Oct 31, 2011

Ohhhhh For The Love Of.......

Good Grief!!

Last weekend ending up a sopping wet and cold mess. I was going to blog about it, but I find the 10 hour breaks are not long enough by the time I eat, shower and relax. Not only was I looking like a drowned rat, but I also added an additional 120 miles to my trip out of habit. I habitually traveled the same roads for ten years, so I instinctively followed the same path.. Wrong destination!! No wonder my GPS was continually rerouting me.

After making the delivery, I head back to West Point, GA. My mood was lifting as I scooted through the back roads in Tennessee.

Today, I feel as if I might be back on track even though there are a few issues I am still going to be dealing with for a little while. I manage to load and am heading towards Atlanta with just enough time to skirt the perimeter before the major malfunction is scheduled to commence. You know, Rush Hour. Then it happens...


Blew a freaking drive tire.. The most frustrating thing for me because I ACTUALLY check my tire pressure on an almost OCD type schedule. I do not have time for blowouts!!!  This was going to eat up my time. Road service only took 1.5 hours to arrive and repair, but that was just the tire. The damage also included the tail light box (which is tucked up underneath the rack, sitting on the tires) It doesnt fit to well in that area, and puts off an enormous amount of smoke with the rubbery friction. Also, the mudflap was obliterated, something I desperately need because the piece of aluminum on the bottom left of the picture was my batwing. ( A triangle suspended along the frame at the fifthwheel which butts up to the mudflap preventing road debris from flying up and hitting the car inside the trailer)  Notice, I say WAS. Ughhhhh!!

Of course, I had to work around this little delay. I have my motel room reserved and barely enough time to get there. I still have to get the lights replaced and find a new mudflap... So, what is a girl to do? I start peeling wrappers off of roofs and plastering the now unprotected bumper. Three layers should do it right?? I hope so. I am still damage free at this point and I intend to remain that way as long as I can, or don't get called on it. Either way.

Sadly enough, I am starting to almost want to believe what so many of you have claimed for years. Is it possible that I have horrible luck??  Not ready to give in to that theory just yet. But you have me almost convinced. However, I WILL PERSEVERE!!

...and yeah, I made the motel with 3 minutes to spare.

Oct 30, 2011

You Ain't Gonna Believe This....

A Trucker Tale

Today, I traveled through the Gorge.

I was surprised to find that several cars actually moved left to let me pass, as the left lane is restricted No Trucks. The speed limit is also restricted to 50mph. I made the entire trek without ever running up behind that long freight train of white knuckled steering wheel holders. That almost NEVER happens on this 20+ mile journey of twists and turns. In fact, this is the first time I have made it all the way through without having to slow down. Well, there was that one fourwheeler.

If you look closely, you will notice South Carolina tags!! I swear those people are out to get me. And off in the distance, Ivan the Car-hauler!!

Once again, I document this because is NEVER happens !!

Oct 27, 2011

Now.... Yes, now I'm getting MAD

Saturday I loaded in West Point, GA and proceeded to the house for 2 days off. Monday I head to South Carolina, with the intention to get my Annual Inspection done on the truck.

FAIL!! I was sent to another shop 20 miles away for mandatory repairs.

Wednesday evening, my truck is ready but I have to take it 20 miles to be re-inspected. Three miles into the trip, I am pulled over by South Carolina's Finest and inspected. Log Book not current...

I has been sitting at the motel for 2 days and was essentially going right back to the motel after relocating the truck. $100 for me and CSA points for everyone. All because of a little tiny mark not placed in the logbook. Truthfully, since it was a local move from one shop to another, I thought
it wouldn't really matter and YES, I was excited just to be moving after being stranded in a poorly located motel.

Officially, I was shut down for 10 hrs.The Officer did tell me, after the citation was issued that (off the record) I could keep on trucking. REALLY DUDE?? I told you it was a local move to begin with !!!

Now, on Thursday morning, I return to shop Number 2 to complete my inspection only to find that shop Number 1 did not complete the list of repairs.

So, here I sit. Another half day wasted..... and I am officially just a little bit mad! Load has been on the truck for 5 days and I have made it a mere 250 miles.....

-posted from my iPhone

Oct 26, 2011

Not What You Think....

Here I am again, blogging so soon.   I know!!!!

