Rookie Solo Adventure, Thoughts, Questions, Vent, And Ramble.

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Spoonerist 's Comment
member avatar

Hello all,

A lovely Xmas with family. I went back to work 12/27 for some local stuff. Ran 4 or 5 loads for the heavy haul planner. Scheduled the A&B service for 0800 Monday. I previously scheduled home time for that Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday I ran some errands then went for a hike and soak in a local hot spring. Sunday I had an appointment that I couldn’t miss. At some point Sumner called me to let me know that my loaner truck will be a heavy haul condo.

Monday morning 0630 I picked up the keys to a ‘17 4-axle heavy. I had a hyper-sensitive load delivering to Tacoma and needed to roll out of the terminal at 0700. I located my new truck, gathered some supplies, pretripped, and went looking for my trailer. Hrrrmph! It was buried behind another in an area not conducive for maneuvering. I hooked the offending trailer (after taking a cya picture in case I was late) and moved it for a “lovely” blind 90. Right as I was getting ready to move the next one a hostler came and took it!

I grabbed my trailer. Pretripped it and went on my way. I made it to my receiver on time! A live unload and load 59,700 for return. Missed my turn getting back on the freeway and had to make a short stop that triggered my camera. I made it safely back to the yard. 2 more local runs wrapped up my Monday. I hit the sack by 1900.

Tuesday I was up early. Checked in with dispatch to see about my trailer for my first load, the paperwork was missing. I went to breakfast and went back to my truck. Dispatch called an asked if I was alright... yes, I’m waiting for the load to arrive so I can get on my way. Some time on hold. He came back and said that I should send a mac 22 if it looks like a load is not going to work with my next load. Lesson learned. He removed the first (it was glitched) and second and assigned another Tacoma delivery.

I hooked the trailer and while pretripping I lowered the tag axle. I pulled out of my spot and realized that I needed the trailer tag axle up for backing. Pushed the button and heard the sound. Went back in the cab and started backing. A hostler came up and said that I need to lift up my axle. I went back and it was hissing with no lifting. I fiddled with the mechanism. No dice. I called dispatch to let them know that I may be late. They directed me to check with the shop. I set all the brakes and checked the axle again on my way to the shop, it decided to come up. I went on my way.

I got very wet delivering that load. It was quite messy. On my way back to the terminal I received a load plan taking a heavy reefer to Wenatchee, curious... I called dispatch and said that I would be happy to do it, but my sleeping stuff is in the other truck. He said keep doing what I was doing and that he was working on something. He messaged me to come to the office when I got back to the terminal.

I met with my DM , he asked me if I would like to keep running heavy? Yes, that sounds great. Ok, move into the new truck. I’ll be running dedicated Costco heavy haul! Very cool! My load delivers 1/2. I went home after moving and cleaning.

Exhausted, my New Year’s Eve ended at 2100. A new truck and gig for the new year!

Cheers,

G

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.

Dm:

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Congratulations! I've heard those Costco gigs are great. Costco is very efficient with their methods of keeping drivers from having long wait times for live loads/unloads. You may be doing drop & hooks, I don't know, but anytime I've spoken with someone doing Costco loads, they were pretty pleased with their efficiency.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Good morning,

I ran Costco dedicated heavy with my mentor. The load/unload is fantastic, a well oiled machine!

After so much/many 3+ hour loadings I’m excited for the efficient ones?

I’ll be heading back to grab my load soon. I’m hoping Bluitt pass is clear, if not I’ll have to take the longer route.

I’m excited for this adventure!

Cheers,

G

Mr. Curmudgeon's Comment
member avatar

Costco DC in Yorkville, IL is usually about a 50 minute unload for a full 53 footer. Don't even worry about getting there too early, they won't give you a dock assignment until 45 (I think, it has been a while since I delivered there) minutes before your appointment time, and they seldom start to unload until your appt time. You can dock, they just hold pretty tight to the schedule.

I've enjoyed your updates. Keep up the great work!!

Spoonerist 's Comment
member avatar

Good morning all,

I’m near my terminal having breakfast while my truck is in the repair queue.

My first week of dedicated heavy was fun. I took a load to Wenatchee, spent the night and did a drop and hook in the morning with a direct return of pallets. My next load was to Spokane for Costco. Arrived and met a friend for dinner. My unload was 0600 and it took them about 30 minutes!

I had a great conversation with another heavy driver! I dead headed to Moses Lake for a load of recyclables heading to Port Townsend. The recycling center was tiny and had one dock. Apparently they were having technical issues when I arrived and directed me to park out of the way. I took a nap.

When they cleared the dock I started backing towards it. I stopped and talked to the customer. He’d shared what was going on and I explained that’s what I call: jiggery-pokery. We both laughed and he said he’d use it!

I proceeded to have my own jiggery-pokery getting into his dock. It had a ramp for my tag axle that I missed on my first attempt. Got loaded with 54k net and went to scale.

