That's one nice thing about running for a mega carrier, the terminal services! Wait till you go to their (your) main terminal in Arizona. I went there once and was impressed. It is huge and the cafeteria had really good food for dang good prices. I asked for a tour and they got a recruiter to walk me around and show me the place. Very cool. He even gave me a free truck wash, it was neat. I was impressed with their flatbed school and how thorough the curriculum was. You will take a lot of crap from other drivers in this industry, but some things will help take the sting out of that. Having a nice terminal everywhere you go is one nice aspect. Us O/O's are relegated to pee soaked truck stops and dark, no-service off-ramps usually. Hey! Maybe you'll slip me a copy of your driver ID so I can sneak into the swift terminals for some peaceful downtime? *nudge nudge* lol.
Glad things are working out for you. Keep it up- soon you'll be seeing the country.
New soon to be swift trainee!
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LOL at visionlogististics, thanks for the info and comic relief, even though I get a feeling you really want me to do that for you. Haha, we will see.
Tuesday morning I was to wake up at 3 in the morning to take my roommate to go take his cdl road test. We woke up got ready and went out front to the hotel entrance, where our road instructor was to pick us up at 330 am. We were both tired after watching the 1000th episode of a weekly show (;p) that went off around 1030ish. The excitement of traveling in a big rig excited me so I was running on that for the majority of the day. We did our pretrip and set out at 4am on the spot. My roommate drove through the first half of the trip. We went through Tyler, aspen, waskom, Longview, gladwater, and a few other small towns to finally reach Shreveport where he was to test.
On the way to the test site we got lost. We were supposed to be at the site at 8am, but because of some construction at the 3rd party testers place we met him at a truck stop instead. We had heard we had to perform 3-5 skills test after the pretrip so we were nervous, me and the instructor, about what my roommate's tester would have him do. We got to the test site and met the tester. I stayed to the back of the conversation and out of it so that my roommate could do what he had to do. I found out a little before making it to the test that the academy director was also traveling to Shreveport and would meet us there since this was the first time for Corsicana swift academy to be testing a Louisiana student.
They all introduced themselves and myself, road instructor and academy director backed off so he could test. He performed his pretrip, did a straight line back and pulled out for the road test. It got interesting from here because what he tested him on was he pulled out of the test location, went about six miles straight and then made a right turn onto another road and stopped on the side of the road. (we all piled into the swift van, me, road trainer, and director and followed him during the test.) the tester and my roomie got out of the tractor and walked back to the van and my roommate had passed! He had had a cdl before and let it go but that was his entire test! At this time I'm thinking I got this road test! I'm not very good at shifting but I can do this. I was even more excited for my test cause it looked easy. He gave my roomie his envelope saying he passed to take back to his home location DMV and we all got into the truck and started back to the hotel with me driving, the 3-4 hours back!!
We had not gone but 1-2 miles until my road instructor asked what the hissing sound was. Turned out to be air coming from the tractor valve and he had to switch with me until we got to a truck stop where we could fuel and check out the problem. He had both fuel tanks fueled in 15 minutes and had checked to make sure we would make it back to Texas safe. He deemed us good to go since the air tanks were steady and not dropping. My turn to drive again! By this time my up shifts were great, but my downshifts needed a lot of work still. I killed the tractor in an intersection, and stopped on a on ramp 3 times over the course of the week. My highway and interstate driving is pretty good now, besides the occasional gust of wind from a passing truck. We stopped at 2-3 truck stops, went through a weigh in motion coup station (weigh station) and when we made it back to about 45 minutes away I had thought I was speeding through a small town, and thought a cop was chasing me, checking the truck out, because when I passed he turned around and it looked like he was following me! (ehem...) turns out to have been just a regular white car that officers use. My instructor had a good laugh when the white car passed me. I was scared cause it was my first time doing a road highway in a big rig. And I definitely didn't need a speeding ticket while in school. We made it back to the academy and called Tuesday a wrap. Roomie left Tuesday afternoon so I've had the room to myself, bliss. Even though I couldn't ask for a better roomie. Wednesday is next! Thanks!
