First Year Solo. Knight Flatbed

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TwoSides11's Comment
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Now that I have finished training, I decided I would record my first year doing Flatbed driving. Hopefully this will help give some knowledge to new drivers and also to myself when I look back on it.

Officially started Tuesday Dec. 28th. Was suppose to be on Monday but I didn't make it in. "Celebrated too much over the Holiday weekend" For those that did not read my training diary, I did my driver training with Dry van and once completed I then will follow a flatbed driver for a week and he will teach me how to tarp and strap loads.

Arrived at the terminal Tuesday at 9am and met with my DM. He told me Brian, my flatbed trainer, was going to be in the yard at noon. So while I waited I made sure I had everything needed for the truck. My DM also gave me the flatbed equipment I would need. 3 tarps, 9 straps, a thousand bungee cords, 26 corner covers, hard hat, safety glasses, pry bar and the tool used to tighten the straps. I can't think of the name for it right now... also connected to the flatbed trailer which took some time. A lot of get out and look. It's a completely different set up than dry van.

Brian shows up, I meet with him and it's straight to work. The tarps I had were already folded but were done poorly. "Not by me lol" I did have them completely set up wrong on my truck though. So we took them off and he showed me how to fold each one and how to secure them on the truck. They all get folded a certain way and I will definitely need more practice with it. He then checks my gear and has me organize them in a way that is beneficial to me. Also tells me to bring in some tools, like a hammer, socket set, wrenches.

After that, we get our load assignment. We are going to the same place but picking up different loads. And the first stop is Hydro in Cressona, PA. Many ppl have mentioned that place and it is the very first stop of my career. Picking up Aluminum and delivering it to Wabash National in Lafayette Indiana. I have 2 stops to go make the delivery, same company and looks like they are about 10mins away from each other. Brian has to drop off tarps and tells me to meet him at Hydro.

On my way I notice the trailer turns completely different from a dry van. I spent a month pulling a dry van and was worried about how much of a difference it would be pulling a flatbed. It's night and day smh. Everything about it is different and feels weird to me. Will need to make wider turns and can't cut it as hard as a dry van. The off tracking is totally different and I have to be extra cautious off my trailer when turning. Not only will I have to learn tarping and strapping but also learn how to pull this type of trailer. Getting close to Cressona I notice there is a 11-8 bridge up ahead and the GPS wants me to take that road smh. I see signs telling trucks to make a left turn and glad I did because I would have just stopped in the middle of the street and blocked traffic while trying to figure out a different route. I make the left before the bridge and the GPS is adamant on making me turn around and go under that bridge. I just follow the signs which were most likely there to get to the Hydro plant. GPS finally reroutes when I'm around the corner from the plant.

Now trying to back this trailer was a headache. The turning radius is completley different and the tires dig in and stop rolling easily. Brian mentioned while in the yard that it is more 45 degree backs than 90. Sucks for me because I am better at 90 degree backing. I see that this type of trailer won't let me do a 90 degree back, it will jack knife suddenly as I quickly discovered. I finally get into the spot after many tries and wait for Brian. He shows up at 8pm and we decide to wait till morning to get loaded seeing we didn't have a lot of time left on our 14. I will also need to learn how to manage the clock better. Not sure why I only had 3hrs left on my 14???

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.

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.

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.

DAC:

Drive-A-Check Report

A truck drivers DAC report will contain detailed information about their job history of the last 10 years as a CDL driver (as required by the DOT).

It may also contain your criminal history, drug test results, DOT infractions and accident history. The program is strictly voluntary from a company standpoint, but most of the medium-to-large carriers will participate.

Most trucking companies use DAC reports as part of their hiring and background check process. It is extremely important that drivers verify that the information contained in it is correct, and have it fixed if it's not.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
TwoSides11's Comment
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Wed. Dec 29th

Now I see what the smirks and all the "good luck at Cressona" comments were all about lol. It's a busy place and today they were doing construction outside so we had to do a lot of maneuvering just to drop the trailer I had.

I get inside and find the pre loaded trailer. Brian helps me with tarping and strapping but doesn't really show me how to do it. He is in a rush because he wants to get home for new years and I have to make 2 stops. He wants to get me out and on the road so i can meet him at the 2nd place.. So it was more of me watching him strap my load and him explaining what he is doing. I help a little but not enough that I have learned a lot from it today. I learn better when I do things hands on. I do see how everything is done and this job takes time. Throwing the straps, tightening them, knowing how many straps to put on and then the tarping phase.

Honestly getting a little overwhelmed with all the info being thrown at me all at once. I'm concerned because I have to do a delivery by myself at the first stop without Brian. Not that he isn't there but that I don't really know how to re tarp the load once they take what they need off. That is all I'm thinking about when he is explaining what to do at that stop. He gets me ready and tells me to start the drive to Indiana.

I'm pulling 42,690lbs of aluminum. If I remember correctly when getting weighed my gross weight was a little over 71k. This is some heavy material and my truck is making all types of strange noises. I can't get my mirrors to my liking and the steering wheel is vibrating viciously and it's pulling hard to the right. Man o' man smh. Not having difficulty holding my lane and I'm starting to get use to the off tracking of this trailer while driving. I am concerned about this truck though and will ask Brian his thoughts on it when I see him.

