A Month Of Trucking With Daniel B.

Topic 6390 | Page 13

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Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/24

Another day of braving the elements! Man, I sure wish I can land a local job so I don't have to go through January and February. This load has extra time on it so it allows me to "take it easy". Again, I woke up when I felt like it today. Last night I fueled and put Anti-Gel in my fuel tanks. Diesel Anti-Gel is a liquid you put inside your fuel while fueling up. It prevents the fuel from gelling up in extremely cold conditions. If your fuel gels up during the night while you're sleeping, your truck won't start. It can also shut off your reefer. I usually add it when its 15 degrees or below. Your company should supply it for you free of charge.

I just had a flashback, I remember a year ago in Billings, MT I finished driving at 2330 and I was just about to go to sleep. As I'm dozing off, I get an alarm from my Quallcomm about my reefer. Apparently the fuel in the reefer gelled up. Well, I had to go outside for 30 minutes in -20 degrees and prime that reefer to get it back to start. In other words, I had to manually pump fuel in the engine. I don't ever want to go through that again and I don't wish it on anyone. So make sure you guys put anti-gel in your fuel tanks.

I made a mishap today though. I drove and about 200 miles down the road I stopped for a break. Well, I walked outside and noticed that my drivers side fuel tank cap was off. Damn, I haven't had that happen in a while. I can't tell you how stupid I felt. But mistakes happen and you just got to move on.

Driver errors are a part of life out here, especially in your first few months. I've done so many stupid things I can't even begin to tell you all of them. Everything is a learning experience out here. Maybe that's why I kept on getting funny looks...

Anyways, back to this load. According to my calculations, I will make it in the late afternoon to my delivery a day early. I'll most likely arrive on Christmas day so they won't be able to take me. My appointment time is 1330 and I'm going to come in there in the morning and see if I can get them to take me early.

Soooooo many drivers have horrible attitudes and a short fuse. Dock workers and shipping supervisors at bigger warehouses often come to resent (or purely hate) truckers after a while. They get sick of their big mouths and terrible attitudes.

When you show up with a smile and maybe a funny joke stashed away somewhere it definitely gets noticed by the workers. It makes a world of difference. I've told people for a long time that nothing is more powerful than human will (desire you could say). If you can get someone to want to be nice to you and want to help you out - nothing is more powerful. You can try yelling, cussin', threating - anything you like. But nothing gets better results than being the type of person that people want to do things for.

My line when I would go into a customer and wanted to get loaded or unloaded early always went something like this:

I was really hoping you guys could find a way to get to me a little bit early. I have another load waiting on me after this one if I can get this one finished up on time. If I could be out of here by maybe 12:00 (or whatever time makes sense) I would have just enough time to get over and grab that other load. If not I'm going to lose about $200 off this week's paycheck and that's a lot! I know you guys are super busy so I know you can't make any promises. But man, if there's any way you can get me out of here just a little sooner I would really appreciate that a ton. It would be a really big deal. But if not, I totally understand. It's cool. I'll appreciate any effort you can make.

And generally their response is along the lines of "We'll see what we can do." And my response was always a big smile and I'd say, "Thanks a ton! I appreciate it." And back to my truck I would go.

Seriously, about 75% of the time they'd get to me early and I made a lot of extra money over the years because of that. And I can't tell you how many times they had me leapfrog in line ahead of some loud-mouth jerk of a driver they wanted to aggravate as much as possible because he was nasty and combative.

Never in my days have a found a place where being nice paid off more than it does in trucking. It makes a world of difference!

Today I did 470 miles in about a 11 hour period. By the way, has anyone noticed that I'm not running 600 mile days on this load when I easily can? Well, its because I'm trying to balance my hours. My 70 hour clock is plentiful so I don't need a 34 hour reset.

