difference in driving a flatbed?

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by DC843, Jul 27, 2015.

  1. DC843

    DC843 Medium Load Member

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    Hey i'm soon to have my CDL and was thinking about going with melton which is a flatbed company

    so im wondering what is the difference between DRIVING a flatbed and a van? i know you have to strap and what not but as far as going down the highway and turning and such, is this any different?
     
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  3. RustyBolt

    RustyBolt Road Train Member

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    1) The marker lights are lower.
    2) It doesn't hurt as bad when you fall off the roof
    3) It's easier to get under a 13' bridge.
    4)Nobody has ever had to hit the shoulder with a van to fix a flapping tarp.
    5) Cross winds are not as big an issue.
    6)The biggest difference is turning corners. Flats generally have axles that are spread further apart. This makes them turn much different than a van with the axles close together. You'll be spending more time waiting on traffic to let you make a right turn with a flat bed. And taking up a lot more acreage doing it.
     
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  4. TripleSix

    TripleSix God of Roads

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    Depends on the trailers. Most flatbed trailers on the US will have the trailer axles spread apart about 10'2 inches. Driving in a straight line, there's not much difference. But in turns and backing, the front axle slides, and the trailer wants to pivot on the rear axle. This does make it a little more difficult to maneuver in tight turns. It's not nothing detrimental, but it does take more muscle to make tight turns (if it's the only thing you've ever known, it will not bother you. But if you came from a tandem trailer to a spread, you do feel the difference on the engine).

    The biggest difference is felt n backing. Because the front axle on a spread has the tendency to slide, the trailer doesn't pivot, it slides when trying to do a 45 or 90 degree back. It gets even worse on an icy parking lot. That being said, it's nothing difficult.
     
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  5. Chinatown

    Chinatown Road Train Member

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    You'll like flatbed; in many cases you can actually see the freight you're hauling and such will naturally be more careful in turns and securement.
    Melton is OK, but look at other options also. Melton has an integrity interview on the phone and may ask if you've ever stolen a cell phone, so you're toast. Well, you posted you stole a cell phone; remember?.......lol
    Anyway, you're a new driver, so shop around for your first flatbed job. Lots of choices depending on where you live:
    Melton
    Decker Truck Line
    System Transport
    Keim TS
    Transport National
    Howard Transportation
    Halvor Lines
    Pride Transport - flatbed division
    Celadon - flatbed division
    PI&I Motor Express
    Jones Bros. Trucking

    All these hire new CDL grads & there's more.
     
  6. sprayed150

    sprayed150 Light Load Member

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    I'm in cdl school now, I just did all meltons interviews which was more questions that any other job I have had besides enlisting. It's all easy stuff. Melton was my best option for my area being new and wanting to go flatbed so I took the offer. I start in November
     
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  7. Lepton1

    Lepton1 Road Train Member

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    As noted above, the biggest challenge I had transitioning from dry van to flatbed with a spread axle is getting used to taking up a lot of acreage to make turns. I try to avoid getting my tractor more than 45º to the trailer, if you do that you are going to chew up your trailer tires very quickly as they drag sideways on pavement. On dirt roads or lots it isn't as much of a concern as the tires can slide on loose surface. I also have a dump valve to release the air bags on the rear tires when I have to make a 90º turn, that way the rear tires will slide easily and you pivot on the front tires.

    It's a rare thing with a flatbed to have to back into a dock. Forklifts aren't normally allowed onto a flatbed, although I've seen it done.

    Because you don't have sliding tandems, like on a dry van or reefer, your trailer will always track straight behind you. When you pivot a trailer 90º with sliding tandems and the pins are a tad loose to the holes it tends to turn the tandem slightly, which is why you see so many boxes going straight down the road with the trailer about 4-6" off center, usually toward the passenger side.

    You HAVE to be patient making right turns. Wait for traffic to clear and TAKE YOUR SPACE into the oncoming lane on two lane roads so you can swing wide. Button hook turns aren't recommended.
     
  8. DC843

    DC843 Medium Load Member

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    hahah thanks man, the cell phone thing was a joke!
     
  9. DC843

    DC843 Medium Load Member

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    I'm glad the crosswinds aren't as big of an issue that did freak me out a little

    would I be correct saying that the trailers are also shorter than dry van?
     
  10. DC843

    DC843 Medium Load Member

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    So your saying that through the entire turn, the cab can never go 45 degrees or more from the trailer? I may be thinking about it wrong but it seems this would be really difficult. Is it hard to learn? ill be learning on a van in school is it hard to get used the different tandems? I don't have any problem being patient for tight turns.
     
  11. RustyBolt

    RustyBolt Road Train Member

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    I'm assuming you mean shorter as in lower to the ground? The typical flatbed is pretty much the same as the typical van in terms of ground to deck.

    But you can actually be loaded "over height" on a flat. Hard to do with a van unless you get some richard edward cop that tags you for the snow on top.
     
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