Tag Archives: Nevada

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. 😀

 

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In Las Vegas, Nevada for some much needed rest. Yippy Skippy!

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My last post, “Putting Lipstick on a Pig” may have left you scratching your head.

July of 2012 Joe and I moved three trucks from Justin, Texas to Oakland, California. A trip that normally takes almost five days ended up a 17 day trip with trouble at every turn. Those trucks were reported to be the “Best Ever”. You can read about that “Trip from HELL” by clicking the link below.

Clunkers in the trucking industry.

Thankfully, this massive truck and trailer move had been, virtually, uneventful. Beginning on May 13th, and ending yesterday, June 9th, we started the move of 45 trucks and 6 trailers by first deadheading 1,500 miles from home.

The original move order was for 29 trucks. The trailers were to be moved by others. As is normal….things change. And they did. Upon our arrival to Tracy, California there were 46 trucks and 6 trailers all going to the Taylor/Martin auction in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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This is the largest move Joe and I have done in Drive-Away. The last large move was 29 trucks in 2011. Learning from that mess we made adjustments in this mess.

Unlike the last big move with a 250 mile drive to deliver and the same miles deadheading back we had almost 600 miles for both delivery and deadhead. We also had to factor in the 100 degree temperatures we would be driving and working in.

Jim had expressed his concern for the lag time in a hotel after we picked up the trucks in Tracy before delivering them to Las Vegas. Didn’t take him long to learn that our plan was the best all around. Keeping the motoring public safe as well as ourselves from fatigue and/or inviting disaster by going – excuse the crude language – “Balls to the wall”.

This trek from Tracy, California to Las Vegas, Nevada and back to Tracy for the nine trips is a mind boggling 9,558 miles. That doesn’t include the initial 1,500 deadhead miles. The decision to spend an extra night before delivery was prudent.

Getting an early start to our days was necessary. The two hour time difference was an advantage for the hooking up part. Doing the work in the cooler morning air, it was still pretty warm, kept us from starting out dehydrated. Driving the 54 miles back to the hotel seemed ludicrous. What was ridiculous was trying to get to sleep by 8:00 (our time) in the evening while it was actually 6:00 and supper time in California. Sunlight through the tops of curtains, around the edges of the air conditioning unit, and around the door made the darkened room not so very dark.

Waking at 4:00 in the morning with the chilly air, knowing it was only just a couple hours past midnight in California, was nice. Driving in the dark for three hours was kind of refreshing. Until the sun rose and the day became hotter as we neared Las Vegas.

We had decided on a three day turn around. We would have the 29 trucks delivered a couple days earlier than the June 1st deadline.

Then we were informed we would be responsible for ALL of the trucks and trailers to be moved. There would not be anyone coming to help. Joe took on the “Big Dog” role and flatly informed everyone involved the June 1st deadline was not going to happen. We would deliver what we could before the auction date. Leaving some time for the crew to get the trucks ready for the sale.

We succeeded in our job. All 45 trucks and 6 trailers were delivered with a few days extra for the prep time. There would be one truck left behind of the 46 that we would not move and someone else moved that one.

Joe and Jim have their plans for today. We have rented a car here in Las Vegas so we don’t have to wag the trailer around. They will be going to businesses, such as FleetPride and Truck Pro, which cater to the trucking industry to acquire items that Jim will need when he goes out on his own doing singles.

The guys will be dropping me off at a scrapbook store near the airport. I have been looking forward to this shopping trip for several weeks. Last Thursday I saw on the website for the Mega Scrapbook Store they are closing. Total bummer. They are having a sale with many items 75% off. I have budgeted myself $150. We’ll see how that goes.

Today I’m going to just rest and relax. Hope your Tuesday is going well.

Leslie


Putting lipstick on a pig.

We are nearly finished with this mess of trucks going to auction. Today we picked up five trucks and Sunday we will be getting the final five. There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is NOT an oncoming train. Thank God.

The auction is June 12th in Las Vegas, Nevada for Taylor/Martin. We have, pretty much, had the sale lot to ourselves these past several weeks. The “Detail” crew has arrived and they have a lot of work to do.

