CFI Training Through Trainco Trucking School

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Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

I haven't been on this forum for long. In fact, I've only begun seriously researching and pursuing a trucking career a few months ago. I drove a straight truck for a furniture delivery company shortly after turning 19. I've always wanted to take the leap from a CDL B to a CDL A but always siked myself out of it. Now my only child is going into her senior year at college. She's on her own, in her own apartment and I find myself at a point in life where it's now or never. I've spent the last 20 or so years jumping from car sales to automotive repair, to retail after retail horror story. It's time for me to hit the open road and find the happiness that has eluded me for so long. Will this career have challenges? I'm confident IT WILL!! Will this career be a total 180 from everything I know and have learned about work...Most likely. Am I ready for this challenge... HELL YEAH!!

After 7 consecutive rejections from various companies, I found a home with CFI. Having a previous non-moving violation that resulted in the suspension of my home state driver's license. I found roadblocks in being hirable by many large and medium-sized trucking companies. CFI reached out to me a few days after I submitted my application and started the process of getting my issue approved by the higher-ups. That took about 48 hours and I received the call informing me that I'm good to go and need to move onto the drug test portion of the application. Urine and hair follicle testing would have to be performed. For the first time in my life being a fairly hairy person came in handy LOL. I took the test on a Thursday afternoon and had the results confirmed by Tuesday of the following week. During this same time frame, they already had me set up with the good people at Trainco and the date of May 10th to start school was set. Since the school is over an hour away from where I live, I was able to get a hotel. I decided it was close enough that I could drive myself down to Ohio from Michigan.

So tomorrow at 6:30 am I am to arrive at the school for the paperwork portion of the training. Normally, we will start at 7:00 am and finish around 5:00 pm. They say we will be outside on day one so dress for the weather. It seems to still be unseasonably cool down here in Ohio as it is a few hours north of where I'm from.

I'm so excited to be able to share this journey with you. If you chose to follow along I plan on updating this daily. I would like to provide a personal viewpoint for future students looking for options and for those who might even walk down the same path as myself.

Day one is tomorrow and then 16 days of training to follow. May 26th I'm set up to take my CDL exam and I can't WAIT to see some dancing banana's that afternoon after I complete the exam : )

See you tomorrow evening!

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.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Chris E.'s Comment
member avatar

Hi Nathan!

It seems we are on very similar paths, right down to my son being on his own now and this being a perfect time for this opportunity, dare I say adventure. I'm also from Michigan and will likely be training with Trainco, only about 2 1/2 hours from me, once I receive my physical license in the mail. I would be starting on the 17th of this month but the Secretary of State punched my license when they upgraded it to an enhanced license when I completed the cdl permit exam, so now I have to wait on them before I can start training. So a bit of advice for anyone reading, make sure you don't allow them to do that if you plan on starting training shortly after you obtain your cdl permit.

Anyway, I really look forward to following along with your journey through training as I will be starting as well in the near future! Good luck!

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

MrZ's Comment
member avatar

Hi Nathan, and congrats on your journey. I too signed up with CFI and will be heading out to Trainco May 16. Since I already have my CDL—I got mine in 2018 but never drove— CFI recommended that I do some refresher training. Thus, that is what I will be doing at Trainco for two weeks. I then head out to Joplin for orientation shortly thereafter. I’m from Miami, FL so I will be flying in from Miami to Toledo, OH on May 16. CFI will reimburse me for what it would have cost them to rent me a car from Florida to Ohio. My airline ticket was $130 bucks, the rental car, long with gas would have come out to $200, so it was cheaper to fly than drive. A win-win, I get to fly there and CFI saves money. See you in training, and good luck!

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.
Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Make sure to say hi. I will be here during your refresher! Good to have another CFI family member with me for a bit!!

Hi Nathan, and congrats on your journey. I too signed up with CFI and will be heading out to Trainco May 16. Since I already have my CDL—I got mine in 2018 but never drove— CFI recommended that I do some refresher training. Thus, that is what I will be doing at Trainco for two weeks. I then head out to Joplin for orientation shortly thereafter. I’m from Miami, FL so I will be flying in from Miami to Toledo, OH on May 16. CFI will reimburse me for what it would have cost them to rent me a car from Florida to Ohio. My airline ticket was $130 bucks, the rental car, long with gas would have come out to $200, so it was cheaper to fly than drive. A win-win, I get to fly there and CFI saves money. See you in training, and good luck!

