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Thread: Pulling Doubles

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    Bobtail Member
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    Pulling Doubles

    Well I just got my CDL and have a good chance at a local company pulling a 42' frameless dump. But I am also looking hard at another company thta is OTR pulling doubles. We never touched any on doubles in school and the IL CDL book has a whole 3 pages to study on doubles. Not much info at all . I was wondering what is the ups and downs to pulling doubles and how in the heck do you back them when you have to.

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    This is the advice I got when I grabbed my first set of wiggles. I was based out of IN back in the 80's. Was delivering in Dayton Ohio. Had a message to drop trailer at rec and go to a trucking yard that was closing. (I think it was Road Way) My company had bought some trailers from them. I was to bring one back. I get there and they are a set of wiggles. I had never pulled them before. I call in and tell them that. I was told relax, just don't look in the mirrors. That was back before the CDL was in play. I have not pulled any since then. Someone on here can give you more info on them. The places I have seen them use them; looks to be that they dropped the back pup then spotted the front in the dock. Hooked to the other and rolled. Not sure how others do it.

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    Heavy Load Member pro1driver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harleydog View Post
    Well I just got my CDL and have a good chance at a local company pulling a 42' frameless dump. But I am also looking hard at another company thta is OTR pulling doubles. We never touched any on doubles in school and the IL CDL book has a whole 3 pages to study on doubles. Not much info at all . I was wondering what is the ups and downs to pulling doubles and how in the heck do you back them when you have to.
    although i never pulled turnpike doubles (45 or 48 footers) i pulled my share of "pups" (28 footers)...........

    either way, they are a pain in the butt, especially when empty and winter time...........

    most trucking companies send you out with another driver who teaches you how to hook & un-hook them, and etc, and etc...............

    once you do it a few times, you'll see how much you'll get to hate them.......as they really never paid any substaintial amount of extra money to make it worth while..........

    i try to avoid company's that hire drivers with the doubles endorsement, these days, as my experience level means i can get ANY driving job i'd want.......and when i'd want it.............

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    We used to have b and c trains, which could be backed up with some work. The a's are near impossible, since the dolly itself turns separately from the 2 trailers. Fortunately though for us, when our terminal was supposed to get the c's, the higher ups got a deal on more 53 footers, and decided the extra 3 feet of space from the 2 28 footers wasn't worth the time to put them together. They are more for dropping smaller loads at different places anyway, so I don't know why companies like UPS use these things to go to one terminal.

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    To answer one of the initial questions, one of the big rules with doubles is not to get into a situation where you have to back up! And as condescending as that advice may sound, it's the truth. Most places that run any kind of doubles have pull through parking and they just don;t back them up. If you are pulling B style doubles, then it is more doable, but standard doubles with a convertor dolly are almost impossible to back up more than about 50 foot or so. The short tongue connection between the back of the first trailer and second one will be your achilles heel if you try to back up. It doesn't take long for the trailer at the back to move offset and that's the end of your backing distance.

    It is a little bit nerve wracking at first to look in the mirror and see them flexing around behind you, but after a while you get used to it.

    I pulled them here in Mich, carrying 164,000 legally and probably a bit more in actuality. But those were "triple and ten" sets, where you had 8 axles under the two trailers, and the rear trailer was on a permanently attached turntable rather than a removable dolly. Hooking up a set usually involves pushing the dolly in front of trailer 2 by hand, backing up truck and trailer one, hooking up dolly to pintle hitch, then backing straight under trailer two. Connect air lines, open valves, and away you go. If on toll road, repeat steps to hook up trailer three!!!

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    Heavy Load Member Lil'Devil's Avatar
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    I pulled A trains and B trains for several years, 28 ft pups, there is really nothing to it once you get used to it, you get used to that rear trailer wiggling around, If it started wiggling too much you just speed up and straighten it out, or give a little tug on the spike.

    Like everyone else said, you don't want to get in a situation where you have to back up A trains. B trains are easier to back up, with practice I got very good at backing them up. I also got good at backing the trailer with the converter dolly on the back, just takes practice

    The downfall of pulling trains, I don't know what kind of product you are hauling, I used to haul parcels and there was no weight in them, in winter time that could be a concern but I didn't really have any problems with them.

