Tag Archives: Drive-Away

RapidHook CLAMP-IT for Singles Drive-Away

Joe has designed and built a PROTOTYPE of a hitch to be used in Drive-Away for “Singles”.  Moving one truck with your personal vehicle towed behind.

DISCLAIMER:  If you choose to build one of  your own from the photos provided in this blog post, do so at your own risk.  There have been changes made to the Prototype that are not disclosed in this announcement.

RapidHook CLAMP-IT Hitch

RapidHook CLAMP-IT Hitch

During the design phase Joe went to every type of Class 8 truck frame, other classes of truck frames, Cab & Chasis frames, and the occasional oddballs, available to him at the various dealerships located in the Oklahoma City Metro area to make sure his CLAMP-IT Hitch would work on any truck a driver would be moving.  Joe found a few truck frames that the hitch could not be installed on.  He does not know how to differentiate which model these odd truck frames were from the standard frames.  These odd frames may have been a “special order” item.

International

International

The Prototype is being used by Jim From to tow his van behind the truck he is moving.

Prototype in use

Prototype in use

The hitch part of the design is inserted through the bottom of the clamping mechanism and extends down below the frame.  Adjustments can be made, on the fly, for the necessary access under all types of rear light fixtures.

Adjustable hitch

Adjustable hitch

Hitch attached to tow vehicle

Hitched attached to tow vehicle

DOT compliant safety chain locks are a part of the hitch.

Safety chain attachment points

Safety chain attachment points

Joe is currently in the design phase of creating a RapidHook CLAMP-IT Hitch for light weight vehicles such as Jeeps, cars, and light weight pick up trucks. The new one should work on most of the “oddball frames” that he looked at in the design phase of the larger hitch.

Design phase for lighter weight vehicles

Design phase for lighter weight vehicles

If you are interested in having a RapidHook CLAMP-IT Hitch built for you, please contact Joe at his email address:

joeboknstet@yahoo.com

Price of the hitch is yet to be determined.  Each hitch will be built and constructed to Joe’s specifications and none are ready for immediate purchase at this time.  Contact Joe and make arrangements with him to have your RapidHook CLAMP-IT Hitch built.

Leslie

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10,000 miles and 100% Deadhead in Drive-Away

Drive-Away Transport

Drive-Away Transport

Hey, Jim From.  You have been telling Joe that you are getting withdrawals.  I haven’t been posting to this blog site.  Let me take you down memory lane 😀

From May 18, 2014 to June 16, 2014 Jim From, Joe, and I had to move 45 daycab trucks and 6 flatbed trailers from Tracy, California to auction in Las Vegas, Nevada.  That was the longest month in my LIFE!

Two old men and one old broad got the job done in plenty of time for the “Detail Crew” at the auction site to get all the trucks washed, vacuumed, cleaned and spiffed up with Armor All.

I don’t remember where we started, I think in Oklahoma.  We had to deadhead, which means we had to travel about 1,500 miles just to get to the location in Tracy, California.  Once there and hooked up we drove to Las Vegas, Nevada to deliver then deadhead all the way back to Tracy for the next loads.

For your viewing pleasure, I have created a video as a reminder of that month that seemed to have been 10 years. 😀

 


BIG changes in 2015

It has been a while, far too long, since I last posted to this blog.  Our little world has been shaken up and turned on its head.

Joe received some pretty staggering news last week.  He had been informed by Dependable Transport that their insurance company has an age restriction for their drivers and he had been unceremoniously dumped on February 3, 2015.

This news could not have come at a worse time.  Then again, when is it ever a good time to be told that you can no longer work with a company?  Truth be told, we had been expecting it for a couple years.

We both knew when we signed on with Dependable Transport in 2004 that they had a cut off age of 72.  Joe got a few more years with them after their age restriction.  It still was quite a blow to  his ego to be told that their insurance company would no longer cover them for any accidents or damages that were incurred by Joe while he was under dispatch.

He was furious.  Once the anger subsided my poor Joe was dumbfounded.  Being the man that he is, it didn’t take long before he began shaking trees, as he calls it.  By the early afternoon of February 3rd he made a call to a company we both had originally drove with – Coldiron Companies – to see if they had an age restriction and would hire him back on.  Their insurance company does not have an age restriction.  Only require the drivers they hire as Independent Contractors to be able to do their job.

