Truck Delivery Driveaway

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Errol V.'s Comment
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I'm going to start a training diary about the truck delivery niche in the trucking world. I knew almost nothing about this business until a friend turned me on to it.

If you look around YouTube, you'll find the TDD-A is a slice of the CDL delivery-ferry business - moving someone's else's rolling stock, like dump truck frames, school buses, and RVs from A to B. Though there are companies that have drivers, it is a world of independent contractors, owner operators and such. Hot shot drivers with their F-350s & Ram 3500s are here.

I'm an independent contractor, getting a 1099 at the end of the year, not a W-2. There's enough written here on Trucking Truth about the good & bad of the question, so I'm not going to debate it here. Remember, I won't own any of the trucks I'm driving so I can't take up Brett's Owner Operator Challenge.

I'm flying from Memphis to Laredo TX today to meet my mentor tomorrow. I'll be learning of course how to handle brand new trucks, and how to "undeck" then at delivery. Since I'll pull up to four tractors at a time (one powered and three piggy back) I needed a Triples T endorsement. Once again, a tip of the hat to Brett and the High Road CDL Training Program.

Tomorrow I'll update the first day at the Laredo terminal.

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.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Big Red (Mike)'s Comment
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Too cool, Errol! I was just remarking to my wife about how many of those setups we saw on I-40 in Arkansas last week. I kept calling them "truck-humpers"...she wasn't amused. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob T.'s Comment
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Any updates?

Errol V.'s Comment
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Yeah, really busy! My mentor/trainer likes to maximize the miles, coming close to 650 (or more) every day.

First off: finances. The drives are all Independent Operators, and we will be responsible for our own lodging on the trip, as well as fuel. The fuel deal is we do pay the cost of buying mostly at Pilot/Flying J where we do get a discount from the pump price (like all big carriers do). Then in the settlement we receive the fuel surcharge. Also, the company deducts a couple $hundred that is paid to my mentor for the training. Of course once he sends me on my way, that's over!

Second, I believe we have up to seven days to deliver in most cases. But guess what? We don't get paid till the delivery.

In Laredo I met my mentor, Kent. We both got strings of three International trucks connected by "Z-wing" bars and a destination near Nashville. The truck "string" is always pre-assembled so basically it's do a pre-trip inspection including checking all the attachment bolts for tightness and the air brake lines and electrical wire added to the assembly.

This video shows the pre-trip inspection. You need those big wrenches here. Deck Pre-Trip About 7 minutes.

Trip was 1094 miles. Delivered in 2-1/2 days. Laredo TX to Arkadelphia AR to Nashville TN.

My training consisted of getting in the lead truck and driving. In other words, no familiarization or practice, just go!. The three trucks together meant I needed that Triples endorsement. The whole mess did not act like a 53' dry van in back when I took tight turns. You really have to turn wide on turns, and super pay attention to that last truck in the mirror.

For the actual delivery, us drivers must take off all the towing hardware and put into special skid boxes for return to the shipping point. This is why I had to buy about $600 of tools. An impact wrench large enough for 1" to 1 1/2" nuts and several other larger things.

We spent the night in Nashville and had to go next to Dublin, VA to the Volvo factory. The company pays for transportation between points, so they bought us a rental car. Next a set of Volvos heading to Canada. But we took then only to Buffalo NY in a one-day move.

We were offered a load going from Allentown PA to a place south of Birmingham AL. But being a few days before Thanksgiving, Kent turned it own. He figured we'd arrive late on Wednesday with no one to receive the delivery till next Monday at the soonest (five days hanging with the trucks over Thanksgiving??). Being Independent contractors meant we could turn it down which we did. And we had to buy own own plane tickets from Buffalo to home.

In making all these moves, the drivers rack up all kinds of airline miles and hotel points. Good for the time-off flights!

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it β€œout of service” until it is repaired.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Susan D. 's Comment
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Interesting stuff Errol. Thanks so much for sharing.

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
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Interesting stuff Errol. Thanks so much for sharing.

Definitely interesting. I would love to do this after I have enough experience.

I like how they mention torque values while slamming the wrench with a hand sledge. Lol.

I may have spotted you coming through Buffalo. I did see a stack of Volvos coming through sometime in the past couple of weeks and I thought of you delivering trucks but had no idea it might have actually been you. Had I known I would have stalked you and bought you a coffee.

smile.gif

Errol V.'s Comment
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Grumpy Old Man is seeing things:

I may have spotted you coming through Buffalo. I did see a stack of Volvos coming through sometime in the past couple of weeks and I thought of you delivering trucks but had no idea it might have actually been you.

The Volvo factory is in Dublin, VA. The company I drive for hauls/delivers the brand new trucks for Volvo. Trucks bound for Canada go through Buffalo. And since I did my first Buffalo run last week, the stack you saw probably wasn't mine.

BTW, the Canadian trucks I pulled have a set defrost wires in the front windshield. They only run on the two sides and across the bottom of the glass.

UPDATE: right now I'm delivering Mack trucks from the Macungie PA Mack factory to Alabama. There the frames will get garbage truck back ends.

Errol V.'s Comment
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UPDATE on the UPDATE: we hauled the truck + frames from Allentown PA to Heil Ft. Payne AL to get their garbage truck bodies. Then they will be driven back to New York City. Well, Heil isn't complaining.

Update on my learning: on my way from Alabama back to Laredo TX for a load to Boise ID. Now, just like all the newbies wondering about that 400 hours, 50,000 miles or whatever for their training/ Mentor rides, the learning isn't in turning those road miles. The learning is in what happens at the shippers & receivers.

So my first trip involved "z-wing" tows, pulling two more tractors behind me. The second (and this one coming up) uses the most common tow style, "piggy back" which looks sorry of like a three truck Conga line.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Susan D. 's Comment
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I saw a Z wing setup coming north on US 69 in Oklahoma today. I immediately thought of Errol.

Errol V.'s Comment
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I just missed paying through OK and now starting my day in Albuquerque. Continued on to Boise.

In the last 24 or so hours I've had to back up my string (power unit + 2 Z-wing tows). Now that's a learning experience! (People in CDL school, don't try to over think this, you only have one 53' trailer instead of "doubles".)

1 - 2 - 3 πŸš›-πŸš›-πŸš›

My mentor told me the secret is to think of using the #1 power unit to push/steer #2, so that #2 can steer the tail #3. No you don't back very far, and just like that crack-the-whip effect in reverse, the driver must act very quickly in steering to get #3 to do anything. Just like binoculars magnify a distant object but looking through them backwards does the opposite.

I did get into some situations where the drive wheels in #3 were too close to a fence corner. Yep, backing up around a curve. Interesting stuff.

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.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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