I picked this load up on the 22nd and I started the day on the 23rd being 1400 miles away. Basically, I'm going to break that up into three days. If I do only 466 miles for three days straight then I'll easily make the delivery on time. Sure, I could drive like a banshee and get there on the morning of the 25th instead of the late afternoon but that will mess up my recaps.

I have hometime in about a week so I know after I deliver this load I'm going back to the West in a hurry. In a week from now, do I want 2 hour recaps or 9 hour recaps? Consider this, there are 70 hours you can work in an 8 day period. Doing the math, if we work just under 9 hours per day we will never run out of hours. What I'm doing right now will ensure that I can run smoothly in a week. Always look at the future not just the present. You never know if in a week you're on a super tight load and if you only have 4 hours coming back you might not make that appointment time.

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Sun King's Comment
member avatar

Merry Christmas Daniel! I wish you safe travels and your family the best. I am curious, It seems distance wise, going through North Dakota or South Dakota is about equal. If you are willing to share, which did you choose and why? These threads have been great. You have helped me out immensely, and I am sure others as well. You deserve a great local gig and I am sure you will land one. :)

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.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/25

Before I start my boring update, I'll discuss the route I took and why.

There's 3 ways we can do this.

1: I could take I80 through Wyoming, Nebraska and then just go North at Des Moines, IA. 1670 Miles.

2: I could go North to Billings, MT using U.S. Highways and then take I90 to I35 North into Minneapolis and then head East from there. 1660 Miles.

3: I could go North to Billings, MT and continue heading East on I94 and that will lead me straight into my destination. 1530 Miles.

I chose #3 because its the shortest route, I'm tired of I80, and I94 is an absolutely stunningly beautiful ride.

Also, looking at the weather radar, I saw bad things coming to Wyoming and nothing severe along I94.

Shortest Route (Check)

Decent Weather (Check)

Beautiful Drive (Check)

So why not?

Also, I'm patting myself on the back here. When I made my final decision to take I94 and I was already a few hours into my journey I got this message.

IMG_1137_zpsbf1c9838.png

That's what its all about! I flat out beat the storm. Did I experience bad roads? Of course, its almost January! But at least I didn't have to deal with a road closure followed by truck stops being full.

I hope that makes sense. You must always stay on top of the weather in the winter time.

Anyways. I started driving at 0730 today and did 430 miles. In the middle of my day I stopped for a nice shower and ate a meal at the Country Pride Restaurant. Prime is paying for a meal up to 15$ for any driver staying out on Christmas day. The restaurant was pretty busy, everyone was with their families having a blast on this snowy Christmas morning just west of Minneapolis. Meanwhile, here I sit alone all by myself. I enjoyed the meal, but I should have took it to go. I consider myself a strong person, but man I hate being away from the family on the holidays. Sitting here at this restaurant like an outcast loser sure didn't help.

This is me and my wifes third Christmas being apart in a row. I don't enjoy it, but I tolerate it. She really struggles with it though. I stayed up until 0100 tonight just to keep her company so we won't feel so alone. Yeah, it messes up my sleep but whatever.

I decided to park at a small truck stop tonight instead of my delivery facility. I'm close enough that I won't start my clock going to the receiver but at least I'll have restrooms. Currently, I'm in a food crisis. I have no paper towels and only 1/2 gallon of water left! There's hardly any places to stop in the states that I've been so I've eaten it all up. I did my research and if I park here for the night I can wake up tomorrow morning and walk across the street to the ALDI that's 1/4 of a mile from me.

I want to talk about exercising on the road. The worst thing you can do for yourself is to sleep, eat, and drive. Man, you're killing your body so fast when you do that. Money is good and all, but it shouldn't be more important than your health. This is why I think team driving is dumb. You never ever have the time to do these type of things because the truck is always moving. Great job, you made an extra 200$ over me this week - meanwhile you're one step closer to your deathbed. I don't have to point out the benefits of exercising for your body and mind, so go out there and do it. Here's some tips:

Park at the back of the truck stop. Not only is it more peaceful and quiet over there, but it'll force you to walk a longer distance should you need to go into the truck stop.

