Think It Over: Whether You Succeed Or Fail Is Up To You

By Dan Baker

Many years ago, I went to my 20th Harlingen High School Reunion in Harlingen, Texas, down in the Rio Grande Valley.

It was great being back with my old classmates, and Coach Ham, my chemistry teacher was there. I went up to Coach Ham and I said, “Coach, I remember back in 1956, when you flunked me in chemistry class.”

And Coach Ham looked at me and said, “Baker, I didn’t flunk you in chemistry class. You flunked yourself, and all I did was just keep score.”  Man oh man, did that ever put me in my place!

But the lesson I took away from that day still lives deep inside of me. When we fail, we fail ourselves. Nobody is doing anything to you that you are not allowing them to do. If you fail, you fail yourself. If you succeed, you succeed on your own.

Students often have a way of blaming their failures on their teachers, or the people that hand out the grades.  As a student driver, it is really important for you to know that you are in charge of your own learning. You are in charge of your own success. You are in charge of your future.

As a student, I know you are looking forward to graduating and getting out there on that road. That’s what we all want for you. But make certain that while you are in school, you don’t miss anything.

Go to every one of your classes. Read everything they give you to read. Absorb everything you can absorb from your teachers, and your fellow students. Be sure that you don’t miss a thing. Be hungry. Be willing to ask. Get up early and stay up late until your have absorbed everything they’ve got to give you.

Take advantage of talking and visiting with experienced drivers, and soak up every piece of advice they’ve got.  Don’t waste a second trying to look like you know stuff.  Admit that you don’t know and you want to learn. When you let people know that you appreciate what they are teaching you, they will be glad to give you all they’ve got.

And always remember that whether you succeed or fail, it is up to you!! Coach Ham didn’t flunk me in chemistry class. I flunked myself. And today, that still remains as one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. Learn it for yourself, and you’ll never have to look back.

All my best to you and yours. Get out there and make it happen.

Intro To Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 31

A Bit Of Independence

 

By Timothy D. Brady

 

Note: We interview two truckers monthly, changing names/details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured, they’re real.

  

July: celebrating our nation’s independence. The ideal of becoming a truck driver is to gain some of that ‘American independence’. Is that actually attainable for a trucker?

 

While driving a truck, what three things give you a feeling of independence?

Naomi: 1. Not punching a time clock … sure, we have to be on time, but I set my hours.
2. The view out my office window!!! The change of scenery is amazing; keeps things from being monotonous.
3. Not having to listen to office gossip. Life has so much less drama!

Ben: I don’t have a boss over me all the time. Most of the time I choose my delivery time. Even though I’m a company driver, at times I get to choose where I want to go.

What’s the most demanding part of your job?

Naomi: Being sure you make your pickups and deliveries on time. Yes, we have lots of freedom in this lifestyle (aka ‘job’) but you MUST be on time!
The other is traffic … four wheelers who are just totally clueless and distracted.

Ben: Safety is most demanding and important. You have to be on top of it ALL the time.

What three things could your carrier do to provide you with more independence?

Naomi: 1. Not allow brokers to call every hour or 3 or even every day. I HATE brokers checking every 10 minutes by calling me.
2. Pick the load or area of the country you want. (I already have this)
3. Pick your routing. Not have to follow a set route or fuel solution. (I already have this)

Ben: There’s not much more they can do; they’re doing just about everything possible.

What top three things could the government and FMCSA do to make driving safer while providing you greater independence?

Naomi: GIVE ME BACK MY OLD 34-HOUR RESET RULE!!! The HOS now make me more tired; making me run recap vs. reset. I ran recap for 6 weeks; not one day off and no reset. I was beat by the time I took my home-time. The rule of 168 hours between resets is absolutely asinine. Who are they to tell me when and where I am tired and need to rest? I’m also unable to get a run to somewhere I really want and just reset to spend time. Now it really has to be planned out.

Ben: More flexibility on HOS. Stop adding and changing laws and rules that make my job more difficult, confusing and stressful. Get on the shippers and receivers for running our hours down to next to nothing and then making us leave the property.

New challenges?

