Sep 14, 2012

Fahrvergn├╝gen

Well, it has been a month since I experienced my first steer tire blowout. But that was not where the story ended. After having a used tire put on, I was able to make it to my dealership to get unloaded. The next morning, I was going to have to shop the truck to have some hydraulic lines replaced. Lucky for me, one of my routine motels was close by.

The next morning, after placing several phone calls, I was able to locate a shop that could do the required hydraulic repairs. Without replacing the lines that were shredded by the blown tire, I would not be able to lift the front deck and open my hood. Without opening my hood, I was unable to determine if there were any other damages that needed attention. Knowing the day would be financially unprofitable, I decided to sleep in. I never could pass up a good excuse.

Around 11am, I climb in the truck and begin my day. I pulled out of the motel and made the left turn onto the ramp to get onto the Interstate. The ramp lane actually continued forward and became the exit lane for 270 in Columbus, Oh. As I eased down the ramp, I was watching for traffic on my left to cut in front of me. Expect the unexpected, always! After a few hundred feet, another lane merges in from the right. This is typically an extremely heavy merge point, but there were no cars coming from my right. I am probably rolling along about 40 to 45mph because I had just started from a traffic light and was about to make a 25mph exit, so I never gained full momentum.

BOOM!!  Oh crap... Still in the left lane, with my right turn signal engaged, my first thought is that the USED steer tire replacement has just erupted. There was a slight jolt to the truck so I hit the brakes and check for cars on my right because I need to hit the shoulder. Seeing nothing blocking the lane,  BOOM!!!!!!  WHAT THE F#@K ??!!??!!  Now, I am thinking the tire has wrapped itself around my axle and just about that time, I notice the trunk of a Volkswagon Jetta about 2-3 foot off the ground going flying past my left headlight....

The Jetta slams into the wall on my left and I jerk the wheel hard to the right. There was not a whole heck of a lot of room between me and that wall and with the Jetta doing donuts down the left side of my truck, I feared the worst. She managed to bounce between my truck and the wall at least 3 times before we got stopped.



Basically, when she tried to cut me off, she did not allow enough room and the left rear corner of her car caught the right front corner of the step on my bumper. The impact immediately turned her to the left and I then t-boned the left side of the car. As I braked, she was then able to get traction and basically drove straight into the jersey wall on my left. As she bounced off the wall, she hit my truck again. Then the wall, my truck, the wall, my truck....

Both the driver and the passenger were physically okay with the exception of a few bruises and cuts. Emotionally, they were both a wreck. Well, literally too! The driver apologizes to me. I am still shaking my head because I have no idea where she came from. There were no cars on that ramp! A witness has also stopped and we continue to make sure the car occupants are okay. The police arrive, along with an ambulance and tow truck. Everyone is interviewed, except me..... The car is totaled. The occupants are transported to the hospital for standard tests and the witness offers me all his information before vacating the scene. The officer finally approaches me and informs me that with the witnesses testimony, the driver of the Jetta was issued a citation for improper lane change and improper passing.

I still have NO IDEA where she came from. I am thinking she just wanted to get passed the big truck and decided to pass on the right. But the accident report confirmed, along with the witness statement, that I did absolutely nothing wrong...

As for White Lightning, the truck is virtually unscathed...





Had this woman had the same accident with a regular high mount tractor trailer, the outcome could have very well been a tragedy. The points of impact indicate it could have indeed been fatal, but with my trailer riding inches off the ground, it kept her from being crushed by my tires.... Just something to think about, folks. Noting the damage to the Jetta, versus the scuff marks on my truck, I can assure you, I barely felt any thing.

Safe Travels!!

