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Old 01-04-2015, 11:11 PM   #1
ParrotheadJeff OP
Class A CDL
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Price, UT
Oddometer: 1,247
CDL - Who's got one and what have you done with it?

It's been a long road to get to where I am now, but I'm almost where I want to be. After losing my tech support job back in April of 2014 and looking for a job in a small town for quite a while, I decided to get my CDL and drive some trucks for a living There aren't a whole lot of IT jobs around here, but there are a ton of jobs for CDL drivers - especially if you've got endorsements for tankers and other things.

I met Gail (my school rep) at a job fair the school held here in Price, UT with one of the local trucking companies. It took a few weeks to get things squared away, but then I spent three weeks at school while staying in a hotel. Home is about 2.5 to 4 hours from the school and nobody seemed to think that commuting while doing 7am to 6pm would be a great idea.

The first week was classroom and then the next two weeks were a combination of backing, practice pre-trip inspections, and driving on the road. I'd never driven anything with a trailer, so this was 100% new to me, but it wasn't too bad! Learning big rig double clutch shifting in a 10 speed Freightliner with a Mercedes engine was interesting and driving a 53' trailer through downtown Murray, UT was anything but boring! I still can't believe some of the stuff other drivers did like the Smart Car that cut me off coming up to a traffic light or the two cars that came up alongside my rig on an off ramp that had to have their passenger seats on the yellow line. The big rig that did a spectacularly crappy, illegal U-turn in front of me was especially crazy

I had good days and bad days and a few really screwed up days, but I now hold a Class A CDL with endorsements for doubles/triples, tankers, and hazmat. Oh - I remembered to keep my motorcycle endorsement, too!

I've got a job lined up locally that I haven't started yet, but don't want to go into too many details about that just yet for a few personal reasons. That said, I'd love to hear other inmates' stories! How did you get into trucking, how long have you been driving, what are your favorite/craziest/funniest experiences, etc? Please post pics if you've got 'em, too! I've only really had school experience myself, so I'll just post a few pics from those three weeks for now myself

Our day always started before the sun came up. It also started before the temperature began to rise, too!

This was the first truck we had a Pre-Trip Inspection lesson on

Shift pattern in one of the school trucks

I got this clip board after experience trying other things and I like it. There's a dry erase surface on the front, a calculator in the clip, storage/protection for documents inside, and a handle that makes carrying it a piece of cake

Yours truly after driving in public for the first time! Shift practice was followed by a bit of I-80 to the Flying J in Tooele, UT

View from the back of the truck (a converted sleeper) while another student prepares to get back out on the road

You can tell when students are doing a PTI on a truck they're about to take out on the road

This was the truck I drove more than any other out on the road.

We stopped to fuel up one of the school trucks and I got a little artsy with the editing

This rig belongs to the company next to the school and I thought it looked pretty cool. The driver sure was nice and had no problem with me taking the pic

We only had one day off for Christmas, the weather sucked, and my daughter can't read a calendar, so I stayed up north in the hotel and studied for my endorsements and we had Christmas a few days late when I returned

A lot of hard work and studying has gotten me to the end of the first stage. Now, I'm just looking forward to being the best driver I can be and having a good job that I support my family with

Have a great day, everyone!
Learnin' to drive the Big Iron!
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Old 01-05-2015, 01:38 AM   #2
Eat my shorts
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Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Bee Cee
Oddometer: 4,021
Best of luck Jeff!

Ride Report: Canada North to South 2008 here
Drive Report: Ice Road Trucking 2005-2014 here

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Old 01-05-2015, 02:28 AM   #3
Studly Adventurer
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Joined: Nov 2008
Location: Athens,Tennessee
Oddometer: 644
Good luck, I've had mine for 13yrs now..Drove over the road for awhile but
still had 2 children so it was short lived.
old enough to know better......
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Old 01-05-2015, 04:35 AM   #4
90% bluff
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Joined: Dec 2005
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Oddometer: 7,393
Good on you, now forget about using the clutch pedal, it only needs to be used when taking off or stopping.

