Do you recognize these cars?

I shot this pic a few months ago in Arizona heading north from Phoenix towards Flagstaff, if I remember correctly. There were two cars with identical decal jobs heading north and I suspect they were either going to be used for a movie or commercial someplace.

Anyone recognize them?

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QualCOMM issues… solved?

Yesterday after delivering my (fairly expensive) dog chow in Omaha I went by the company yard to have our shop look over my QualCOMM unit. After discussing my issues briefly with the guy who does many of the installs he had me open up my passenger door and took a look at some of the boxes of circuitry behind the seat. A light that should have been green was instead blinking red, indicating a problem with the antenna or the cellular modem.

After a few hours of waiting he was able to take a look at it and replace whatever wasn’t happy and even changed around the electrical system so I can turn on the unit by turning my key to Accessories! This has bedeviled me since the beginning with this new unit, as it turns off quickly after I shut my rig down and doesn’t seem to realize there is plenty of power coming from the APU. Now I can turn it on (and not interfere with the APU, as was the case before) whenever I need it while my truck is off.

If they fix the issue with messages being missed when the unit is off I think I will be in nirvana.

201 more reasons to dislike shippers

The load out of the house was a familiar one: head west to Pittsburg, Kansas to grab a load of dog chow heading to Omaha, Nebraska. Since I was set home before the weekend bobtail I was also instructed to pick up an empty in Carthage, Missouri along the way to the shipper. There actually was an empty there when I arrived… be still my heart.

This particular shipper loads trailers very quickly and this time was no exception. About fifteen minutes after I backed into the correct dock there was a tap on my door and I went inside to finish up the paperwork. I noticed an unusually light gross weight — 24,000 odd pounds — and mentioned this.

“Oh,” the clerk said. “They put a partial additional load on the back to fill it up, no more than 34,000 total.”

Lying sack of excrement.

The empty (now loaded) trailer that I picked up was one of our newest, with nice fat super-single tires which not only roll much nicer than duals but also weigh about 400 pounds less, in total. A few minutes pulling it down the road and the weight given seemed to me to be in the right ballpark and I headed off.

Now, Pittsburg, Kansas isn’t exactly the be-all and end-all of the known universe and there are no commercial scales there, to the best of my knowledge. The company I was loaded at has a scale at a different plant a few miles out of route. I figured I would drive with it up KS-69 up to Kansas City and if it felt heavy I’d weigh it somewhere up there, perhaps in Edwardsville (which is the only commercial scale along my route, as far as I know).

By the time I reached KC I knew I couldn’t possibly be over the limit on my total rig’s weight. One advantage to a smaller engine (if it can be said there is an advantage) is that it makes it very clear how heavy my total rig is by just pulling a few familiar hills and watching my tach and spedometer.

The trailer tandems were in the fifth hole which is a bit further forward than normal, but the combination of my super singles and the super singles on the trailer should have made up 800 pounds “net” in my favor.

How far off could I be under these circumstances?

As I moved north along I-29 from KC I came across the North Platte City scale and was pulled in along with a handful of other trucks. One by one the rigs moved through and were on their way until it was my turn. Steers… fine. Drives… fine. Trailer tandems…

“Driver! Set your brakes, exit your truck and come in to the office!” I hear over the loudspeaker. I’m guessing it isn’t to present me with the Missouri Truck Driver of the Year award.

As I enter the office I glance at the scale display and groan inwardly: 36,040 pounds, more than a ton over the legal limit for my configuration. Before I could turn on the charm the officer told me to head back out, move my truck off the scale and out of the way and bring back all my paperwork.

It is a long trudge out to your truck in these situations, I find.

Paperwork was easy, in part because I’m now using electronic logs. I have yet to find a DOT officer that wants anything to do with them. Driver’s license, medical card, truck registration, proof of insurance, etc. He immediately sets to writing out a ticket and asks if I know how to slide my tandems to make my trailer legal. I slouch back outside and take care of it, running through the scale again to prove the weights are now right.

Missouri uses a system where a certain weight is this many cents per pound, and more weight is on a higher scale. The math came out to be $201.50. Sign here and here, here’s instructions to mail in your payment, have a nice day. Blah blah blah.

After having all the weights listed I realize that the shipper took a 24,000 pound order and added on not 10,000 but 18,000 pounds of dog chow, all the way back to the rear of the trailer. Yes, I would have realized they were lying sacks of shit if I had elected to scale, but I didn’t so the boo-boo is on me.