Each of the trucks we have brought down from Tracy, California is being washed, trash cleaned out of the cab, and the interiors will be cleaned and spiffed up with a product that will make the insides look like new.

Hence, “Putting lipstick on a pig”.

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Most of the trucks we have moved will be good work trucks for a while longer. The majority of them have a half million miles on them. These trucks will probably sell from $8,000 to $10,000 each. Some buyers will buy two or more. One to work and one for spare parts.

When the sale is over these trucks will take another journey. From the sale lot to the new owner’s location.

By the time we get the final five trucks moved the lot will be full of all kinds of trucks and trailers. I had to share the entry gate with some other driver dropping his load.

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The three of us are just about whooped. Joe is napping on the hotel bed now. Jim has bloodshot eyes and he looks as exhausted as I feel. I’m so tired right now my already short fuse of a temper has gone off. I tripped over Joe’s trash bag Tuesday afternoon and kicked that thing. Although it made me feel slightly better for a moment I had to round up all the trash that exploded out of the bag. The bag was no where to be found. Joe found it on the roof of our pickup.

I am alternating between helpless fits of giggles and a strong desire to burst into tears. Kicking bags of trash sort of help stem the tears but only worsens the fit of giggles. Especially when I remember the look on Jim’s face at my angry outburst and his fast shuffle to put distance between him and I. He hot footed it to the far side of Joe’s trailer and waited until it was safe to come back near me to continue working.

Yes, folks. The three year old is making more appearances.

Joe has reserved a room for us in Las Vegas, Monday, for a couple days so we can sleep without getting up at 4:00 in the morning. That is the carrot and the stick to keep me working a little longer.

I hope your day is going well and you are not prone to fits of temper.

Leslie.


The two old codgers and I are getting tired.

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These trips from Tracy, California to Las Vegas, Nevada are a little over 500 miles each.

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The deadhead back to Tracy is the same. Daytime temperatures are steadily rising into the triple digits. Working in the hot sun for three hours is not fun at all. In our haste to get unloaded and delivered we often forget to purchase water. We end up getting dehydrated and headaches. Even so far as to get nauseous at times.

This will be our fifth trip and will have delivered 25 trucks and three trailers later this afternoon. We have started working smarter instead of harder. Let me tell you, it has taken a few temper tantrums on my part. I’ve almost resorted to flinging myself to the dusty ground to kick and wail as any good three year old can do.

There is a two hour time difference between our home time in Oklahoma and Arkansas and the California – Nevada time. We take advantage of that time difference by leaving the hotel long before the crap of dawn.

Yes, indeed folks, I did say the “Crap” of dawn. You know, like, “Oh Crap! It’s dawn”.

Rising out of bed at 4:30 each morning (2:30 local time) this part of the world is still sound asleep. We get our trucks moving on the highway by 6:30 (4:30 local time) and we get a good hour of pre dawn driving done. The air is chilly and the roads are mostly populated by other truck drivers getting a head start on the day.

Our route take us on several two lane roads that are heavily traveled. CA 46 to CA 99 is two lane then some of CA 58 from east of Boron to Barstow is two lane. Once we get on I-15 in Barstow we have several altitude changes passing through Baker and beyond. The elevation rises from sea level at Barstow to 4000 feet just before the 16 mile downgrade leading into Nevada.

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We have been arriving in Las Vegas, Nevada around 5:30 in the evening (3:30) local time. Just as the temperatures are making their way upward to the daily high of 102.

The blinding sun and merciless heat make us get our butts in gear to get the work done. The three of us are working as a team now and can get the delivery time down to 1-1/2 hours.

The early morning hours in Tracy are when we get the hooking up done. We are getting better. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes yesterday morning to be ready to roll. The longest it has taken has been 4 hours.

After delivering the trucks we head to a hotel in Las Vegas or at the Nevada/California border town of Primm. 4:30 in the morning once again we are up and leaving by 6:30. We arrive in Santa Nella, California that same afternoon and fall down in the air conditioned rooms.