So my poor husband has “sucked it up” and is working once again.  He is doing two things he hates doing.  Flying in an airplane and driving Deck Sets.

Flying – if Joe were at the controls he would feel better about that mode of transportation.  He doesn’t trust the pilots.

Deck Sets – they have a reputation for being difficult and dangerous.

Joe left home on Sunday, February 7th, from Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City on a flight to San Antonio, Texas.  He had a lay over in Dallas, Texas for an hour before arriving in San Antonio.  He was to be met at the airport by a representative from Coldiron to pick him up and take  him to the place he would be handed the keys to the trucks he would be delivering to Morgantown, Pennyslvania.

A "Deck Set" from San Antonio, TX to Morgantown, PA

A “Deck Set” from San Antonio, Texas to Morgantown, Pennsylvania

The trucks in the photo are known as “Cab and Chassis”.  Once the trucks arrive at their destination they will be outfitted with a box on the frame.  These trucks will become something most of you are familiar seeing.  A U-Haul truck to move your household belongings when you “Do-It-Yourself”.  Or they will be turned into a refrigerated city delivery truck that will deliver food to restaurants.  Or they will be outfitted for a beverage company that will deliver soft drinks or beer.  It all depends on the specifications of the buyer what these trucks will be put to use for.

The “Cab & Chassis” is just as it seems.  The truck cab and the frame.

Cab & Chassis

Cab & Chassis

During Joe’s 1700 + mile trip cross country he will have to make stops to check the nuts of the “Saddle Mounts” to ensure they are tight and remain secure.

The “Saddle Mount” is a piece of equipment that attaches the frame of the front axle of the decked truck onto the frame of the truck it is mounted to.

Saddle Mount

Saddle Mount

Joe has to carry tools with him to do this job.  Unlike with our pickup and the tool boxes he has on the trailer, he has to tuck his tools away in his suitcase and have that bag checked in at the airport.

On the part of the Saddle Mount that is attached to the frame of the truck carrying the other are specialty bolts known as “U Bolts”.  As the name implies, they are “U” shaped for a reason.  The bolt is placed around the beam of the frame and secured to the Saddle Mount.  Two for each side, as you can see in the photo above.  There is a better photo of this below.

Tightening the "U" Bolts

Tightening the “U” Bolts

The wood that is atop the frame is there to protect the frame from the metal to metal contact between the Saddle Mount and the truck frame.  The wood, during the transport process, shrinks.  To ensure the equipment is secured safely it is imperative that it be checked twice a day, at a minimum.  In the photo above Joe is tightening the nuts that secure the “U” Bolts to the frame.  He has to snug up all of them.

The next part of the Saddle Mount structure is the part that secures the truck to the frame below.  The bolt configuration on this part of the equipment is known as the “J” Bolt.  This bolt is shaped like the letter “J”.  The hook end, or “J” is secured to the upper cross frame of the truck on top and held in place by a nut that needs a specialty wrench.

"J" Bolt on the Saddle Mount

“J” Bolt on the Saddle Mount

The wrench needed for this part of the job is called a “Pork Chop”.  This wrench requires the use of a 2 Pound Hammer to tighten the nuts during transport.

"Pork Chop" wrench

“Pork Chop” wrench

Using the hammer on the wrench is the only way to make sure the nuts are tightened properly on the “J” Bolts.

Using a hammer on the Pork Chop wrench

Using a hammer on the Pork Chop wrench

Joe will be delivering these trucks this afternoon in Morgantown, Pennsylvania.  He has been told he will be taking a “Box Truck” out of there to deliver somewhere.  Once he has completed that part of his journey he will get back on a plane to San Antonio, Texas to do this all over again.

As far as the pay goes…not the best.  He is getting about $0.49 per mile on these trips.  Quite a cut in pay from the $1.30 per mile we had been earning.  Coldiron pays for the flights, which is a good thing.  They also pay for the fuel used to deliver the trucks.  So Joe is not much more than a “Company Driver” at this point.  Coldiron does give him a hotel fee of $50 per night.  These are new trucks and no one is allowed to sleep in these trucks….or eat in them.

We have talked about the financial aspect of this first trip of his.  It is a learning curve he has to go through.  Figuring out the cost of fuel he will need to purchase for the trip and there have been no hotels he’s stayed in that are at the $50 rate – even the “Budget Hotels” charge $70 or more.

