rookie season, even though I'm no stranger to the northeast and is weather. I love it though. I get the info on my qualcomm , secure my pre-tarped load at Lowe's, head out to the store, unload and head back for another load or go home for the day. No politics, no people looking over your shoulder, just some good hard work, sense of accomplishment, and money in your pocket. I was 250lbs last March. I'm now 220, with much more muscle and allot less fat. Lol.


Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.


Operating While Intoxicated

Patrick R.'s Comment
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Part of why im looking to start in Feb is to get a little experience in the winter by the time I finish it will be spring and I will be able to get basically half a year of driving before winter again.

Bud A.'s Comment
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Patrick, I never pulled a load that was over 53' when I was with Prime for a year and a half. I was asked once while I was at Prime if I had oversize banners and flags, but I didn't have them on the truck, so that load went to someone else.

As far as tarping taking a couple hours, yeah, some loads are like that, even once you're experienced. Not every tarped load is a nice stack of sheetrock or lumber with square corners and straight edges in balmy May weather. Odd shaped cargo, stuff with sharp edges, and wind or extreme heat or cold can add time to the process.

I have developed a tolerance for getting dirty, but when I get really dirty, I always find a way to get a shower as soon as possible.

Hope this helps.

Patrick R.'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Bud :) I don't mind getting dirty at all. Just hoping that a couple hours of tarping doesn't really eat into earnings to much yanno, I would imagine if it did no one would want to do it lol. I don't mind a challenge, just thinking of all the things I will have to learn on the fly so to speak with I get an interesting load that is unusual to tarp.

Chris L.'s Comment
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Tarping will get easier and faster as you get practice. My first tarped steel coils loaded eye in the sky was terrible. It was two large coils and I must of stopped 4 times due to large pieces of tarp coming loose and flapping in the wind as I got on the interstate.

As far as getting dirty, if the shipper has a bathroom available I would wash my face, hands, and arms before hitting the road. Also buy baby wipes in bulk.

With Prime you will mostly pull 48' split axle flatbed and occasionally 53' step decks. I really like the split axle trailers, I rarely had to use a cat scale and there's no overhang to worry about. It took me awhile to get used to pulling a dry van after my time at Prime, I used to leave my trailer stretched out for tight backing situations. I'm used to it now but it took some getting used to.


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.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

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.

CAT Scale:

A network of over 1,500 certified truck scales across the U.S. and Canada found primarily at truck stops. CAT scales are by far the most trustworthy scales out there.

In fact, CAT Scale offers an unconditional Guarantee:

“If you get an overweight fine from the state after our scale showed your legal, we will immediately check our scale. If our scale is wrong, we will reimburse you for the fine. If our scale is correct, a representative of CAT Scale Company will appear in court with the driver as a witness”


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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