Rookie Solo Adventures Of A Knuckle Draggin Primate (Rob D.)

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Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

7/25/2021 Update: North Carolina

While I don’t really need it that much, I am on another 34-hour reset here in Dunn, North Carolina. Not much tourism this time. Just going to catch up my diary. I am coming up on one year solo. So, I will end this diary at that point. Hopefully, it has been helpful.

Delivered the load to Centerville, Utah Monday. Nothing eventful other than a lesson in making notes on shippers and receivers. This particular receiver has a back gate where you are supposed to arrive and then call. If you go to the delivery address, you’ll be in the wrong place.

Next load it out of Cedar City, Utah. Easy PVC pipe load going to Clackamas, Oregon. Pretty easy delivery to one of those one of those common warehouse areas where you pull into the central drive and there are opposing docks on each side. There was some confusion about my delivery time. The receiver had me scheduled for a week earlier at noon. I ended up showing up early, about 900 and good thing, because that was a better time for the receiver. At Prime we have people who call and schedule the appointments. For some reason, this person was adamant that I could not make it there before noon. Got unloaded pretty quick.

Next load it SAPA/Hydro aluminum logs out of The Dalles, Oregon. I had just driven through that area, which is the quite scenic Columbia River Gorge area. Nice scenery. Unexpectedly, I had to tarp this one. The guard said that they had an aluminum log fall off a trailer so ever since then, they require them to be tarped. No big deal. I had bought two smaller canvas tarps to cover metal loads where there is just too much exposed metal to cover well. The canvas worked really well. Instead of tons of moving blankets, just one 10 X 5 tarp in the front and one 8 X 6 tarp in the back. Four bungees and done. This shipper was the same one where my TNT trainer got into it with Jeff, the forklift operator. I saw Jeff there and asked him about it. He didn’t remember.

This load is going to Unicoi, Tennessee. Total miles are over 2600. I really should have done a better job of keeping my weekly diary. When it’s been more than two weeks, I struggle to remember as many details.

Next load is enormous radiators out of Lexington, Tennessee. I had posted pictures in the flatbed variety thread. Interestingly, as large mine were, there were others that were over 12 feet tall. Those were on the ground next to a dry van trailer. They were about one foot below the top of the dry van. In addition, to having never hauled these before, the large variety of flatbed loads makes it difficult to know how to secure things. These were only about 4,000 lbs each. They load these sideways, with the large tall radiator portion parallel to the rub rail. The forklift operator said to put two chains on that side, then one strap holding down the back side. I realized pretty quickly that not only is all the weight toward the front, where I had both chains, but with the two chains pulling against that side, the only thing preventing them from toppling off the side of the trailer was one strap. I didn’t like that. So, I ended up running one of my chains to the opposite side of the trailer. However, that had a tendency to twist the radiator sideways, which make the chains loose. After some more thought, I realized that one chain through the anchor point to the front of the trailer, then to both sides of the trailer, then another identical chain toward the rear of the trailer provided much better securement. In fact, it would have been the most obvious securement if I hadn’t listened to the forklift operator.

Delivery to Lafayette, Indiana went smooth. Remove four chains and lift off the radiators. Fifteen minutes. Then I’m off to Constantine, Michigan to pick up paperboard going to Charleston, Illinois. Constantine, is just over the state line from Indiana. Even though everyone else there had to tarp these, I didn’t because my run was so short.

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.

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.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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.

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.

Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

7/25/2021 continued

Because I’m in Illinois, a Chicago load is on the table. Nothing good comes out of Chicago and one of the worst, of any flatbed loads, is Allied Tube out of Harvey. It is notorious for being slow because the employees just have no sense of urgency. So, that’s what I get. I get there about 1600 and am promptly told that my appointment is 2000. And although I get into the bay by 2000, no forklift operator even comes to my truck for over three hours. He finally starts loading me at 2330 and doesn’t finish 0200 the next day.

