Monthly Archives: March 2013

Doing a Single with The RapidHook Trailer

We have three single axle daycabs being moved from Hilliard, Ohio (1) and Gahanna, Ohio (2) to Grand Island, Nebraska.

Normally I would take the single while Joe has the other two for a full hookup. This time the 5th Wheels are not adjustable, meaning they don’t have the ability to slide forward or back.

This photo shows a “Sliding 5th Wheel”. Notches, or teeth, allow the 5th Wheel assembly to move forward or back. The locking mechanism is air actuated, as noted by the curled hose at the front of the 5th Wheel.


This is a photo of a “Solid” 5th Wheel. It can be moved with the aid of a shop or road service truck at a cost of $150.


The 5th Wheels on these daycabs are higher than on standard trucks.


Joe, ever the good Boy Scout, carries boards for situations like this. The boards are 4″ x 6″ and 5 feet long.


You will see how they are used a bit later. First, Joe needs to have a 5th wheel to stub the back of the trailer in. If there is not a truck available he can drive on from the back of the trailer. Just easier to do things the regular way. My back truck will be used as in this case



The boards are taken off the trailer before it gets too high in the air.


Attach the trailer to the back truck using the 5th wheel.


Set the ramps in place.


Lower the landing legs located at the rear of the trailer tires.



Place the boards on the rear frame rails. The boards will help support the trailer and keep the high 5th wheel from tipping forward.


Back the pickup on thectrailer






Set the wheel chocks then drive up to the chock.



Strap the wheels securely.


Raise the front of the trailer. This is when the boards do their job.



Time to connect the truck Joe will be driving.


The sight out the back window can be a little exciting.



Raise the landing legs and release the rear trucks 5th wheel latch then drive free.



The boards were put back up on the trailer after Joe separated from the back truck.

It is a bit odd seeing Joe traveling this way. Doing a single with my boom stored on the back of the trailer is not an option for us. The center of gravity is off. This unbalanced weight causes the trailer to be driving the truck. That is not so good.

Today we drove through snow flurries nearly all day long.


Hope you all are enjoying your week so far.



I joined the Circus for one day

Dependable Transport has been inundated with “Singles” moves lately. One such move was for the Ringling Brothers Circus Show in Columbia, South Carolina needing a driver to move a truck to Cincinnati, Ohio for the next show.

I got to drive a “Box Truck”. The box is carrying the popcorn for the shows. Loaded along with the pallets of bagged kernels of unpopped corn were boxes of other stuff necessary to the show.

The clown gear and trapeze equipment were somewhere else. Dang.


The truck would not be ready until midnight on Sunday. While Joe and I waited near the truck we watched as the crew loaded the little “Pup” trailers.


Driving the 511 miles from Columbia, SC to Cincinnati, OH was an experience. Pouring rain and high winds all day long. The truck, I was told, needed to be in Cincinnati on Monday night but no later than noon on Tuesday. For a while I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

The truck was delivered before 9 this morning. Thankfully the rain had quit last night.

The next item I want to pass along is a tip for all hotel guests that find the bathtub floor a little slippery while showering. Place a hand towel on the bathtub floor before you get in. When the towel gets wet it works like a tub mat. No more slipping as you shower. No more fears of falling either.


We are deadheading to Hilliard and Columbus, Ohio for three trucks going to Grand Island, Nebraska. First is getting the paperwork finished for my box truck load and then start papers for the new load.


Poor Joe. He has had to drive our pickup and trailer since we delivered in Blythewood, South Carolina and now on the Hilliard, Ohio then continue on to Columbus, Ohio where the rest of our trucks are.

I’ll have more to tell you about the rules and regulations of Drive-Away tomorrow.


Inspection sheets and trip documentation

A person unfamiliar with the trucking industry has the notion that all we do is get in our trucks and drive. This is partly true.

Our “trip” or “load” begins with the acceptance of a load. Being an Independent Contractor we accept and decline loads daily. Unlike the normal and regular trucking industry we are not TOLD where we are going. Dispatch of a load is not FORCED on us as is the case of traditional trucking.

When we accept a load we are given the necessary information to start the trip. This information includes:

    Load Numbers
    Name, address, and contact information of both pick up and delivery locations
    VIN – Vehicle identification Number
    Make, model, and year of the trucks
    Pay miles for the trip
    Total pay, advance amounts
    And any special instructions necessary, for example one truck must be towed.