Joe has lost the ability to find food that is not all hot dogs and sub sandwiches or burgers.  Finding hotels along his route that have open parking areas for the Deck Sets has been a trial.  I have spent a couple hours with him each day looking at Google Maps in the Satellite mode to look at the hotel properties to ensure he can safely get in and around the buildings.  It has been interesting to say the least.

For the time being, Joe will be driving the Deck Sets until he can get in the system and work his way back into using his trailer.  That will allow  him to earn better pay and he will not be subjected constantly to truck stop food….nor airplane flights.

So…till next time…bye for now.

Leslie

 

 


Surprise! You are now faced with a MAJOR unplanned repair.

It is now time for another true story from the glorious world of Drive-Away.  This one is about an unplanned and totally stupefying MAJOR repair that had to made to our 1984 (?) Ford pickup – Gracie – back in the late fall of 1999.  I think it was early November but I don’t remember fully.

This photo is going to get a lot of mileage in all of the posts regarding Drive-Away life before the trailer.

The towed vehicle configuration

The towed vehicle configuration

I don’t remember where Joe picked up the trucks he had to deliver to the International Truck dealership in Dundalk, Maryland.  I wasn’t driving then but I did do a lot of grunt work.

This trip was my very first time on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  Hundreds of miles of road with steep hills and twisting narrow roads.  Some sections of the highway are blocked in by mountains of granite.  The dividers between the traffic flow are only concrete barriers.  When it rains, which happens quite a bit in Pennsylvania, the water pools on the roadway near the barriers and makes driving treacherous.  I was scared out of my wits on that trip.  Joe, on the other hand, was his usual calm self.  He even laughed at me a few times as I tried to find some hand hold to keep me from jumping out of the window.

Other stretches of the highway are lined with trees.  When the granite mountains and thick forests give way the traveler sees rolling green hillsides dotted with farm houses and barns.  Cows grazing on the hilltops or down in the low valleys.  Horses are occasionally seen far off in the distance.

Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania

Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania

This portion of the US is full of Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields.  Nearly every little town and berg along the Pennsylvania Turnpike have some kind of historical building or ground.  Civil War enactment brigades are plentiful in Pennsylvania.

While traversing one of the tree lined stretches of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (and I don’t remember exactly where we were at the time) Joe said to me “Did you hear that?!”  Now mind you, Joe has a moderate hearing problem.  I didn’t hear a thing.  For the next few seconds – which seemed like several long minutes – my head was swiveling back and forth.  I was just about in panic mode already and he was edging me further into an outright fit of terror.

“What?  What did you hear?”  I asked Joe as I sat in the passenger seat with my right hand firmly clamped on the door pull.  “I didn’t hear anything.  What did you hear?”  I continued, panic rising in my throat.

“I heard a bang” Joe calmly said.  Just like we were having a normal conversation.

I then was hyper vigilant and listened to every single noise I could.  Trying to hear the tell tale sound of anything “bang”ing.  Nothing.  Joe continued driving and it wasn’t long before I began to settle down.  The Pennsylvania Turnpike was nearing an end at Breezewood and we would be getting off the blasted thing to enter the state of Maryland.

So far this road trip had been an all day affair.  We started the day somewhere in West Virginia or Ohio.  Entering Maryland meant that we were getting closer to our delivery point.  That would still be the next day but at least we were closer.

Mid morning the next day we arrived in Dundalk, Maryland.  A suburb of Baltimore.  When we did arrive at the International dealership lot both of us were a little concerned.  There was not enough room to unhook our trucks.  There wasn’t even enough room to enter the driveway of the place.  One of the men that works at the dealership said we could go about a quarter of a mile further along the road and unhook in the parking lot of a restaurant – Costas Inn.

Map showing International Dealership and Costas Inn

Map showing International Dealership and Costas Inn

I had to get the pickup taken loose from the back truck and moved out of the way before Joe and I could take the trucks apart.  We had been having trouble with the Remco Driveline Disconnect thing and I had to crawl under the pickup to get the driveline pushed back into proper alignment in order to back the pickup out of the way.  That done I put the truck in Reverse and made ready to back up.  Nothing happened.  Push the gear shift back up into Park then down into Reverse and give it some gas.  Nothing.  Okay, well that’s not good.