This four-stop, tarped load is going to Miami, Florida. While I have never refused a load since I’ve been solo, while I’m driving south, I thinking about sending a message to my FM that Allied Tube, Harvey might be my only load that I won’t haul. This may be moot because I plan to send him a message regarding options.

As I have mentioned before and in other threads, at Prime you have the option to run regional right out of TNT. I chose OTR , because I wanted to see more of the lower 48 and get a large variety of loads. The idea being, that I wanted to get the actual experience of hauling different loads to different areas so that I would know firsthand, rather than based on conjecture. One place that has surprised me is Los Angeles. I really don’t mind running loads to Los Angeles. Now that I have a year solo under my belt, I plan to see what regional and/or dedicated options I have.

On the way down the Florida, I had a collision warning critical event. I was in the second from the right lane. A car to my left pulled in front of me and just stopped, wanting to get to the exit. A couple of days later my FM asked me about it, saying that it appeared that someone had pulled in front of me. Prime does not have cameras, but they have the “data.” Nothing showed on my radar before the collision warning, so they could see I was not following close. I ended up saving the video from my dashcam, but my FM said he didn’t need to see it. It was clear from the data what had happened.

My four stops went pretty well. Although the forklift operator as Allied Tube in Harvey took forever to unload me, he did put the stops in easy groupings.

After my deliveries, I head to the Florida 595 truck stop which is a complete pit. There are junk vehicles and four-wheelers parked in the truck parking spots. So based on that, and other things like the bad drivers, Miami is one of my least favorite cities now. Although, I did end going to the Everglades National Park, where I met a woman from Paris, saw a alligator and manatee. See my other “Get Off the Truck” thread.

As far as surprisingly easy deliveries, my next load out of Florida is Charlotte Pipe going to Brooklyn, New York. It’s over 700 miles deadhead. Easy securement, no tarp. And for the first time since I went solo, there are four watermelons on my trailer. It’s a Charlotte Pipe thing.

I end spending the night in Pennsylvania, leaving 170 miles to drive into Brooklyn. Based on Turtle’s recommendation, the drive into the City had practically no traffic. I had each turn planned very well and even put waypoints on my GPS so it wouldn’t try to take me a different route. It took me just over 3 hours. All of the intersections were wide enough to make my turns. And after my delivery, my GPS took me out on a truck route that was nice and easy. Interestingly, the tightest situation I encountered all day was getting out of my parking spot that morning. It was one of those really tight Pilot’s. I had to G.O.A.L. three times.

My next load is lumber out of Towanda, Pennsylvania. I’ve been there before. It’s the place that has 10-ton weight limit on the access road. Tarped load, but they put your tarps on and all you have to do it bungee them down. I have actually started using rope more rather than bungees. I like them better because they hold the tarp better. There is no elasticity in the rope. And, I’m getting quicker at using the rope. Heading south from here you take US 220, which as Turtle’s Walmart trainer called it a “goat path.” But I’ve got time on this load. It’s going to Darlington, South Carolina and doesn’t delivery until Monday. The scenery through Pennsylvania was nice.

I will deliver this load Monday and then I’ll pretty much be heading to Springfield for my next home time.

0639200001627220282.jpg

Deadhead:

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

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Fm:

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

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.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Rob D.,

I really enjoyed your pix via the extension, in the 'Get out of the Truck' thread; thanks! I left a comment~

Gotta ask TWO things (yet I hate gunking up this awesome thread..):

1.) What's up with the 4 watermelons? Easter Egg I can't find, sorry!

2.) Is that a REAL SIGN?!?!? I was born in NY and raised in FL. (No pity needed, I know...LoL!)

~ Anne ~

Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

Anne,

The watermelons are just a Charlotte Pipe thing. The shipper leaves watermelons for the drivers and the receivers.

The sign is a real sign as you're leaving Brooklyn. I zoomed in more so you could read it better. Here is the original picture.