When doing your pretrip inspection, instead of walking around one time, instead walk around 20 times.

Don't let yourself become lazy and follow through with a healthy diet.

Lift weights as you drive! I have a 15lb dumbbell right under my seat and when I get sleepy or bored I force myself to lift. Why 15 pounds only? Because I want the activity to last longer. I'll last a lot longer lifting 15 pounds versus 30 pounds. Here's my set; I do 50 curls and immediately after I do 50 Sitting Shoulder Presses. Now obviously you're driving so you're doing 1 arm at a time. If you aren't sore the next morning, then increase the rep's.

Its very possible to stay fit out here. I've only gained about 2lb since I came on the road. Watch what you eat and force yourself to walk and lift. Also, resistance bands are a great idea too! Tie it to a fixed object in the bunk then lift. The reason why truckers are overweight is because they allow themselves to be. Now, I'm not judging, but I do want you to know that its possible to be healthy out here. If you look real closely you'll notice the truckers who are overweight are the same drivers who park at the closest parking spot to the truck stop - even if its a tight spot.

Get out there, move around a little, better yourself, and don't put 100% of your focus on money because there's a million things more important. I'll talk about eating right and my tips in a later post.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Love your threads happy holiday daniel b.

Jesse C.'s Comment
member avatar

Hey Daniel, I am replying to your thread from 12/24. I am learning something new everyday on TT. I am new to all this and it allows me to prepare for situations that i will face out on the road. I have enjoyed reading everything i've read on TT and again i want to just say thank you to everyone who contributes to this forum. It is a true learning experience.

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/26

Today is going to be a good day, I can just smell it!

I don't deliver until this afternoon so I have nothing but time to burn this morning. I walk 1/4 of a mile to the ALDI with shorts and these Wisconsin folks looking at me like I'm a freak. I buy 32$ worth of groceries that should easily last me until I get to come home. I walked back (wasn't an easy walk with three giant bags haha) into my truck to put some of these stuff into my cooler and this is what I discover in my cooler.

IMG_1107_zps49e570b9.jpg

My remaining eggs are completely frozen! Oh well, it happens. When it gets really cold the fan area starts to moisture and that moisture freezes causing this to happen. I made the mistake of allowing the carton of eggs to be in contact with that area.

Anyhow, it doesn't matter. I want to add that one of the best things you can have in the truck with you is a blender. I have one and use it often to make smoothies. Today I bought the ingredients to make a Berry smoothie. Lets break this down.

I paid 2.50$ for a bag of mixed berries. I also added in some fruit juice, an apple, a banana and yogurt. I spend a total of about 3.50$ to make this smoothie.

IMG_1133_zpsac2ffa50.jpg

Here's a great tip. Save your old bottles! Personally, I buy Bolthouse Farms smoothies when they're on sale and after I drink them I wash the bottle and reuse them. I just made a smoothie and there's no way I can drink it all right now. So I bottle it for the future.

IMG_1135_zpse34e914c.jpg

Doing this will save you big money and keep you with all the daily vitamins and nutrients you need.

Also, purchase yourself an electronic frying pan. You can make eggs with this and anything else you want. I can cook eggs in 5 minutes with mine. I do recommend you buy yourself an outdoor extension cord so you can cook outside of your truck. You don't want to be cooking eggs inside your poorly ventilated truck. Remember the picture I posted of my frying pan? I was cooking outside in that picture.

For hot water I highly recommend the RoadPro Hot Pot. I can have myself some boiling hot water in 15 minutes with this product. It works great and I wouldn't survive without it. I do recommend you only put water in there because it can be a challenge to clean if you're putting different liquids in it.

And for a cooler, my only recommendation is the Koolatron cooler.

Sometimes you're just too busy to cook, but if you can commit yourself to eating in your truck 80% of the time you'll save a minimum of 100$ per month. It really is worth it especially considering the high prices at truck stops.