I take 81 south to the PA Turnpike 76W. Back through those mountains that terrified me a few weeks ago. This time it was daylight and I wasn't nervous driving on those roads. Took 76W to 70W to 470W through WV for about 10mins then back to 70W into Ohio, "Hi Momma Anne and Tom!" Stopped at a Pilot for the night exit 125 off 70 with 30min left on my 14 and 2hr drive time left. Something seems off about my clock.....

Backing this thing is no Bueno. Had a horrible time trying to get into the spot. Maybe the overwhelming experience from Cressona, not feeling all the way comfortable with the truck and not being able to back this thing but I'm starting to second guess my decision on choosing flatbed. Hope tomorrow goes well....

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

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.

TwoSides11's Comment
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Davy A.'s Comment
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Interesting, definitely following. Is your zonar definitely switching to off duty or sleeper when you stop. If it's it's not making a solid connection it will just leave you in drive and then switch to on duty after a few minutes? We have tons of issues with them

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

TwoSides11's Comment
member avatar

Interesting, definitely following. Is your zonar definitely switching to off duty or sleeper when you stop. If it's it's not making a solid connection it will just leave you in drive and then switch to on duty after a few minutes? We have tons of issues with them

I thought it was switching to off duty. I push apply then save.... These Zonars do have issues. Today going through Ohio it told me to get off of 70W just to have me going back 70E for 3 miles then back to 70W smh. I felt like a fool when I did that lol. It did that twice, the 2nd time I ignored it and didn't reroute till I was near Indiana....

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

TwoSides11's Comment
member avatar

Made it to Wabash National in Indiana today around 2pm. The place accepts loads from 6am-2pm. I was 5 min off smh. Luckily my DM saw this and called me to drop all of it at one spot off Kepner Dr. Glad I didn't have to wait until 6am Friday.

I untarped the load and dropped the trailer. Picked up an empty from a different location. Folded the tarps all wrong, it's a mess. Tried to follow what Brian had me do but it didn't work out, they wouldn't fit behind the truck on the catwalk so I secured them to the trailer with the straps.

Now on my way back to the terminal to go home for the weekend. I haven't seen or heard from Brian in 2 days lol. Hope to see him on Monday, there is no way I'm ready to be on my own with this stuff. A one day tutorial definitely isn't enough training for 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.

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.
Andrey's Comment
member avatar

I had the same problems with a flatbed. They trained us at school with dryvans all thd time, and just before a test my trainer said that we were lucky to be tested with a flatbed - it is shorter, smaller, and so much easier. Good, I thought. But when I tried to back it, I understood how wrong it was. The trailer was much harder to see, and it handled very differently. I know, it is all about practice, but I still wonder - why didn't we train with a flatbed if we were supposed to test with it?

Dryvan:

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.
TwoSides11's Comment
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What I noticed so far in 4 days is that tight turns and U-turns with a spread axle trailer is not a good idea. The front axle on the trailer drags across the pavement while the back axle kicks outward. It's even more drastic doing a U-turn...

90 degree backs are not possible with a spread axle. Looks like it's possible to flip the trailer or most certainly cause damage to the frame. Same situation with tight turns, the front axle drags and when trying to unfold the truck, both axles stop moving, dig into the ground and the trailer lifts up at the fifth wheel to the middle and bends. Spread axles are completely different and harder to maneuver and back than tandem axles.

The only advantage I see right now with flatbed over dry van is I can see whats behind me when I'm empty. This is a hard, physical, dirty job. Somehow I got fifth wheel grease on my face, hands and forearms, even though I have a long sleeve shirt on and wearing gloves. Much slower pace than dry van where you just drop, hook and roll out. Strapping, tarping then un-strapping, un-tarping and folding the tarps takes time. Not to mention those tarps are heavy. I had the joy of lifting them while wet. It's all confusing right now but I can see it being fun once I get a hang of it.

I've had no prior training with driving a spread axle trailer or flatbed work and was just thrown into it. Once again I'm on YouTube looking at videos trying to self train while on the road. No complaints so far other than the lack of training I'm receiving from Knight. Found out that I was only given one day at one stop to learn from another driver. Told my DM I need more than one day training, we will see what happens on Monday...

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".

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.

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.
Canaan's Comment
member avatar

Silently following along here, flatbed is where I'll be heading once Im ready to start my journey. Thanks for doing your journals here. Bunch of useful (and current) information. Much appreciated and good luck!

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Made it to Wabash National in Indiana today around 2pm. The place accepts loads from 6am-2pm. I was 5 min off smh. Luckily my DM saw this and called me to drop all of it at one spot off Kepner Dr. Glad I didn't have to wait until 6am Friday.

I untarped the load and dropped the trailer.

Hey, I am just curious...

I've only been to this customer a handful of times because it is usually reserved for the drivers out of Carlisle. I filled in a few times up there when they were short on drivers. We always left our tarps on the load if we dropped a trailer. When we picked up an empty it would have a set of tarps sitting on it for us to take back with us. Have you heard anything about this load? I am fairly certain you should have left it tarped. If it was dropped outdoors then I am fairly certain it should have been tarped. I'm not trying to get on to you, I just think it is something you were not aware of. I've told you before that I think Knight's flatbed training is insufficient. I am just trying to help you out with a little information.

I came to Knight as an experienced flatbedder. That helped me a lot. I feel for the new guys like yourself. It is a lot to try to figure this out on your own, and they have a habit of expecting you to just jump in there and figure it out.

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.
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