Having many years of experience in Drive-Away we have learned that it is far better to establish a relationship with each person involved with the movement of the trucks we are assigned to.

The first call is to the pick up location. Contact names provided by dispatch are not always the person we will deal with. About 20% of the time the designated contact person no longer works at the pick up site.

Once contact is made we find out if the trucks have been released for transport off the property, and if the trucks are ready to be moved. Occasionally we will be informed of a balance due to be paid before we are given access. This usually entails repairs that have been made. In some cases the trucks have been sitting for a year, or longer, and have to be jump started.

The contact person at the pick up site will be informed of our estimated time of arrival. If we will be arriving after 4 p.m. we ask what their hours of operation are and their policy for weekend pick up, if needed. This lets the person we will be dealing with know when to expect us. We make every attempt to be prompt. If we are unable to arrive at the designated time we inform the contact person immediately and make arrangements for a later time. Some places we go to are open 24/7 and the next person will be informed of our arrival. We are given the name of who we will be dealing with.

Unfortunately, there are a number of Drive-Away drivers that are rude, foul mouthed, and demanding. These drivers arrive when they feel like it and make everyone miserable and inconvenienced. On one or two occasions we have arrived just as that person has left.

Professional and courteous manners we demand of ourselves when dealing with the people we talk to and see.

Once we have the trucks and have left we get a better idea of when we will arrive at our destination. During regular business hours we contact the person at our destination to alert them to our arrival time and also let them know if there are problems with the trucks we are bringing. This way the destination person knows if a spot will need to be made for the disabled truck.

We have been on the bad end of a rude driver that just left the disabled truck in the middle of a traffic path in his haste to leave.

I had the privilege of becoming friends with a Mr. Wilke in Houston, Texas at the Freightliner dealership before he retired in 2007. When I first met him in 2004 he was gruff and very short with me upon my arrival at his facility. Remaining professional in my demeanor and doing as I was instructed on his lot he remembered me the next time I arrived. I got preferential treatment from him when the problem boys arrived before me. Joe and I got to unload an hour before the other guys did.

Mr. Wilke would not take crap from the rude drivers nor would he allow them to take their trucks apart and just leave them. One guy did that and the next time he came he was not allowed on the lot.

The 12 years I have been doing Drive-Away Joe and I have been thanked many times for being “Such nice people to deal with”. We have also made many friends in this small industry.

So, the crux of all this is……If you are thinking about doing Drive-Away, or are currently in the business, do yourself a favor. Be courteous, professional, and respectful of the people you encounter. They have the power to make your job easy or hard. The people you deal with can get mechanics out to jump start batteries or make repairs quickly AND they have the power to make you wait until they decide to send someone out.

Each truck on the road has to be DOT “Road Worthy”. There are regulations for each part of the truck(s) that have to be met. Failing to meet these regulations means fines, getting the repairs made before you leave the weigh station or roadside after a patrol officer stops you, being put “Out of Service” for 10 hours, or ordered to drop the load where you sit.

Inspection of the trucks is vital in this job. The inspection process takes 20 to 30 minutes – per truck – and gives you, the driver, the ability to decide if the truck will be driven or towed.

The inspection sheets vary by company. The required DOT Road Worthy items are on these sheets.



It is my job to inspect the trucks. Usually I begin at the rear with the Mudflaps and work my way around ending at the rear where I began.

Here are links to the DOT Regulations for:

    Wipers and blades.
    Seatbelts and seats
    Air gauges

For a complete list of DOT Regulations for inspecting trucks in Drive-Away you can find it here

In another post I will go into the IFTA Regulations. Just know there are forms to be filled out noting entering and leaving mileages by state while driving commercial vehicles – even for Drive-Away.



I keep a journal that I made that is used exclusively for my mileage.



I also keep an envelope for all of my papers and receipts for each trip/load that I take.


Joe prefers to have envelopes with labels he has created.


I think this is enough information for today.

DOT Regulations on Load Securement for Drive-Away

There are no DOT Regulations specifically for Drive-Away when it comes to “Load Securement”. The Federal Regulations are for ALL interstate commerce vehicles.