Wednesday after my roommate left the hotel for his hometown, two new students were added to what became known as the Louisiana truck, because we all were from Louisiana. One of the students was another lady from class 1, my class, because she had to take a week off for hurting her knew using a harder clutch in one of the trucks than she was used to. She drove us out of the academy parking lot and down side roads, over bridges and through tight tight turns. We stopped at a truck stop to switch drivers and then started again. We were basically working on our up shifting and down shifting. The guy that took the seat started off real well. He really was doing a good job. But soon for some reason he started shifting and grinding the gears reall hard. Like real hard! He would go back and forth for 3 hours.
Next it was my turn. I up shifted really well. Downshifting not so well but I was getting the gist of it just needed to work on the 1000 rpm, neutral, revve to 1500 then place in lower gear. I needed to get the timing down. Nothing really happened the whole day except until after about break. After break the air leak came back and big time. It would not hold air pressure. We would get it to 125psi then it'll drop to 60 in like 45-1minutes time. So we pumped it to 100psi then it dropped to 90 psi and we drove it to Lancaster using the jake brake and service brakes very sparingly. We got to Lancaster and pretty much the whole day waited for them to replace a brake chamber. I actually heard driver talk our in the break/smoking area, good and bad. I understand why some don't go to terminals and mingle now.
After the chamber was replaced we went to practice alley docking within the yard and then went to leave. The place where we drive out, my instructor gave the guy his number and was told he was on safety hold so we had to make a u turn and I hit a curb... Hoped that wouldn't happen during my road test! He went in after we turned around did his business and got the truck out of repair status and we left and by this time it was 630. So we got on the interstate and drove the hour back to Corsicana with no other incidents. Wednesday in the books!
Thursday morning we, Louisiana truck students, started off doing a pre trip, and a air brake check. Then we headed out to side roads around Corsicana to practice our turns and up shifting and downshifting. Earlier I was feeling down because I just couldn't get down shifting down. One of my instructors, mr Calloway came over to me and started giving me some pointers on down shifting. It was very elementary what he told me but when it was my turn to practice driving it came in real handy. He came up with this little dance that made way more sense to me than someone else saying press clutch, accelerator, clutch. The dance steps showed me how fast I needed to do each step and from there I was getting it down. I started out driving and I could tell what he taught me in 5 minutes time that I wouldn't have a problem anymore. I did have a slight issue with going to fast back to the accelerator but after a few minutes that went away to. I'm thankful that he took the time to find me and teach me something so basic yet complicated for someone who never driven a standard much less a big rig.
After lunch we all switched out and started practicing turns and city driving. At first it was nerve racking, because all I've done so far was interstate driving and shifting up and down on a side road with limited traffic. We went under a red light made a right turn, drove a mile or two down a 2 way road, crossed a railroad track, took an off ramp, made another right hander, took a sharp on ramp, (where we had to take a very late turn in order not to hit a curb. At first we kept hitting that curb) we then went back under the same light to start with and made a left turn and got back on the highway then took an offramp and went back to the academy. Today was preparation for Friday. Our driving test day in Shreveport Louisiana. Friday up next..
Just a little side note on your shifting... When the engine fan kicks on in the truck ( you will know, you can hear it) you will have to switch your gears just a tad bit faster. The fan tends to bog the engine down and lowers your rpm's much quicker. Therefore you have adjust your timing when shifting a little quicker.
It really is all practice. You should be floating those gears in no time.
Good luck man, keep us up to date...
Friday all three of us had to be out waiting for our road trainer at 330am for our trip to Louisiana. We did a 30 minute pretrip, verified which pieces were which in the engine compartment, we set out. Our only lady on the truck started driving first for some night time driving experience, when we got to Tyler tx I took over and drove us to the next city, I'm happy to say my shifting up and down improved greatly and I finally retained how to do it. I was feeling good for my test later that day. I pulled into a truck stop to switch out drivers and parked.
