cat scale vs weigh station scale....

Discussion in 'Experienced Truckers' Advice' started by TrucKer 999 TriLLion, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. TripleSix

    TripleSix God of Roads

    Apr 10, 2009
    Copied in Hell
    Had a crane move a few years back. A bunch of us went into the scale at Hammond on i12. The ScaleMaster said to one driver, "You're 2000 lbs over on your drives and you have no way to adjust it. I'm going to have to write you a ticket." I said to him, "Sir, if I can get his weights right, can you let him go?"

    53ft Stepdeck, with the rear axle slide. He had the axles spread 10'2, I had him close the spread into a tandem. We went and reweighed, and it had moved 2500 lbs off the drives to the trailer.

    The ScaleMaster and the driver were amazed. The ScaleMaster lived up to his word and let the driver go. The driver asked me, "How did you know?" I told him that I ran Canada for years, and they don't recognize the 10'2 spread. You have to close the trailer into a tandem. I always made sure my trailer was loaded legal for both countries."
    Highway Sailor and LoneCowboy Thank this.
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  3. Emulsified

    Emulsified Road Train Member

    May 6, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    First let me say that I am a licensed scale master and hold a current license in three states. While the requirements and laws governing trucks are common to all states (local ordinances withstanding), I don't work in the industry anymore. Scale master licenses are like law or medical. Each state will recognize and reciprocate but you have to 'purchase' the license annually for each state.
    That all being said, let me give you a little insight.
    When writing a citation for weight variance, a governmental authority relies on the scale as an 'expert' instrument. Just as you've heard the old stories about calibration of the police officers speedometer, the same applies to scales.
    To be 'legal for trade' or in other words 'weighted authority' (that's the term, no pun), a scale must be calibrated by a licensed technician with certified weights traceable to Weights and Measures in WA DC. A lot of big words meaning the scale must be calibrated once a year or more.
    Next is accuracy and repeatability. According to the laws, scales must be accurate to 1/10 of 1% of the capacity of the scale. Back to that in a moment.
    Highways scales in most locations are either 200 or 300,000 pounds capacity. So multiply that capacity by the accuracy and it means the scale is only accurate within 200 lbs. We can write you a ticket all day long but if it's within that margin of accuracy...say 80,150 gross or 34,180 on means nothing. That ticket, if properly challenged will be dismissed immediately.
    Now back to calibration.
    Due to budget shortfalls, most states have not kept up with scales calibration. That means any ticket written since the last calibration can be dismissed if requested due to 'lack of evidence'.
    I appear as an expert witness on behalf of truckers for several law firms. They gather up tickets and schedule them all to be heard at the same time, fly me in and I testify.
    Except I haven't had to actually see the inside of a court room in more than two years. The law firm subpoenas the calibration records from the state, then registers me (or another person like me) as an expert witness and the state dismisses all the tickets summarily.
    Why? Because of the calibration records. If the firm was to win even ONE dismissal based on calibration, it makes every ticket written at that scale since the last calibration dismissible upon request. That can mean millions of dollars to states like California, where fines are so high.
    The states don't want to take a chance.
    Now I will tell you there are a lot of tickets written that don't hold water, however the citing officer also knows most truckers won't fight them. An I can almost guarantee you if you give them guff, you're going to be cited (and probably inspected as well).
    Finally, most states grant a 400# allowance for an APU, but you may have to ask for it if you're brought inside. A few states (notably CA) don't give the allowance. It's calculated on the steers and drives and is in addition to the 80,000 (or whatever) gross the vehicle is licensed.
    As for steers? Most OTR trucks have 13,000 lb axles, but often the tires are less. So it's the state maximum, the axle capacity or the tire capacity (whichever is least) that counts. Often the scale master won't go to the trouble of checking your tire or axle capacity unless you have an over active mouth.
    BTW, CAT calibrates their scales monthly.
    Now, if I haven't bored you to sleep, go have another cup of coffee.
    In this day of budget shortfalls in the states, many of th
  4. RoadRooster

    RoadRooster Road Train Member

    May 10, 2015
    Fort Myers, Florida
    Don't set your brakes on any scale...brakes set at different times on each axle, pulling against each other, and giving false readings. An old DOT guy taught me that, and didn't give me a ticket was a good day...
    tech10171968 Thanks this.
  5. Bean Jr.

    Bean Jr. Road Train Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    It would have to be axle also. You can not be over gross, and not axle unless you have 13,000 lb front and spread axle trailer. You of course could not be legal steer drive, and over less than 400 lb on trailer. The APU is not back there.
  6. Ubu

    Ubu Road Train Member

    Aug 25, 2012
    Rumored to be somewhere
    It is a state by state thing. See for a list of states and what they allow.
    No state gives you 1,000lb for an APU. It is ether 400lb or 550lb.
    MJ1657 Thanks this.
  7. MrEd

    MrEd Road Train Member

    Sep 2, 2011
    Winfred, SD
    While it may not be likely for an officer to write you for 34400 on the drives, they can. And having an APU will not help you if he wants to.
  8. Cottonmouth85

    Cottonmouth85 Bad Influence

    May 3, 2012
    Floresville, Tx
    Load it like a rail car and steer clear of those coops! ;)
  9. not4hire

    not4hire Road Train Member

    May 16, 2012
    That's kind of a ridiculous statement. If the APU exemption is enacted by state law, then having a conforming APU will, in fact, negate any ticket written based on the qualifying exemption. Even if the exemption is granted by enforcement policy rather than law (15 states), I expect there would have to be seriously mitigating circumstances in order to not have any such ticket thrown out. This idea that enforcement officers can just make up whatever rules they want is absurd.
  10. MrEd

    MrEd Road Train Member

    Sep 2, 2011
    Winfred, SD
    The rules, laws and enforcement guidelines allow for being up to 80400 or 80550 gross vehicle weight, depending on what state it is. They do not allow for being 34400 or 34550 on your drives. What is ridiculous is that you can't see the difference. An officer would not be making up rules to enforce it that way. He or she would simply be reading the rules literally and enforcing them that way.
  11. Cranky Yankee

    Cranky Yankee Cranky old ######

    Jan 31, 2012
    Green Bay Wi
    well if you cant be 34400 but can be 80400 where in YOUR interpretation would the extra 400 be allowed
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