I had to go find Joe.  Calling out to him does no good.  Remember I said he had a hearing problem?  So I had to go hunt him down and tell him the pickup is not working properly.  He stopped what he was doing and came to check for himself.  He checked the driveline then tried to make the pickup move shifting it in Reverse and it didn’t work for him either.

I don’t know why he decided to look underneath the rear of the pickup.  I seem to remember him telling me about the “bang” he had heard on the previous day.  Well, he looked.  And what he found was not such a very good thing at all.

The rear end had a hole blown out of it.  This is someone else’s photo of a Ford Rear End.  I don’t know exactly what it is called so I use the common name of it.  The “Pumpkin”.

Rear End of a Ford driveline

Rear End of a Ford driveline

This is sort of what Joe saw.  Except the metal cover was still mostly on the “Pumpkin”.  The inner workings could be seen through the huge hole.

Inner workings of Rear End

Inner workings of a Rear End

We weren’t going anywhere.  Not until this got fixed.  We couldn’t even deliver the trucks until this major problem got fixed.

Joe, ever the resourceful man that he is, called the International dealership and told them of our problem then asked if there were a Ford Service Center near.  There were several of them.  Every one he called told him it would be several days before we could even get the pickup into the shop to be examined.  Norris Ford was the last one on his list.  They told him to bring the pickup in anytime he could.

Sounds easy.  Right?  Just tow the pickup right on over there and get it in the shop bays.  No problem.

Only problem was we had to get there with the trucks still connected while towing the pickup behind.  Most service shops are not equipped to handle 13 foot tall trucks that are about 40 feet long.  Joe told them about our problem and he was assured they would be able to get us in yet that day.

Looking at the photo below, you can see the building is vast.  You also can see, at the bottom where the red arrow is, we had to get the trucks in that door way.

Norris Ford - Dundalk, MD

Norris Ford – Dundalk, MD

We were the “Circus that came to town” that morning.  Joe drove into the building and pulled far enough in for the mechanics to get a tractor with a ball hitch hooked onto the tow hitch of the pickup.  I disconnected the pickup from Joe’s trucks and he drove forward more inside the building.  The tractor was driven between the space that was left and connected to the pickup.

This photo is not of Gracie but it is of the hitch the tractor had to connect to.

Pickup hitch

Pickup hitch

Once Gracie was moved into a shop bay area and clear of the entry Joe had to back out of the shop.  To do that I had to get in the back truck, take the seat belt off the steering wheel and get seated as though I were driving the truck.

In this situation there are no brakes for me to apply if Joe needs to stop.  No matter how often I pumped the brake pedal nothing was going to happen except cause me to freak out more than I already was.  So trying to remain calm and not let everyone in the shop know that this was only the SECOND TIME I would be “Fire Trucking” this crazy mess out the door because Joe couldn’t see back there, I just held onto the steering wheel and watched where the truck was going.

Of course, without the engine running, steering that dead truck was a task all by itself.  No power steering.  I had to watch the road in front of me while I kept track of the building’s doorway and walls.  Joe backing the long trucks out while I steered from behind.

As you can imagine we had an audience.  This was no time for a panic attack and lose my brain.  I had to help get us safely out of there.

It took several minutes of Joe carefully backing and me making the steering adjustments to finally be free of the building and out in the open parking lot.  Joe had quite a group of men around him that told him they had never seen anything like that.  Thankfully there was nobody that came over to me to gush over the sight they had seen.  I busied myself with getting the steering wheel tied back down and ready for Joe to drive out of there.

We had to rent a car to make our delivery then wait out the couple days for the repair to be made.

By the way.  I want to tell you that Norris Ford was AWESOME!  By the time that Joe called them to let them know of our blown out rear end and the added problem of having to enter there service area with the trucks then drive over to their shop, they had the repair already in the works.  Someone had been tasked to go to a junk yard and find a junk truck with the proper rear end and axle to replace the one in our Gracie.

When we were ready to leave and make Joe’s delivery the junk truck was already in the shop and Gracie was well on her way to being taken apart for the work to be done on her.

That rear end repair made by Norris Ford lasted us for another couple of years.  That story is for another time.


Condoms. An essential supply for a chase vehicle.

Today’s blog post is by a contributing author.  Joe will be writing this post.  I gave him free rein to write whatever he wanted to on this subject.