The other guy who was scheduled to take his driving test took over and drive us the rest of the way. His shifting was still a little rough but we made it alive to Shreveport. We went to the truck stop we were told to meet our tester and parked. This is where it hit we were about to test for our license, all the hard work we put in over the last 23+ days. Myself it took 25ish because of my extra week on the backing range. No one wanted to go first, I surely didn't. I admit I was nervous at first. So our lady went first. She did her pretrip and air brake test then the tester asked for the second person. We weren't sure if she passed or failed because she came back so fast, but the tester wanted us all to get the pre trip and air brakes tests out the way.
I went second, pretrip, and air brakes test. Then the last guy went. We all passed our pre trip and air brakes tests... That's the last time all of us would pass a test. We all were told to pile back into the tractor and the guy was to start his road test. Starting out, we left the truck stop and coming onto the road, the trailer went into the grass in a little ditch area. He was told to go down 6 miles and turn left at a light. I was like uh oh, this isn't the way that I seen my roommate test on Tuesday.. He changed it up on us! The test course was way way different. We turned left onto a 2 way side road then right on and very curvy road with low hanging tree limbs, turned back right onto a highway, crossed over railroad tracks and then turned right by the field where my roommate started and finished his road test, where there was this curb where the hit.
The guy was told to pull over and switch drivers. While he was switching my road instructor noticed that the jake brake was on the whole time. The lady was up next, same course, she hit a curb slightly. While she was testing the guy asked me if I was nervous. I told him I was; pulled out some gum and started chewing like crazy. The girl was finished, pulled over and told to park. She did so and now it was my turn...
I buckled in started driving and the trailer ran a little in the grass.. Starting right out and I'm in the grass.( it was a low shoulder thing) I recovered, made a wide right turn didn't hit this curb and went on my way. The guy that tested us said; "pay me no mind, I'll be over here writing." that made me forget everyone in the truck and focus on the road. I just drove the truck like I had everyday that week. Made a left turn then a right on the curvy road hit a few low hanging trees while staying in my lane. Made a right turn at the light and drove the 6 miles back to the truck stop. On the way back a flat tire was in the middle of the road, had to dodge it. Performed the left into the truck stop and made a not so straight park into a spot. Set my parking brake, tester got up, looked at me before he descended down the steps and walked to his truck, quickly followed by my road instructor. I tried to stay away from there conversation about each of our tests.
Before I walked over to the testers truck our instructor walked back and I overheard him telling the lady and guy two people passed... I was saddened to hear that. We talked among ourselves until he was done writing and he turned around with the two envelopes.. Gave one to the lady she was so happy to pass she said "me?" then he turned around and handed the envelope to...ME!!
I PASSED MY ROAD TEST!!!!
Ha ha! Alright man! Good job! You're well on your way now. I hope you take some pictures for your journal here. It has shaped up to be a nice accounting of your experience and will serve other new drivers well.
Wow! Almost sounds like a reality show in which someone moves on and somebody gets eliminated! Excellent job man! You managed to not get voted off the island!
The jake was another thing I should have mentioned along with the engine fan kicking on. You can run fine with the jake on or the switch in the on position but it will make shifting difficult and cause you to grind gears. Try to remember to kick it off unless you are about to use it.
Little tip about your cornering... Make sure to swing wide and always avoid rubbing curbs or running into the grass but in the same breath you don't want to swing too wide. A few feet or so is fine but absolutely make sure you aren't more than 2-3 feet. This will open up the opportunity for some dumb four-wheeler to try and sneak through causing you to crunch their car while they are in your blind spot! If this happens you will be charged with a preventable wreck! I am bringing this up because it just happened to a new driver here on the forum....
Maybe mention it to your trainer and see what they have to say about it. Sometimes too much isn't always good. I'm sure as you have noticed that when you are making a right turn there is a lot to focus on while managing your turn. Once you have made it far enough to realize that your hood is clear then mainly focus on watching your tandems. Watch your tandems as you go around the corner and actually steer according to their position and where you want them to go. The more time you get behind the wheel the more natural this will come but until then practice steering your tandems and managing that 2-3 foot maximum space.
You are doing a super job man! Makes me jealous! Sounds like all you guys (and gal) are having a blast out there! I really had a lot of fun going through school and training! Wish I could do it all over again!
Have fun out there man, stay safe and keep us up to date!
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