Back to the day. I enjoyed my delicious smoothie and walked Netflix until about 1100 today. At 1100 I get a message from my DM that my 90 will take me early. That's just wonderful! I immediately pack my things and head out. I get to my delivery and I was blown away at how great this place was. The staff were very nice and got me a door immediately. All in all, from the time I pulled into the customer to having my paperwork in my hand took was only 40 minutes. Very rare for a refrigerated facility to be this efficient.

Then I got my next load:

Pickup: Little Chute, WI App Time: 12/26 @ 1600.

Destination: Kent, WA App Time: 12/30 @ 0600.

Total Miles: 1,964.

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.

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.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/26 Continued....

This is the good thing about living in the West coast. When you have to go home it usually means long loads. This load is a bit on the tight schedule side. I need to pick it up today and drive about three hours just to get myself a bit ahead. I will avoid night driving with this load because I'm going through Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana and these states can be brutal driving at night because of black ice and constantly changing road conditions.

So lets thinks. If I drive away from my shipper at 1800 (giving them 2 hours), then lets say I'll drive until 2200. That's 4 hours and I can do 200 miles in that time.

On the 27th I'll get my hours back at 0800 and will aim to drive a 600 mile day so I'll give myself a 12 hour window. So I'll start at 0800 and end at 2000. On the 28th I'll get my hours back at 0600 and drive to 1800. On the 29th I'll get my hours back at 0400 and end my day at 1600. If I do 600 miles on those three days that'll be 1800 miles. But because I'll drive 4 hours today I would have already done 200 miles. So I should get there on the 29th at the end of my day.

26th- 200 miles towards destination

27th- 600 miles.

28th- 600 miles.

29th- 600 miles.

======================

2,000 miles.

We know we can make it. But, do I have the hours? Big question here!

I'm at my shipper with 22.5 hours on my 70 hour clock with no recap for the next two days.

So I'll spend 3.5 hours on the 26th driving that 200 miles which will put me at 19 hours on my 70 hour clock.

I'll use 11.5 on the 27th to do 600 miles which will leave me with 7.5 hours.

So on the 28th I'll only have 7.5 hours to work with. Let's estimate that at 400 miles.

On the 29th I'll get 11.5 hours recap so I'll use all of that to do 600 miles.

According to my hours, here's how my days will look ahead.

26th- 200

27th- 600

28th- 400 (because I'll only have 7.5 hours to work with)

29th- 600 (I'll be getting a 11.5 hour recap)

That's not enough to get there! So I conclude that I cannot arrive a day early. Instead, I'll have to drive in the early morning on the 30th to get there on time.

Do you guys see what I did here? You're in my mind right now, but make sure you understand. Understanding how I just calculated and trip planned my days ahead for this load will do you guys wonders! Seriously, if you have any questions you need to ask me. Of course, things can change, road closures can happen, but based on my trip planning I will arrive on time but will have to start driving super early in the morning on my delivery day.

I kept on truckin' until 2100 and did a bit more miles than I anticipated. I parked at the end of the day with 1730 miles left to my destination. So, so far I'm ahead of "schedule". I did a total of 333 miles today. Now, I did have plenty of driving time left but why drive overnight when you don't have to? I'm a lot safer shutting it down and driving at 0700 tomorrow morning.

My next three days will be 600 mile days so I'll be quite busy, don't expect amazing updates haha!

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.
Deb R.'s Comment
member avatar

Little Chute - I just missed you. Was there on the 24th, and will be there again next week.

Oh, those Wisconsin people weren't looking at you funny because you were wearing shorts. Yesterday was 40 degrees, and that's balmy for us. They were probably just confused by your tan California legs instead of the glow-in-the-dark pasty white that we all have here!

