Introduction Followed By Millis Training Institute Diary.(Cartersville, GA)

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Pete's Comment
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Day 4 Sorry it's a day late, had to do some laundry last night and the one thing I chose to cut out of the day was diary time. I will post it as I can remember it. I hope I don't miss much, but there is ALOT of information being hurled at you like a major league fastball. I knew I would be thrown to the wolves but even two solid months of preparation(what I thought was "good" preparation) wasn't even close to what they are throwing at us. I'm not overwhelmed but I am thankful it's Friday and I get a reset.

Thursday morning we covered the previous nights trip plan homework after filling out our paper logs and having them checked. No red pen in mine yet and hopefully none to come. Then we started talking about PTI and a couple work sheets were given to each of us then a discussion. Watched a video on pre trip. Then it was lunch time.

Lunch today was Popeye's, one of my favorites, enough food for everyone who works at the terminal , the students, and any drivers who come by during the course of the day. There were drivers still coming in at 20:00 and there was food there for them.

After lunch we watched another pre trip video. Then the instructor did a PTI on one of the trucks at a leisurely pace so anyone who had a question could get it answered, and each of us in turn could get into position to see what he was pointing at when he was talking about it. We were told to latch the hood and all climb in the truck for the in cab portion. Finished there and he took a look at his watch. He started driving around the cones they keep set up in the yard. Ten to twelve cones in four rows, each row being about seventy five to eight feet long. The four rows are spaced twelve feet apart creating three lanes that wide. He drives through the center lane and pulls fully through the lane. Puts it in reverse and does a two hundred foot straight back until all of the trailer and tractor clears the lane. Pulls it forward through the lane. During this time the other instructor pulls the other training tractor and trailer into the left lane but heading the opposite direction. He pulls the brakes and says ok I need two people to get in the other tractor and says you three remaining take turns doing straight backs, take two to three backs each then let someone else drive. Two students and instructor get out and I sit in the drivers seat. Now our other instructor has the students climbing in the other tractor and he's talking to them a bit. Our main instructor climbs into the passenger seat, and I complete a back smoothly and pull back through the lane to start my second. Well about halfway through the lane on my second pass while focusing on my mirrors and rows of cones I notice the other truck backing in the lane next to me. I didn't panic but having that truck passing along side moving in the opposite direction four to six away definitely changed what I was doing. I was still watching my mirrors but I was also inadvertently drifting to the right to give more space on that left side. Now I cleared my second pass and pulled back through but that second back was nowhere near as smooth as I thought the first went. I pull the brakes and slide the seat back for the next student to take a turn. They were also a little nervous about the truck so near but completed two passes and then the third student took his turn. After his two passes the instructor asked us how we felt about the truck next us also backing because he could tell we each got a bit nervous when both trucks were backing and passing each other. Thankfully he offset backed into the right lane and then we took turns with no one in the truck but the student driving making passes. It was at this point I noticed at the end of each lane were cones spaced apart but ninety feet one end and about 120 on the other. I started using those as my target/dock it made a huge difference for me to see those instead of watching the rows of cones I was passing through. I felt I did well focusing on minor adjustments when it started to drift and giving it time to adjust before I re-center the steering wheel. I killed no cones, and after seven or eight backs each we took turns backing the truck we hadn't backed. The difference in lanes and trucks changed things, but all the same rules applied.

Overall I felt good about the day, the PTI is all about you here. You have to work on it to know it, ask any question you have, you will get an answer. After the walkthrough by the instructor it is up to you to study it and know it.

Thanks again for reading, Friday Day 5 coming to this thread shortly.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Noob_Student's Comment
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Thanks Pete! Backing already!? Thats awesome and terrifying. Was any shifting done or juat straight to backing? Also on the pretrip studying, do they allow you to hang around after class or on weekends to study on your own with the truck in front of you?

NewbieWife's Comment
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That's a great question that my husband was just wondering earlier. Granted he'll be training at a different location, but do they let anyone have "extra" time outside of class if they're struggling with anything?

Thanks Pete! Backing already!? Thats awesome and terrifying. Was any shifting done or juat straight to backing? Also on the pretrip studying, do they allow you to hang around after class or on weekends to study on your own with the truck in front of you?