So the reason for my sudden appearance on my own blog is that, well.....  I am sitting in a motel room while my truck is being repaired. I hate to even mention it because with all the complaining I did about my issues with the Volvo and the Stooges, people are naturally inclined to think I am bitching again.

That is not the case...

Initially, I was given a truck that had been sitting for a few months and with nearly a half million miles, I was expecting a few problems. I was slowly getting the laundry list of repairs resolved when the air compressor went out. I had just finished loading!! That was on a Wednesday. Thursday, I offloaded the cars and the truck was towed. Friday, the diagnosis began. Shop was closed during the weekend. Monday.... the truck had still not been diagnosed. Yes, this was a major frustration and yes, there are still crappy shops out there, but with it being a new to me truck, I was expecting certain issues to pop up. However, I was ready to get rolling. So Monday evening, the boss runs me down to Georgia to pick up another truck.

Let the swapping begin. I assumed it was a temporary trade, so I did not gather all my belongings. Trust me, you can actually cram quite a few items in a daycab if you are persistent enough. The second truck seemed to operate just fine and I made a decent wage. However, I was looking through the permit book and found that the Annual Dot Inspection was expired. Severely expired. Yesterday morning, I run the truck through a TA Service Shop to get the inspection and was not surprised to find it did not pass. Yes, I am mentioning this, but I am not complaining. It would be unrealistic to expect an old worn old company truck to be completely road ready after sitting a spell. Besides, not everyone treats their equipment the same, so basically I am content to go through the vehicle and make sure it is up to par. IF, after 2-3 months, I continue to have little issues pop up, then I may actually become disgruntled with the situation.

So, for now, I wait....

So far the list includes:

4 tires
2 U-joints
Carrier Bearing
Steer axle brakes and brake chambers
wiring harness
2 lights
2 cracks in the framework need welding
and a major oil leak

As of right now, all have been repaired except the oil leak. I should be rolling in a few hours after running it through the inspection again. I guess with all the negative maintenance experiences, I was kind of expecting to be down longer. So far the truck has been in the shop about 12 hours. I was honestly expecting 2 days. And this shop is not a 24 hour service shop, so that makes this even better...  And yes, I did manage to retrieve all of my personal items from the first truck which was still sitting at that shop after 2 weeks. Now, I need to figure out how to organize all of my clothing, tools and food for easy accessibility while living in a day cab! Not looking forward to that!!

Oct 25, 2011

Small Surprises

I keep promising myself that I will sit down and blog. I have had several good stories to tell, or perhaps just something a little interesting that I thought you might enjoy. Alas, it has not happened. The problem is, if I don't blog immediately, well, it probably wont get published...

I have been having a blast learning my new trade. I love the challenges of figuring out how to solve the puzzle. And yes, it can be a bit challenging at times. Take 9 random vehicles and squeeze them into limited space allowing for proper length and height clearances. I am getting more comfortable with it!!

One such load I picked up was in Bordentown, New Jersey. Another driver had been instructed to babysit me on this load, which I found to be irritating. He was a nice enough fellow, but I have never been very social when it comes to driving my truck. I have my own habits which do not include a lot of stopping. So trucking with someone else tends to get under my skin. Loading at the auction, I was a little overwhelmed with the size of the place, and I easily walked miles trying to find all of my cars. Two of which were no where near the designated spot they should have been in. I hear, this is fairly normal. I also had dead batteries and flat tires, also another common factor when loading at auctions. I hit the jackpot when another random car-hauler parked next to me, and after a few pleasantries, he proceeded to show me the lay out of the facility and helped me pull all of my cars. Easily this saved me hours of my time. I would have been so lost. Random stranger... How cool is that.

After loading, the babysitter and I proceeded to head down to a Car Max location in Virginia Beach. And while I don't particularly care to travel with companions, he also turned out to be a very informative type of guy.Good number to have in my phone as he is familiar with a lot of the New York dealerships I am certain to hit while delivering BMWs.

We arrive, unload, and I have NO TIME left. My logbook is done for the day. Something I have never been too concerned about in the past. But with GPS tracking and no sleeper on the truck, I have to be at the motel!! The first motel we located had rooms and parking... until we showed up and got parked. Then she was suddenly booked !! I was told she pulled a fast one on us because she didn't want to give out the rooms at our discounted rate. She did however send us to another location, but that one definitely did NOT have truck parking. Starting to scramble a little bit. We managed to locate a less than desirable Super 8 in a less than desirable neighborhood, with no stores or restaurants. But it was a room.... However, the next morning I was pleasantly surprised. It seems the less than desirable neighborhood was actually just a little weather beaten, as are a lot of beach front properties. This was my view as the sun made its appearance. I think I may actually mark this down in my list of Yes Locations. But next time I will bring my own food.

