Do you remember the first time you did something new and significant in your life? Kiss a girl, learn how to drive, fly a plane, whatever? Today was such a day for me.
It started this morning at 0230 when I got up and went over to the ConAgra plant I delivered to yesterday. I had a load bar waiting for me that was inside the trailer I brought in and the dock workers were kind enough to stash it with the security folks so I could retrieve it before I left. Then, I grabbed my new trailer from the drop lot (I got the paperwork yesterday) and departed.
About 120 miles later I arrived in St Joseph, Missouri at the first scale I knew of. It turns out that (a) the shipper lied about the weight of the load (surprise, surprise) and (b) I was overweight on the rear tandems by almost 2,000 pounds.
To fix this problem I needed to shift some of that weight forward on my tractor drive axles. This involves sliding the trailer tandems forward or back (back, in this case) so less of the weight was behind those tandems and thus was split with the front, effectively increasing the amount of weight they carry. It took two tries to finally get everything legal and quite a bit of time with a hammer hitting the locking pins to free them and allow everything to slide.
I arrived in Omaha, Nebraska around 0900 after taking a shower across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa. My paperwork was taken and entered into their system and I was assigned a door, which I backed in to. After an hour, I went to find the dock boss and made sure everything was fine. “No problem,” he said. Just a bit backed up.
Repeat after the second hour. At the three hour mark I find the doors to the dock locked as they are out to lunch. Finally, right around the four hour mark I was unloaded.
The worst part of it is I could have just left my trailer there and a local driver would have picked it up later when they were through with it. We don’t do that at all of our consignees in Omaha but that happened to be one. I just didn’t know.
Anyway, I motored back over to our HQ and went through the Safety Lane, where our trailers are inspected. It turns out the trailer I had needed some TLC on its brakes and I moved it to a repair bay then dropped it. Later, my truck was brought into the shop and its writeups were taken care of. Interestingly, despite twice having to add coolant to the radiator the shop found no problem with it.
Then, it happened. I have been asking for a transfer into a Volvo tractor since I started but there isn’t a list or anything; basically, when you come through they will look to see if there is one available out on the lot. I asked this time and there still wasn’t one. The $50 bill I waved under the right nose didn’t make a difference either, dang it.
Then the shop boss took me and another driver over to two nearby businesses and we each drove a truck back to the HQ. The other driver brought back a T600 like I drive from the Kenworth shop, and I brought back a Volvo 780 from the detail shop.
It wasn’t a new Volvo, having about 120,000 miles on it. It was newly leased on to some lucky soul and the detailers had it clean as a whistle. Under the hood was a Volvo engine, same as mine will be. It sounds different than what I’m used to, but it shifts about the same. Thirteen speed Eaton-Fuller transmission, just like I use. An enormous windshield with GREAT wipers (Kenworth, take note). All driving controls located on or very close to the steering wheel (Kenworth, take note again). Huge interior (Kenworth… well, you get the picture).
The brakes were a bit touchy but nothing I couldn’t handle. Volvo’s don’t rev very high for their shift points so it is fairly forgiving to shift. Great visibility. So much better laid out for the needs of a driver.
If the tanks weren’t almost dry I would have “accidentally” missed my turn and taken it for a test drive for a few miles.
Ah, first times.
I saw my dispatcher again and he brought out a printout with a pre-plan he was thinking of giving me. A preloaded trailer from our HQ heading to Denver, Colorado with one drop on the way. It is about 550 miles and will deliver the first part tomorrow afternoon and the rest the first thing Saturday morning.