Naomi: Moved into a brand-new truck. In 30 days, I was down seven. Blew a radiator hose in NM; another in CA. An electrical gremlin in the dash still isn’t completely fixed. I have rubber ducks that were floating on my floor from various leaks. The new-fangled seat has blown an airline in 2 separate places, costing 2 days each in the shop. New trucks suck ’til all the bugs are worked out.

Ben: I got a ticket in a large city. When I call the number provided, I can’t get anyone in the court clerk’s office to answer or return my calls, so I can at least see what my options are.

Interesting experiences?

Naomi: Being asked by family about trucking school for a friend. Had him call me; I told him all I could and, most importantly, study – even gave him websites – before he left for school. He didn’t study – he failed, then blamed me. He really wanted a local job anyway and as a new driver that’s nearly impossible; most companies want a minimum of 2 years OTR.

The second is, CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS IF YOU’RE GONNA GET FRISKY WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER. I pulled into a truckstop about midnight to park and there was a couple across from me getting busy completely naked. … My dash cam got a porn video. SO CLOSE YOUR CURTAINS! 

Ben: Freight’s picked up and I’m running more. Busy, busy, busy. Not sure that’s interesting, but my pay check is better, and I find that both desirable and interesting.

Advice for someone just finishing school to gain the independence he/she desires?

Naomi: This is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. Be patient with companies: you’re new; don’t start making demands right out of school. You have to EARN your right for those jobs where you’re home nightly.
After you have some time under your belt, start looking for a company that fits your needs. They do exist. But you have to earn your way into them.

Ben: When you go to work for a company, be honest and up front with them. Be very nice and respectful to your dispatcher. Find out when his/her birthday is and order a pizza on that day. I promise you, good things will happen. You’ll get more choices and better miles.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

 

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com

 

Intro To Trucking:

Stop Bugging Me!

By Timothy D. Brady

Note: We interview two truckers monthly, changing names and some details so they remain anonymous. But rest assured they’re real and these are their experiences from the road.

It’s June, and the summer heat’s upon us with the bugs: on the windshield, the grill and the back of the mirrors. So that’s the topic this month, “Stop Bugging Me!”

What three things are most annoying to you OTR? What can change them from being a problem?

Naomi:

1. Other drivers who are rude and inconsiderate with no common sense.

1 ½.  Four-wheelers on their phones texting. I’ll blow my airhorn at ‘em if they’re weaving real bad.

2. Shippers/receivers taking their sweet time eating up my 14 hours of time to work each day. (…Patience. Don’t ever show them you’re mad about waiting because they’ll make you wait even longer for being a jerk to them.)

3. HOS rules irritate me to no end, especially the 30-minute break and the whole reset rule. It’s the law; nothing I can do about it but be creative with my breaks. (It’s called the ‘dirty 30′ for good reason.)

Ben:

Cars merging onto the interstate 30-45 mph.

Cars racing around your rig just to slam on the brakes to take the next exit.

Trucks/cars riding in the left lane under the speed the flow of traffic is moving, causing congestion. Not much you can do to change them, so best to give them plenty of room. Be the professional trucker.

 

What’s your biggest pet peeve regarding the operation of your truck?

Naomi: Cleanliness – it’s a small space; everything has a place. Put it away.
Breakdowns – no way to anticipate some things. Do your pre- and post-trip inspections religiously.

Ben: When you try to keep a safe following distance and cars take advantage of that space you’ve left and cut in, taking that margin of safety away from you. They do this most of the time without warning!

 

What three things could shippers do to make your job run more smoothly?

Naomi:  

1. Follow appointments; stop making trucks sit in docks for hours with no explanation. Treat drivers with respect!!!! We’re hauling your freight. We’re going to do it as safely and timely as possible; we expect the same from you.
2. Speak English
3. Allow parking for 10-hour rest periods

Ben: Provide parking if they run your clock out.

Treat drivers with a bit more respect and not so much like criminals.

And have their product ready at the appointment time.

 

What three things need to be done to encourage more people to enter trucking as a career? 

Naomi: First, this is a lifestyle, not just a job!

1. Change HOS so drivers can get quality home time.
2. The big companies need to treat drivers with respect. We are people; fellow human beings, not a number!
3. Increase pay, in line with the responsibility we undertake every time we climb into the truck.