Next morning it is off to Tracy, about 54 miles from Santa Nella to begin work. Once that is finished we drive back to Santa Nella to the Love’s Travel Center for lug nut torquing then back to the hotel room to recuperate from the demanding schedule we have.

About 45 trucks and six trailers have to be delivered in Las Vegas for the June 12th auction. We have to be done by June 8th – as many as we can possibly move. So far we are doing pretty well the line of trucks is dwindling. We took five more yesterday from this string.

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We reward ourselves with eclairs and fruit tarts on the trip back. A sugar buzz is just as good a motivator to us old farts as it is to the young kids 😀

Hope your work week is going well.

Leslie


Time to work a big project.

Going to the Taylor/Martin auction in Las Vegas, Nevada are 30 International daycab trucks. Auction to be held on June 8th or 12th. Not sure when it is.

We had a 1,573 mile deadhead from Oklahoma to California. Joe, Jim, and I took turns in the back seat of our pickup.

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Upon arrival in Tracy, California our work was just getting started. Joe and Jim checked the fuel levels in each truck while I did the inspections.

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It was so hot that first day. Joe and Jim hooked up their four trucks after all the walking around checking fuel. Joe had a pretty good sunburn at the end of the day.

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Leaving Tracy we headed to Gustine/Santa Nella, California for the night. A cool shower, air conditioning, and water by the buckets to slake our massive thirsts and cool off.

Before the cool hotel room, however, we had one problem to take care of. The lug nuts on our trucks needed to be tightened. Some drivers before us had wheels fall off and we needed to prevent that from happening.

Here is a recap of our first day.

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We delivered the first set of five this morning. Heading back to Tracy for more.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone.

Leslie


While in Las Vegas….see the sights.

My two guys have moved the last of the trucks from Phoenix, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada.  They have been told to “hang out” for a while until more work can be found for them in California or Arizona.

The trucks they have been moving have super long frames.  Swift Transportation had been using them for some specialized flat bed trailers.

Phoenix to Las Vegas trucks

Phoenix to Las Vegas trucks

Super long frames

Super long frames

The two guys decided to go downtown Las Vegas to see what they have been missing out on.  Mostly they drove passed the casinos.  Their destination was to see the actual pawn shop that has garnered so much acclaim on the History Channel’s Pawn Stars reality television show.

History Channel's Pawn Stars

History Channel’s Pawn Stars

Pawn Stars Las Vegas, Nevada

Pawn Stars Las Vegas, Nevada

The text message I received, accompanying these photos, was ” What a bummer!”.  If there is one thing that will make my Joe cringe is to see tools in a pawn shop.  I can hear the disappointment in his voice as it bangs around in my head.  “Someone sold the very tools they need to feed their family”.

Jim was not very impressed by the pawn shop either.  Both of these guys have lived a hard working life.  If there is one thing either one of them will tell you is to hold on to your tools.  Sell anything else but keep your tools.  They might be the only thing you have to put food on the table using your skills.

Joe often tells me that pawn shops are a repository of broken dreams.

There is a valid reason for pawn shops to be in business.  One of them is to get a few dollars from the inherited bounty of STUFF one would have to deal with after aging parents have been relocated to nursing homes or they have died and will never need the things of their life again.  Something that meant everything to the parents becomes an albatross the kids have to deal with and don’t want in their homes.

The other side of the pawn shop business in Las Vegas is the fairly ready cash for the gambler that knows this would be the day they win the million dollar jackpot.  The gambler trades a personal object for cash.  Funding another few hours, or a day, at the casino betting on the big win.

Sadly, the only winners in this type of a transaction are the pawn shop owners.  That is a business that is run with one thought in mind.  Buy low and sell high.  Profit margins are considered before the transaction is completed.  You can be sure the pawn shop will make out on the deal if the pawn holder doesn’t came back for the item(s).

