Prime Flatbed; Springfield, Missouri; Spring 2020

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Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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5/8/2020 to 5/9/2020: Monroe, NC to Cedar City, Utah; over 2000 dispatched miles.

This night was better because my sleep pattern is changing. Had another rookie mistake involving the GPS. We changed over at the TA in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. If you’re going westbound, at the exit is a bus station. The GPS said “go straight,” which I did. As I’m pulling into the bus terminal I see a sign that says “No truck, Low Clearance.” So I’m looking to see where I might hit something overhead. I didn’t realize until after I was pulling back out on the main street, the low clearance was the signal lights suspended over the entrance. Lucked out this time and didn’t hit them. So next, I miss the turn into the TA and had to do a loop around the block. No big deal except the turn coming back west was tight. I didn’t swing out for a “jug handle” because I had two lanes after the turn to swing wide. That still wasn’t enough and ended up with my tandems on the curb. As I continue to watch the tandems roll over the curb, I see them come to within about a foot of the pole on the corner and realize I’m going to hit the pole if I keep going. So I straighten out and swing into the oncoming lane where the cars in that lane politely moved for me. Funny how, despite their seeming fearlessness of trucks, when you drive straight toward them in traffic they move.

Made the transition and my trainer took over. I was exhausted, but couldn’t sleep because going through the mountain passes the truck was bucking and leaning pretty hard. I got up to wait until we were through the mountain passes. While I won’t get into the details, I couldn’t sleep the rest of the drive to Cedar City, Utah.

By this time, I’m overtired and running on adrenaline. But by staying up in the passenger seat, I saw some of the best scenery I’ve seen in my life. I-70 through Utah is gorgeous.

We made it to Charlotte Pipe in Cedar City, Utah and swapped our load for another. This one going is going to a customer in Oregon.

My trainer got us to Beaver, Utah for our 34. My 34 started when we switched over in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. We got to Beaver about 02:00 Sunday. And I crashed.

619 miles in 10 hours 31 minutes

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.

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".

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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5/10/2020: Beaver, Utah

Spent most of the day trying to catch up on sleep. I would sleep for a couple of hours and then get up. After about three shifts of sleeping I felt back to normal.

I went for a walk just to get off the truck for a while and talk to a reptilian mentor of mine about trainer issues. I saw a foal with its mother, some lambs with their mother, and a calf. As this was mother’s day that was apropos.

As Turtle and I have posted, get off the truck. Even though I was exhausted from the TNT training, stressed by some of my trainer’s driving behavior, and what seemed like in the middle of nowhere, I was able to find and appreciate some beauty.

Here is the picture of the calf that beckoned me to pet him.

0033608001589505429.jpg

After I got back to the truck, I went in to take a shower. While waiting, I spoke to a third generation driver who gave me the same sage advice as my reptilian mentor. I followed the advice and brought up my concern with my trainer. His immediate response, without even thinking, was “I understand.” I was relieved that I didn’t have to deal with both some concerning driving behavior and conflict with my trainer.

My trainer made curry chicken for dinner.

0721347001589505504.jpg

After dinner, trainer started out driving us to Woodburn, Oregon.

No miles today because of the 34.

TNT:

Trainer-N-Trainee

Prime Inc has their own CDL training program and it's divided into two phases - PSD and TNT.

The PSD (Prime Student Driver) phase is where you'll get your permit and then go on the road for 10,000 miles with a trainer. When you come back you'll get your CDL license and enter the TNT phase.

The TNT phase is the second phase of training where you'll go on the road with an experienced driver for 30,000 miles of team driving. You'll receive 14¢ per mile ($700 per week guaranteed) during this phase. Once you're finished with TNT training you will be assigned a truck to run solo.

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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As a side note to just the facts, I am really enjoying the flatbed work.

While this was not my reason for choosing flatbed, one the first times driving with a loaded trailer was pretty cool. You feel like a real cowboy with a load of industrial steel products.

When we picked up the load of ranch equipment from a dirt parking lot in Texas, I couldn't help thinking that you don't get much more cowboy than this.

0424509001589507573.jpg

Turtle has said as flatbedder, you'll get dirty. But it's that gritty hands on work that adds to the mystique of the job for me.