0246237001627245285.jpg

BTW, I can take those pictures hands free.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

8/8/2021 update; Marshall, Illinois

On another 34-hour reset here in Marshall, Illinois. Not any significant adventure as Marshall is a very small town. Although, I did walk into town and found several geocaches. Actually, walked over 6 miles. So, good exercise. Other than that, cleaned the truck and am doing some laundry as I write this.

My trip to Darlington was pretty much uneventful, other than I-95. Turtle has always recommended that I avoid I-95, mainly because of the Capital Beltway. I had figured it wouldn’t be a problem because I was driving through the Capital on Saturday. Well, I breezed through the Capital, however, apparently, everyone from the Capital was going to the beach. So, traffic slowed down after the Capital and I ended up losing about 2 hours because of traffic. So, I didn’t make it was far as I had planned before taking my 34-hour reset in Dunn, North Carolina.

My delivery to Darlington went pretty much uneventful. Turtle has mentioned several times that he wanted to get back into geocaching, so we challenged each other to see who could get the most geocaches in the next three days before I went home. I picked up one while waiting for my next load. It was actually a very cool one named Darth Maul’s Lair that looked like a bird house. The cache was in a sorta trap door at the bottom. I picked up some more at rest areas after I picked up my next load which was Charlotte Pipe out of Monroe, North Carolina going to Sikeston, Missouri. I think that Turtle got the most finds during the challenge period.

I end up delivering the next day. I get there at the end of the day, after their cut off. But they end up unloading me anyway. Thought I would be deadheading to Springfield because I was so close. But instead got another load from Perryville, Missouri to Springfield, Missouri. That load was landscaping stone going to a garden center on the south side of Springfield. Picked it up and delivered it the same day. Then went back to Springfield, for home time.

Coming off of home time, I got a load one of those field sprinkler systems, going to Georgia. I called the receiver on my way down and find out that two other trucks were delivering at the same time. We met in Donalsonville, Georgia, but find out as we are traveling along that we are actually going into Florida. You always deliver these sprinkler systems in the field where they will assemble it. We end up going down a dirt farm road where the other two trucks turn right. My receiver contact tells me not to turn right as I’m going “around the corner.” In fact, he tells me that he needs to go and check where I’m delivering because he has only been through the gate in a pickup truck and wants to make sure that I can access the field.

After he guides me there, it ends up not being much of a problem. Although I have to drive through a lawn, the ground pretty solid dirt.

It’s a long unload because, these types of loads have many parts and you have to unload them once piece at a time. As I’m leaving, it dawns on me that I’m in Florida with a 53’ step deck with the axles open. I am on county roads so there is no where to stop and open the axles. I’m heading to a Pilot nearby and figure I’ll just open them there. Well, on the way, I pull up to a red light and there is a Sheriff’s Deputy right next to my tandems. Apparently, he doesn’t care and I make it to the Pilot where I open the axles before heading out to my next load which I pick up in Pendergrass, Georgia.

It’s a load of underlayment that they use in construction projects, going to Batavia, Ohio. I posted pictures of that in the flatbed variety thread. Pretty easy securement, except, for my tarps. I keep my lumber tarps on the trailer. The rolls of underlayment covered the full length of the trailer. So, I had to put my lumber tarps on top of the load. I ended up backing the trailer next to each other and hoisting the tarps up from my empty trailer. I had to lift them about shoulder high, which is higher than the deck of my trailer, but I got it done.

This underlayment load was a pretty long unload because they had to unload essentially one or two rolls at a time. Next load is steel coils going from Middletown, Ohio to Rome, New York. Interestingly, the same place where Turtle was delivering. If fact, I get text message from Turtle continuing the geocache challenge from earlier. He found two geocaches in Rome, NY. I try to make it to the Walmart in Batavia, New York, where Turtle said I could park for the night, but only made it to the TA in Erie, Pennsylvania. Delivered the coils without incident and then plug Walmart into my GPS thinking that maybe I can try to get as many or more geocaches that Turtle found near the Walmart. Well, the GPS was taking me to “Marcy” as Turtle says. The Walmart D.C. in Marcy, New York. I get my load information as I’m driving along and have to abandon the Rome, New York geocache challenge.

