Back in the Saddle
Well, all I can say is what do I know? Let me just say that shifting practice at the school is not 4 people in a bobtail grinding gears on the range. After completing the morning PTI, the four members of my team climbed into the tractor with the instructor (and the trailer), and headed off to one of the many transportation industrial parks located within the Atlanta area. Not a parking lot or yard, mind you, but a huge complex with plenty of truck and car traffic. It was quiet enough, however, where our training practice is just an everyday occurrence. It's the perfect training ground to start someone learning to drive big rigs, with it's maze of roads and side streets.
Our truck ('02 Freightliner Columbia) is equipped with a straight 10 speed, just a low and high range. Each student would take his turn learning to shift and drive the rig. For me it was almost like learning to drive all over again. Although I had driven an 18 speed tractor in the past, I had to follow the instructors teaching protocol which puts a pretty heavy emphasis on downshifting right off the bat. Makes wish I did worst on the range. Not a problem, know how to do it, just rustier than a bucket full of wet nails. Glad they use old tractors. That's a joke.
After a morning barrage of contributing to the green house effect, on my last practice run, the instructor told me to take us back to the school. .......me? Well, I was only a little nervous.
The only difference I can say is that these trailers, at first, appear to be a city block long. But the more you drive them around, the shorter they seem to get. I've never driven anything this long before, but the rules a still the same, watch your corners and always remember to use your mirrors. The trip back to the school was laden with busy lunch hour traffic, but I was successful.
After lunch was a repeat exercise back at the industrial park with plenty of seat time for all (I got to drive back to the park....shhhh).
We returned late back to the school, and the instructor asked if we'd be interested in staying later to begin learning alley dock backing. The vote was 4-0 in favor of. Everyone had at least a couple of turns before we called it a day. My delay posting is due to the long day we put in on Wednesday.
Well that's it for now. I'm still behind schedule, but I promise to catch up on the posts and my replies. Wulfman, I didn't forget you. G'night Sammycat!, Gnight AT!, G'night everybody!
Thanks for reading!
Beginning the Long Awaited CDL Process
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Okay thanks for the update on your career!! I guess you are NOT kidding that you are not the pocket protector type! It sounds like you have done a lot of interesting things in your life so far!!
Yesterday's shifting sounds interesting! Seems like everyone-know matter where they have come from-say the same thing about shifting! It's hard to imagine that shifting can be so different but now that I have actually seen it in a big truck and double clutch I can get that it would be ?? against your natural instinct ?? to go from what you have done to learn to drive a truck! Ahh gear grinding what fun huh?
AT least it sounds like you got some good seat time and also got some extra time learning alley docking!
How many days or weeks left of class? Can you go in extra if you want like weekends to practice now that you are in the truck vs class?
Hey wedge it's glad to hear that it's stayin fun and your progressing well. My wife and I made it out to Katlaw on wednesday, wanted to be there a little before lunch, but with the rain and catching every red light on hwy 6, we didn't get there till after everyone had broke for lunch. They did, however, take a few minutes and let Susan get in the truck and push the clutch, roll the landing gear, and lift the hood( I got a little tickled when she tried to pull the hood form the front but i kept it to myself).
It is a lot bigger when you walk out there, and didn't realize that they utilized another area to drive. Talking with the 2 trainers eased my mind about the school, and Susan was a lot more comfortable knowing that she didn't have to be supergirl to manage. Good luck to ya wedge and everyone else here that's in school or fixin to start.
Randy & Susan
I saw you guys! You were inside the Volvo cab and I saw Susan open the hood. Then she climbed into the white Freightliner and our instructor was giving her a quick shifting demonstration. I was standing there in the group (black jacket or I guess sweater with a hood, gray hat, holding a cup of coffee). Before you did your tractor tour, I passed both of you as you were heading towards offices. We both nodded at each other. Nice jackets btw.
The gentleman that brought you out to the tractors is their 4 million miler. He's a great guy. I decided to go to Katlaw after meeting him.
I was glad you to see you had a chance to get there even if it was lunch time.
Good luck to both of you, and let us know how you make out.
My team will be there today without me. There are some things that need my attention. If I can get caught up in time, I'll head up to the school. Attending today is not mandatory. It's optional for extra help.
I'll try to find the pic of my hot rod today. It's around here somewhere.sammycat Thanks this.
Where no Wedge has Gone Before.
Practice, Practice, Practice. That was the word for the morning. After our morning ritual of PTI and fighting the rain, we continued to work on our backing skills. Straight line, offset, parallel parking, and 90 deg. alley dock. All of these are mandatory. There is no knowing which of these backing exercises you will be asked to do, so you must be proficient at all of them. If there is any negative about training here at this school it would be the team size per truck. If everyone picks it up pretty quickly, you'll get a lot of seat time. If not, you'll spend time waiting for your turn. We all get the same amount of time practicing to execute the backing procedures, but when students have difficulty, it makes for a long day.