Even in this short period of time, I am beginning to learn to appreciate quality work and feel an affinity for the flatbed brotherhood. I take pride in the fact that we secure the load. We don't just hook up to the trailer and drive off. Or watch the person loading it to make its loaded correctly. We are throwing straps, climbing on loads, unrolling tarps, pulling tarps, winding straps, and putting it all away after we're done. And I'm taking pride in how my load is secured and how it looks.

0356623001589507274.jpg

So I don't see myself switching to dry van or reefer anytime soon.

Dry Van:

A trailer or truck that that requires no special attention, such as refrigeration, that hauls regular palletted, boxed, or floor-loaded freight. The most common type of trailer in trucking.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Old School's Comment
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You're doing a great job! I love seeing your development. It sounds like flat-bedding is a perfect fit for you.

Hang in there!

Tortuga 's Comment
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Great update Rob D! Keep them coming!

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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5/11/2020: to Woodburn, Riddle, and Chemult, Oregon

I took over early in the morning and got us to the receiver in Woodburn, Oregon, a Do It hardware store distribution center.

I drove down Cabbage pass but didn’t really have discretion as to my speed down the hill. There was a truck in front of me that set the speed for all of us. I put it in manual mode, shifting back and forth between 8th and 9th set the jake to level three, and simply mainained my distance from the truck in front of me. While the nortorious mountain passes get a lot of attention, in my limited experience, the long, relatively consistent, grades are not as nerve as hilly non-interstate roads. While these non-interstate roads don’t have as steep and long of grades, you can quickly get up to 70 mph on these short hilly roads. Plus, often are two-lane with no shoulders and significant drop offs beyond the edge of pavement. And a 40 mph caution sign for these roads may mean a reasonable speed of 40 mph or they could be 20 mph, depending on whether the curve is banked or counter-banked. These two lane roads just don’t have the consistent road design of interstates.

Our load of Charlotte Pipe had several different diameters of PVC pipe. They bundle them together into these wood frame rectangle bundles, but the wood frame and bands are not very strong, so they can shift within the framework. This had happened with some of the top bundles which made it difficult to get the forks underneath. They used two forklifts. One to brace it and one to get underneath. The more “Carlos” tried to get the bundles off the larger crowd he drew: the other workers there. He finally got the top bundle off which bowed down on both sides of the forks. Unfortunately, the PVC pipe did not make it to the ground while still on the forks. It slid off the left side. Despite dropping from about 5 feet, it did not appear to be damaged.

After we unloaded, we headed to a truck stop to eat dinner, but before we got there we got a new loaded assignment that was three hours away. We needed to go straight there to get there by the time they closed. We even called to let them know we might be late. This load is going from Riddle Oregon to Rocky Hill, CT. Over 3,000 miles.

I sleep on the way there and my trainer let me sleep while he strapped. Later on I woke up when we were on some two lane road in Oregon. I’m sure my trainer was exhausted and I could tell by his driving. I talked him into shutting down for 5-6 hours so that we could both get some good sleep. We did and stopped in Chemult, Oregon

626 miles in 10 hours 23 minutes

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
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5/12/2020: Chemult, Oregon through Utah and Idaho.

After about 5 hours of sleep, I started driving. We went north to Bend, Oregon My trainer does not trip plan. Rather we just pick a destination on Navigo (Qualcoom GPS) and go. Well the Qualcoomm shut down and we didn’t have Navigo. I had our next fuel stop plugged into Google maps on my phone. As we approached Bend Oregon, Google maps was taking me on a route that I was not sure was a truck route.I got off an exit, went to the Walmart, and pulled out my Rand McNally Motor Carriers’ Atlas, 2020 edition. After confirming that Google map was taking us on truck routes. I headed out.

I’m driving day shift now and I must say that US 20 through eastern Oregon is gorgeous.

It’s mostly two lane and involves a lot of curves and hills. As I mentioned in my last post, these driving conditions require a lot more focus than going down Cabbage Pass at a constant speed. Plus, with two lane roads, you have deal with oncoming traffic including passing vehicles.

I’m coming down one of these hills and see a white Corsica pull into my lane to pass another oncoming car. The white Corsica should have COMPLETED the pass at the point it BEGAN to pass. I say out loud, “oh no” like, oh no you are not going to try to pass. Sure enough he keeps on coming. I apply the brakes firmly and drift just over the white line to create more space for the Corsica. Now here is what I’m talking about with these roads being more dangerous than the notorious grades. There is about 2 feet of paved shoulder, but its that earthen brown stone pavement. There is a rolled lip at at the edge of the pavement and beyond that gravel the same color as the pavement. So you really have to pay attention to where the edge of the paved surface lies and think hard about how much of the “shoulder” you can use to travel on before getting off balance and rolling.

