Choosing a Truck Driving Job Part VII – Tankers and Flatbeds

In part 1 of our show, picking A Truck Driving Job Part I: Factors That Effect All Companies, we talked about different variables and factors which will affect your expertise at any organization you go to perform for.In part ,”Choosing A Truck Driving Job Part III: The Way Your Family and Lifestyle Will Affect Your Choice”, we considered your personality and lifestyle. Are you currently married? Do you have kids? How long do you like to be away from home? These queries all figure into the process of choosing the right truck driving job.In part 4,”Selecting A Truck Driving Job Part IV: Advantages of Big Trucking Companies”,

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we of course discussed the benefits of working in a large trucking firm.In part 5,”Selecting A Truck Driving Job Part V: Assessing Large Trucking Companies To Small Ones”, we compared working for companies of different sizes.In part 6,”Selecting A Truck Driving Job Part VI: Dry Van and Refrigerated Companies”, we talked a little bit about life on the street with a dry van or a refrigerated carrier.In part , we will talk a little bit about driving to get a tanker or flatbed carrier.You might discover there is not too much difference between driving to get a dry van carrier vs a pawn store, however, pulling a tanker or a flatbed is a whole different thing entirely. FlatbedPulling a flatbed is a exceptional approach to make a living in trucking, and if you ask anyone that does it they’ll tell you there is nothing easy about it. Well, most”flatbedders” are fairly rough guys and now I think about it, they might tell you there’s nothing for this. And for them, it is probably mostly true. A few of the differences are obvious – you have to use chains or straps to hold down your load, and frequently times you have to tarp the load to protect it from the elements. These tasks tend to be dull at best, difficult most of the time, and there are a number of regulations and rules that regulate the methods used to secure your load. The DOT rules loosely define the kinds of equipment you must use, along with a number of the methods you need to use to secure the load. I was alleviated anytime I pulled into a weigh station and there was a flatbed before me. I pulled dry van the huge majority of my years on the road, and we were much less interesting to the DOT compared to flatbeds, for apparent reasons.The job of securing and releasing your load is very physical, and often times quite difficult. The tarps, chains, and straps are rather heavy and often times you are outside in the weather obtaining the load secured or released on your own. The tarps, straps, and chains get wet, icy, and incredibly difficult to handle in bad weather, not to mention you are out there crawling around on the load attempting to get everything situated. It can be very dangerous. I have heard many, many stories of severe injuries from men falling off of trailers.Now there are some advantages to pulling a flatbed also. Quite often the tractor and the load you have are far shorter in height compared to your standard trucks, so it’s a lot easier to fit under low bridges in the cities. Additionally, the reduced profile aids the crosswinds move around you somewhat better on glossy roads in the wintertime. And finally, it’s an interesting way to make a living. There’s always a new challenge, a variety of different types of loads to fasten, and there’s a bit of a camaraderie among the flatbed motorists. It is an interesting and challenging form of truck driving, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t the rugged type.Liquid TankersNow I pulled a food-grade tanker for a calendar year one time and I truly enjoyed it. I never pulled a chemical tanker and I was never too interested in doing this. I wasn’t too big on the idea of being about a great deal of toxic materials or pulling HAZMAT loads very often.Food grade tankers are intriguing however. There are no baffles in the tank, so there is nothing to keep the fluids out of sloshing around. It takes a little bit of time to learn how to shift the truck since the liquid sloshing will push or slow down the truck that the shift will not execute at the speed you’re now going. You have to”time” your changes so as to begin rolling. It’s no big deal – but it requires some practice.You also have to be additional careful on slick streets, in turns, and when flying. This liquid moves all around the area and you have to always know about what it’s going to do until you attempt maneuvering the vehicle. You don’t get too many second chances if you attempt to create too aggressive of a transfer.Additionally, you have to acquire the tank washed out after virtually every load. This may take a great deal of additional time, and mean a lot of additional running between heaps. However, at times it is a relief as a two hour nap is only what the doctor ordered!Last, you do need to help unload the truck at times by hooking up some hoses. Most liquid tankers also have hydraulic pumps around the back and at times you’ll need to run the pump to unload the tank. Again, it is not a big deal, but it comes with the territory.The advantages of pulling a liquid tanker are the crosswinds flow round the tank well, you do not need to worry about having your axle weights adjusted because the liquid is self-balancing, and the majority of the tractors and tanks are fairly short in elevation, so reduced bridges aren’t as much of a concern.Most new drivers won’t be dealing with businesses that haul bulk shipments in dry tankers, like flour, sugar, and sand, but there is not too much of a difference in the job and lifestyle from that of a liquid tanker. There are far more local jobs for dry bulk tankers though than there are over the road jobs.At the last part of the series we’re going to talk about a few of the greatest methods to discover if a business you are thinking about driving for is one you may be happy with.

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