Now, before you go all “Don’t cry for me Argentina” on me, let’s keep things in perspective: this represents about 1/6th of my average weekly take so while it stinks in the short run in the long run it doesn’t really matter much.

Does sting a little, though.

July 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th

From Russellville, Arkansas I took a load north to our drop yard in Kansas City, Missouri and t-called it there for some other lucky driver, then was sent home bobtail. This is unusual since it means the planners need to do some extra thinking to get me out of the house to first get a trailer somewhere, but I didn’t mind the extra fuel economy.

The flu bug, or whatever it is, has gradually weakened to the point where I have a cough and a stuffy nose part of the day. A few more days should mean a full recovery and I’m back on the road this morning.

My new QualComm unit is having fits and tells me that there is a sensor problem. This means I may need to go to paper logs temporarily until they can get me through Omaha which would kind of suck since I haven’t done a log by hand in more than three years and I didn’t feel like adding another laptop and laser printer to my truck just to run the Driver’s Daily Log software.

The joys of trucking.

One flu under the cookoo’s nest

I was told on the way to Plano, Illinois that I could drop my trailer and take an empty over to Rochelle, Illinois for my reload. This was news to the consignee who was adamant we had no empty trailers there, we weren’t permitted to do drop-and-hooks and oh, by the way, dock 18 needs you backed into it soon.

Our HQ was convinced they were right, even giving me the number of a trailer that had been left there. I looked after I was unloaded just for giggles and no trailer. On the plus side, they let you park overnight there so I took care of my snooze break.

The Rochelle part was unusual as we bring in many loads to that plant but I’ve never taken a single one out of there. My trailer was one of three HB units on the ready line set to go and despite a balky slide I managed to get it out and scaled then heading south without too much trouble.

That night I stopped just inside the Missouri border in Charleston at a Pilot I hadn’t been to before. One of the older, more run down stops that I’ve seen so I won’t be back soon.

I woke with a stuffy nose, sore throat, fever and headache so some bug bit me a few days previous. Driving isn’t that much of an issue with the flu so long as you’re not swapping trailers or the like.

Arrived in Russellville, Arkansas around 1300 and by 1330 the trailer was in a door and I was off to the nearby Pilot (nicer one) for some rest. My logbook is pretty much shot, having spent the last three days using what I got back at midnight to take care of business.

How rude!

(Say in your best JarJar Binks voice).

Another thing I hate about screwing up my sleep schedule is the toll it takes on my creativity and desire to blog. Its hard out here being a pimp, yo.

I slept much of the following day and HQ got me a trip heading from KC to Council Bluffs for early-early the following morning. Getting up there wasn’t a problem but it was several hours after I delivered they got around to asking me to help them out with a very, very short load.

It seems another HB driver had picked up a load the previous night near Memphis, Tennessee and drove towards Omaha. Despite his best efforts, his driving hours were exhausted about 20 miles away and for some unknown reason he decided to continue on to Council Bluffs, passing up a perfectly usable rest area in the process. Since he was already at least 20 minutes over his legal driving limit I didn’t understand why he didn’t drive the ten additional minutes to Omaha before shutting down. Either way you broke the rule, why not at least finish what you started?

Anyway, they had me deliver the load all of eight miles. Since my satellite unit wasn’t receiving for some reason I had them read off the name of the consignee and the address over the phone. I hadn’t been there before and I asked for directions. They sounded awfully familiar and then I realized that they were to a warehouse a block from our own terminal, just on the next street over. The name of the place was Rude, so I wasn’t pleasant when I arrived… just to fit in you understand.

After taking care of a few matters at the terminal a trip presented itself heading to Atlanta. I finished up in Boonville, Missouri for the night.

Since the load wasn’t due until the 30th I was told to drop it off at a facility we use in Calhoun, Georgia and grab a reefer for my next load, originating in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sunday morning found me dropping off my trailer and finding no empty reefer to take, so the minds at HQ sent me 75 miles south to grab an empty then 75 north back to where I started looking.

The very simple process of swapping my new empty trailer for the preloaded one was made difficult trying to find the bills to go with the new trailer and various delays here and there for construction, but I finally end tonight in Richmond, Kentucky on my way to Plano, Illinois.