On my way out of the truck stop I saw the other heavy driver getting scaled and noticed she was driving the first truck I drove during my mentorship. “Hey, that’s my truck!” Lol.

Snoqualmie was clear. I stopped at the terminal for a shower and then headed to Port Townsend. During rush hour... the idiots were out in force. The peninsula was lovely and quite wet. I missed my turn turn towards PT and had to reroute. All good. Got to my receiver and called their number. I explained that I was there for a delivery the next morning. They said they unload 24/7 and gave me instructions for their dock.

There was a great deal of pulp shmoo on the ground and it was slick and goopy and the whole place stank, but the guys were awesome and we had great laughter!

I have family in PT and I’d reached out to them. They gave me permission to park on their land and we made arrangements to have coffee in the morning. I parked and was winding down and received a knock on my door. Security: am I delivering in the morning? No, but I’m parked with permission of the land owner (gave his name). He said he was going to check on it. Ok. He didn’t come back.

I woke to an amazing sunrise over the harbor! Met my family, they were the first to take a “tour” of my truck.

The company dead headed me to Sumner to pick up a dry load going back to Spokane. The clouds looked dark and ominous. I knew that we were in for heavy rain and snow shortly. I made an emergency (bio) pit stop and noticed that my drop axle was pretty hot.

After cresting the pass and my speed got over 50 my drop axle started slamming back and forth laterally. I nearly had to stop to make it stop shaking and when I got back up to 50 it started shaking again. Thankfully, I was on the phone with a close friend that has 40+ years of driving experience. He said: sounds like your drop axle just failed. You need to report that ASAP. I did and was directed to Ellensburg to get repowered. I was planning to get fuel and take my 30 there. I wound up lifting my axle and limping in.

The other driver was parking when I rolled in. We swapped and he left. I finished my break, got fuel, and coffee and went back over Snoqualmie. I was very snowy. I’m grateful for my OTR experience with snow. While generally unsafe, it no longer terrifies me. I got back to Sumner and put my truck in the repair queue. Took a nap and headed home.

And here I am, breakfast done and I want a nap... Life is good. I’m enjoying this job very much!

Cheers,

G

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.

OTR:

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.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

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.

Spoonerist 's Comment
member avatar

Good evening all,

I attempted an update the other day, but it didn’t load...

Let’s try again. I’m sitting near mile post 70 on Eastbound 90. Apparently there are some jackknives ahead near exit 73.

This is the start of my third week in heavy haul. I’m very much enjoying it. Last week was exhausting with much learning and a wee scrape.

A week ago Monday I learned a hard lesson. Follow my intuition and find a place to sleep before I really need it. I delivered in Bend and discovered there’s a dearth of sleeping spots. I had planned on the Westbound weigh station, but was lured into PS Ogden rest area.

While finding a decent spot my trailer clipped another. My very long day got longer. Little damage to the other trailer and I tore the hulu skirt off mine. The other driver was very professional and a gentleman.

I lost my platinum rank.

The rest of that week I hauled loads from Troutdale to Bend. Many drivers refusing to chain meant that I was the one grinding back and forth on HWY 26 chaining both directions.

My first attempt took 2.5 hours and was quite miserable. Each successive chaining took less time and I learned the nuances and discovered muscles I didn’t know about...

My last chain up took 36 minutes! Chain removal was 18.

I’m not overly fond of snow driving, but it no longer freaks me out.

My last run, last week was a dead head from Bend to Salem. I chained near Sisters and removed them near Gates. Took me 4.5 hours to drive that leg. Blowing snow and mighty drifts.

While getting blinded by high-beams I decided to start a PSA. “Consider who you are blinding” my computer art skills have dropped off in the 3 years since I used them, but I hope to have a draft done the next time I’m home.

2 tons vs 50 tons and they blind us usually at the worst time. The apex of corners on 2 lanes. It’s their lives they save.

Back to waiting...

Cheers,

G

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Spoonerist 's Comment
member avatar

Good morning all,

Today finds me at my terminal. Been a very busy week with some more Murphy lessons. Thankfully no chaining!

My week started with a Costco run from Sumner to Bend, OR. A beautiful drive and an easy unload. I slept in the Costco parking lot.

I deadheaded from Bend to Springfield to pick up paper rollls. Another gorgeous, but tight and winding road. I love taking the road less traveled!

I arrived at my shipper and was met with a “nice” guard. She made some comment about another driver that kept moving around the mill to park. She said the driver should lose his CDL for taking so long to park. I said: “we all start somewhere”.

They had quite a few procedural things (reminded me of Rob T’s post about rules.) Park the trailer in Pool 1, get it inspected, sweep it out, put paperwork in it, get parking assignment. I was shuffling it around in Pool 1, trying to park it in the “easiest”/safest spot and I hear the guard’s words in my head...

