I PASSED At Smith & Solomon In Philadelphia

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Phil 's Comment
member avatar

I passed my CDL exam today! I failed to manage the maneuvers at Trainco in July and quit on the last day (two-week course 120 hours total) because I was nowhere near managing the manuevers. I kept going and went through Smith & Solomon in Philadelphia. I qualified on an automatic. I mentioned back in August the I "could not" learn to shift a 10 speed. Some people can and some can't. Why go through the difficulty and frustration when all the companies I am applying to have mostly or all automatics anyway (Werner Enterprises is now 100% auto, Schneider at least 70%, US Xpress either all auto or transitiong their fleet to auto. Werner spenty $500 Million to switch.) Auto is the way of the future. No clutches to replace and manual keeps people from pursuing the life.

Trainco taught maneuvers as one continuous move. Smith & Solomon teach it as 5 movements. After each movement you stop and turn your wheels in the proper direction. Simple and easy. Besides, instructors have told me the offset backing and parllel parking will never be used in the real world even though I see situations where they might. Parallel might be used in areas where truckers park along the side of the road. Trainco teaches alley docking but Smith & Solomon does not. They say the company we hire on with will train us 90 and 45 degree docking.

The instuctors at Trainco were awesome as were most of the trainers at Smith & Solomon (Philadelphia campus). The yard instructor is a bit gruff and not always "instructive." I was doing offset backing and he looked at me from 200 feet away and raised his arms as if to say, "What are you doing." None of us in the cab knew what he wanted. It turns out I had turned the wheels in the wrong direction but we, new students, had to figure that out. He showed me offset once and said, "You got that or you want me to show you again?" Uh, yes please.

Trainco instructors (Perrysburg, OH campus) taught the whole class the straight line and offset backing at the same time. They demonstrated and told us how to do it. Once we mastered those we would ask to be shown parallel parking. At S&S you had to ask to be taught everything. Students were frequently training students, unlike Trainco where instructors made sure we knew that was no legal and they stopped it every time they saw it.

That brings me to a very important point. Trainco has more instructors and they are mostly on hand on the range. (There were times, not often, when only one instructor was covering the range. At S&S there is just one constant yard instructor, previously mentioned as gruff) during the length of the work day (7a-3:30p but ended earlier if he wanted to leave earlier). When I class is not in the classroom (first week) the classroom instructor comes out to the yard. Great guy, lots of fun and easy going and helpful.

I am considering a Werner and a Home Depot Mid-Atlantic regional lane, Roehl, and an Amazon contrator dropping and hooking Amazon trailers in Southeaster, PA, NJ and Delaware. My former classmate works for them and said, "It's so easy." Twelve hour days but easy.

I'll keep you all posted. Phil Nahrgangdancing-banana.gif

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Congratulations Phil. dancing-banana.gif

But...

I "could not" learn to shift a 10 speed. Some people can and some can't. Why go through the difficulty and frustration... manual keeps people from pursuing the life.

That's simply not true. You can learn to shift gears in a big rig. You decided that you couldn't - WARNING! There's going to be a thousand things about this career that you are going to think you can't learn to do. You're gonna have to dig deeper and believe in yourself or you will get completely washed out in short order.

Trainco taught maneuvers as one continuous move. Smith & Solomon teach it as 5 movements. After each movement you stop and turn your wheels in the proper direction. Simple and easy.

WARNING! That method is designed only to help you pass the test. It will never work in the real world.

instructors have told me the offset backing and parllel parking will never be used in the real world

WARNING! I use those maneuvers frequently.

Hang in there. The real world isn't so kind, but you can do this.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations on getting your CDL! dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif Now for a few truths. Alley docking of some sort is how most of your backs will start. Offset is often used to help center yourself in a dock door. Parallel parking is mostly seen in tiny rest areas. All backs end as straight backs. In my opinion, your school did you wrong by not teaching you all the basics. Another advantage of Paid CDL Training Programs, is the one on one training one receives. Good luck. Stay safe. I wish you much success.

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.
Phil 's Comment
member avatar

I don't understand why people on this site insist, without knowing me or my skill set, and keep telling me I can drive a manual. I had a hard enough time driving a 5-speed Saturn for the 10 years I owned one. No double clutching or splitter involved while watching traffic and anything else going on within 1/4 mile.

I do thank you for your encouragement and feedback.

Now that I know I can handle a truck, in reverse, I think I will be able to learn and manage to do any backing maneuver. The manuevers in the automatic Freighliner I tested in today was smooth as silk. None of the leg shaking required to keep the yard trucks at a slow enough speed.

Thanks again!