Ben: Better pay. Better detention pay/more parking. Less regulation/more flexibility.

 

New challenges?

Naomi:  Breakdowns w/brand-new 2015 truck:
Blown radiator hose in the desert southwest
Blown coolant hose to Def while climbing a mountain pass
Blinker switch works when it wants to
Cruise automatically turns off for no reason
Whole communication GPS system doesn’t work, so no radio ALLLLLLLLL the way from West Coast to Midwest (not a blown fuse)
Fuel economy gauge does not work
Blown airhose to driver seat in Missouri; crimped it off with vice grips so we could make delivery on time.
All this in one week. Truck is brand-new; aggravated beyond words.

Ben: As the weather warms up, traffic is getting worse and more reckless. Lately I’m having to run through big cities during rush hour because of my appointment times and HOS rules. I can’t park to wait for a much safer time to go through and still be on time. Where’s the safety in this?

 

Interesting experiences?

Naomi: Changing companies. I thought I was in my ‘forever home,’ but it wasn’t. So many things were happening internally in the company; changes we couldn’t accept. We quit. Already had another job at another company. Changing from dry van to refrigerated. It changes how you run because most warehouses are 24/7 and your schedule is much tighter.

Ben: For the first time ever, I had a lot lizard knock on my door. Always heard people talk about them but had never seen one. Kinda shocked me.

 

Advice for someone just finishing school about the daily nit-picky things that occur OTR.

Naomi: Pick your battles; preferably pick the ones you can win. Patience is a virtue. Courtesy and kindness go a very long way. Do unto others as you would have done to you.

Ben: Don’t lose your cool. Take it one day at a time. If you need to, pull over for a few minutes to let things calm down.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

 

Timothy Brady © 2013

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com

How It Works: A Bright Idea

Truck Lighting (Finally) Meets The 21st Century
A_ProStar_White1

By Tom Kelley

Even though many components have continually evolved since trucks first hit the road, one key part remained frozen in time until late in the twentieth century. At the same time as engines became computerized, transmissions became synchronized, and suspensions gained sophisticated air systems, truck lighting changed very little.

Because delivery schedules don’t always fit conveniently between the hours of dawn and dusk, lighting is just as important as horsepower to the operation of a truck.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps were originally developed for turn, stop, tail and marker lamps, but are now being used throughout the truck. The LEDs use far less power and have a greatly extended the lifespan compared to conventional incandescent lamps. Increased resistance to vibration is also a benefit.

Most LED lamp assemblies use several individual LEDs to generate light, so a complete instantaneous failure is unlikely. While initial cost is higher than that of incandescent units, the total lifecycle cost, including replacement and labor cost, is competitive.

One of the newer developments in LED lighting technology has been the addition of white LED lamps to the original red and amber offerings. This has allowed LEDs to move inside the truck or trailer for use in interior lighting fixtures. Compared to incandescent and fluorescent interior lighting, the LED lamps perform better in cold environments such as those found in refrigerated bodies/trailers.

In just the last decade, LED technology has broken through the final frontier on trucks to become available for headlamp applications. With a projected life-span measured in years rather than hours, the LED headlamps are said to provide daylight clarity in pre-dawn/after-dusk operations.

While LED lamps were quite expensive when they first debuted in stop/tail/turn applications – leading to a bit of a problem with theft of the lamps – mass production, wider acceptance, and economies of scale have driven down the purchase cost dramatically. When the LEDs reduced maintenance costs are factored in, they are quickly eliminating any cost advantage once held by traditional incandescent lighting.

Cover Story: Randall-Reilly Announces 2014 Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie Program

Three years ago, Randall-Reilly Recruiting Media launched a Trucking’s Top Rookie contest to increase pride and professionalism among new drivers, and promote the truck driving career choice during a severe shortage of drivers. Through its many trucking periodicals and industry partners like Shell ROTELLA, Progressive Insurance, Pilot Flying J and Rand McNally, Randall-Reilly has been able to promote the contest and to recognize 99 nominees thus far.