If you will be traveling to Las Vegas you might like to drop in at the Pawn Stars shop.  Just to get your picture taken at the famous reality television landmark.  Who knows.  You might just find a steal of a deal inside the shop.  At least you can go back home and tell all your friends and family that you have been inside the famous shop.  Be the talk of your little part of the world.

Leslie


The power of the wind…

Makes these big trucks find a place to hole up.

About 15 miles west of Flagstaff we saw trucks parked on the shoulder of the roads and both sides of the highway on ramps.  This was April 16th around 1 p.m.  The highway was going to be shut down until 7 p.m. to all traffic going east and west on I-40.  The winds and blowing dust were so bad that visibility was less than 1/4 mile.  Joe and I decided to call it a day in Flagstaff and wait it out until the next day.

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We had picked up trucks in French Camp, California bound for Dallas, Texas and had been hearing about wind and dust storms ahead of us.  We had been fighting the gusts in California and Nevada.  The winds eased up a bit entering Arizona but not by much.  Looking at the Weather Channel app on my phone I saw “Severe Weather Alerts” for the Flagstaff area of strong winds gusting to 65 miles per hour.  We later learned that 33 miles of I-40 were closed down in both directions from Twin Arrows, Arizona to Winslow, Arizona.

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The drivers of these trucks, idling or shut down on the roadway, take this weather event seriously….as did the Highway Department of Arizona closing the roads.  Straight line winds can blow semi trucks over.  The empty trailers are more vulnerable to this because of the lack of weight and a broad surface for the winds to push against.  Fully loaded trucks are not immune to being toppled either.  Watch this video to see what happens to a truck in these high winds.  This is an old video and takes place in Nevada but the result is the same had the roads in Arizona been left open.

The ramifications of this kind of an “accident” are many.

  • First the driver will be cited, or ticketed, for unsafe driving because he/she did not find a place to wait out the weather.
  • Second, the driver will be sent to the hospital by ambulance to have wounds and broken bones tended.
  • Third, there will be two to three tow trucks brought to the accident site – after the winds die down – to right the truck and trailer.  Each tow truck will have a minimum charge of $100 per hour and the clock starts ticking the minute the driver gets in the tow truck at the shop before getting to the accident site.
  • Fourth, the roads will be shut down or traffic diverted while the tow trucks do their work in getting the truck and trailer upright.  The state can send a bill to the trucking company for the amount of time the highway is blocked.
  • Fifth, the truck and trailer will both be “totaled” by the insurance company.  Frames bent, king pin and fifth wheels will have been stressed to a point of being unfit.
  • Sixth, the driver will be unable to work until he/she gets back home to their “truck terminal” or where they are dispatched out of.

The final cost of an accident related to wind gusts can reach $500,000 if the truck and trailer are empty.  The costs can go up into the millions of dollars if the trailer had been loaded with product and THAT brings on a different can of worms.  Bringing another truck and trailer out to the site.  Someone from the company will have to be flown out to look at the product and make decisions.  That person will decide if the contents are salvageable or not.  If not more equipment will be brought to the site.  Forklifts, dump trucks, front end loaders to scoop the detritus into the beds of dump trucks.  The costs add up quickly.

There are some arrogant truck drivers that would fume at the delay and tell everyone that would stand still long enough how he would be able to drive through the winds with not a single problem.  Other drivers would chafe at being delayed for seven hours or more and have to listen to the dispatchers chew their butts.

For the drivers that waited alongside the road, they will get an earful at the delivery point for being late, they are caught between a rock and a hard place.  Damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  We had to listen to the stoney silence and the long exhalation of breath that came from our dispatch office over the delay.  However we were calmly told to wait out the storm and hit the road early the following morning.

This job allows a certain freedom unlike any office or factory job.  The weather and “Mother Nature” have to remind us all who really has the upper hand in this life.  Long ago, when I first was introduced to the truck driving life, one of the mantras spoken over the CB radio to wish a fellow trucker good luck – much like telling an actor to “break a leg” – was “Keep the dirty side down and the shiny side up”.

So to all you “Good buddies” out there stay safe and ever vigilant.

Leslie