Advice: Downshifting Eaton Fuller 9-spd

Topic 24465 | Page 1

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Solo's Comment
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I've been mostly posting via the CDL Diaries sub-forum but thought I would get more eyes here.

So my first week out of CDL school (this past week) I actually felt pretty confident in my abilities to handle the truck in the various conditions I was able to drive through...except my downshifting. Plane and simple, the lack of confidence inspires panic on exit ramps, traffic lights, etc.

I can typically get from 8-1 fairly well (provided I have time/distance); sometimes nail an 8-6 downshift...but I get to 5 and need to get lower in a pinch (quick light, or turn (company policy is to turn 1-3 only) I will more times than not mess it up....and messing it up on an uphill, well..I'm not sure words can describe.

My trainer is always quick to step in, grab the shifter, and direct my clutch or fuel needs to help him find the right drops, and we're off...but I need to do all of that on my own.

I don't feel that this is a particular skill set I should have mastered by the end of my first week of training, but my trainer gives me a different impression...which wouldn't bother me, if he said something along the lines of "Look, this skill is clearly something they don't focus on much in training and it's causing you issues out here in the real world, so lets get you set-up for success" or something along that line. But instead we just press on and when I get in a jam, he is quick to help out...which is clutch (pun intended?)

So my 2 questions:

What could be some tips I can try to implement when I get back into the truck tomorrow for week 2 (of 5) of OTR training?

Should I ask him to help me improve my shifting? I just figured it would be part of the training process, since I'm graded on it (along with everything else pertaining to driving a truck (lane control, following distance, etc), that he would address that weakness and bring it up to speed w/ the other pieces I'm being graded on. He's even remarked that in his 77 trainees that only a few didn't make it through training because they couldn't get the shifting part down.

side note: We're going to a full automatic fleet (and as of right now, I can't wait) by summer and even trainers will be in automatics by summer because TMC's CDL school will actually be all automatic, so new CDL grads from TMC will have an auto restriction.


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.


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.


Operating While Intoxicated

Amish country's Comment
member avatar

Shifting is something that definitely takes practice. Just start slowing early to get your shifts in. Once you can double down pretty decent it will be a whole lot easier to get there. I dont really have advice for ya since I'm still newer myself a dont have to shift often anymore. Doubling down you drop your rpm a little lower then normal (800 vs 1000 for instance) and rev up a little more then normal to get the gear. Dont expect to be a pro at it your first week, itll take a little while to get comfortable.


Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
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Agree-it's one of those things that will take much repetition to get it, so don't feel like you need to master it in week two, or even month six. I still grind a gear on occasion and everyone else does, too. The more you do it, the better you'll become.


Hours Of Service

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

Thanks guys. I had to drive out of ****son, TN the other day and then through Clarkesville, and then Ft. Campbell and if you're familiar w/ that route to include the bridge detour (aka that stop sign that you have to make a right from to cross the bridge), you may understand my angst, but I'm glad I had all that practice.

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