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O.T. Trucking update...July 10 2011 at 11:33 AM
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from IP address 220.127.116.11
I had not updated you in a while how my new career path is going. I shut down my company and did the course, got my licence and now I have been interviewing/roadtesting.
I have interviewed with four companies and I have roadtested with three of them and passed the company roadtests. The MTO/DOT roadtest takes an hour but only 20 minutes of that is actual drive time. The other part is testing your pre-trip/knowledge, a trailer couple/uncouple, and a challenging offset backing maneuover that is almost like a parallel park of sorts. It is far easier to back into a dock or tight parking place in a yard than the crazy backing maneover I had to do to get my licence.
Since then I have roadtested at a few companies. Some of these roadtests take 2 hours of more and unlike the ministry roadtest where I drove a truck I had been driving for weeks on end you are thrown into totally new equipment new to you. Think of the last time you drove a different car on vacation, loaner etc and how you had to accimitize to where the switchgear was, sightlines, turning radius etc. Each truck manaufacturer is different in wheelbase, turning radius etc. Each engine manufacturer has its own engine "characteristics" which means that they rev differently so matching rpms for downshifting is different. I also have been driving 13 speeds most of the time and then going to a 10 speed is a whole different beast.
One roadtest was in an older International with a 13 speed but the gearing was completely different than I had been using. Whereas I previously would not even think of touching 7'th gear until 60 km/hr you had to be in 7'th for 50 km/hr and perhaps in 7 over for 60 km/hr. The flatbed trailer was also really weird with its axle placement and it took several turns before I was able to judge my wide turns and buttonhooks.
Contrast this to another road test for local food delivery all over the Toronto and Niagra region. Brand new truck with a 10 speed. All disc brakes which I had never worked with before. Even the driver trainer had not seen them. The vast majority of trucks have drum brakes with slack adjusters which need to be checked to ensure they are in adjustment. No slack adjusters with these disc brakes so it was weird/cool to work with this truck. I have also been working with older trucks so I have not worked with "DEF" which is an Urea filtration system of sorts which is a newer technology to reduce particulates coming out of diesel engines. I had never had to check DEF levels/funtionality ina pretrip before. The transmission, braking system, gearing, and technology were all new to me on this test. Then the trailer I coupled to was a "REFER" which is a refrigerated trailer. Something else to check on a pre-trip which I had never done before. I was also only pulling a 36' trailer on this day and the job would primarily only require pulling only a 31' trailer. Now the turns were super easy. Also, this truck had "balls" and pulling such a small trailer in such a powerful truck required me to learn to use different rpm shift points in the low gears so as to drive the truck smootly. Typically the upper range gears are more forgiving of higher rpm shift points. However, this was a 10 speed so I had to stay in low until 5 and then shift to high range and ontoo 6'th gear. A whole different cadence and rhythm to driving this truck. Then backing up a 36' trailer was actually more challenging than a 48'-53' one. That sounds weird and counterintuitive doesn't it? However, making an adjustment with a longer trailer can be easier because it takes longer for the trailer to react before you have to countersteer to "catch up to" the trailer. On the 36' trailer you make your adjustment and then pretty much immediately need to countersteer to see what the adjustment did. No delay like the 48' and 53' trailers.
Then yesterday I drove my first Peterbilt. What a beautiful truck! The interior is really "retro" and all of the switchgear is so nicely made. This truck had ridiculous power and the CAT engine in it was a very different feeling and sounding engine than I was used to. I was back to a 13 speed again but unlike the other 13 speeds this one could lurch in 6'th or 7'th gear because of the power on tap and the gear ratio of the differentials. This job would require both local flatbed work including oversized up to 80' trailer and also running grain trains down to New York State and back. The Peterbilt would be mine and I would be tempted to take this job just for the truck alone!
At this point I have two firm job offers and two potential ones. One of the offers is hourly pay and I would be home every night. 2-3 loads most days. The other job will have me gone most of the week and back home on weekends. It would have me exploring seeing the US and Canada with the potential/opportunity to request the really long hauls when I wanted to.
At this point I really want to try OTR (Over The Road) which is the sterotypical truck driver you think about. This is the 2+ hour roadtest I discussed earlier with the Internaitonal truck with the different gearing. This company does have automatics but I prefer to shift at this point and I would hate to lose the skills I have developed thus far. I did drive an automatic down in Michegan several weeks ago when I went to "Skid School" in Marshall, Michegan. The autos in these trucks are amazing. I drove a Freightliner with an auto there pulling a tanker and it was an amazing piece of technology. It is not like a typical car automatic. As soon as you start to slow down this auto is downshifting, rev matching and working its tail off going from 9'th gear, to 8'th, 7'th etc far faster and more efficiently than even an expert driver could do. I drove all kinds of different trucks at the skid school so I have driven dozens of different trucks now.
Frankly, as interesting as it is to drive so many trucks it will be nice to have my own rig soon and actually "bond" and get used to one.
Lots happening in the next week or so and once I am out on my own I look forward to posting trip/experience pics for you guys.
This message has been edited by Zoodles95 from IP address 18.104.22.168 on Jul 10, 2011 1:33 PM
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