I’m heading to Smyrna, New York to pick up a load of lumber headed to Arthur, Illinois. That Friday night, I am able to make it to the Walmart in Batavia, New York. Saturday, I make it about 640 miles to Marshall, Illinois and stop at the Road Ranger here. It’s actually a very nice Road Ranger. Lots of parking, laundry, nice showers, and a Church’s Chicken.

I’ll about 50 miles away from my delivery and will be there first thing in the morning. Rinse, repeat.

Deadhead:

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

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".

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

EPU:

Electric Auxiliary Power Units

Electric APUs have started gaining acceptance. These electric APUs use battery packs instead of the diesel engine on traditional APUs as a source of power. The APU's battery pack is charged when the truck is in motion. When the truck is idle, the stored energy in the battery pack is then used to power an air conditioner, heater, and other devices

Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

8/29/2021 update; completion of one year rookie solo.

I’m one week back on the road after coming off of 4 days home time. I had intended to write my final substantive diary entry while on home time, but home time seems to get busier, and busier each month.

After some nice weather in Marshall, Illinois, I had a string of wet weather. It rained when I delivered my load of lumber in Arthur, Illinois. The receiver was apparently an Amish business, and just like the Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn, these guys were right out of central casting. Martin Miller unloaded me. And, as many of you know, Amish don’t drive cars, so there were several bicycles in front of the office. In addition to getting wet unloading, my new larger tarps get REAL heavy with a load of water in them.

Next load is roofing underlayment going from Carlisle, Illinois to Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was a half tarp load. The “felt backing” needed to be tarped. Oh well, another $80. The route, with my fuel stop in Emporia, Kansas, took me down US 54, which was nice break from the interstate. You have some smaller towns with lower speed limits, but I don’t mind the change of pace. However, planning stops is a challenge. There are lots of turnouts, but they are not on my GPS or the truck stop book.

Ended up getting to Albuquerque that Wednesday. There was a TA about a mile away from the receiver, so I went to there to remove my tarp and roll it up. It had dried oiut on the way from Illinois. When I got to the receiver, I had to wait quite a while to unload, because there was another truck in front of me. And it was a slow unload because they had to take the rolls of pretty much one at a time. But other than that, uneventful.

Next load is sheet rock going to Kansas City. This place is pretty easy because they put on your edge protection and a basic tarp job. You just have to finish tying down the tarps. Again, I’m using rope more often now. When they unrolled my tarps, they asked where I’d been. “Midwest, why.” “Because your tarps are wet.” Thinking, but not saying, “well that’s what happens when it rains.”

Back up US 54 to Kansas City. Same fuel stop. Ended up being able to see my daughter who lives Mission Kansas. Rained that night, and was raining again the next morning when I unloaded. But at least I could unload inside the building. Again, after another flatbed driver in front of me.

Next load is lumber out of Sarcoxie, Missouri. Woodchuck land. And again, another tarp job. Got there about 12:30 and checked in. Told I wouldn’t get loaded until 15:00. Mainly, because of another flatbed driver in front of me. I ended up helping the guy, because as soon as he was out of the way, I could get loaded. I have mentioned that I feel I’m slow with securement. This guy made me look like Speedy Gonzalez. Not only was he slow, but he double tarps. With my help, he got done sooner, and I got loaded sooner. This load is going to Columbia, Maryland. Quite the nice haul. Ended up making to the Pilot ino Grantsville, Maryland on Saturday night. My original route had me going along I-70, which would have put me around Breezewood, Pennsylvania. But, I decided to drop down to I-68, thinking that less traveled interstate would be better for parking. Sure enough, when I rolled into the Pilot at 23:15 there were still parking spaces.