Congratulations Phil. dancing-banana.gif

But...

double-quotes-start.png

I "could not" learn to shift a 10 speed. Some people can and some can't. Why go through the difficulty and frustration... manual keeps people from pursuing the life.

double-quotes-end.png

That's simply not true. You can learn to shift gears in a big rig. You decided that you couldn't - WARNING! There's going to be a thousand things about this career that you are going to think you can't learn to do. You're gonna have to dig deeper and believe in yourself or you will get completely washed out in short order.

double-quotes-start.png

Trainco taught maneuvers as one continuous move. Smith & Solomon teach it as 5 movements. After each movement you stop and turn your wheels in the proper direction. Simple and easy.

double-quotes-end.png

WARNING! That method is designed only to help you pass the test. It will never work in the real world.

double-quotes-start.png

instructors have told me the offset backing and parllel parking will never be used in the real world

double-quotes-end.png

WARNING! I use those maneuvers frequently.

Hang in there. The real world isn't so kind, but you can do this.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Big Scott (CFI Driver/Tra's Comment
member avatar

I was not putting you down, just what you were told. There are very few people who need to know how to drive a manual. I learned and passed my CDL on a manual and have been in an automatic since. It's easier to learn. Many companies are going to automatics. It is how things are going. CFI has a 100% automatic fleet as do many others. All we want you to do is be safe and successful. I wish you only that. We all know where you are and have been.

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.
Turtle's Comment
member avatar

Hey Phillip congratulations on getting your CDL!

dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif That's a great accomplishment no matter how you went about it.

Here it comes....

But... yes I'm going to agree with everything Old School and Big Scott said. With time you most certainly can learn to shift gears. Everybody can, you just choose not to. You did it in your Saturn...for 10 years! So you can't tell me the few hours you spent practicing in a truck is an indicator of what you can or cannot do. Sure, it's difficult but it's possible.

Believe me Phillip we're not trying to pile on you. You made it this far and that's great, we're all happy for you. Why do we keep insisting you can shift? Because you can, and we want all future readers to know they can too.

Yeah the "5 movement" backing method does you no good in the real world. My instructor taught me the same way, and it does make the test pretty much fool proof. Get away from the training pad however and you can toss that right out the window. You'll need to "feel" the truck, and that's something that can't be taught anyway. That'll become apparent soon enough.

So yeah man big congratulations and best of luck to you!

good-luck.gif

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.

OOS:

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.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations!

Just a small reality check...

At least a couple of times per month I must perform a parallel in order to dock/unload behind another parked trailer.

It’s a necessary skill, please do not underestimate the challenges you’ll be faced with out here. Old School issued several warnings, I’ll offer one...

Your friend claiming his job was “easy”? Take it with a grain of salt. He hasn’t been out here long enough yet...

Keep your eyes and mind wide open.

Good luck.

Grumpy Old Man's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations!

Just a small reality check...

At least a couple of times per month I must perform a parallel in order to dock/unload behind another parked trailer.

It’s a necessary skill, please do not underestimate the challenges you’ll be faced with out here. Old School issued several warnings, I’ll offer one...

Your friend claiming his job was “easy”? Take it with a grain of salt. He hasn’t been out here long enough yet...

Keep your eyes and mind wide open.

Good luck.

I’m glad to hear I’m not struggling to learn to parallel park for nothing. I do hope they teach an alley dock, though it isn’t required for the road test.

I started a training diary last night to document my driving practice at Sage. Yesterday was my first day driving other than the few hours on the range during the classroom phase.

Parallel parking is kicking my butt. At the end of the day, the night instructor gave me some advice, showed me how and I got it 3 times in a row after that before it got so dark I couldn’t see. I’ll be practicing that today until I get it.

And as far as easy? I was exhausted at the end of the day. I can only imagine how tired I’ll be at the end of the day when I am actually working.

Phil 's Comment
member avatar

Congratulations on getting your CDL! dancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gifdancing-banana.gif Now for a few truths. Alley docking of some sort is how most of your backs will start. Offset is often used to help center yourself in a dock door. Parallel parking is mostly seen in tiny rest areas. All backs end as straight backs. In my opinion, your school did you wrong by not teaching you all the basics. Another advantage of Paid CDL Training Programs, is the one on one training one receives. Good luck. Stay safe. I wish you much success.

THANK YOU

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.
Phil 's Comment
member avatar

My friend is working for Prime EFS in New Jersey and she pulls Amazon trailers. It's all no touch drop and hook. So far, a month into the job and still training, she said she spends up to 2 hours waiting for a load and there is "lots of down time" in her 12 hour days. Will that change in that type of position? I have applied to hiring company, ShypDirect, and all keep you posted on that decision.

Thanks again for the feedback. It is much appreciated.

Congratulations!

Just a small reality check...

At least a couple of times per month I must perform a parallel in order to dock/unload behind another parked trailer.

It’s a necessary skill, please do not underestimate the challenges you’ll be faced with out here. Old School issued several warnings, I’ll offer one...

Your friend claiming his job was “easy”? Take it with a grain of salt. He hasn’t been out here long enough yet...

Keep your eyes and mind wide open.

Good luck.

Drop And Hook:

Drop and hook means the driver will drop one trailer and hook to another one.

In order to speed up the pickup and delivery process a driver may be instructed to drop their empty trailer and hook to one that is already loaded, or drop their loaded trailer and hook to one that is already empty. That way the driver will not have to wait for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded.

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