“We’ve had great response to the Trucking’s Top Rookie contest thanks to our sponsors and support from association partnerships with TCA, ATA, CVTA, and NAPFTDS,” Scott Miller, Senior Vice President, Sales for Randall-Reilly, said. “With $25,000 in cash and prizes plus more time for entries, this year’s contest promises to be bigger and better. We hope to have 50 nominees in 2014.”

The winning driver’s award is being renamed to honor Mike O’Connell, the former Executive Director of CVTA, who first suggested that Randall-Reilly pursue an entry-level driver recognition program. Any CDL holder who has graduated from a PTDI certified, or NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school within the past year and has been employed by a trucking company for less than one year, is eligible for the Mike O’Connell Memorial Trucking’s Top Rookie award.

Nominations may be made by motor carrier employers, training organizations, and/or other interested parties. There is a standardized nomination form, which can be completed online at http://www.truckload.org/rookie between May 1 and June 27, 2014

An expert panel of judges, which includes representatives from motor carriers, suppliers, trade associations and driver training schools, will identify 10 finalists. The winner will be interviewed by Eric Harley on RedEye Radio Network and will be recognized during a press conference at the Great American Truck Show in Dallas, TX.

The win­ner will also receive: a $10,000 check; a custom plaque from Award Company of America, a division of Randall-Reilly; a RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package; $1,000 cash and 100,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J; a GPS unit from Rand McNally; an American Trucking Asso­ciations “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” pack­age, and a dash camera from Cobra Electronics.

The other nine finalists will receive $1,000 and a similar prize pack. Please nominate your deserving drivers today!

Career Path Profile: Rolling With The Changes

J.B. Hunt’s Joe Trimble

While trucking may be your passion, it doesn’t have to be your life. In fact, life has a funny way of twisting and turning through the decades, and drivers with J.B. Hunt are fortunate that the company offers plenty of options to fit various life situations. Maybe you started out as an over-the-road driver and loved being out for extended periods of time. But then, you met the girl of your dreams, settled down and started a family. Now you can transition into a regional or local driving job and be home for baseball games and dance recitals. As the kids grow up, you think you may want to own your own truck, so you explore the possibilities of J.B. Hunt’s Lease Purchase program. Now, you drive along in your own rig, and you notice the younger guys look to you for driving advice. That’s when you begin to consider management or transitioning into a safety director position.  Later, when the nest empties, you may decide to go back out on the road again.

Once you factor in J.B. Hunt’s affordable benefit options and its well-appointed, late-model equipment — not to mention a wide variety of local, regional and over-the-road driving jobs — you can see why many drivers choose the company. Drivers like that J.B. Hunt provides flexibility and the opportunity to take different positions based on their own personal life stages.

Stan Hampton, a 20-year J.B. Hunt veteran, says he’s seen drivers move between positions as their interests and circumstances change. In fact, Hampton has had multiple positions with the company himself — he began as a part-time worker and then moved on to dispatcher, logistics manager, field fleet manager, dedicated division account manager, then regional operations manager before settling in his current position of Vice President of Corporate Driver Personnel.

“There’s really no limit to the possibilities within the company,” Hampton says. “You can transition to the job that fits with your season of life, and J.B. Hunt supports your choices by offering opportunities and training to help you succeed.”

Here is one J.B. Hunt employee who has found flexibility throughout his professional career:

Joe Trimble

Name: Joe Trimble

Location: Shelbyville, Kentucky

Position: Truck Driver

Time in Trucking: 24 years

Time with J.B. Hunt: 24 years

Veteran driver Joe Trimble says he’s enjoyed his years with J.B. Hunt. Trucking has seen quite a few changes since he started driving — however, with a solid company like J.B. Hunt, he’s been able to take them in stride.

“Trucking has changed so much over the years,” Trimble says. “But I’ve adapted very easily. It helps to have a company that works with you.”

When Trimble first completed truck-driving school, he wasn’t sure where he would land. Then a friend recommended J.B. Hunt, saying it was a larger company that was really growing. It turned out to be a perfect fit for Trimble.

“Some people think you get lost in a big company,” says Trimble. “That’s not been true for me. I have a manager who knows my name, and it has worked out well for me at J.B. Hunt.”

