This Is What We Do

When Jann Saulsbury, of WhatYouMakeIt1, did a video of the papers and rubber stamps I sent her she mentioned that we move trucks all around and she didn’t know exactly what we did.

Our first trip out in May I took pictures of our hook up process.  It is only partially done because I was taking too long to get pictures and not doing enough work to get on the road – well stick my tongue out at Joe.

Coldiron Yard

We go to storage yards, like this one in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma at the Coldiron Yard.  We also go to dealerships and trucking companies such as Walmart to get the used trucks.

There are inspection forms we (I) fill out to document all the paint damage, bent places, scratches, and any other damage that exists on the trucks.  I have to inspect the inside for damage to the upholstery, floors, dashboard, instruments.  I have to make sure the windshield wipers and the washers work properly and the blades are intact.  Some are in pretty bad shape and need to be replaced.  I have to check the radios to make sure they work.  Some have CD players or cassette players.  Most don’t work.  I have to make sure the air builds to the proper psi level.  The air is for the braking systems as well as some of the wiper functions or the door windows on some trucks.  Low air level and the wipers and windows won’t work.  Then I have to check the headlights, both bright and dim, to make sure they all work.  The turn signals on the front, sides, and back of each truck, and the brake lights work on the rear of the truck.

While I’m inspecting the trucks and writing them up then Joe goes around and pokes a measuring stick down the fuel tanks to measure how much fuel we have to initially work with.  Each truck is supposed to have a MINIMUM of 5 inches of fuel.  That will allow us to get 50 miles or better so we can at least get to a truck stop to put fuel in.

There are thieves in this business.  Fuel stealers carry a tank on their pickup with a means of draining fuel from the trucks into their tank and leave the trucks nearly empty.  There are the inevitable bungie stealers.  Bungies are the black rubber straps with “S” hooks on the ends to hold things down.  If there is a block or a board that is not fastened down you can expect that to be missing.  We’ve had our chains stolen in places and those suckers are very expensive to replace.  Almost $300 for a set of 2 of the axle chains.  You’ll see those later.  Unfortunately, this is the cost of doing business – as in any business.

Trucks to be towed

After I have inspected all the trucks then I decide (sometimes not the best decision) which trucks will be towed and which trucks we will drive.  The dirty work begins.

Axle Chains

Joe gets the two rear axles chained.  When the rear of the truck is raised off the ground the wheels are locked in place.  If the chains are not on and a person tries to raise the rear of the truck the wheels will stay on the ground and the frame will raise.  Looks weird and you know you’ve forgotten something.

He chains up both of the towed trucks.  I do it sometimes but he’s usually ahead of me on that part.  I have other duties to do anyway.

Boom mounted on the truck I will drive

Either I back up to the rear of our trailer or Joe backs the trailer into the rear of the truck I’m going to drive.  My boom is then extended out fully and one end stubs into the fifth wheel of the truck I will be driving.  Joe puts a jack beneath my boom to keep it off the truck’s frame and secures it with a 3 inch ratchet strap.  That way when I have a truck that “hops” when I back it up I won’t cause the boom to fall down on the frame.  Happens enough that I have to be cautious when I back up.

Once my boom is on the truck I will be driving then I back up to the truck I will be towing.  There are some things that have to be done before I can fully hook up and I’ll show that to you in time.

Attaching to the towed truck

There are heavy chains that are placed in the crib of the hydraulic pump.  You can see it at the top of the red cylinder.  That chain attaches to the frame of the truck on both sides.  The “yolk” is the cross piece in front of the red cylinder.  These chains will wrap around the frame and be attached into the “key holes” on the yolk and tightened up.  When all of this is secure then the hydraulic cylinder will go up and the chains and hooks attached to that will begin raising the rear axles off the ground.

Rear axle raised

You can see the extended hydraulic cylinder (the red thing).  Once the rear axles are high enough off the ground then that is when we hook the chains around the frame into the key holes of the yolk.  Now the towed truck is securely attached to the boom and won’t be going anywhere off on an adventure all it’s own.  Not good when that happens.  Some people in this business have shoddy equipment and poor work ethics.

Securing air fairings

This is a bit out of sequence here in these pictures but it is something that we do.  Joe designed some boards – we get them at Lowe’s and they are hard wood not pine.  We have some heavy duty “C” clamps that we attach the boards to the fairing rubbers at the bottom and the top of both sides.  Joe created a clip that is on the inner top side of two boards.  He also altered a load lock (they usually have rubber padded square “feet” on each end that goes from one wall of a trailer on the inside to another.  This load lock secures the boxes and keeps them from falling during transport).  Joe’s alteration of the load locks is a pin on each end that will drop down into the clip on the boards.  This keeps the air fairings from movement when we get in high wind situations.  My back truck in this assembly is more like a parachute than anything else and this set up secures the fairings to remain stable and not be blown out and torn off.  Ratchet straps are then attached to the “C” clamps at both top and bottom for a more secure hold.