New Tricks for an old dog!  I have resisted my beautiful brides attempts at writing a blog.  Until now, that is.  This is a subject I just couldn’t pass up.  Well, shall we begin this journey down memory lane.

When I was a kid (really long ago) my family would set around the dinner table, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and talk about the “good old times”.  These conversations ran the gamut from my grandpa’s secret weapon, only used at harvest time, to the World War that was just passed.  At the time it was known as the World War.  The Second was only added some time later (I don’t know when that happened).  Some of the things that were talked about became items that were very useful to me in later years.  Grandpa’s secret weapon was, of course, my grandma.  Grandpa had a very large and deep ice house.  You must remember at the beginning of the last century (1900) there were no home ice making machines.  Some of grandpa’s neighbors laughed at his large ice house, saying that he sure wasted a lot of time digging such a large one and that it took such a long and arduous time to fill it.  There was madness to his scheme, which I was told, that none of his close neighbors ever figured out.

To fill the ice house you had to wait until the local stream froze over to a good depth, usually about six to eight inches or more.  You went to it with an ice auger, ice saw, and ice tongs.  You drilled a starting hole with the ice auger and then proceeded to cut the ice into large chunks and remove them to a small wagon.  When the wagon was full you took it to the ice house and packed the pieces in with a large amount of wheat straw that had been saved from the wheat harvest to insulate each of them.  When the ice house was full it was kept full till spring (which was just around the corner) by adding more ice as some was used until the stream was no longer frozen thick enough to walk on.  This ice, from such a large ice house, was usually available most of the year.  At harvest time grandpa always had the pick of the hired field hands to help him. Usually by harvest time all of the other farmers in the area were well into their ice storage and would only use it for their own needs.  Grandma always seemed to have an endless supply of ICED TEA for the field hands in the hot summer weather as well as the best vittles served to the field hands in the area.  Hence grandpa always calling her his “secret weapon”.  He had the pick of the best field hands because of her and her ICED TEA.  Thank you very much for “too large”  of an ice house.   All you business owners today should keep this lesson close.  It might make a big difference in the bottom line.  You think maybe happy workers are the best?

When I started doing this job I pulled my pickup behind the truck or trucks.

The towed vehicle configuration

The towed vehicle configuration

In doing so I had to have some way of disconnecting the differential from the transmission.  My first tow vehicle was our 1985 Ford F250 Diesel pickup.  This truck had a manual transfer case that could be set into neutral and the truck could be towed forever.  The reason behind this is the fact that the transmission has no internal lubrication when only the rear shaft is turning, like when the truck is put into neutral and allowed to move in some manner.  If you pull the vehicle while it is in neutral you will destroy the transmission, from the rear, by having the differential turn the rear shaft of the transmission without any lubrication, thereby ruining the bearings on the shaft.  I pulled my first 1971 Ford F100 pickup, which had a three speed column shift, in neutral and destroyed the transmission, so I am speaking from first hand experience.  The transfer case in my 85 had a rear pump and it would lubricate the gears in the transfer case just fine.  When the engine blew up I had to find another tow vehicle.  Enter our “new” truck Gracie.   She is a 1986 Ford F150 pickup with a C6 automatic transmission just like the 85 but, without the transfer case.  What to do?

Well at that time the answer was to simply “pull the drive line” thereby removing the connection from the transmission to the differential.  This was accomplished by crawling under the pickup, removing the “U bolts”  holding the “U” joint to the differential.  You then have to tie the drive line up out of the way and keep it from hitting the ground while you are moving down the road.

Photo courtesy of      Author: oldturkey03            https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/2003+Ford+F150+Driveshaft+U-joint+rear+Replacement/24873

https://d3nevzfk7ii3be.cloudfront.net/igi/UE2jb1EuKJGTWiXW.huge

The only problem with this is the fact that the drive line is under the truck secured up and bouncing down the road.  My “U joint” is only similar to the one in the picture as mine was held on with “U” bolts.  Once the “U” bolts were removed you had to secure the bearing caps on the cross of the “U” joint.  If this was not done well you could loose a cap or two and then have a real problem.  I used several methods to keep the caps in place but, they all have some type of a problem in the end.  So!  Answer!  Remove the whole drive line.  This is accomplished by pulling it off the splined shaft on the end of the carrier bearing.  I could then put the drive line in the back of the pickup bed and keep it secure and clean for the next job.  See the pic below.

