Advice for an Intermodal Virgin?

Discussion in 'Intermodal Trucking Forum' started by cjwatson1972, Nov 10, 2014.

  1. cjwatson1972

    cjwatson1972 Bobtail Member

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    I'm just about to start a new job working the rails in Toledo, Chicago, and Louisville. I've never hauled containers before. Any advice?
     
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  3. Cody1984

    Cody1984 Medium Load Member

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    First piece of advice to give you is to remember that your "trailer" is actually two units. The chassis and the container. That means you need to check additional items that you don't check on a regular van trailer. First thing to check is to make sure the front pins are locked in place and that the container isn't sitting directly on top of the front pins when doing pretrip inspection and making sure the safety latches are their and that the safety pins (really the handles) aren't damaged.

    Second piece of advice when doing your walk around on your pretrip is to make the frame of chassis isn't damaged. If the frame is bent up you'll need to get a chassis swap (I'll get to that in a moment). Also check the four pick up points (can't think of the correct term for it right now off the top of my head) to make sure there are no cracks running along it. Cracks along them will cause damage to the container if not repaired when the container is getting picked up and dropped by packers in the rail yard.

    Third when you get to the rear of the "trailer" check to make sure the rear pins are locked correctly ie that the container is not sitting up on top of the pin but is correctly locked. Make sure the rear pins aren't damaged and that the safety latches are there and not damaged. Depending on the chassis you will be using it's a good idea to keep zip ties on you to zip tie the rear pins so they don't come loose on you driving down the road. Not a problem on newer chassis like JB Hunt chassis but on an old *** chassis you need to do that. Another alternative that some use instead of using zip ties is to use old metal close hangers to secure the safety latches in the lock position on the rear pins instead of zip ties.

    Fourth make sure you report all damage to the container and chassis and tires as well. Don't do a half *** kick the tires to see if they are flat or not and go. You have to actually check the equipment and report damages on it before leaving the rail yard or your company possibly yourself can get charged damages on that equipment that you didn't cause but that you failed to report leaving the rail yard. Norfolk Southern doesn't charge the drivers that I'm aware of but CSX out of Chicago at least does.

    Fifth thing you will need to work on is 90 degree backing. Rail yards get tight they are severely overcrowded at times and people get impatient in them. Knowing how to do a 90 degree back is critical.

    Sixth thing people drive in a "hurry" in rail yards most of the time. They will pass you if you are going slow in the rail yard and will go around in front of you if you are taking a while to back up and they have the room. That's just how it is at the busier rail yards. Make sure to be careful and watch going around corners in rail yards because you never know when a yard jockey or another driver will be flying around the corner coming at you.

    Seventh piece of advice is to not try and compete with people who have been working the rail for years...they are going to be better at it then you are because of there expierence. Don't get into accidents trying to beat someone you know getting in and out the rail yards. Your going to be slower at it for a while. The job will get easier and you will get faster and just overall better at it over time.

    Last but not least my eighth piece of advice in regards to doing chassis swaps is to always get the attention of the packer to get a chassis swap done. Don't expect them to just come and do one for you. You have to get there attention and have them know you need a chassis swap done. When doing the chassis swap make sure you release the air out of the airbags or they can explode. Make sure that the damaged chassis is also tagged so the mechanics know it needs fixed and the yard jockies don't put another container on it (although they sometimes will put a container on there anyways regardless).

    Anyway that's a just few pointers I can think of off the top of my head.
     
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  4. RERM

    RERM Road Train Member

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    Is this job with TCS or US Container?
     
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  5. RERM

    RERM Road Train Member

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    No matter what ANYONE says to you, DO A PROPER PRE-TRIP NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES, the railroad equipment is POS, CHECK THAT THE CONTAINER IS PROPERLY SET ON THE LOCKS, the yard jockeys could care less about safely attaching a container to the chassis, ESPECIALLY AT G4!!!!!! with practice, you'll get quicker, however it will take time....AND LOTS OF PATIENCE.....

    TIRES, TIRES, TIRES also check the brake chambers, I've had containers put on chassis with no brake chambers, or dolly legs (chassis was left sitting on the ground at G4)...

    Other than that, take it slow and you'll get fast....

    good luck!!!
     
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  6. cjwatson1972

    cjwatson1972 Bobtail Member

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    Clinton Township, MI
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    TCS. Got any advice about them?
     
  7. RERM

    RERM Road Train Member

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    I'll PM you tonight....Their good people, just some tricks to dealing with some....
     
  8. cjwatson1972

    cjwatson1972 Bobtail Member

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    Aug 9, 2013
    Clinton Township, MI
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    You don't scare me. I started with CRST.
     
  9. Cody1984

    Cody1984 Medium Load Member

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    OTR and intermodal are very different worlds. I'm local and the amount of backing I do in one month is about the equivalent of 1 year of backing in OTR. That's just backing alone and I already posted about extra things you got to do on pretrips. A little bit of info about chassis swaps. I realize your not local but a previous gig at an OTR outfit even a bad one where you dealt with quite a bit of BS is not the same as doing intermodal. Don't get me wrong I actually do like my job I'm just stating don't think it's going to be a cake walk right off the bat.
     
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  10. RERM

    RERM Road Train Member

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    I did a year of flatbed, Intermodal is more work.......but I'm home every night....
     
  11. RERM

    RERM Road Train Member

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    I never meant to scare you, like I said, their good people!
     
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