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    Doubles are not difficult. They do pull hard and ride rough though, so it wouldn't be your imagination. The heavier one goes in the front, at ALL TIMES!! Don't try backing up, at least no further than to swing your tractor around or something. It just isn't worth the trouble. What also helps is to move your fifth wheel up, as far as you can. This helps to cut down on the rearward amplification i.e. the back one wiggling around on you.

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    Road Train Member heyns57's Avatar
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    I pulled 28' doubles for Chippewa Motor Freight in 1969 when they were first authorized in Illinois. Due to union rules, Chicago local drivers would not pull doubles and OTR drivers would not make more than one stop-off enroute. I was domiciled in Ottawa, IL, so I got the job. Leaving Ottawa at midnight with one trailer, I would pick up the second trailer in LaSalle-Peru and drive to Mendota where I would break the set to load whatever freight the agent had picked up during the day. Then, I went to Chicago and hooked the outbound trailers for LaSalle and Mendota/Ottawa. I pedaled the Ottawa freight myself and tried to finish by noon. It was not always efficient to run the heavier pup in front, but a few thousand pounds difference was not hazardous. A single drive axle did not always have enough traction in winter. There were nights that I waited for the salt trucks to pass me. Doubles have a short turning radius. One time during a strike, I made a U-turn on Pulaski Ave. in Chicago.

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    I know that this message is years old but in case anyone has a similar question, I just thought I would put my two cents in. Pulling doubles is alot like pulling any other specialized trailers, they have their pluses and minuses. With that said, wiggle wagons are not for students. Almost all companies that run doubles operate on a timed basis and that is not a good situation to learn. You also need at least 1 preferably 2 winters under your belt before trying to pull them. Situational awareness is so important and if you lose concentration for a second, it can be fatal to you or those around you.

    The advantages of pulling doubles for the driver include:
    1) 100% drop and hook. I pulled OTR doubles for 6 months before I saw the inside of a trailer and in 3 years, never touched a piece of cargo.
    2)Pay and Benefits, It is hard to find good safe drivers and so companies that aren't union will offer pay structures similair to union companies. Including pay for: dropping and hooking, fueling, washing your truck, breakdowns, hotels and detention time.
    3)Equipment designed for the job. OTR companies that pull doubles buy equipment spec'd for the job. Most people who say doubles ride rough, pulled them with short day cabs. When running OTR you have long wheel based air ride tractors, trailers, and dollies.

    The Cons:
    1) You can't back up. If you can't find a pull through spot, you are out of luck. When running at night most truckstops do not mind if you park at the end or in the last lane of their fuel island and grab a bite to eat if they are not busy. If you do try to pull in a tight spot remember that you can never swing to wide. The back trailer will track within a couple of tire widths of the 1st but if you don't swing wide enough, it is a mess.
    2) Winter weather, sucks. The company I drove for had tractors with traction control and great tires. It can be done but a big problem is that other drivers crowd and put you and them in danger. If the back trailer does go wild, you have to hit your hand trailer brake valve and prey for the best.
    3) The wiggling, you just have to get used to it. Don't make big movements with the steering wheel and know what makes them wiggle. Your tractor is 96" wide, your trailers are 102" wide and the dolly can be either. Just accept the fact that if the road has grooves you might have to slow down. In states with 75 mph speed limits, I felt the higher speeds made the truck felt sluggish, I always kept it below 70 mph.

    The company I pulled doubles for was a company owned by a department store. I ran mainly ran team for them but also ran solo on occasion. As a team we would run from dist. center (DC) to DC, maybe delivering to stores along the route. Leaving Sunday night and returning Friday afternoon we normally ran 6,200-6,500 miles/week. Almost everyone will tell you that doing that is nearly impossible but you have to understand the system.

    We needed fewer trucks because the doubles allowed us to run 2 stores/truck instead of 1. In running fewer trucks you create "hotter freight". Running hotter freight means little to no down time. If the truck never has to stop, a team can run up to 1500 miles/day.

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    I pulled Double-Bottoms before.....It's like anything else...You get used to it.....

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