Photo courtesy of    a Ford Repair site       http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=56794&stc=1&d=1340240865

As always with a solution comes new problems.  When it came time to replace the drive line and go to the next job I had to clean out the splines before I put the shaft back on.  The splines usually had grease on them and would attract and keep all sorts of nasty things that would not be good for the shaft when it was reinstalled.  After doing this several times I thought I had to find a better way to do this job.  I was laying on the wet roadway when I had a flashback.  Sometimes my mind jumps from one picture to another, to another, and yet to another so fast that I will be in another world in less time than it takes me to blink.  Just ask my beautiful bride about how my mind can jump in a conversation from talking about flowers to sitting in a train car in Central America in less than a second, sometimes leaving her wondering where I went.

JUMP, JUMP, FLASHBACK!

Now to the condoms.  During the World War our troops were issued PK Rations or some form of field rations.  These usually included; a meal (misnomer, if ever there was one), pack of cigarettes, fire starter of some sort, other items I can’t remember, and a pack of condoms.  After looking at the films that were prepared for the troops about STD’s you wonder why even bother but, our leaders know best.  The stories went that the condoms were best used for keeping water and dirt out of their rifle barrels.  Unroll the condom over the end of the gun and when you had to pull the trigger you knew the gun would work as advertised.  This worked well when we went hunting in the winter time.  Crossing small creeks, fences, and other impediments were hard to do with getting something on or in your gun.  Condoms worked well for keeping the barrel free from debris.  FLASH!  Why wouldn’t this work on the splined shaft?  Answer:  It works well.  Just unroll it over the spline and when you get to where you are going take it off and put on the shaft.  Bingo.  Job done.

After removing and installing the drive line more times than I would like to remember, I stumbled upon a driver who had a REMCO Quick Disconnect installed on his tow vehicle.  He just had to reach under and slide a coupling in place and his drive line was back in operation.  I had to have one of these.  I looked up Remco in Omaha, Nebraska, and went to their shop and purchased one of their kits, including the “from the cab” operation device.  This item worked for some time.

Drive Shaft Coupling With out Driveshaft

Remember from above:  As always with a solution comes new problems.

We had some problems with it and the factory replaced it three times.  One of the problems happened in Baltimore, Maryland, but that is for another post from my beautiful bride.  She will tell you how she learned to “fire truck” our setup as well but, that’s for another time.

Until then, “Be well and do good things.”  Oneablefox said that.

*****–*****–

I hope you have enjoyed this feature author, my awesome husband Joe.  If you would like to read more posts written by Joe please let me know in the comment section.  I think I can twist his arm a little 😀

Leslie


A Honeymoon – of sorts. Riding along in Drive-Away Transport.

I rode with Joe for about 2 years before I started driving.  Joe had been out on the road by himself with the Gravity Boom for several months while I stayed at home.  We had been married for a little over 9 years at this time.  When I’m left to my own devices I spend a lot of time in introspection and learning about who and what I am as a person.

Uhm….sometimes the journey into self awareness took me down some peculiar paths.  At that time I learned of the concept of a Gratitude Journal.  Having no one to guide me and give me direction, except the book itself, I worked at getting my depressed self up off the floor and into clothes other than pajamas.  My only company, while alone at home, was a cat and a dog.  They were of no substantial help in my self awareness journey.  I mean, neither one of them told me that it was high time to get the stink off and go take a shower and get dressed.  Neither one of them told me that I needed to get something to eat.

Poor Joe.  He would call me during the day and tell me about his adventures out on the road.  Trucks breaking down, or a flat tire that left him sitting on the highway shoulder for 3 or more hours waiting for a service truck to arrive.  He would tell me about the price of fuel and how much he felt we were being gouged by Big Oil.  Let me remind  you…..diesel fuel at that time was $2.75 a gallon.  Oh, to have those prices back again!

He would ask me about my day and what was happening.  I think it was his attempt to nudge me into doing something.  Well, let me tell you.  I had my husband wondering if I had gone off the deep end a few times.  He would call one day – several times mind you.  About the 7th time he called I would be ready to chew his head off, and I did do exactly that on some days.  So you can probably imagine his confusion when one day he calls me about the 5th time, Gritting his teeth and getting ready for a pretty  hostile response from me.  What he got, instead, was a non stop blab fest of how much I loved him and I was very grateful he was in my life.

