Living The Tanker Life

Topic 26452 | Page 1

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Grinder's Comment
member avatar

Hey all! I've been lurking on here for a while. This site and the forum has been an incredible source of info since I began my journey. Time to pay Brett, (and everyone) back for the guidance. I'm 59 & 3/4's years old, 10 year Navy Veteran, and Last year, after 25 years, I was "offered" an early retirement severance package from my job at a major Telecomm company. Took it. But it's not real retirement, so I had to find a job, and I love being on the road, so I came here first, and did my research.

I live in the Southern tip of Illinois, so my choices for CDL training were limited. I picked Shawnee Community College in Ullin, IL. A good move. The program is 7 weeks. Week 1 was classroom and a forced march of online pre-tests and hard study for the CLP exam. Passed easy.

In the following weeks, it was INTENSE training in '99 Volvos - mornings were pre-trip-rinse-repeat, then straight line backing, parallel parking, and daily road trips on local highways, often desolate strips where we practiced down shifting. The week before our scheduled Illinois Skills test, we drilled hard. Because of that, the skills test was easy. The School has a 30yr driver as the lead instructor and patient, but tough instructors.

Right out of school, 4 of us went straight to the Tankstar website and applied. Probably because of all the companies that came to the school to recruit, Schwerman sent a terminal manager, and a mechanic - not recruiters - to talk about their company. They hired all 4 of us after a drive test.

The terminal that hired us is primarily liquid bulk. Company training started with a couple days of videos, then some face to face discussions and procedural stuff with my driver manager , receiving a bag of PPE, Then, out with a company certified trainer. My first run was 11 days out in a 2018 KW T680. I met my trainer at the terminal and after some quick intros - we hit the road with a pre-loaded tank of goo bound for Louisiana. Newb's cannot drive for the first 7 days, observe only, and get to experience the "slosh" of the product in the tank from the passenger seat. At night, Trainer stays in the truck, Trainee stays in a Motel. A little different than other companies, and a key takeaway is the trainee has to find a hotel with Truck Parking, so you get a quick dose of hard core trip planning. We ran hard the first day, got about an hour from our delivery, and called it a day. The next morning, we arrived at the customer about 30 minutes early. We weighed in and were directed to our offload spot. There, we met a rep from the plant who showed us our delivery connectionn. The trainer had me remove the hoses and fittings from the truck, and lay them out, and step-by-step, he had me go through the pre-delivery steps with the customer, and have them sign off, and connect our hoses to offload the product. The air pressure offload took a couple hours. After, we stowed our hoses and were dispatched to a tank wash near our company terminal in Houston. At the tank wash, the trainer had me do the paperwork to drop off the tank, and drop the hoses, then had me back the trailer into a spot back in the "dirty tank" lot - , my training kicked in and after a pull up, and a GOAL, I put it right in.

Since that trip, I've become accustomed to driving a loaded tanker through the gorge, Monteagle, Atlanta, Chattanooga and Nashville, using different methods to load and offload: Truck Air, Truck Pump, etc. I really like it. I really like the Jake Brake on the new KW too. Got some good home time this weekend, and will head out for what I think will be my final training week before getting my own truck, sometime the next couple days.

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.

Driver Manager:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

CLP:

Commercial Learner's Permit

Before getting their CDL, commercial drivers will receive their commercial learner's permit (CLP) upon passing the written portion of the CDL exam. They will not have to retake the written exam to get their CDL.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Grinder!

I'm glad to hear it's going well for ya! You're not exactly following our typical advice, but I'll not scold you for it.

Tankers are a tough gig to start with. People do it - we've got several members who started out with tankers and they're still in the game, but the odds are against you.

Be extra cautious. Keep us posted. Thanks for making the effort at producing a diary. We greatly appreciate your contributions. It sounds like that tanker training program is pretty decent. I wish you the best!

I live in the Southern tip of Illinois, so my choices for CDL training were limited.

I just want to clarify something for future readers of this diary. Nobody is limited by their address for training programs. These companies will get you to their training facilities, then house you and feed you. Now, if you don't want to stay in a hotel, and don't mind spending extra time in school, then you limit yourself to the local community colleges. But as long as you live in a training company's hiring area you can attend their program even if it's several thousand miles from your home.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Welcome Aboard, Grinder! Yours will be an informative thread to follow. I really like the description of your training program method. I wish more followed that process with their newest hires.

We have a few tanker drivers on here that I'm sure can answer any questions you may have, as well as offer technical feedback.

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