In addition, a larger company like J.B. Hunt has given Trimble the job flexibility he has needed. He initially drove over-the-road, but when he had children, being gone from home for two weeks at a time was tough. So, he switched to automotive runs, which gave him more time with his family.

“They’ve always been good to me, always worked with me,” Trimble says. “That’s why I’ve stayed with them.”

Ultimately, Trimble just wants to make a good living, and J.B. Hunt has helped him do that.

“They provide you with good equipment and help you do your job,” he says. “They give you good training, make you aware of situations, and reward for safety. They take care of you.”

“All in all, they’re a good company to work for,” says Trimble. “I make a good living — you can’t ask for more than that.”

For your opportunity with J.B. Hunt, call 1-800-297-4321 or visit www.jbhunt.jobs. You can also connect with J.B. Hunt at Facebook.com/jbhuntdrivers.

Web Roads: Retread Revamp

TRIB Updates Site, Goes Mobile

By Tom Kelley

retreadscreenshot

One of the most misunderstood elements in trucking operations today is the use of retreaded tires. Retreading is a process where a used tire, after careful inspection, gets a new tread surface applied, allowing the tire’s foundation, or “casing,” to serve multiple lives before disposal.

To address the widespread lack of knowledge about retreads, the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) was formed by many of the key players in the tire manufacturing and retreading industry. The TRIB website at www.retread.org serves as a repository of tire retreading information, and a link to reputable retailers.

According to Managing Director David Stevens, “TRIB is a non-profit trade association established in 1974 to promote the positive economic and environmental benefits of tire retreading and proper tire repair. We support an industry that delivers immense environmental benefits through the safe retreading of tires. In addition, the industry helps commercial and public fleets, including federal, state and local governments save money through the cost-effective use of retreaded tires.”

Recently, TRIB launched their newly redesigned website at www.retread.org. “We’ve used the latest in website technology to redesign our website to accurately and professionally represent our industry, as well as make it easier for users to find all the great content we offer,” said TRIB Managing Director David Stevens. “With the continued growth of smartphone web-browsing, we’ve also invested in the website to create a mobile-optimized version for our users.”

Some of the major features of the new website include:

* – A “Learn More” section devoted to educating the public about the retread and repair industries and dispelling common myths.

* – A Resources section that includes: all TRIB Educational Videos, Recommended Links, Downloadable Government Studies concerning retreading, a Retread Tire Buyer’s Guide, and other articles and information for the retread and repair industries.

* – A safe and secure online store for the purchase of materials from TRIB, including: Understanding Retreading Brochures, Industry Recommended Practices, Training Programs, and other reference documents.

* – A simple way for users to look up DOT codes and find retreaders.

* – A mobile-optimized version of the website that presents TRIB’s content in easy-to-navigate ways for smartphone users.

“Anyone who’s not looking at retreaded tires as part of their overall tire program is throwing money down the drain,” says Stevens. “Retreaded tires can save up to 60% compared to the cost of a new tire, and they can be run at the same speeds and same load capacity as new tires.”

Check It Out @ www.retread.org or www.youtube.com/user/RetreadInfo. Follow TRIB on Twitter: @voiceofretreads or find them on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tire-Retread-Repair-Information-Bureau/177521322243

Thoughts From A Trainer, Part Three

By Tim Brady

Editor’s Note:  This is the final installment in a three-part series. If you missed the March and/or April issues, you can read them online by clicking the In The Magazine tab at www.studentdriverplacement.com

A few more points from our veteran trucker who’s a trainer for new OTR drivers.

“I can’t tell you how many times a new driver’s taken off a hood mirror, caught a bumper, or dragged a trash can. That’ll set all the other drivers laughing. Prevent something like that by using your eyes like you were an owl – look all around, every direction. Then ease into your turn or back.

And don’t go barreling through a truckstop or delivery dock area like you were still on the interstate. A tired driver walking into the restaurant, or a forklift operator could accidentally veer into your lane, and the aftermath is a tragedy.

Believe it or not, I left a new driver at a truckstop once. He wouldn’t listen to me; said I was harping on everything he already knew, and cussed me out every chance he got. He was really hot-headed – he’d cuss out other drivers, too, flip them the bird, always on his horn. Finally I called Safety and said, “Wish him luck getting the truck back without a wreck, because I’m bailing. He’s not going to take me down with him.” Safety had him wait overnight at the same truckstop and they sent out another trainer. I got my gear and spent the night at a nearby motel. He wasn’t out on his own more than three months before he totaled his truck; nearly totaled himself too. Don’t be a smart-ass who knows everything.

