My Journey - J. Bauer Trucking

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SRJ's Comment
member avatar

After a long year of researching and determining if a career change was going to become a reality, I can officially say my first day is in the books.

Approach - I spent many months researching companies and school options for obtaining my Class A CDL. One option was a somewhat local technical college that offered a 8 week course or 20 week, weekend course at approximately $3100. Something inside just didn’t personally feel right and therefore eliminated this option. This is where it become more difficult as I had a variety of paid training options through mega carriers. Wilson Logistics, Roehl, Prime and Millis Transfer. I actually had a seat reserved with the class that started today in Richfield, WI. Millis was very close to home and has a very reputation for its training program. My third option, J. Bauer Trucking, was a late addition to my search and the option I decided to proceed with. A few weeks ago I made the 3 1/2 drive here to meet with the training instructor and owner of the company and left feeling it was where I needed to start this journey.

Training Program - the program is one-on-one training with an dedicated company training instructor, Bruce, that is certified through the state of WI to do Class A certifications. He is a really laid back guy and has been in the trucking business since he was 18. You train on a 10-speed manual transmission. The program progresses as you progress. Once a trainee feels ready to test out, you travel to a nearby DMV location to test. Once you obtain your CDL , you then get partnered with the companies training mentor. You head out with the mentor and run the mentors route until you feel confident in your ability. Once you get your mentors blessing, you then are assigned your own truck. JBT runs an all Volvo fleet and has mechanics in house 24-7.

Day 1 - I’ll start by saying I’m exhausted. My level of focus throughout the day was physically draining. We started by looking over some Pre-Trip materials and materials regarding the CDL testing process. We then proceeded to the truck. Climb aboard, buckle up and let’s do this. LOL. Now the fun begins. Let’s drive a 10-speed manual transmission in a Volvo tractor. OMG. The biggest thing I was concerned about going into training was the manual transmission and I can say I feel the same way after today. I’m probably being to hard on myself, but man I really feel I didn’t do as good as I should have. We spent several hours in the lot learning the technique of double clutching. I would get in a rhythm and think, I got this, only to them feel like, WTH. A definite roller coaster today. Let’s hit the back country roads now. I can tell you I was sweating as I was so nervous. Shifting, especially downshifting was pathetic. I didn’t get frustrated and continued my best to focus. We made it back to the lot without killing anyone, hitting anything or breaking anything, so I guess that is a positive. We also did a Form A Pre-Trip, which I attempted and was told I did quite well for the first day. I had been working on some pre-trips prior to arriving for training and that definitely helped.

At 3:00pm my trainer had someone coming in to do a Class B certification. He allowed me to continue to work on my shifting in the lot. I am able to spend as much time as I want in the truck as long as I don’t leave the premise of course. I did about 45 minutes on my own which was extremely helpful, but I finally called it a day. I headed back to the motel and I am now just relaxing as best I can. Overall, a good day in my new journey. Hopefully my night of sleep won’t be riddled in shifting nightmares. LOL

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.

Double Clutch:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

Double Clutching:

To engage and then disengage the clutch twice for every gear change.

When double clutching you will push in the clutch, take the gearshift out of gear, release the clutch, press the clutch in again, shift the gearshift into the next gear, then release the clutch.

This is done on standard transmissions which do not have synchronizers in them, like those found in almost all Class A trucks.

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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

SRJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 2 - Started off doing some shifting in the lot and then hooked onto a 53' trailer. Went thru coupling first and then worked on turns while attached to the trailer. Instructor asked if I wanted to practice the backing skills for the CDL test. I was happy to attempt them as I could get my mind off the shifting struggles I continue to deal with. Straight-Line Back and Offset Left went pretty good. Took a couple attempts on the 90 degree Alley Dock. Man that one is pretty difficult. Initial set-up is key to getting that trailer in the box. Built my confidence back up on the backing skills.

Next we talked about the procedures for dropping the trailer and proceeded to drop the trailer. My confidence was short-lived as we proceeded to take the tractor out on the backroads and focus on some upshifting and downshifting. Downshifting -FFF (Frustrating Frustrating Frustrating). However, I did make it back to the lot without hitting anything.

As the day was coming to an end, I decided to stay after, hook a trailer up and do so more practicing. Focused on the backing and shifting for an hour and a half by myself. My shifting improved and seems to do so when my trainer isn't in the truck. Figures. My mind was telling me I had enough for day 2 so I did a straight back and dropped the trailer and then parked the truck for the evening. Let my instructor know I was leaving for the day. He proceeded to advise that I was progressing well. I guess I am just being hard on myself. Going to stay positive though and try to make tomorrow a better day.