My delay in posting this week was due to us spending extra time on the range and the road to ensure everyone has ample time behind the wheel. And that IMO is a very good practice for a training school. By the time I got home on Wednesday night, I barely had time to get myself organized for the next day. I'm the only one on my team that is effected by the long days simply because of the distance I have to travel to get there.
Because some folks need more time we all didn't break for lunch at the same time. After lunch, we jumped into our earth ship (less 1 student whose requirement for additional tutelage made him late for lunch break) and headed out north of the school, new territory for me. This new course was a great challenge in offering a mixture of highway, heavily traveled city streets and fairly narrow and hilly terrain. All three of us took turns driving, I ended with the return route back to the barn. This road trip in essence was a time killer while we waited for the fourth member of our posse to grab some lunch. I gave up the seat and we headed back out to the industrial complex we were previously terrorizing. But first we stopped off at a truck stop for fuel. It was an opportunity to learn first hand the procedure to follow when fueling your truck.
We headed out and spent the rest of the afternoon taking turns driving our rig through the industrial complex. We returned to the school by 5 pm, uncoupled the trailer, and drained the air tanks. Being reasonably caught up with our schedule, we headed home.
More to come....
Thanks for reading!
Because the training school's end objective is for you to have a Class A CDL, they will follow the commercial motor vehicle manual very closely. Your best bet would be to highlight all the areas you'll need to study, and use a note book to write down additional information that's good to know.
Your instructor will most likely be a former driver and will always pass on handy tips to make your day easier in the trucking world.
Don't worry too much about the Pre-trip inspection. They will have it broken down into systems so it's easier to remember. Doing the PTI each day helps it sink in. Look at it as a big safety inspection. If it has something to do with being visible on the roads, controlling the vehicle and safety, it needs to be inspected. Remember: everything is "Securely Mounted".
It's easier than you think. Just stay focused.
Carhart is makes great stuff. I have 2 heavy hooded zip up sweatshirts, a vest, and a heavy jacket for when temperatures get to be below freezing. I use the vest with the sweatshirts when it's cold but I need freedom of movement.
If you plan on starting your own training thread, you're welcome to post your link to it here. I'm sure we'd all be happy to see how you're doing and help you out whenever we can.
Practice makes Perfect!
All I can say is Friday started cold and wet. I just wanted to say that.
Weather is an unpredictable entity that truck drivers must contend with. You have no choice but to compensate for it. Our day on the range will not stop because of weather (within reason). So if you think that you will be just warm cozy looking out the window at the weather, think again. You'll have to go out in it, drive in it, so get ready to deal with it. It's part of the job.
"Today we're going to work on backing. We're gonna practice, practice, and practice all day".
So you know what we did? We practiced, and practiced and practiced, and practiced, and practiced, and practiced, and practiced, and.......OK, I'm done. The closer we get to the end of the training, the more crucial it is to refine the backing skills. It's like a game. If you want to get to the next level your skills will be tested before you can move on. Today was dedicated to practicing backing. Essential? Yes. Exciting? The only part of the practice session that I considered exiting was the hail and sleet that came down for about 10 minutes. Not true really. I am excited each time I sit behind the wheel. That's a fact! It's the waiting that drives me nuts.
Because all of the team members are not proceeding at the same pace, we started to fall behind.....again. So another late day road practice session.
Get out on the Highway!
Oh yeah, baby! Nothing like a big rig tooling down the highway, well, almost. We ran a portion on I20 east to Atlanta. Of course being in a truck with the gigantic signs saying STUDENT DRIVER has it's benefits but does nothing for your image. For the first time since I moved south, there was no traffic around us. There was traffic behind us, but they never seemed to get any closer. Hmmm.
We jumped off made a safe and legal about face and jumped back on the highway westbound. Didn't want to deprive anybody of the opportunity to share the road with us.
I didn't get to personally partake in the highway excitement but I did ferry us back to the school. My shifting skills have just about returned to normal but still need to work on the downshifting. There's still next week.
At the end of each day, each student is required to fill out a log sheet. I forgot to mention that. All students are required to keep logbooks since mid-way through the first week of school.
So that's week #2 in the bag. Can't wait to see what's in store for next week.
Thanks for reading!
The training program gives us a variety of driving scenarios. We get everything: Divided highway; undivided highway, city and town streets; you name it. I think if they added a week to the program nobody would mind, even if it cost more. It would take a lot of pressure off of the student IMHO.
Well, this will be the final week. Can't wait to graduate.
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