Learn to stay calm and even-tempered when a car driver cuts you off or another truck’s going too slow. Avoid heavy traffic when you can, by waiting for rush hour to be over, or get going to your destination before it’s in full swing. Work with your HOS and EOBR – they aren’t going away. Don’t ever drive and be shooting the bull on your phone, either. Even with hands-free – a voice in your ear or in your cab is still a distraction.

Drive so when I meet you again, I’ll shake your hand and say, ‘Welcome to a very exclusive club – of professional drivers.’ ”

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com or call 731.749.8567 

Introduction to Trucking: What It’s Really Like Trucking, Part 29

Stop and smell the flowers

By Timothy D. Brady

Moving into May and spring’s in full swing, flowers blooming, grass turning green; truckers have more time to enjoy the world outside their trucks. Let’s see what our two truckers do with free time OTR.

 

What are three non-trucking activities you enjoy when you have free time on the road?

Naomi: 1.Scrapbooking – I keep a small bag with me and do a page each week. Photography is a passion of mine. I have pics printed from my phone; just bought a very nice camera and have been taking a ton of pics.
2. Watching a movie snuggled up with my husband.
3. Playing with Princess Paws (aka my dog!).

Ben: Calling family and friends; catching up with them. I have an astronomy app on my Kindle and like to check out the stars when they’re visible. I also have a few interesting games on my laptop.
What’s been the most interesting, fun activity you’ve done to date while OTR?

Naomi: Two: indoor cart racing in California, and the rose gardens and Japanese gardens in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ben: I haven’t really done much that was ‘interestingly fun.’ I drive and then go on break. I don’t go far from my truck.
What one place have you traveled past that you’d like to return and explore when you have the opportunity?

Naomi: NIAGARA FALLS; Meteor Crater and West Yellowstone to snowmobile.

Ben: Portland, Maine. I’d like to go eat a fresh lobster on the coast, looking at the ocean. I traveled through there about 3 months ago.
Best ways to find an extracurricular activity you can enjoy while taking a 34-hour restart?

Naomi: Be creative, look online, ask the cashiers and wait staff.

Ben: I’ve taken 99% of my 34-hour restarts at home. But I would get on Google and find a good restaurant and movie theater nearby, and go eat and watch a movie.
New challenges?

Naomi: Starting a new job. Although I was very happy where I was, I became disillusioned with some things that have been happening. No raises for drivers. Must run a set amount of miles per month to keep the insurance. The new dispatcher was rarely in the office and not working for me. Keeping drivers who dropped trailers or put trucks in the ditch to be towed out, then covering it up. Just was tired of the crap. So, I found a new company. I think we’ll be much happier there.

Ben: Mainly dealing with this weather. It has been a rough challenge; a tough winter and real learning experience.
Interesting experiences?

Naomi: LOL! Donner in a snowstorm with chains on and high winds. That was so much fun.

Getting very, very ill in California – took a cab to the hospital; found out I had pneumonia. And all the idiot dispatcher could say was, “Text – when will you have your load delivered?” He couldn’t have cared less about my health. That was really the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Stopping to take pictures in west Yellowstone. I only took 15 minutes, but it was worth every minute.

Ben: I had a breakdown. It took six hours to get a mechanic out to me to fix the truck. And he brought the wrong part. By then I was out of hours to drive, so I had to get a tow. It took 3 hrs for the tow truck to show up. When he got the truck on the hook and ready to roll, I told him I was gonna get my phone out of the truck. He said OK – when I got in my truck to grab my phone – he took off. So I got to ride in my truck while he towed me. By the way, he didn’t take his time. At one point we were doing 80, according to my navigation!
Advice for someone just finishing school about taking time to smell the flowers.

Naomi: You have to relax and take a breather. So what if you’re running early; they most likely won’t take your load early, so blow that 15 minutes or an hour to do something you love. You’ll go stir-crazy if you don’t find a way to relax.