Frankly, there were a few times I had to ask if he were still on the line – he was dumbfounded into speechlessness.

I learned about Iyanla Vanzant during that time.  Her book – One Day My Soul Just Opened Up – helped me to look at my life differently.  This book and the Gratitude Journal kept me from going off the deep end.  Literally.  All the time I was alone gave me way too much time to think about the wreck I had made of our early married life with his kids and mine.  It was time to get this wreck cleaned up and there was no one but me to do it.

When Joe came home for Christmas of 1999 I asked if I could go along with him the beginning of 2000.  “I can help you get hooked up and deliver the trucks.”  Joe was happy to have me come along with him.

The first several months on the road with him were like going on a Honeymoon.  He was taking me to far flung places.  We enjoyed each others company.  He taught me the physically demanding work of getting the trucks ready for transport or delivery.  We slept in the trucks each  night and in hotels during the deadhead between moves.  He took me to odd little truck stops or restaurants.  Bought me little gifts along the way.

Our cat had disappeared the previous Halloween and she never came back home.  Poor Wendy.  I never found her again.  Our dog, Princess, came with us.

I saw odd structures that were not quite barns.  I would later learn they were tobacco barns.  I saw trees everywhere along the interstate.  Our poor dog found happiness wherever she could, even it was watching the outside world through a window.

 

Tobacco sheds, tree lined roads, and a dog wanting out in the snow in Virginia

Tobacco sheds, tree lined roads, and a dog wanted out in the snow in Virginia

I took photos of nearly everything I could see.  It was a crazy time and I was a crazy woman with a camera.  I looked out the mirror to see our pickup bringing up the rear in our travels.  Cactus thriving under a blanket of snow in Selma, North Carolina.  My appreciation of barns and farm structures began in those first few months.

 

Gracie bringing up the rear, cactus in the snow, barn structures in fields.

Gracie bringing up the rear, cactus in the snow, barn structures in fields.

I learned a few things about historical landmarks.  The stone building in the photo below was constructed in 1778 by Hessian prisoners of war.  That building was used as an EconoLodge hotel office.  The hotel part was added later and we stayed there many times.  This building is located in Staunton, Virginia.  On Interstate 81.  (I think that is the highway :/.)

The rock walls of Virginia were fascinating to me.  Seeing trees growing out of that hard granite rock and some intrepid souls had painted their mark on the rock face.

The many wonders of Virginia

The many wonders of Virginia

For the most part I enjoyed my time with Joe on the road.  I traveled with him “illegally” because Coldiron Companies had a “No Rider” policy so I had to keep a low profile so he would not be fired from the job.  I wasn’t hiding very well.  Most of the dispatchers knew I was along with Joe.  Having the dog along was a pleasure and a trial.  Waiting for her to find just the right spot to poop made me crazy.  Especially on the days the biting cold winter winds made me feel like my bones were going to freeze.  Being squished against the cold rear wall of the sleeper bunk at night was not much fun either but we were all together.

Stick with me.  I’m just laying the ground work of the advent of Joe’s trailer.  It was during these months that Joe was working out the details in his head.  He knew there had to be a better way of moving these trucks with the pickup between them instead of following behind all the time.  There were a lot of expenses involved in having our “chase vehicle” being pulled along behind.  Tires, drivelines, axles catching fire, engine problems, and all kinds of other fun things that happened to leave us stranded at the side of the road.

If you think that this time on the road with Joe was all romance, I’m going to burst your bubble.  Just think about the long road trips you have been on.  Either as a child with your family or as an adult taking the trips with your family.  Now just consider the fun and frustration you had for one or two weeks.  Joe and I had that for over 45 weeks a year.  There were many days that I was a very ungrateful person.  :/

Leslie

 


Moving “Singles” in Drive-Away.

I have made reference to “Singles Drivers” on this blog over the years.  I’ve mentioned that anyone that wants to get into Drive-Away can do it by being a “Singles” driver.  Having no actual experience in the “Singles” part of the industry I could not give any details about taking this job on.

Over the past 12 years my husband, Joe, and I have been doing “Doubles”.  We always took two to four trucks in this job.  Once in a while I would be given a “Single” but I always had Joe and our equipment to rely on to get us somewhere else for the next job because we had our pickup to get us there.