A hostler pulled a trailer off and end spot, so I pull around and put mine in there. My loaded trailer was across from where I parked. While I was lining up a fellow Swifty was lining up for his and said: “they always load him heavy-44k” He is OTR. I laughed and said: “mine is 58k”.

A hostler offered to pull the trailer out. I declined, until I realized that I couldn’t squeeze between the trailers to get my landing gear. I requested assistance. Weighed on their scale. More procedures and departure. I immediately took a wrong turn and had to reroute, thanks QualComm for sending me through a neighborhood...

Got on my way. My load was Tcalling in Troutdale. Anytime we Tcall more than 35k we have to include a CAT scale ticket. Coburg TA does not have a scale. 2 months ago I would’ve been nervous about running with a heavy load and no scale ticket. What if I go across a state DOT scale and my tandems are in the wrong spot? Now, a cursory scale at a customer. Total 99k, fine. The CAT scale is procedural.

Portland traffic was heavy and I missed my next shipper’s business hours...

I’ll write about that in my next post. Need to focus on breakfast and laundry and get my day going.

Take care and drive safe!

Cheers,

G

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.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

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.

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.

OTR:

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.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

CAT Scale:

A network of over 1,500 certified truck scales across the U.S. and Canada found primarily at truck stops. CAT scales are by far the most trustworthy scales out there.

In fact, CAT Scale offers an unconditional Guarantee:

“If you get an overweight fine from the state after our scale showed your legal, we will immediately check our scale. If our scale is wrong, we will reimburse you for the fine. If our scale is correct, a representative of CAT Scale Company will appear in court with the driver as a witness”

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Very enlightening and well-written, truly giving the reality of the rubber meeting the road!

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Great update, Spoonerist!

Spoonerist 's Comment
member avatar

Hello all,

I’m home for some appointments and errands.

I’ve got a few minutes, so I figured I’d dredge up the rest of my week. I left off in Troutdale with a missed shipping appointment. A Murphy lesson was to google my customer if I’m unfamiliar with them. I learned my shipper was closed after I drove to their location. I was in the suicide lane (a good spot for checking the phone) with my hazards on and looking at a locked gate...

My return was uneventful in the morning, other than missing the turn. The hostler had me drop my trailer next to the one I was hooking. He was very cool and professional. After I hooked my load I moved out of his way before sending my macros. He appreciated that small courtesy on my part.

My drive to Auburn, WA was uneventful. My receiver looked like a car dealership, so I missed the turn. I managed to back far enough to make the turn. I parked to visit the office. Another driver suggested that I pull around the building for receiving. I did.

A visit to the office went rather slow. Instructions about back into door # and open my doors. If it wasn’t palletized then I’ll have to move to another dock. They were slightly miffed that I didn’t know if it was palletized or not. It wasn’t. I moved to a less convenient dock that required a blind 90. I proceeded to block traffic in the yard and eventually gave up and repositioned. My plan was to pull around the building and do a sighted 90. While doing my U-turn my dock lined up nicely. I parked accordingly! When I got out to set the chock I patted myself on my shoulder.

Dispatch had me on a load going to Cour Delane (sp?) and Clarkston Costco. On my way to the DC (distribution center) I called to let them know that I would be happy to do the loads, but they would be late due to HOS. They dispatched me.

While dropping my MT at the DC They called to remove the load and dispatch me on one going to Spokane. I picked my trailer and hit the road. I had just under 6 hours on my clock. I made it to the rest area just west of Spokane. I parked for my 10.

I got up a bit before my 10 was done to PC (personal conveyance) to the truck stop. When I started my truck the red and yellow warning lights were blinking and it died. “Very low coolant” I popped the hood and the level was low, very low, not so much. I called dispatch to let them know what was going on. I was stopped on an incline. I added water and got her moving. Unfortunately, when she died in the lane the ELD popped me out of PC and into driving. Yep, messed up my 10!

I’d gained about 6 hours at midnight. I drove to the truck stop (after some loud swearing). Got fuel and coolant. Delivered to Costco uneventfully, but about half and hour late.

With my remaining hours I moved 2 trailers from Costco to the Swift drop yard. The third was a 3 axle heavy reefer which was parked in at Costco. When I was parked in the lane ahead and parallel with the trailer and on the phone with dispatch, 2 cars parked in front. I caught them walking away from their cars! Hello, I’m about to back into that spot, please move your cars. They were polite and moved without argument. There was a pickup and trailer parked parallel to the trailer blocking it in, the occupant was shopping, nothing to be done with that.

The offending trailer was parked quite close to the curb ahead. I had to “corner hook” it. Took several goals and then I figured out the angle and hooked it. While I was messing about the pickup owner moved.

I pulled out and went for my next load. Spokane Seed for 54k of whole peas. It was my birthday! I parked for my 10 hour nap.

I’m going to write more shortly.

Cheers,

G

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.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
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