Oct 7, 2011

Not So Much...

When I first received the little Sterling, I was very well aware that there would be a few trips to the shop for some repairs. I am happy to say that both of those experiences have been uplifting so far.

The first shop visit, I turned in a list of half a dozen minor items and while I was busy watching television at the motel, the list was checked off. The entire list, no questions asked..... I even got new wiper blades without having to throatpunch a mechanic. I am encouraged!! The second shop visit, ended the same as the first. Knocked out another half dozen items on a repair list in a the same amount of time it took me to lounge about at the motel. Why so many repairs?? Well, it is a "new to me" truck and I want to make sure everything is up to par. Most of the repairs were pesky little items that would impede my rhythm of loading, but not serious offenses to disable the truck. I expect a month or so of finding these little nuisances, after all, it is a very used truck!

There is one issue that affects performance. I believe there is algae in the fuel tanks, but once again. I have permission to purchase the necessary additives and have fuel filters replaced as needed. No questions asked.

Week Two finds me delivering in West Virginia. I received word to head into BMW for my next load. That is actually another huge pat on the back. The boss usually waits a while before bringing a new hire into BMW to load. I was brought in on my second week. I proceed to load the Ultimate Driving Machines and was pleased with how easy the 9 units fit on the trailer. I was pleased until I crawled into the cab to make my departure and found only 30 lbs of air in my tanks. The air compressor had failed! That was Wednesday...  Thursday, I unloaded the truck and had it towed in. Friday morning, well, I am sitting here blogging about it.

Yup, this week is a bust.

Oct 6, 2011

One Month...

Today marks the end of the first month of my new life as a Car-Hauler. I have only one regret to speak of...
I wish I had made the transition years ago!!

After only 8 days of training, I was voted off the Island. The Head of training wanted to keep me longer, but the other three men involved with the course agreed I was ready to succeed. After a minor shop visit, I was given my first load.

With plenty of confidence and enthusiasm, I made my way to the Honda Manufacturing plant near Columbus, OH. That is when the first kick to the teeth occurred. The terminal manager was apprehensive about letting me load my first load of NEW cars in the afternoon drizzle. He also assumed that it would take me hours to finish, therefore placing me alone, in the dark with no experience. So, he reserved a room for me, at 3pm, at a local motel and sent me packing. From there I watched a beautiful blue sky unfold as I stewed a little over the set back. I was eager to get started. The next morning, I found my way back and proceeded to load. Even with the enthusiasm and confidence I was feeling, there was an enormous amount of anxiety. So many things to watch for. Weight, height, length, clearance between vehicles, turning radius..... I didn't have a problem getting the cars loaded, but I had very little faith in my positioning of the cars for turning radius of the truck. THINK, THINK, THINK... It took me a little while to figure out one adjustment that somewhat set my mind at ease, and after measuring the load about a dozen times, I made my way out of the gate. This load was taking me to Chattanooga so that I would be able to drop my car off at the house.

The first 2 hours were extremely nerve racking for me. I was terrified that every turn I made would have the cars rubbing bumpers between the tractor and the trailer, even though I was told I had plenty of room by an experienced car-hauler. The assurance was great for an ego boost, but I have to find my own confidence. It started seeping in slowly.

 I was able to make the delivery on Sunday with no hassle and set out for home. I had already decided that I was not interested in taking a few days off, knowing that if I did not set my rhythm early, I would face the same anxieties again after being out of the truck a few days. Monday placed me in West Point, GA loading at KIA. After a few stops in Ohio, I was able to stop in and visit the crew in Romulus. A few more guys had graduated and I had a lovely evening of sharing my new experiences and wishing them well on their travels.The first week was awesome. I am really enjoying my new job and anticipate loving it far more than I ever did with the flatbed. I don't miss home near as much as I thought I would, but with all the excitement and new challenges that I face everyday, that will probably fade in time. Of course, the hotel room every night does not hurt at all. After one week of working, I am gaining my foothold, but the clearance issue with the turning radius still intimidates the heck out of me. I am sure it will come with time and experience...