The Load Securement Regulation covers a vast array of items that flap, wiggle, move, or shift. The regulation simply states that everything on the transport truck is to be secured by the driver. Steep fines are levied against the driver and the company should a load be deemed unsafe. Not to mention being carted off to jail, or even worse, killing someone because of an accident.

For Drive-Away this regulation applies to the following:

Loose hoses and cords: Both Joe and I have air lines and electrical cords that run the length of the trucks we deliver. My setup the hoses and cords are more visible than on Joe’s.





A DOT Officer walking the length of my setup would be looking at the points of Securement I have made to contain my hoses and cords. About every six to eight feet there is a fastening point on the truck frame or body where bungees have been used to tie the cords down. No flapping or wiggling happening on my watch.

We make every attempt to cause no harm to the trucks we deliver, including the rattle traps we occasionally get. If the cords and wires can be secured beneath the cabs, to avoid paint damage, we will do it. Sometimes the design of the truck body does not facilitate that – as in the first photo above. When we can run the cords beneath the body the DOT Officer will check to see how much “play” there is in the cords. Too much and it is $150 ticket.




Our pickup is secured to the trailer using specialized 2″ ratchet straps meant only for vehicle transport. There are black plastic pieces that keep the strap centered on the tire. These straps keep our pickup from moving backward or forward during acceleration, deceleration, and stopping. A DOT Officer would check these straps to make sure they are tight with no “play” in them at all. If they are found to be loose it means a ticket of no less than $150, and written up as an UNSAFE load, instructions to immediately correct the issue, AND a possible 10 hour Out of Service Citation where we get to wait at the weigh station for the 10 hours.



Our light bars have to be secured to the truck and prove there is no flapping or wiggling of that safety device as we drive along.


The air fairings on the towed trucks have to be secured as well. During transport these metal, or fiberglass, pieces get buffeted by the air turbulence. They will work themselves back and forth with the wind and road vibration causing the bolts to break loose and free the fairing.

Broken fairings cost $2,000 EACH to be replaced.


Between Joe and I we have about $300 in bungees, $150 in specialty vehicle transport straps, $200 in metal C clamps, $75 in ratchet straps for the fairings, and $50 in hardwood lumber. To meet, and exceed the DOT Regulation for Load Securement we have about $800 in equipment.

The choices are: Spend the money and be safe ; or be cited for multiple violations, lose time, and ultimately lose our jobs. The choice is easy – BE SAFE!

My post yesterday was on the DOT Regulations for brakes. While stopped for fuel at a Wilco/Hess truck stop I saw a Coldiron trailer setup.


Can you spot the problem? Coldiron driver.


Joe’s trailer.


DOT Regulations on brakes for Drive-Away

Have you read a Federal Government Regulation lately? Did you have to read it more than once? Probably had to comb your hair afterwards with all the head scratching you did.

The Federal Motor Carriers regulations on the subject of brakes in the Drive-Away industry is referenced only for decking operations. The regulation that applies to us in the “Tow-Bar” category, as we are classified” is at the top of the regulation. ALL wheels will have brakes. This means that all the wheels on the ground MUST have brakes.

Pennsylvania and Connecticut DOT officials will spot check Drive-Away setups by listening to the brakes being applied on all axles on the ground during an inspection. Not having brakes on the towed truck results in a fine of $300 in Pennsylvania and $650 in Connecticut. Plus the driver HAS to correct the situation before they can continue driving.

Pennsylvania has a further requirement of “Singles” drivers that pull their personal vehicle behind a truck. The personal vehicle MUST have braking capabilities as well. In Pennsylvania, additionally, the crossed chains listed in the DOT Regulations is not enough. Your towed vehicle MUST have a “self contained breakaway brake application device”. In 2000 Joe can personally attest the fine is $350. This was after three weeks of research by the Highway Patrol officer who then decided he should issue a ticket, and did so by mail.

The truck I am towing today is a 2012 International. This truck requires the use of a “Crossover Yoke” for the brake setup.


The Crossover Yoke consists of two air line hoses connected to a “Reducer Valve” which enables the blast of air surging through the hoses to not blow up the brake pods. That is my definition anyway.

This device is applied directly to the air chambers of the brake pods.


The tools needed for this application are a 2 – 7/8 open ended wrenches. I have one and I need a crescent wrench as the other. Some applications a 7/8 and 3/4 open ended wrench are necessary.

Also necessary, in the International application, are “Bullets” to facilitate the connection of the crossover yoke to the brake pod lines.