Pete's Comment
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Wednesday while we were doing laps was all on ten speeds shifting and downshifting. It's not a lot of time relatively but the entire fleet is automated transmissions. I asked about coming in on weekends, or bringing the van back to school from the hotel after class to work on PTI. They said that is fine but I wouldn't be able to actually do the in cab because they keys for the tractors wont be left in them. Asking the instructor at your school would be the best bet as each terminal may have different policies.

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.

Pete's Comment
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Day 5 The day starts with logbook updates and covering the trip plan from the night before. Then we grab the keys for the two student trucks and head out to spend time on PTI. After bumbling around for a bit on the truck we got the keys for trying to identify components in the engine compartment, it's an old cat twin turbo, we move on to to the driver door fuel area, then to the rear of the tractor. Instructors have made their way out to the yard, and call us over. One is gonna take a group of three for blind side and sight side offsets, and the other instructor will take the other two students for sight side parallel backs. Now at this point there will likely be some rambling, but please stick with it.

I feel I have been doing well, excelling and gaining confidence. I was able to grasp double clutching pretty quickly, if my arm is gonna move my left foot moves. When shifting you always go from gear to neutral or neutral to gear, albeit at a rapid pace it is straightforward. Now the mechanics of downshifting was rougher it goes against everything I know about manual transmissions. Once you can remember and implement the process it gets better, but clutch shift rev clutch shift feels clunky and the speed you have to do it with takes practice. Straight backs I really impressed myself. So going into today I am feeling good, and a bit confident. Perhaps a bit too much, after all while there are straight line backing elements in pretty much every back you will do. The truck can basically straight line back itself if the steer tires are straight, it's just up to you to not screw it up.

Off to offsets we go. Instructor does a blindside offset pulls forward and does a sight side offset. He explains the movements and what he is watching as he performs each maneuver. Then he asks who wants to go first, I say I'll go. He asks the other 2 students to climb out so they can watch what the truck is doing. Which brings me to this, whenever anyone is on the yard backing and you have the chance to watch them, do so. You can learn quite a bit by standing in front of the tractor watching what the drivers hands, the tires, and trailer are doing. So while you may want to talk about the game last night or where you are from, or your weekend plans studying up on PTI, watching others may be the thing that helps you most. Even if the student driving can't ever get out of his/her own way, it can teach you what not to do. I start my blind-side offset first, instructor walking along side, not too close but close enough I can hear him. I held it to the right a little too long and for whatever reason I kept watching my sight side mirror more than the blind side. I started to get back under it and got out to take a look. I wasn't in terrible position but I pulled up to feel better about it. I worked it around a little got a bit too far, and pulled up again. I have to include that before each pull up I did get out to look. After this pull up I had a straight line back, backed through the lane and pulled through to the front. Now for the sight side offset, still held the initial turn a bit too long, got back under it and got out to look at it. I was in a good spot a little close on the blind side, and not quite straight yet so when I pulled up I turned towards the trouble (Thanks Errol) to the right until I was nice and straight and could make the drift work for me backing through the lane. Pulled back through, pulled the brakes and got out for another student to turn. Now I wasn't perfect, I wasn't even good, but I didn't hit anything. I got close to some stuff but didn't hit anything. The other two students go and perform each maneuver then He says who wants to go again, well one guy just got done and the guy who went second says OK you're going. So I climb back in the tractor, I start my tires hard right. Trying to remember not to hold it too long like I did on the previous attempts. I get back under it to try and push it into the lane and get lined up to work around. I feel like I am in a decent place and I get out to look. I am not in a bad spot i can continue the way I am going and get it right. Climb back in and went too far. Got out and looked, but at some point around this time I started overthinking things. I could have pulled forward straightened it out and done a straight back and been done. What I did instead was try to correct it by continuing to back. Got about nine kinds of out of shape, over correcting this and that. Frustration has set in, brain is melting down. I am close on the left i pull forward and turn to the right. Now the instructor stops me he says "what are you doing?" I said I'm pulling up, he asks where my problem is and I say I'm very close on the left. So he asks where I should pull if I'm close on the left and I say the left. So of course he says then why did you pull to the right if you know that. I said I don't know so he asks whats in the way, what made me do that and I said my brain. He has me slide over to the passenger side and he climbs in and parks us in the middle lane and explains "You aren't going to be perfect, I don't expect you to be perfect. I need you to understand good enough is good enough and stop adding pressure to yourself. There is enough pressure in this seat that you don't need to add to it." Off to lunch we go!