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.
Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

You really are following in my footsteps, even down to the time of travel almost..LOL I hope everything works out with your license/permit situation and you'll be able to be down here soon.

Hi Nathan!

It seems we are on very similar paths, right down to my son being on his own now and this being a perfect time for this opportunity, dare I say adventure. I'm also from Michigan and will likely be training with Trainco, only about 2 1/2 hours from me, once I receive my physical license in the mail. I would be starting on the 17th of this month but the Secretary of State punched my license when they upgraded it to an enhanced license when I completed the cdl permit exam, so now I have to wait on them before I can start training. So a bit of advice for anyone reading, make sure you don't allow them to do that if you plan on starting training shortly after you obtain your cdl permit.

Anyway, I really look forward to following along with your journey through training as I will be starting as well in the near future! Good luck!

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

Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Day one is in the books. We did way more than I expected on the first day of school. Arrived at the school at 6:30 am and started filling out paperwork. Standard stuff for data collecting forms, I'm on a company contract for 12 months to repay the upfront cost CFI is paying for me. Which is not bad considering how much all of this costs, including 17 nights in a nice hotel!

Class started at 7:00 am and we spent the first few hours of the day looking at powerpoint slides about general knowledge stuff. Things like whats a CDL and what the different classifications are. Brake systems, parts, and how they work. An extremely wonderful youtube video from 1983 out of my home state of Michigan on brakes LOL. SMH

Around 9:30 ish we went outside and practiced coupling and uncoupling from a trailer. This was the first time I moved/sat/anything in a semi before and other than stalling it while trying to get the locking jaw handle to engage, it went really well.

Lunch was a 30 min break around 12:00 pm and then back to the outdoors to start learning the pre-trip. Now, this portion of the test really concerned me over the last few months. I have been watching pre-trip videos online and even downloaded a pre-trip inspection book off of another forum, in preparation for this moment. Great news...I have to unlearn everything I learned over the last 6 weeks because the verbiage is wrong in many places and there are different standards in Ohio. So do yourself a favor and ignore youtube training at ALL costs before school!! lol

The last fun for the day was the straight line backing maneuver on the pad. We spent the last two and a half hours of the day teamed up and backing over and over again. I'm not gonna lie, I got really frustrated and struggled more than I expected taking a truck backward at 5 mph in a straight line. I did successfully complete the maneuver around 13 times but had to pull up and fix 5-6 times and crushed probably 3-5 cones over the afternoon. I kept getting in my own head and staying on my adjustments for too long and losing the trailer behind me. Now let me explain that 1. the trucks we are using are day cabs and manual transmissions. I'm testing out in an Automatic but this school only uses manuals on the pad, as they only have 3 A/T trucks used exclusively for road driving and testing. 2. the tractors on the pad are EXTREMELY old, 20+ years old. The one we used for coupling was a 1984. So the clutches are basically part soup and finding R and 1st is incredibly hard. Not complaining by any means but it's another challenge to overcome as an A/T driver I didn't think I would have to deal with.

The instructor we worked with today is a 20 year veteran with a significant history of specialized flatbed trucking. He's very knowledgeable, friendly, and keeps things interesting. So I'm very happy so far with the information we are receiving.

Overall, day 1 feels like a win. I made it through, performed some basic maneuvers, and didn't hit anything, anyone, or destroy a truck!! I'm more physically/mentally drained than I've been in quite some time. I couldn't shut my brain down last night and ended up with maybe 4 hours of sleep. Here's to a much MUCH better night's sleep!

Good night all

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

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.

Day Cab:

A tractor which does not have a sleeper berth attached to it. Normally used for local routes where drivers go home every night.

MrZ's Comment
member avatar

Awesome report Nathan. You are already ahead of the game by having the right attitude. Much kudos to you. Good luck driver!

Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 2 Remember that old hip-hop song by Ice Cube "today was a good day". That is how I feel right now.

Class started at 7:00 am and we had slide shows, videos, and tests (all classroom stuff) till around 1:45 pm. That was a much-needed sit down after standing on cement for so long on day 1 and using bad-ass clutches. LOL But in all seriousness it was some really good content. We saw a video that showed the NO Zone's that these big rigs have and we all realized "holy CRAP" you can't see cars when they are literally right next to you or in front of you!! Definitely have us all a much-needed wake-up call for personal driving habits and respect for what we are about to begin.