The 7/8 wrench is used to remove the brake line from the truck’s frame assembly.



Attach, and tighten, the bullet to the brake’s air line.



The crossover yoke is mounted over the engine. The shorter hose of the yoke is secured on the passenger side of the engine. The longer hose of the yoke is tossed over the engine to the other side.


The short yoke hose is connected to the bullet which completes the application on one side.


Going to the driver side of the engine the process is duplicated.





Having applied the crossover yoke to the brake pods (chambers) the air supply line is fed through the engine compartment then attached to the reducer valve.



Brake setup on the towed truck is complete. Man, took me longer to set this into words and pictures than it actually takes to do the job.

Joe’s back truck took about 30 seconds to do.


Enough for today.

Collapsible Boom in operation

A young man left a comment on this blog requesting information about one of Joe’s trailers and the boom. He has read my blog for the past year while he has been engaged doing Drive-Away himself. I don’t know if he is doing singles only right now and is looking to have a way to increase his income.

In the past nine months I have received two requests for information. Joe got in touch with each person and I think the price scared them off. A new trailer is $35,000. A used trailer is $15,000. The boom is $8,000 and would be newly manufactured. My boom is the only used one and it is not for sale.

I will take you through the process of working with the boom. The photos I am using were taken during the process of unhooking. It is the same, only backwards.

The boom is secured to our trailer with a 2″ x 10 foot ratchet strap. There are “ears” on the trailer to facilitate the attachment of the straps.



The ratchet mechanism is secured on the underside of the trailer.


There is a “Safety Locating Pin” located on the top surface of the boom. This pin is raised to allow the boom to be pulled out. Once the boom has been pulled about a foot out the pin is set to automatically drop in the “Locating Hole”.


Pulling on the boom, to extend it out, the “Locating Pin” scrapes along the surface until the “Locating Hole” is found and the pin drops in the hole.


Pulling the boom apart.



There is a “Carry Pin” to keep both sections of the boom together. A reinforced 1-9/16″ hole has been drilled through both of the boom pieces. The Carry Pin measures 1-1/2″ by 8″.


This is the Carry Pin.


The pin goes through the boom to extend out the other side.


A “Collar” and “Safety Retaining Pin” are attached to the Carry Pin.


These are photos of the Carry Pin application.



Next is to attach the “King Pin” of the boom into the 5th Wheel of the truck to be driven.


I forgot to include a 6,000 pound jack and 2″ ratchet strap set in the list from yesterday’s post.

The ratchet strap is attached to the rear truck frame and crossed over the boom to be hooked up on the other side of the frame. The “Bottle Jack” is positioned on the rear frame cross member and centered beneath the boom. The jack is raised to allow the King Pin on the other end of the boom to clear the holding pan we have on our trailer.



Once clear the ratchet strap is tightened down on the jack and frame. The truck is now ready to be attached to the truck it will be towing.

First, there is a bit of work to be done to the back truck.

While the hood is closed the light bar is first to be mounted. Rubber bungees are included.


The electric and air lines are drug out and stationed along the passenger side of the truck.


The electric line is run under the hood, draped over an engine pipe thing then run out the hood and attached to the light bar.



The airline goes over the engine to the other side for the quick disconnect procedure.


On the fire wall is a huge batch of air lines. Knowing the correct line to disconnect has been won through trial and error.


Once the proper line is disconnected the quick disconnect coupling device is attached to the red air line then coupled to the black air line.



With that done, give a little tug on the air and electric lines to take up any slack then close the lid.

While I am busy with the air and electric lines Joe is chaining up the rear axles. These chains pull the axles up close to the frame. When lifting up the back end of the truck the axles and frame raise as one unit. Neglect to chain the axles and the frame rises higher and higher while the axles remain on the ground. You’ll do it once, even twice, and be wondering what is wrong with the truck. Then it will be…..”Duh”.


The chains are woven under the axle then brought over the top if the frame and connected via the hook.



That was the rear axle being chained. The front axle is the same.



Another forgotten item from the supply list are 2 – 1″ ratchet straps to secure the steering wheel into the center position using the seatbelt first.



Fairing boards and straps are done before the boom is connected to the rear truck. It also makes climbing around on the deck plate easier without stumbling over coiled lines. These photos were taken today while we were unhooking and I was a little pressed for time.