Continued

Logbook:

A written or electronic record of a driver's duty status which must be maintained at all times. The driver records the amount of time spent driving, on-duty not driving, in the sleeper berth, or off duty. The enforcement of the Hours Of Service Rules (HOS) are based upon the entries put in a driver's logbook.

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.

Pete's Comment
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Day 5 Continued

So even with the good advice given by the instructor I'm still beating myself up a bit. I got to overthinking it, got in my own way instead of using what little I know and making it easy on myself. Hardees was for lunch. I am the only smoker amongst us so when I finished I went outside to smoke and kept repeating to myself when backing turn right to make the end of the trailer go left and vise versa. I got over the frustration while doing this, and realized if I had just remembered to breathe and let my hands and mind do what I knew it would have been done correctly.

Back to the yard after lunch, the other two drivers in our trio were going to get another shot at offsets and then we would move over to sight side parallels. Meanwhile I think the duo who went earlier to do parallel have done at least ten each. We get over to the other instructor, he runs through the maneuver twice then we start taking our turns. My cohorts did well one pull up each attempt and by the time it was my turn the students and instructor who went and did a set of offsets each had now gathered near where we were doing parallel. I'm the last to go, a fellow student says no pressure all eyes on you. Now at this point I am no longer thinking about what i screwed up I have moved on and I think I have a solution moving forward. Just breathe and do what you have been instructed to do and apply what you know. So now I am happy everyone is watching, it gives me an opportunity to implement what I have told myself. What they think doesn't matter, just do what you are supposed to be doing, and above all DON'T HIT ANYTHING! I do the first parallel, everything is in the box but my drives are close to the line, it would pass but it can be done better. My second pass I start cutting it into the box a little earlier and end up perfect. No pull ups on either attempt and in the box both times.

So while today wasn't a great day I still haven't hit or killed a cone. I learned that sometimes you are close but close is OK as long as you don't hit anything. I learned also, that adding pressure to yourself to be perfect, or even great can hurt you more than help you. Good enough is good enough.

I am home now writing this sorry again it's a day late, thank you for reading.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

PackRat's Comment
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Thanks for posting. As the instructor told you, don't overthink it and close is enough will be fine for you at this stage. I parked awhile ago at a truck stop in Indiana. Three open spots on the left and more than that on the right, plus plenty of room to the front. I ended up doing 3 pull-ups to get her parked. Some days will be just like that. QUIT smoking!

Pete's Comment
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Day 6 Today was a bit different one instructor is on vacation, and our main instructor had some family stuff to take care of. So for today and tomorrow we have an experienced trainer who also fills in as an instructor. At first I wasn't sure what to think about learning a third different way to do the same thing. Then I realized by learning three ways to do the same thing I can see how each method has its merits and how it can benefit me. After all no two backs are the same out there.

The day began with our logs and how to document and explain excess hours after our weekend reset. Then it was back to the backing range. We each ran both offsets and a couple more sight side parallels. Then we made our attempts at blind side parallel. Lunch broke up the day a bit, they ordered pizza for us and the orientation group of four drivers who came today.

After lunch we took turns with more offsets and blind side parallels. About an hour before we finished each of the five of us took a shot at ninety degree alley dock. I have to say I am really gonna have to work on that one. Tomorrow we will run both trucks, each driver will do all five backs. Then relinquish control to whomever is next in line. The goal is to get at least two repetitions in each truck on each maneuver. Wish me luck i am certain i will need some.

I can no longer say I haven't killed a cone, I clobbered two of them on the blindside parallel with the drives. Bumped two others, one on sight side parallel and one on alley dock.

Yea I know I need to quit packrat I've known for years and I have no excuse. Worried for HomeHalf she is pretty sick, but this has nothing to do with smoking. I always feel bad for her when she feels bad. Wish there was something I can do other than say get some rest. We're expecting rain the rest of the week so I expect to be exhausted and drenched.

More to come tomorrow, thank you for reading along. I hope you all have a wonderful evening, and day tomorrow.

Noob_Student's Comment
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Sounds like you are doing great Pete. How many attempts do you get per day at each backing maneuver?

I hope your wife is feeling better soon!

Pete's Comment
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It really depends on how smoothly it goes for anyone. If everyone is progressing nicely everyone gets several. To be honest I didn't count how many times I went today except the one ninety degree alley. One thing I do recommend if allowed watch how the trailer moves when others are driving. You can see what their hands are doing and the steer tires as well as the trailer.

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