Multi-Stop Flatbed Loads

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Old School's Comment
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As a dedicated flatbed driver I do a lot of multi-stop loads. Our customer insists that all our loads be protected from the weather. They try to load multi-stop loads on Conestoga trailers, but we don't always have enough trailers available. So if you're lucky you get to deal with those tarps many times on one load. This week I got a five stop load going from Delhi, Louisiana to Bristol. Connecticut. My first stop is Harrisbutg, Pennsylvania.

Here's a peek at how you do this stuff. You don't want to have to remove the tarps completely. That takes from your precious time and requires unnecessary exertion to get those tarps back up on top of the load. Here's how you handle it.

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I get on top of the load and simply pull one tarp forward and one tarp backwards. This effectively exposes the cargo I need to remove at an individual stop. When we're done I just pull the tarps back in place and tighten them up with bungees.

Of course, this time of year adds a few extra challenges into the mix. This was my view as I crossed through upstate New York heading over into Connecticut.

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Overcoming the challenges of this job are what makes it so rewarding to me. I've noticed a distinct paradigm in trucking. Smart successful truck drivers overcome the challenges and are both effective and prosperous in their job. Those who are overwhelmed by the challenges, constantly try to eliminate them by switching companies or giving up completely. You can't eliminate challenges by moving on to something else. You must face them and prove them ineffective at crippling your progress.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
James J.'s Comment
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Do you have to rescale after offloading part of the load or when its loaded do they plan for how its coming off?thanks

Rookie Doyenne's Comment
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Great photos, Old School, and waxing great philosophical thoughts, too... an attitude for trucking success that generalizes to life success.

Be safe out there in that winter wonderland!

Old School's Comment
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Do you have to rescale after offloading

James, I very seldom scale my loads at a CAT scale. Flatbed trucks have a little leniency in this situation. Our split axle trailers can have as much as 40,000 pounds on the trailer's axles.

My dedicated job typically involves me picking up pre-loaded trailers. There's always a scale on sight at the plant. I will roll across the plant's scale to check it as I leave. I've been on this particular assignment for over five years. I can only remember one time that I had to get them to re-work my load.

The simple answer to your question is no. I don't need to weigh again after removing cargo at individual stops.

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”

Delco Dave's Comment
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Thank you for sharing. I am 90% sure I want to go into flatbed. Hoping Roehl Transport will give me a call when I apply. Really like everything I’ve read about their program and company.

Question: During a recession or slow new construction times, does flatbed slow down along side the economy or is there still plenty of stuff to be moved?

Thanks

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.
Old School's Comment
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During a recession or slow new construction times, does flatbed slow down along side the economy or is there still plenty of stuff to be moved?

Hello Dave!

Here's my experience. I've been doing this for about seven years now. I can remember sitting for a day (due to freight being a little slow) maybe twice in that seven years.

I think your question actually digs a little deeper into one of my favorite topics. Trucking is, and always will be, a performance based business. You have the power to keep yourself at the top of the food chain as a driver. Your job doesn't have to be manipulated by the minor ups and downs that affect most drivers. How is that so? You consistently prove yourself very capable of being productive and easy to work with.

Any driver who is above average will be treated differently. My dispatcher has proven this to me over and over again. I seriously haven't experienced any slow downs. I've heard my companions saying their miles have dropped off due to this or that, but I've never been included in those situations. I'm certain flat bed freight slows a little at certain times, but you don't have to be part of that slow down. You create your own demand out here, and Top Tier Drivers are kept busy by their support team in the office.

Take the time to read this article about How To Get Yourself Dispatched 5,000 Miles In One Week. I think it might help you understand how you can keep yourself busy out here.

Dispatcher:

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

Old School said:

I get on top of the load and simply pull one tarp forward and one tarp backwards.

What is your tarp set up?

In looking at tarps, I see many different sizes and weights. Even up to 136 lbs.

Delco Dave's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Old School, I appreciate the info. I will definitely check that article out. I don’t mean to sound full of myself but I have an exceptional work ethic and have risen through the ranks at all my previous jobs before starting my own business due to my ability to get things done on my own. Hopefully the same will apply to trucking. I am easy to work with, don't think I’m above or shy away from any task, if it needs to be done, do it. Also, I’m always willing to learn other ways/strategies to get things done. I’m sure Everything will work out fine once I get out there and the necessary skills are fine tuned.

Thank you again, Have a Great Day!!

Old School's Comment
member avatar

What is your tarp set up?

In looking at tarps, I see many different sizes and weights. Even up to 136 lbs.

Hey Rob, most flat bed drivers use what we call a three piece lumber tarp set up. That's what I use. In addition to that I carry two smaller tarps called "steel tarps." Those smaller ones are handy for shorter loads.

On this load I'm using the "lumber tarps." They can accommodate an eight foot tall load (typical of lumber loads). Each section usually weighs around 100 pounds. Once you learn to handle them it's not too bad. Rookies struggle with tarps at first, and it's understandable. After developing some techniques that help you get them to do what you want, it just becomes second nature - as much a part if your job as backing into a parking spot at the end of your day.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
I have an exceptional work ethic and have risen through the ranks at all my previous jobs before starting my own business due to my ability to get things done on my own.

Dave, I've said repeatedly in here that formerly self employed people adapt to the trucking lifestyle much easier than others. Trucking requires a very independent mindset. It's on you to make sure things happen. Nobody holds your hand out here. Movers and shakers stand out in this endeavor. Keep us posted on your progress in this career. I know you can do well at it. Commit yourself to it, and be safe and productive. It will come together for you.

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