Sep 8, 2012

Customer Service

Several weeks ago I picked up a nail in one of my drive tires. But since I am quite meticulous in checking the air pressure, I saw no real need to rush out and get a new one. It was only dropping a few pounds per day and I keep an air hose with me anyways. This morning when I checked, the tire was flat. Saturdays are not the best day to try to and find a 19.5 tire. The majority of trucks run a 22.5 or 24.5 tire. So, I spent the majority of the morning calling around trying to locate one. This was after I unloaded my rear car to grab the air hose and try to re inflate it. I quickly realized that was not going to happen. So, I eased down the road to a local truck shop. They didn't have the tire either, but the mechanic also got on the phone and began to call around for me trying to locate one. I was able to get someone at Peterbilt Truck Care to start looking as well. I was able to find a set 300 miles away, but had no intentions of driving that far with the flat. PTC found something comparable just 15 miles from where I was sitting so I was instructed to head that way. Within 10 minutes PTC called me back and said to wait. I was told that the shop with the tires could not mount them because they were waiting on someone else who was 100 miles away. After that person had 4 tires mounted, they would try to fit me in before they closed in 2 hours.  Now, this is a first come, first serve type of situation and they were going to put me off because someone was 2 hours away and had an appointment? Well, PTC had issues with that type of service and decided we would take my business elsewhere. I headed back to the local shop and inquired about at least getting a plug that would get me down to Knoxville, where some more tires were located. After removing the flat tire, it was then determined that I was going no where. The inner wall of the tire had a huge split in it meaning a patch was pointless. Knowing that the truck stop down the road was now off limits due to the disagreement with PTC, I was getting ready to sit it out until Monday. That is when the local shop, who does not do business with the truck stop (over another disagreement) decided to head down there and grab the tires for me. I am sure he got his cut in profits from this, but it kept me from being stranded.

So what is my point? Well, I was impressed with PTC for their business ethics. Who cares if it would have cost me more time, I wasn't really in the mood to work anyways. I could have been at that truck stop in 20 minutes, but they were going to put me off because some other truck was 2 hours away.. I needed one tire changed!!  I was also impressed with the local shop for all the help (paid and unpaid). I am that person who is willing to pay more for better customer service. I am glad to see that PTC believes in that too. Yeah, I still have a hard time looking at a Wal-Mart after they ruined my wheels... And I am sure they don't miss my money, but it is about the ethics!

Has It Been a Year Already?

It has been a year. On September 6th, I celebrated my one year anniversary as a car-hauler. And a lot has happened in the past year.

I loaded small loads.
I loaded big loads.
I loaded even bigger loads....

I am becoming more confident with every load.

I received a brand new truck after only 8 months.
My new truck was hit by lightning after only 2 weeks.
I had my first steer tire blow out in 14 years of driving commercial vehicles.
I had my first major accident.
I damaged my first car.
I made a trip to California in a daycab.

Yes, a lot has happened. In my first year I loaded 116 loads with a total of 957 cars, ranging in size from the Smart Car up to a Ford F450.

I have made friends. I have made enemies...

After one year, I feel very confident in saying that I will do this until I am physically no longer able to load cars, or I just get tired of trucking altogether.

So what has 365 days of car-hauling taught me?  It has taught me that every load is it's own unique puzzle. Of course, hauling the same product lines, the puzzle becomes simplified. The auction loads are a different story. Every load IS different. Normally, if I have any questions about placement of cars, I will either phone a friend for advice or ask someone loading close to me if a particular scenario should work. I know I have said it before, but I still find it to be true... Car-Haulers are a different breed and genuinely look out for each other.

So, with my years worth of learning, this weeks auction load proved to me that I more than capable of being successful. I had to pick up in 3 locations and it is best if you don't have to keep moving units around to get it loaded properly. Armed with a basic knowledge of my vehicles, I was able to get everything loaded and only move one car twice. I was even able to add an extra unit. Still a little unsure  how close my axle weight would be, I felt pretty good about how it was loaded. I felt damn good about it!!!!



So this is what a year has taught me. Perhaps I shouldn't second, third and fourth guess myself quite so much? It could not have been anymore perfect. Sure it is still a little heavy on the steers, but I am always heavy there and my tires are rated for it. I am actually 11780 on the steer axle when empty, so it gets heavy quick!

Now, I am sure you are wondering about my California trip and perhaps the major accident? Yup, I have some blogging to do!