C clamps, hard wood boards and the ratchet straps are on the air fairings of my back truck.




Once that is done it is time to connect the trucks together – 5th Wheel to 5th Wheel.


These are the chains used with the hydraulics. The longest chain has a hook on each end. The short chain has no hooks to be used on the “Yoke” and put through the “Key Holes”. The bitty piece is a double hook used to shorten a chains length.


The hydraulic jack lays over when not in use. Push it upright when hooking up.



The stabilizing arms are lowered. The 100 Grade chain with “Overhead Lifting” hooks is strung over the jack cradle then connected through the stabilizing arms. The hooks are attached to the trucks frame.


The other chain is placed through the Yoke leaving the chain to hang free. It will be wound around the frame then the ends will go in the key holes AFTER the rear of the truck is raised.

Before that occurs the carry chains have to be shortened using the double ended hooks.


The electric cable is strung out. The alligator clamps are attached to the positive and negative posts of the batteries and the other end is connected to the power cord on the hydraulic pump.






The use of a “Hook Stick” is necessary to work the lever to engage the hydraulic pump. The Hook Stick comes in really handy when working with the axle chains. Getting into tight places to do the job makes this tool hard to live without.



The hydraulic jack raises the rear of the truck. The chains provide the tension to accomplish this.



The safety chains are then placed round the frame, threaded through the key holes and ready for the truck to be lowered and rest the weight on this chain.


The last thing to do in the hook up is secure the air and electric lines, attach them to the Christmas Tree then connect the front trucks air and electric lines.





All of the equipment and supplies shown here are what you get for around $8,000. Plus, you get the added bonus of spending a month of your life with Joe and I as you learn how to safely use and work with this equipment. You will be paid during the time you are with us also.

Collapsible boom for Drive-Away Transport

It has, recently, been brought to my attention there is very little information on the Internet about the equipment used in Drive-Away. Equipment like my boom or Joe’s trailer.

Costs, availability, additional tools or supplies needed, cost effectiveness of the boom or trailer. Many questions have been raised and I will attempt to answer these questions over this and upcoming posts.

Since my bazillion photos are home I will have to start with what I have on hand here.

The collapsed boom is a little over 8 feet long. When fully extended the length is 15 feet.



The cost of the boom, brand new, is approximately $8,000 USD. The boom set up includes the following items.

    A 4 inch diameter hydraulic cylinder with 12 inch stroke. Capable of lifting 24,000 pounds at 2,000 psi hydraulic pressure.

    A 12 volt DC hydraulic power pack with a 4-Way spool valve which powers the cylinder up and down.

    The power pack is capable of producing 3,000 psi hydraulic pressure

    20 feet of power cable with alligator clamps enabling attachment to battery posts. This power cable works the hydraulic pump.

    2 – 20 foot 5/16 inch carry chains to secure the rear axles of the towed truck.

    1 – 10 foot 3/8 inch Grade 100 (strongest 3/8 chain made) “Carry Chain” which secures the boom to the back truck via a yoke assembly.

    1 – 15 foot Grade 100 lifting chain that mounts to the frame of the back truck and over the hydraulic jack.

    1 – Specialty Heavy Lifting hook assembly featuring two hooks to secure the lifting chain. More about these chains will be shared in another post when I have pictures.

    1 – Light bar.

    1 – 60 foot 7 wire electric cable.

    1 – 60 foot 3/8 airline.

    1 – Crossover yoke to hook the brakes up on any truck. An assortment of coupling bullets to enable the yoke to attach to brake chambers of the towed truck.

    A set of quick disconnect airline adapters specially made for some trucks with easily accessible fire wall air lines.

    A “Christmas Tree” which connects all air and electric lines between both front and back truck.

    A set of four 5 foot Hickory 1″ x 3″ boards to secure air fairings.

    4 Wilton Welding clamps – 2-1/2″ opening C Clamps. To attach the boards to the fairings.

    A set of 10 foot ratchet straps to be attached to the clamps, taking the waving and fluttering the fairings do when the truck is pulled backwards.

    Rubber bungee straps: 2 – 12″; 2 – 15″; 2 – 25″; and 1 – 31″.

It has been several years since Joe last built a boom. He will need to get prices on steel and the manufacturing costs.

I’ll make sure to have photos of all these items in my next post.