Another way of securing the fairings

Each model of truck has a different type of air fairing.  So we are able to adjust the way we care for them.  On Joe’s back truck we only need to have the fairing boards and the ratchet straps.  The altered load lock is not necessary on Joe’s fairings.

Light Bar

Each of the towed trucks will have a Light Bar mounted and secured to the grill of the truck with bungies.  There is an electrical cord that will be strung from under the hood and come out the front to be plugged into the Light Bar then run the length of the truck and be attached to either Joe’s trailer or to my “Christmas Tree”.  Turn signals, brakes, and the lights when the headlights are turned on will be seen for traffic behind us so they know what we are doing.

It is surprising how little attention people pay to the back of the vehicle in front of them.  Some people don’t even look to see when brakes have been applied or turn signals are used.  Lost in their own world.

Electric and air lines

The towed trucks will have had an assembly put on the brake lines so we have brakes on the back axle.  DOT Regulations require a brake system to ALL axles on the ground.  There are a lot of people that do this job and don’t hook up the brakes on the back truck.  That is just plain dangerous.  Especially with all the road construction that exists on our highway system.  Lots of “S” turns in construction areas.  If the brakes are not hooked up on that back truck you have a “Pusher” instead of a “Follower” in those circumstances.

Lines secured

My air and electric lines for the back truck are secured to the truck using bungies and they are wrapped around the handle of my boom in a fashion that will take up the slack so no lines are dragging or flapping.

The "Christmas Tree"

The air and electric lines are then attached to my “Christmas Tree” on one side and the air and electric lines from the truck I will drive are attached to the other side.  I am now ready to go.

Getting Joe ready

I have put on Joe’s Light Bar, hooked up the brakes to his back truck, ran the air and electric lines, secured his fairings, and Joe has put his axle chains on and is ready to attach the back of the trailer into the towed trucks 5th wheel.  Joe has a special chain assembly that does the same thing as my hydraulic cylinder and yolk but in a different way.  He is getting his hydraulic set up pulled into place in this picture.

Backing the trailer to be attached

Joe will drive the pickup backwards and attach the rear of the trailer into the 5th wheel of the rear truck.  Once it is secure then there are some things we have to take care of.

5th Wheel attached

Now Joe is hooked in to the back truck.

Air and electric lines secured

Joe is attaching his air lines for the brakes on the rear truck and the electric line that will power the Light Bar.  These are attached on the rear of the trailer.

Attaching hydraulics

This is Joe’s equivalent to my single red hydraulic cylinder.  The chains will wrap around the frame of the rear truck when it is raised and secured in the hooks.  They cylinders will pull the truck frame up against the trailer and hold it secure while we go down the road.

Securing the rear steering wheel

I forgot to show you how we keep the rear truck from doing the “Crazy Dance”.  I do this to both of the rear trucks.  The air seat is first raised to its full  height.  The seat belt is then extended out to the full stop and secured.  I then do a sort of neck tie thing around the steering wheel and attach the seat belt hook into the seat belt locking device on the side of the seat.  Once the seat belt is securely attached then I let all the air OUT of the seat and allow it to pull against the steering wheel and get tight.

Further protection is two ratchet straps attached to the metal part of the seat that is secured to the truck frame and then attached to the steering wheel and tightened up pretty good.  That sucker is not going anywhere.  Hope, hope, hope.

Front of the trailer

Joe had enough with my picture taking and told me so.  The ramps on the front of the trailer (look for the ladder), will be taken off the trailer and attached to the front end.  I’ll have to get some pictures of that process.  The front of this trailer will lower to the ground, the ramps will be pulled out, the pickup will be driven up on the trailer and secured.  The front of the trailer will again be raised and the ramps put back up then Joe’s driving truck will be locked into the front of the trailer.

Filthy job

I have taken to wearing scrubs instead of my street clothes.  I had grease on nearly everything I own until I went to a Uniform Shop at an outlet center and bought a bunch of scrubs.  Now they get filthy and my clothes have less grease stains on them.

My face and arms get pretty dirty in the process.  Oh well, it is honest dirt and can be washed off.

Walmart trucks

This is a small portion of the Walmart trucks we moved from Red Bluff, California to Pomona, California.  And this is how we did it.


About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

2 responses to “This Is What We Do

  • Lynn Claridge

    Phew Leslie that is a lot of sweat and dirt to get those trucks hitched up, you both deserve a medal for what you do as well as plenty of bucks!!
    Obviously the more you do the quicker it is but still an awful lot of preparation.

    Hugs and love
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      Phew is right. And by the time we are done it more like P-U-ey.

      There is a lot of work involved but Joe an I work so well together we can get the four trucks totally hooked up in 2 hours and ready to go. That is if the trucks are really ready. It has taken over 5 hours to do because of something wrong with the trucks. Joe has his set of jobs to do and I have mine. Weirdest thing is when we deliver it only takes about 45 minutes to unhook. Go figure.
      Love – Leslie

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