The trailer behind the truck is something that you may never think about in great detail. As you pass a semi, you may take the time to see how long it is and wonder - will I ever get around this semi? At ground level, you can see the tires that are as tall as you and everything under the trailer, the hoses that are in front of the trailer wheels, the rail with the holes in them, the hanging turn signals on some of the trailers, the lights on the side, and then the connecting hoses to/from truck to trailer. You may also wonder "how do they hook that trailer to the truck?" Or maybe not.
When you back under the trailer, you line up the tractor wheels to the sides of the trailer and slowly back under it. If the trailer was properly parked, you will see it lift some and know that you can now back under it with out high hooking—having the trailer pin miss the 5th wheel completely and crash into the rear of your truck. That would not be a good thing. You hear it click into place and you do the tug test to make sure the trailer is fastened to the truck. You get out and look at the 5th wheel under the trailer to actually see that bar slide into place and lock the pin in. Now you can hook up the 3 hoses and raise the landing gear. Each trailer is also different with the landing gear. You either pull/push the handle in/out to get the pressure off the landing gear and then turn clockwise or counter clockwise till you feel the pressure leave. Now you can push/pull the lever in/out and crank at a fast speed to raise the landing gear up.
There are a lot of things a driver deals with when getting that trailer assigned to them. Is the trailer sealed up so you can't open the doors and check the load and see where the end pallets are? If the papers for the load say you weigh 44,000 pounds and you see the trailer wheels are almost in the center of the trailer or at the rear of the trailer, you know you get to slide the wheels to balance the weight on the axles. If you can take a look at the load to make sure the loader did not put all 44,000 pounds in the first six feet of the trailer, which has happened, you can check the location of the last pallets. You will see on the trailer that it is divided by panels on the outside via lots of rivets which of course match the inside. So now you count the panels from the door to the last pallets and see that they are four panels from the door. Now you check your tire position and see how far you need to move them forward/backwards to that specific panel. I put the rear tires (not the front tires) under that fourth or even fifth panel from the doors to have the extra weight on that rear axle.
To get this done, you need to pull the out the handle by the rear wheels - or if you get a newer trailer that has the new push buttons, that is even better and easier to deal with. We have the handle trailer. If all goes well for you to do this by yourself, you pull out the handle and drop it into the groove to lock it in. This will take the four pins that are about four holes apart on the newer trailers and not the six feet and push them out of the rail holes. You have already hooked up the hoses from the truck to the trailer. Now you get into the truck and leave the trailer brakes alone - the red knob. Push in the yellow brake knob for the tractor, and now you can back up to bring the trailer wheels forward, or you go forward to bring the trailer wheels backwards to the desired area. Get out and walk to the back to see if you are ready to push in that lever. Once you push in that lever you may have to slide a little bit more to get the pins back into the holes to lock the wheels into place. Each hole moved is 250 pounds taken off/added to another axle.
If you get a trailer where the mechanics refuse to grease/service this part of the trailer, you will need to get help by having someone pull that lever out and hold it while you rock the truck to get the pins to release to slide the wheels. You may even need your hammer to pound the pins out of the holes. When you get the wheels where needed, you can go to the nearest truck stop to weigh your load. Now your trip assignment begins to get the load safely to its destination.
Drivers go through this daily and our government thinks anyone can hop in a semi and drive one. There is so much more that we must know to be safe and professional. This is just a small part of it that I wanted to share with you. We are considered unclassified in the job section even though we are called professional drivers.