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Daniel B.'s Comment
member avatar

12/27

I woke up today at 0700 and started driving at 0730. Last night I went to sleep and it was nice outside. Well, welcome to Wisconsin!

tractor trailer covered in snow

You couldn't even walk to the dang truck stop! I barely got out of the truck stop because there was just so much snow on the ground and when I got on the road it wasn't any better.

I made a big mistake. I was so confident that the weather will hold up that I didn't bother to research. Had I researched last night, I would have continued driving instead of shutting down at 1900. I would much rather drive 62mph at night on dry roads than 40mph on snowy roads. This is a mistake I made and I hate to admit it. Unfortunately, it happens.

My first two hours was spent averaging 45mph because of the road conditions. Minneapolis was messed up badly and of course, the snow plows weren't anywhere to be seen. All in all, I managed to drive 100 miles in 2 hours when I could have done 120 miles in that same amount of time. So essentially, my mistake cost me 20 miles and being forced to drive in bad road conditions. I'm not happy with myself on this one.

I continued driving all the way to Fergus Falls, MN. I stopped there at the Walmart that had truck parking in it. Like I said earlier, I'm running on basically no water and haven't had paper towels in days. It was ultimately my fault for running out, but it would help if there was somewhere I could get these supplies in the past few days without having to pay an arm and a thumb at the local truck stop.

I purchase my supplies and head on down the road. The one thing I love about this part of the country is the frozen lakes. You literally see a dozen cars in the middle of the lake parked there. For a Californian, that's absolutely nuts!

truck drivers picture of cars parked on frozen lake

I did 620 miles today in about 12 hours. I spent my evening playing Call of Duty and relaxing a bit. As far as the schedule goes, I'm right on schedule even though I made my mistake. When you make a mistake, the best thing to do is to learn from it, and work extra hard to make up for it.

You never want to be behind schedule. Remember, I still have to do many states that can easily slow me down or even force me to chain up. I have time, but my Hours of Service is still questionable at this point.

I want to talk about how my trailer is loaded and how I balanced it. My Bill of Lading says its 28 pallets, but, I didn't get to watch them load it. So the only information I have is when I took a quick glance after they loaded me and I went back there to close my doors. I have 28 pallets which means it will be far back. And we are right to assume that, the product went about 6" from the trailer doors. The only way to fit 28 pallets without double stacking is to either cross them or place them sideways. In this case, this is how they loaded my trailer:

diagram of pallets stagger loaded on a trailer

That's just a quick Paint job I did. But the concept is one pallet long ways and the next pallet sideways. Knowing how many pallets fit in what scheme will help you, but don't let it become a priority - you'll easily survive not knowing the actual numbers.

Now that we have that part figured out, lets walk through how I balanced the weight. I want you guys to think very deeply about this next part. Its very basic, so don't overthink it.

The square boxes represent our freight, in this case it goes all the way back to the trailer doors. The star inside the center square is the big deal here. That's the center of our load. The whole concept about balancing your trailer is you want nearly equal weight on your Drive Axles and Trailer Tandems. If the Star is the center of our load then what does that tell us? In this case, it tells us that the trailer tandems have by far more weight on them than the drive axles. You want the Star exactly between the drive axles and trailer tandems so that the weight will be evenly distributed.

Now, we moved the trailer tandems to the back. This will solve all of our problems because now the Star is exactly between the drive axles and trailer tandems - just what we want. However, that some states do not allow your trailer tandems to go this far back. This load would be illegal in California for example. Think about this for a minute...

diagram of loaded trailer where to move tandems

Now let's say our product only fills half of the trailer. In this case the majority of the weight is towards the tractor so our tandems are just fine right there. Its the same concept..

diagram of loaded trailer where to move tandems

Any questions feel free to ask. Deb, thanks for answering my confusion of why I was getting weird looks. For more information on how to properly balance a load, check our our Weight & Balance Section of the High Road Training Program.

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.

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".

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Bradley D.'s Comment
member avatar

The sad moment when you get home and rush to the computer, but no new post :(.

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