Delivered my load that Monday. Somewhat difficult access, because the place was one of those where the address in the main street but you have to take the internal business park roads to get to the loading dock. As I’m rolling along the main street, where there are no turns, both my GPSs say “arriving at your destination on the right.” Don’t quite think so.

Next load is more lumber out of Galeton, Pennsylvania. Wood chuck land. Try this tweeked tongue twister on for size. “How much wood, could a woodchuck tarp, if a woodchuck, could tarp wood?” This place was such woodchuck land, that 10 miles after I left the shipper , I came across the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum. But very nice scenery, driving next to the Allegheny River. Made it to the Plainfield Rest Area in Indiana late that night and delivered to Dudley, Missouri the next morning. Somewhat interesting routing because the road that led to the receiver had been recently relocated. The grass where the old road had been was still fresh. So, both GPSs are telling me to turn on a road that is not there and they think that I’m driving off road. But the receiver had very good signage directing trucks where to go.

After I deliver and pack up, I head to St. Louis. My scheduled location had been Springfield, Missouri but I was closer to St. Louis, so I just headed to our drop yard there.

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.

Interstate:

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

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Rookie solo year by the numbers from August 17, 2020 to August 17, 2021. These numbers include all the home time I took. I didn't calculate "work day" numbers.

Rookie solo miles: 128,658 Average weekly miles: 2,473 Rookie year gross pay: $73.,092. Average weekly gross: $1,405 Average weekly take home: $977.

I ran pretty hard, but also tried to run pretty smart. As I have mentioned before, I generally come off of a 34-hour reset on Monday, run all week, and then get a “weekend” load on Friday that delivers Monday. I can get a 34-hour reset each weekend. The other thing that I leveraged a lot, and still do, was the new rule that allows you to pause your 14-hour clock for a 2-hour break. In many circumstances, this allowed me to use all my 11-hour clock each day. At the same time, it made for 16, or 17 hour long days.

As far as home time, I would take 3-4 days every 3-4 weeks. Many times I would be under a load, because I would tell my FM that I could deliver and reload on my first day of home time. So, I would deliver early Thursday or Friday morning, get another load, then head to St. Louis or where ever I had my home time set. Also, many times, if I took home time in St. Louis, I would set my home time location for Springfield. Drive to Springfield after getting to the terminal on Thursday or Friday. I would also often drive back to Springfield that Sunday. There were two times I took 5 days straight. So, I could have taken a lot more home time.

I had a particular competitive goal in mind when I went solo. I made that goal and the new 8/2 split rule was instrumental in that goal. I plan to probably slow down a little. Not a lot, but maybe deliver a little later instead of being the first guy in line. We'll see.

I hope this diary has been helpful to those considering Prime flatbed.

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.

Fm:

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.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Awesome job! You killed it and it can only get better from here.

Now that you have a year of safe driving are you planning on staying with what you're currently doing?

Chief Brody's Comment
member avatar

Rob T,

I plan on staying with flatbed for the time being. I spoke with my FM about regional or dedicated. He said there is a dedicated Louisiana Pacific (lumber) out of Alabama, but there are no openings for that right now. He also said that there is a Midwest regional, but that would involve Allied Tube in Harvey, Illinois. I'd rather stay OTR and avoid Allied Tube in Harvey as much as possible.

I may explore options outside of Prime, but I'm in no big rush. I continue to feel less overwhelmed by the job.

As far as that aspect, I think I worried too much in my first year about being efficient and using my time well. But now that I look back on it, and moving forward, I'm less concerned about how much time I spend securing and tarping. I try to be efficient, but I take the time to do it right the first time and spend less time redoing securement down the road.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

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.

Fm:

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.
PackRat's Comment
member avatar

An excellent read, every journal entry!

I've learned a bunch of stuff from reading these, too.

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