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.
SRJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 3 - wow just wow. Started the day out with driving the yard and practicing my shifting. I have back up a bit. Due to my frustration of the previous days shifting, I watched several shifting videos last evening and wanted to focus on why I had learned. “One Two, One Two.” I also worked on my left foot and right had coordination. Verbally talking out loud as I shifted. “One Two. one Two. I put into practice what the videos and what my trainer has been telling me from day one. Spent 30 minutes in the yard without a trailer.

Next up, hooked up a trailer and my trainer saying, “lets hit the roads”. Now the nerves starting to build, I took a deep breath and said, lets do this. My shifting was night and day. Add to that I was driving the roads. My mind working in deep concentration and my trainer saying, just relax. Sure, I can do that. Yeah right. 9a to 1:30p running the monster around city and county roads. Holy crap things are coming together. Confidence building. A few grinds and missed gears towards the end. I can say with the amount of focus, my mind drains me mentally and physically.

From 3p to 5:30p I worked by self on shifting and backing in the yard. I have cones set up for all the backing maneuvers, which is awesome. My trainer has been very complimentary regarding my backing ability.

Overall the day was very productive and my confidence built up a bit. Still need to stayed focused.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Keep up the good work! I'm not familiar with that company so ill be following with much interest.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

SRJ's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Rob T.

Day 4 - Hooked up a trailer and headed out on the road from 8:30pm to 2:00pm. Drove the first 50+ miles heading west on a Highway 29 and then the remaining 100+|- miles driving township roads. Really focusing on my shifting, proper stop location, turns, lane usage and all the other of required skills needed to be a safe driver. Overall my shifting was much better than the previous days. Still some hiccups, AKA grinds or missed shifts. I’m recognizing this usually takes place when I rush it. Also when I’m concerned about holding traffic up.

Made it back to the yard and continued to work on my backing. Really feeling good in this area, but I will not become overconfident in this area. I took a bit of a break from my backing as my trainer, Bruce, was performing a CDL Class A test at the yard. I was able to watch, from a distance, the driver, seemed like a real young guy, perform his backing skills section. He was driving a manual transmission with a lowboy trailer. He did well and ended up passing the his test. It was great to be able to watch someone work through the maneuvers.

I finished the day with a few more backing maneuvers and then dropped the trailer and parked the truck for the night. As it was starting to snow and we are not sure what the weather will bring, if we get a considerable amount of snow, I will be working more on the Pre-Trip and some maneuvers in the yard. If the snow doesn’t come, we will hit the roads again and work on all the above. Overall probably the best day of the week so far. Hopefully I can continue to improve. FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS

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.
Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Thanks Rob T.

Day 4 - Hooked up a trailer and headed out on the road from 8:30pm to 2:00pm. Drove the first 50+ miles heading west on a Highway 29 and then the remaining 100+|- miles driving township roads. Really focusing on my shifting, proper stop location, turns, lane usage and all the other of required skills needed to be a safe driver. Overall my shifting was much better than the previous days. Still some hiccups, AKA grinds or missed shifts. I’m recognizing this usually takes place when I rush it. Also when I’m concerned about holding traffic up.

Made it back to the yard and continued to work on my backing. Really feeling good in this area, but I will not become overconfident in this area. I took a bit of a break from my backing as my trainer, Bruce, was performing a CDL Class A test at the yard. I was able to watch, from a distance, the driver, seemed like a real young guy, perform his backing skills section. He was driving a manual transmission with a lowboy trailer. He did well and ended up passing the his test. It was great to be able to watch someone work through the maneuvers.

I finished the day with a few more backing maneuvers and then dropped the trailer and parked the truck for the night. As it was starting to snow and we are not sure what the weather will bring, if we get a considerable amount of snow, I will be working more on the Pre-Trip and some maneuvers in the yard. If the snow doesn’t come, we will hit the roads again and work on all the above. Overall probably the best day of the week so far. Hopefully I can continue to improve. FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS

FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS, is SOOOO correct~!!

Congrats on the journey, SRJ . . . I'm following as well!

Seems like a nice company; very dedicated to their employees, being at under/around 100 trucks. You were blessed to find this diamond in the rough, IMHO~!!

Carry on; BEST of all to you!!

~ Anne ~

good-luck.gif good-luck-2.gif good-luck.gif

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

SRJ's Comment
member avatar

Thank you Anne A. Much appreciated.

Forgot to mention I was issued a login for our ELD’s, PeopleNet, and we talked about basic functions of the system.

SRJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 5 - Started out doing a full Pre-Trip for my trainer and he said I would have passed for the CDL test. Missed a few items, which he went over with me after I competed the exercise.

Next he had me do his route he uses for his tests he does. Well let’s just say things went down the tubes. Shifting was atrocious. Tried to make a shift on a pretty steep hill and had to put the 4 ways on and come to a stop while obstructing traffic. I’m sure the people behind were having some choice words for me. Stress level 9.5, which totally took my focus. It was so frustrating. I made it back to the yard without hitting anyone or anything, so I guess it could have been worse.