Ben: Ask people who are from the area you’re in what there is to do that’s interesting. Google search places. But try to stay out of trouble.

Here’s to your future great loads and great roads.

Timothy Brady © 2014

To contact Brady go to www.truckersu.com

 

How It Works: Slowing Down

Retarders Help Brakes Control Speed

By Tom Kelley

Although a truck’s basic “foundation” braking system should be sufficient for stopping the truck without any augmentation from a retarding system, many factors can limit the basic system’s performance.

Heat is at the top of this list.

When the truck is operated within the limitations of the foundation braking system, factors including the mass of the braking hardware and airflow past that hardware combine to dissipate that heat sufficiently to maintain the braking system performance.

But once you add a maximum-weight load and a long downgrade to the picture, additional braking is necessary. If all of the additional braking is provided by the foundation brakes, they are also required to dissipate the additional heat. Keeping that additional heat from exceeding the limitations of the system requires one of two solutions, either using much larger brakes, or descending at a much slower average speed.

According to the manufacturers of the “Jake Brake,” when operating at maximum weight on a 6% downgrade, the maximum safe speed for a truck without any supplemental retarding is about 6 MPH.

To augment the foundation brakes, the truck’s engine can be used to absorb some of the energy, but only if the transmission is kept in a lower gear, which again means operating at a lower average speed during the descent.

Because a diesel engine is designed primarily to produce power rather than absorb it, by itself it’s not the best way to augment the foundation brakes. With this in mind, some of the early diesel engine pioneers developed the means to temporarily turn the engine into a compressor, which is a far better consumer of energy than an engine.

By making the engine better at absorbing power, the truck can safely maintain a higher average speed without any increase in the size of the foundation brake hardware. That same truck that had to slow down to 6 MPH without a retarder, can safely descend the same grade at approximately 41 MPH when equipped with a Jake Brake.

The engine brake or exhaust brake hardware that makes this all possible is part of a larger category of products collectively referred to as “retarding” systems. Although they are certainly among the most popular choices, engine and exhaust brake systems are not the only way to augment the foundation brakes.

Another way to use the drivetrain for retarding purposes involves adding an hydraulic turbine either just ahead or just behind the truck’s transmission. The hydraulic turbine uses the same basic technology as a typical window fan. If a stream of hydraulic fluid is directed at the fan in the opposite direction that the fan is spinning, the fan will slow or stop.

Already quite popular in heavy off-road equipment, Allison offers hydraulic retarders on some of its automatic transmissions for Class 8 trucks. The benefits to using a hydraulic retarder include minimal outside noise during operation, and easy management of the heat created in the retarding process. Additionally, a hydraulic retarding system can produce more braking horsepower than most other alternatives.

While engine, exhaust and hydraulic retarders can augment the foundation brake system at every drive axle position, there are electric retarding systems that can even be used at non-drive axle positions, including those on the trailer. An electromagnetic retarder works on the same principle as an electric generator.

Although electric retarding systems have long been popular in Europe, they are beginning to be integrated with hybrid drivetrains here in North America. In the hybrid system, the electricity created in the retarding process is stored in batteries, and then when the vehicle is accelerating, the retarder’s “generator” windings are reversed, turning it into an electric motor which augments the primary powerplant.

Unfortunately, the volume required by the batteries for a system on a Class 8 truck is such that storing the energy would be impractical, so the electric retarders for this application just route the energy to a resistive coil where it’s dissipated as waste heat.

At present, engine and exhaust brakes have the lion’s share of the North American retarder market because the hardware involved is lightweight, and the absorbed energy is easily managed. However, that’s not to say that these systems are without a few problems.

One of the biggest problems with exhaust brakes is that an unfortunate minority within the driver and owner-operator community insist on unnecessarily misusing the technology as some sort of foolish fashion statement.

These few “bad apples,” who insist on unnecessarily using engine/exhaust brakes on moderate to level terrain in congested urban and suburban areas, many of whom further amplify their ignorance with an illegal exhaust system, have succeeded at inviting additional regulation into our already over-regulated industry. As a result, many communities and regions have prohibited the use of engine/exhaust brakes entirely, even when that use is appropriately conducted.

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