The journey to restart my driving career as a tanker yanker

Discussion in 'Questions From New Drivers' started by mattymatt, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. mattymatt

    mattymatt Light Load Member

    Jun 24, 2014
    This afternoon I arrived in Charlotte, NC for a three day refresher course on truck driving with Schneider at TransTech. This is going to be short because my 41 year old carcass is tired. I am sharing the hotel room with another driver who is a really cool guy from El Salvador. He's three years older but going to a dedicated account in the van division. I'm pretty sold on tanker because playing around with tandems holds zero interest to me.

    The day is starting nice and early as we have our shuttle pickup at 0700. Breakfast starts at 0600. Then it's off to the races like a herd of turtles. I think the first day is going to be mostly classroom. Days 2 and 3 will probably be yard and road but I don't know for certain.

    Time to see how rusty I really am. Hoping to knock the rust off of alley docking and shifting. Actually, I'm really hoping for one of those automatics because I'm going to be grinding gears like nobody's business. More to come after tomorrow's adventures.
    austinmike, bottomdumpin and Lonesome Thank this.
  2. aussiejosh

    aussiejosh Road Train Member

    Aug 28, 2009
    Airlie Beach QLd
    Cheer up son its not all bad news i hadn't driven a Semi since 2009 until last year now here i am driving fuel tankers after less then 12 months of driving the thing is if you've already got the experience you never really lose it did a practice test with my future employer no worries using R/R gearbox i asked him how'd i go seeing i hadn't used one in 7 years he was simply amazed to learn it'd been so long and i was driving like i had always been driving. The other thing is i'm pushing the other side of 50 years so even more joy to celebrate. So a 40 year old should have not problems.
    slim shady, Puppage and mattymatt Thank this.
  3. Lonesome

    Lonesome Mr. Sarcasm

    Dec 15, 2007
    Northern Indiana
    Subscribed, good luck!
    Puppage Thanks this.
  4. Puppage

    Puppage Road Train Member

    Aug 2, 2012
    Branford, Connecticut
  5. ad356

    ad356 Road Train Member

    Mar 13, 2017
    I drive tankers myself....milk tankers specifically. The manual transmissions in the fleet where I work are 13 and 18 speeds, I don't believe there are any 10 speeds. They also have automatics, myself I'm not interested in automatics. I'm not sure how an automatic responds to surge....i guess some guys love them and some hate them. I don't think an autoshift offers as much control while backing. I have one plant I go to that is extremely tight to back into. I like to have all the control I can get.

    There is at least one truck in the fleet....a t660 with a sleeper that is an autoshift with a clutch.

    My advice to anyone driving a smooth bore tanker.....slow down in corners. That advice can save your life.

    Surge is front to back but it's also fluid product ridding up the inside wall of the tanker. Going to fast is deadly.

    I will say that once you get used to tankers you might like them. I will likely stay in tankers, I might at some point leave milk hauling but I'm either going to stay with tankers or maybe dump trailer. I do not care for vans.
    Lonesome Thanks this.
  6. mattymatt

    mattymatt Light Load Member

    Jun 24, 2014
    The newer DT12 autos have creep mode. To engage, just tap on the throttle once quick.
  7. wis bang

    wis bang Road Train Member

    Jan 12, 2011
    Levittown, PA
    nice to know, my older drivers didn't like any of the autos as the wouldn't creep backwards like a manual so you had to throttle all the time to back up.

    I wondered how autos were with tank surge, the old R models with the T5 trans, you completed the shift and let the turning drive-line smooth things out b/4 getting back on the no hard surge smacking into the rear bulkhead
  8. tscottme

    tscottme Road Train Member

    Jul 25, 2008
    Nashville, TN
    My auto deals ok with surge but climbing hills and surge sometimes causes it to hunt for a gear. The hill will cause you to slow. The tranny downshifts. The surge comes forward hitting the nose. The tranny fells a push forward and will upshift. However your speed is a bit slower and the higher gear lugs. So tranny downshifts. Surge comes forward. Wash, rinse, repeat. I use a trick of holding the shift paddle fully down to get SOME control over the downshift. It causes the tranny to stay in the lower gear I selected until RPMs reach max, instead of when the tranny thinks it's time to upshift.

    Also, reverse sucks. Any resistance to rolling back causes it to go into neutral. If you are setting up to back and pointing downhill it takes time for power application to cause a backwards movement. It's easy to roll forward and hit something if you don't ride or guard the brake pedal as you apply throttle.

    IMO, the two things above are real deficiencies of autos, but the advantage in stop & go traffic outweighs the downsides.
    slim shady and mattymatt Thank this.
  9. ad356

    ad356 Road Train Member

    Mar 13, 2017
    my boss does not buy DT12's, freightliners, or Detroits. we have ONE freightliner, an old school classic they actually just refurbished. actually truck 44 is probably the nicest looking truck in the fleet now, i just love that old school vintage long hood look...... that truck is a C15 18 speed..... anyways, he is really only buying eaton ultrashift 18's in T880's with paccar engines these days. the trucks look nice but i think i'll hang on to truck 51 or 54. both of those are pete 386's with 18 speed manuals. he buys automatics because he claims they save fuel.

    i dont like anything that takes away control from the driver. i go up several steep hills and i can shift just fine, i dont like the idea of the jerky operation you refer to. not great for tanker applications. we also have a local plant that i sometimes have to deliver to. the backing is extremely tight with concrete obstacles towards the back of the bays, and one of the bays is not straight back. i DONT hit things, i feel that the clutch offers me much better control of backing in a situation like that.

    there were two automatics that i had some experience with at other companies that i found to have acceptable performance. the automatic offered in the newer mack, and the Allison auto that was in a triaxle dump truck. both of those acted more like a car's automatic.

    i think the biggest problem with the automatics is that they are an AMT (automated manual transmission). they have a clutch but the PCM has control of the clutch. a car has a toque converter.

    i drove a AMT equipped T680 during my very brief stay with werner. i was less then thrilled with the stupid thing.
    mattymatt Thanks this.
  10. mattymatt

    mattymatt Light Load Member

    Jun 24, 2014
    Day 1 is done and boy am I rusty. The instructor didn't have any major concerns and basically I did okay but my adrenaline was going. Something as big as 84 get of vehicle you have to respect. Since I had more experience then the other two in my truck, the instructor took me down some narrow roads and I had to really be careful to keep the trailer in my lane. I mean really careful.

    Today I got about 25 miles of driving in and I really have to remember to slow down and be careful. It's so important to watch your following distance and speeds going into a curve. Sometimes it's easy to forget for a second that you've got a trailer behind you so I was moving my eyes between the mirrors like crazy and watching for four wheelers not paying attention. There were plenty of them out there.

    If I learned one thing it's how many I suck something fierce at driving a 10 speed. They basically told me that they're going to recommend to Schneider that I get an automatic and I'm fine with that! Call it what you will but I second anything that will make my job a little bit easier.

    Well, I'm going to sign off for now. More road driving tomorrow and yard skills on Saturday.
    austinmike and Lonesome Thank this.
  • Draft saved Draft deleted