We had to take 2 tests today that we didn't know were coming and apparently become part of our overall grade upon completion of our schooling. We tested on ELD's and using an atlas. Got a 92% and an 87% respectively. I missed 2 questions on the atlas test because I mistook the population number as a page number on 2 questions. Reading the questions is important. Who would have thought??!! LOL

After the classwork wrapped up we hit the lot for more pre-trip. Went over everything we had learned so far and added the front brake, wheel, and tire to it. Each day we all repeat the pre-trip up to the point from the day before and add something further down the list. This will continue through the rest of the week and should be through the truck completely by Friday and repeating it over and over all next week.

After that, we took a 15 break and at 3:30 pm went to the pad/range. There are six of us in our class (typically they have 10) So it's a smaller class than normal and I'm appreciative of that cause we get more seat time. Five of us, including myself, moved onto the offset backing maneuver. They call the "reverse lane change" I don't know if that's accurate, an Ohio thing, or what? Cause I only heard of it as the offset back? Doesn't matter, it's the same either way. I absolutely didn't KILL it but I definitely did it a bunch successfully and dang that feels SO good!!! I used my pull-ups and did have to take a 3rd pull-up a couple of times that would have counted negatively on the test but didn't kill any cones!!

We had 5 students and only 2 trucks because the 3rd truck was being used on the student that had to keep practicing the straight line back from yesterday. I really hope he figures it out because he's a really good dude and just overthinks everything. That is (or at least seems to be) a really big problem for students and what keeps them/us from getting that "ah-ha" moment.

All in all, I'm so happy that things are not a complete disaster. I tend to not think overly positively about myself and performing, especially in front of people who "control" my future. Trust me, I'm working on this and trying to say more positive and motivating statements as I drive into the school each morning. It does seem to help me. I also have a classmate who has deemed us "battle buddies" and try to team up each day on the range. It helps to have someone looking out for me and I do the same for him!

That's pretty much the just of day 2. Hope ya'll have a great night and talk to you tomorrow.

Nathan S.'s Comment
member avatar

Day 3 Good evening everybody. Well if training to be a truck driver is a roller coaster-like experience, today is the bottom of the hill. Extremely frustrating day to say the least.

Each day of the first week will be the same. It will start with classroom stuff. So slideshow/PowerPoint lecture on different topics each day. Today was a bit of a wake-up call for all of us. The most notable classroom lecture today was distracted driving with night and mountain driving taking a close second. We watched numerous videos of truck drivers playing on their cellphones while driving and killing people due to a lack of attention to the road. We watch videos of the driver in New Mexico that was watching porn as he full speed ran into multiple police officers dealing with a situation on the side of the highway. He killed one officer and is facing life in prison for murder.

Now you have to be an idiot not to realize distracted driving kills but to watch semi's drive full speed into cars, other trucks, and off the road, is a bone-chilling reality of the importance of taking EVERY moment behind the wheel seriously. No joke, this 90 min presentation really shook me to my core. Which I'm happy to have gone through no question but nonetheless...

Night driving and mountain driving were pretty interesting stuff as far as controlling the vehicle down steep grades and the importance of the run-away exit ramps. We also talked about how we no longer have the option to take over-the-counter medicines like Dayquil or Nitequil. In fact, learning that driving sick is illegal was a bit of a shock.

After lunch, we did more pre-trip and have worked ourselves back to the bulkhead of the trailer. Tomorrow we will add coupling and then each of us will have to run the pre-trip from the top back to the coupling system.

At 3 pm each day we get a 15 min break and after that, we head to the range/pad. So far we learned straight backing, offset back left/right (reverse lane change) and today we added the parallel left/right to the mix. I went second and for 25 mins I failed literally each and every time. I came close once on my second attempt but turned the wheel the wrong way and destroyed the move. I started stalling the fricking manual trans bull crap I'm stuck using and got in my head. For the life of me, I couldn't even come close to either side. So around 5:05 I bailed on the maneuver for the day and will reset and work on my headspace for tomorrow.

I'm not going to lie, I'm EXTREMELY frustrated that I have to practice already difficult maneuvers in a manual trans when I'm going for an automatic transmission. If I have one complaint about this training school it's that they don't provide the proper truck for students wishing to obtain an automatic trans CDL. This might seem petty to veteran truckers or people more familiar with M/T vehicles but when you are attempting to do something that doesn't come naturally to some people and you have to add in that vehicle function it's incredibly frustrating. Maybe it's meant to mimic stressful situations that we will face on the road. Maybe it's meant to mimic tight backs, road backing with traffic, or some other stressor???