Back at the yard, I took a breather and cleared my head. Thought about all the mistakes I made and what I needed to do to correct them.

Next item on the agenda was to complete a trailer inspection, in-can and brake check. Did a good job on that with only one missed item, the trailer door ties. Man I wish I could paint those things bright orange.

Guess what I had to do next? Yep another mock road test. Nervous as can be, I took a deep breath and told myself I can do this. Focus Focus Focus. Almost a night and day run from the previous disaster. Confidence built up a bit. Made it back to the yard and my trainer took me to much for a pretty decent bacon cheeseburger at a downtown tavern.

Heading back to the yard and did a front of truck, in cab and brake check. Trainer was scoring my performance and stated I passed. You can probably guess what was next. Yep another mock road test. Knowing this was going to be my last driving for the week, I really wanted to nail it. A few grinds, but even better the second round. Trainer advised my performance would have been a pass. Great way to end the day and week.

It is crazy to think of what I have experienced in one week. From never sitting in a semi-tractor to driving one with a 53’ trailer attached while also using a 10-speed manual transmission. Overall the this week has been extremely productive and I look forward to getting back on Monday. I was able to head home for the weekend. I arrived safely home and the kids and 3 dogs were happy to see me and here about my week. Have a great weekend everyone and we will pick up next week.

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Anne A. (momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Day 5 - Started out doing a full Pre-Trip for my trainer and he said I would have passed for the CDL test. Missed a few items, which he went over with me after I competed the exercise.

Next he had me do his route he uses for his tests he does. Well let’s just say things went down the tubes. Shifting was atrocious. Tried to make a shift on a pretty steep hill and had to put the 4 ways on and come to a stop while obstructing traffic. I’m sure the people behind were having some choice words for me. Stress level 9.5, which totally took my focus. It was so frustrating. I made it back to the yard without hitting anyone or anything, so I guess it could have been worse.

Back at the yard, I took a breather and cleared my head. Thought about all the mistakes I made and what I needed to do to correct them.

Next item on the agenda was to complete a trailer inspection, in-can and brake check. Did a good job on that with only one missed item, the trailer door ties. Man I wish I could paint those things bright orange.

Guess what I had to do next? Yep another mock road test. Nervous as can be, I took a deep breath and told myself I can do this. Focus Focus Focus. Almost a night and day run from the previous disaster. Confidence built up a bit. Made it back to the yard and my trainer took me to much for a pretty decent bacon cheeseburger at a downtown tavern.

Heading back to the yard and did a front of truck, in cab and brake check. Trainer was scoring my performance and stated I passed. You can probably guess what was next. Yep another mock road test. Knowing this was going to be my last driving for the week, I really wanted to nail it. A few grinds, but even better the second round. Trainer advised my performance would have been a pass. Great way to end the day and week.

It is crazy to think of what I have experienced in one week. From never sitting in a semi-tractor to driving one with a 53’ trailer attached while also using a 10-speed manual transmission. Overall the this week has been extremely productive and I look forward to getting back on Monday. I was able to head home for the weekend. I arrived safely home and the kids and 3 dogs were happy to see me and here about my week. Have a great weekend everyone and we will pick up next week.

Glad you bounced back!!! I'm happy for you, man.

Enjoy your weekend (much deserved, I'm sure!)

~ Anne ~

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

SRJ's Comment
member avatar

Day 6 - A short weekend at home, but a good one as I was able to see the family and dogs. Also, was able to watch my 10 year old play in his two basketball games prior to heading back up north.

Started the day out hooking up a trailer and hitting the road from about 8:30a to 1:30p. Got a stink eye from a lady as I didn’t get thru an intersection fast enough for her liking. Oh well she doesn’t know me and she will hopefully get over it. Shifting is getting better except for one particular area of the route that I had a monkey on my back. Couldn’t for the life of me correctly shift after coming out of the left hand or right turn onto a slight incline. Not a hill or steep grade, but a stinking slight incline. So embarrassing. Over and over I tried and would screw it up. Mental block for sure. It was only until I started in 4th gear, shifted to 5th prior to making my turn. Bingo. Finally success and kicked the monkey out of the truck. Lol.

Headed back to the yard and worked a couple hours on backing. Straight-Line and Off-Set Left no real issues. 90 degree Alley a few hiccups, but most of the time I can get it corrected with an extra pull-up, which only counts as 1 point. Prefer not to add a point, but if that is what it takes it’s not a huge deal.

I’m feeling real good about the Pre-Trip. Just have to remember my BBC, not bent broken or cracked and my ABC, no abrasions bulges or cuts. Also, just need to remind myself of the slack adjusters and push-rods. For some stupid reason I forget to mention these two items.

Overall a very productive day.

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