Joe and our friend, Jim, are now actually doing the “Singles” work.  They don’t have a ready vehicle to get them to the next pick up site.  Logistics and transportation play a huge role in this new way of them doing this business.

As with any kind of job…the “Grass is always greener”.  You see what you want to see.

  1. It takes only five minutes to do the inspection of a truck and be ready to hit the road in 20 minutes.  Log books filled out, route planned, fuel stops planned.
  2. Fuel economy of a “Single” truck is about 10 miles per gallon as opposed to 4.5 or 5.8 with a “Double” set up.
  3. The cost of tolls on Toll Roads is nearly half the cost of a “Single” as it would be for a “Double”.  For example, in Oklahoma, the toll on Interstate 44 for a “Single” is $5.50.  The toll charge for a “Double” is $9.50.
  4. Parking in truck stops is easier because the bobtail parking is closer to the store doors while the parking for a tractor/trailer set up can be nearly a half mile away.
  5. Delivering the “Single” truck will take about 15 minutes from the time the driver arrives to the time they leave.  For the “Double” drivers it takes up to two hours.

The reality of “Singles” drivers is this.  A rental car agency.  One of many.

Rental car agencies

Rental car agencies

Joe left  home on Wednesday, February 19th, to get a truck in Joplin, Missouri that was being delivered in Bedford, Iowa.  The cost of renting a car at home to be dropped off in Joplin, Missouri was $185.  There would be a taxi ride from the car rental agency to the Peterbilt dealership in Joplin.  The taxi would cost about $40.  Transportation charges to the pick up site would be about $225.  The company picks up most, if not all, of the transportation charges.

I opted to drive Joe to Joplin, directly to the Peterbilt dealership to save him some time and expense.  Joe was told by the dispatcher he was getting a brand new truck and he was excited about that.  The fact is, the truck was NOT NEW.  It already had over 200,000 miles on it.  Still looked pretty good though.

Truck in Joplin, Missouri

Truck in Joplin, Missouri

Upon arrival in Bedford, Iowa there was a truck waiting for Joe to be taken to Sharonsville, Ohio which had to be delivered the following day.  Once Joe arrived in Sharonsville, Ohio he got a ride to the hotel he would be staying at by the hotel shuttle.  There was no charge for this transportation.

Jim, on the other hand, was across the country and would be meeting up with Joe.  Jim’s journey began in Oakland, California.  He had a train ride from Oakland to Los Angeles, another train ride from Los Angeles to LAX airport where he would board a flight to Cincinnati, Ohio.  In Cincinnati Jim would rent a car at the airport then meet Joe at the hotel.

The two guys would be driving the rental car from Cincinnati, Ohio to Buffalo, New York where they would pick up trucks going to Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.  These trucks are NEW.  Complete with “On board cameras” and GPS tracking of their movements.  The company that has purchased these trucks has been able to track one of the two trucks along their route.

On board camera

On board camera

One of the amenities of the new truck is the rear mounted camera that aids in backing of the vehicle.  The driver can see what is behind him/her via a screen in the cab of the truck.

Rear view camera and monitor

Rear view camera and monitor

The trucks Joe and Jim are taking are known in this industry as “Box Trucks”.  The moving trucks by U-Haul or Penske are “Box Trucks”.  These are trucks where the cargo area is mounted directly onto the truck chassis.

Box truck

Box truck

I am relying on the photography skills of my husband and his iPhone for this blog.  The photos are a bit out of focus but you can get the idea of what the two guys are doing.

Once they deliver in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin they will need to get to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to catch the Amtrak train for the return trip to Buffalo, New York.  The man who will be taking delivery of these trucks is so happy with the results thus far of Joe and Jim.  He has volunteered to take them the 40 or so miles into Milwaukee, which I think is a nice thing for him to do.

Stay tuned.  This very exciting and informative blog (ha ha) will introduce you to the life of a “Singles” driver.

Seriously, if anyone has thought about getting into Drive-Away there is a place for you.  Most all Drive-Away transport companies are always on the look out for “Singles” drivers.  You don’t need to have a vehicle or expensive equipment to do this job.  You just have to have a willingness to be at the mercy of public transportation.

I have given Joe instructions to take photos of his train ride to Buffalo, New York.  Both Joe and Jim are a little excited about the prospect of “Riding the Rails” for a day or two.  I just hope his photography skills will be worth seeing :/

Leslie