Well, the Corsica made it into the lane just in time and we went on our way.

My trainer took over somewhere in Utah while I slept.

590 miles in 10 hours 39 minutes

Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

5/13/2020: Nebraska and Iowa Pretty much drive and sleep now. Nothing eventful today. Unlike Packrat, I’m not a big fan of the Nebraska landscape.

642 miles in 10 hours 46 minutes. My new record.

5/14/2020: I-80 through PA.

Same thing, drive and sleep.

Although, I did drive the same section that I had driven in the snow during PSD and there were some hills along this section. So I got some winter driving in hilly terrain under my belt.

613 miles

5/15/2020: Dropped off lumber load in Rock Hill; Connecticut; Lumber load, Smyrna, NY

I drove a morning shift of 412 miles in 7 hours 38 minutes to get us to the Walmart near the receiver. We slept for maybe two hours. Then went to the receiver.

My trainer drove us to the lumber mill shipper while I slept.

Then after my 10 hours I started another shift through the night of about 550 miles.

5/16/2020: NY, PA, OH, Indiana.

Finished my morning shift at about 06:00.

I slept while trainer drove.

We are planning to take a 34 in St. Joseph, Missouri before our delivery. After that delivery on Monday, I will have over 9800 dispatched miles. So, about One fifth of the way to my 50,000

My wife came to the Love’s in St. Charles, Missouri and spent a couple of hours with her, which was nice. I like my wife.

Drove to the Love’s in St. Joseph for the night. About 265 miles.

Having been on the forum for a while, I understand that many people make claims in their posts that they cannot support with documentation. Therefore, a healthy skepticism is warranted.

Below is a photo of my partial 8 day log from the Qualcomm:

0610328001589727573.jpg

Also, below is a link to my photo album with all my pictures.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/jLzsC935fzeQETDE6

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.

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.

PSD:

Prime Student Driver

Prime Inc has a CDL training program and the first phase is referred to as PSD. You'll get your permit and then 10,000 miles of on the road instruction.

The following is from Prime's website:

Prime’s PSD begins with you obtaining your CDL permit. Then you’ll go on the road with a certified CDL instructor for no less than 75 hours of one-on-one behind the wheel training. After training, you’ll return to Prime’s corporate headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, for final CDL state testing and your CDL license.

Obtain CDL Permit / 4 Days

  • Enter program, study and test for Missouri CDL permit.
  • Start driving/training at Prime Training Center in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Work toward 40,000 training dispatched miles (minimum) with food allowance while without CDL (Food allowance is paid back with future earnings).

On-the-Road Instruction / 10,000 Miles

  • Train with experienced certified CDL instructor for 3-4 weeks in a real world environment.
  • Get 75 hours of behind-the-wheel time with one-on-one student/instructor ratio.
  • Earn 10,000 miles toward total 40,000 miles needed.
Andy Dufresne (a.k.a. Rob's Comment
member avatar

Summary of Thoughts:

To say that this has been overwhelming is an understatement. I started orientation on April 8, which seems like about 6 months ago at this point.

But the overwhelming part has not been what most people share about their training experiences. Trucking Truth had prepared me so much for CDL training part, such as knowledge, skill development, and proper attitude. Sitting here I have almost forgotten the fear of being sent home during orientation, the stress of the CDL test, and my anxiety over bad trainers.

Rather the overwhelming part is the magnanimity of this adventure.

I wanted to take pictures of the best parts of I-70 through Utah, but it was all the best. It was just so overwhelming.

Reflecting back on these past two weeks, there are so many things that I have forgotten to mention. Like dairy country in upstate New York, fields of lavender in Oregon, Columbia River Gorge, herds of antelope in Wyoming, fields of wild flowers everywhere, plus numerous streams, rivers, winding through every type of landscape you can imagine. Not to mention some of the unique provincial landmarks I have seen along my journey.

Has it been all wonderful scenery and happy thoughts? No. But that has been the most relevant part of my adventure.

Thanks for following along.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bird-One's Comment
member avatar

Great stuff Rob. Truly. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy and no doubt exhausting day to document this journey. Keep up the great work. Pretty soon you'll have your own truck and freedom to do things how you see fit.

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