I will say that 72 hours ago I NEVER expected to be able to maneuver a semi-truck the way that I CAN in most situations in only 3 days. That is the positive takeaway for today. Much has been accomplished and you can't learn if you don' make mistakes but today I took an L. And you know what....that's ok. Tomorrow is another day and I WILL be more successful. I have to be...cause Friday we are officially driving on the road. So....Its time to man up and make this happen!

Good night everyone and Have a good evening!

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.

Bulkhead:

A strong wall-like structure placed at the front of a flatbed trailer (or on the rear of the tractor) used to protect the driver against shifting cargo during a front-end collision. May also refer to any separator within a dry or liquid trailer (also called a baffle for liquid trailers) used to partition the load.

Anne A. (G13Momcat)'s Comment
member avatar

Day 3 Good evening everybody. Well if training to be a truck driver is a roller coaster-like experience, today is the bottom of the hill. Extremely frustrating day to say the least.

Each day of the first week will be the same. It will start with classroom stuff. So slideshow/PowerPoint lecture on different topics each day. Today was a bit of a wake-up call for all of us. The most notable classroom lecture today was distracted driving with night and mountain driving taking a close second. We watched numerous videos of truck drivers playing on their cellphones while driving and killing people due to a lack of attention to the road. We watch videos of the driver in New Mexico that was watching porn as he full speed ran into multiple police officers dealing with a situation on the side of the highway. He killed one officer and is facing life in prison for murder.

Now you have to be an idiot not to realize distracted driving kills but to watch semi's drive full speed into cars, other trucks, and off the road, is a bone-chilling reality of the importance of taking EVERY moment behind the wheel seriously. No joke, this 90 min presentation really shook me to my core. Which I'm happy to have gone through no question but nonetheless...

Night driving and mountain driving were pretty interesting stuff as far as controlling the vehicle down steep grades and the importance of the run-away exit ramps. We also talked about how we no longer have the option to take over-the-counter medicines like Dayquil or Nitequil. In fact, learning that driving sick is illegal was a bit of a shock.

After lunch, we did more pre-trip and have worked ourselves back to the bulkhead of the trailer. Tomorrow we will add coupling and then each of us will have to run the pre-trip from the top back to the coupling system.

At 3 pm each day we get a 15 min break and after that, we head to the range/pad. So far we learned straight backing, offset back left/right (reverse lane change) and today we added the parallel left/right to the mix. I went second and for 25 mins I failed literally each and every time. I came close once on my second attempt but turned the wheel the wrong way and destroyed the move. I started stalling the fricking manual trans bull crap I'm stuck using and got in my head. For the life of me, I couldn't even come close to either side. So around 5:05 I bailed on the maneuver for the day and will reset and work on my headspace for tomorrow.

I'm not going to lie, I'm EXTREMELY frustrated that I have to practice already difficult maneuvers in a manual trans when I'm going for an automatic transmission. If I have one complaint about this training school it's that they don't provide the proper truck for students wishing to obtain an automatic trans CDL. This might seem petty to veteran truckers or people more familiar with M/T vehicles but when you are attempting to do something that doesn't come naturally to some people and you have to add in that vehicle function it's incredibly frustrating. Maybe it's meant to mimic stressful situations that we will face on the road. Maybe it's meant to mimic tight backs, road backing with traffic, or some other stressor???

I will say that 72 hours ago I NEVER expected to be able to maneuver a semi-truck the way that I CAN in most situations in only 3 days. That is the positive takeaway for today. Much has been accomplished and you can't learn if you don' make mistakes but today I took an L. And you know what....that's ok. Tomorrow is another day and I WILL be more successful. I have to be...cause Friday we are officially driving on the road. So....Its time to man up and make this happen!

Good night everyone and Have a good evening!

Good night yourself, Nathan.

Excellent diary. For sure. I'd held my husband's hand (or heart?) when he had to 'school' in 2003 and do the 'legal life.' You are doing great, IMHO...and yes you WILL be more successful, because you claimed it.

Friday comes quick..and it will open a foray of MORE lessons for you. The best ones!

Best to you;

~ 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.

Bulkhead:

A strong wall-like structure placed at the front of a flatbed trailer (or on the rear of the tractor) used to protect the driver against shifting cargo during a front-end collision. May also refer to any separator within a dry or liquid trailer (also called a baffle for liquid trailers) used to partition the load.

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