The 9 speed Eaton is the same shift pattern as the 13 speed and 18 speed. In the 13 you only split the top box and with the 18 you can split top and bottom, although it's hardly worth doing in the 18 speed unless you are heavy and moving off on a hill.

I had visions some years ago of travelling to the US and getting my CDL, even had the training organised, but a motorcycle accident put me out of business for about six months so it didn't happen.

I had a break of twenty one years, but have been back driving for about eight years, just doing local.
David Hunn:
R100GS Ray Peake special.

gsd4me screwed with this post 01-05-2015 at 04:52 AM
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:41 AM   #5
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Joined: Aug 2012
Location: The land of Buzzards and Border Patrols
Oddometer: 341
Congratulations! I have not driven in several years, i got my CDL when all you needed was a pickup and a gooseneck trailer. I was licensed and had never even driven a tractor/ trailer. The first job i got was driving a dump truck, tandem with auto shift. I drove it and hauled backhoes around for about a year. Still no experience with shifting, so my next job was a 13spd and what an awakening. I never drove many miles, but i am not very good at down shifting when coming to a stop. Never could get that down. People who have never driven a rig should have the opportunity, it would lend more appreciation to what Truck Drivers go through on a daily basis. Best wishes. D.
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:58 AM   #6
ParrotheadJeff OP
Class A CDL
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Price, UT
Oddometer: 1,247
Squonker - Thank you!

local1 - My two year old daughter is my reason for staying local vs. going over the road. Stay safe!

gsd4me - Thanks! I'll say that I'm probably going to be driving an 18 speed and hauling something really heavy. The school says they have to teach us double clutching, but I know what you're talking about. I'm going to let the new employer tell me how to do things with their trucks, but I do thank you for your advice! Best wishes for safe driving!!!

DSTEVENS - Thanks for the reply! I've driven 9, 10, and 13 speeds so far. Seems like I was always shifting in the 10 speed, the 9 speed wasn't so bad, and one of the "9 speed" trucks we had was a 13 speed that I learned a bit about splitting gears on. One of the great things about my school was that they made sure you knew what you were doing with everything. If you needed work on shifting, they'd do that. If you needed more work on tight turns, you'd go back out and do more. Downshifting wasn't so bad for me after some practice, but I do feel your pain!

Thanks again, everyone, and have a great day
Learnin' to drive the Big Iron!
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Old 01-05-2015, 07:37 AM   #7
Just say NO to socialism!
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Centennial,Co./ Grand Lake,Co
Oddometer: 3,860
Good luck on your new job adventure. I don't drive(trucks) for a living, but have some friends that do. You either learn to love it or hate it. Being a gypsie and living out of a suitcase all your life isn't for everyone. It can be very solitary. You gotta be able to tell your bos where to shove it when it isn't safe to do what they want! Don't learn that the hard way! I travel for a living in another part of the transportation industry, very different, but also some of the same issues.
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Old 01-05-2015, 07:46 AM   #8
done with Chemistry!
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Live Free or Die
Oddometer: 5,176
It was probably 8 years ago and in a fit of boredom I got myself hooked up with a local guy who taught me how to drive truck. I ended up with a class A with all the goodies except hazmat and ended up with a pretty cushy (for trucking) job doing local sheetrock deliveries.

I knew it wasn't anything I wanted to do long term- more of a feather in the hat sort of thing.

It HAS been really beneficial to have since then. I got a really awesome job with a municipality because I had a CDL. For the first year or so I rarely ever used it, and even when I switched roles I still didn't use it all that much- maybe a couple times a week for a few minutes.

I'm in nursing school now and know that this is the route I'm going to stick with "for life" but I'll always keep the CDL. I know enough local folks with big trucks and every once in a while they need someone to fill in. I know myself well enough to know that getting my hands dirty is a good complement to indoor work.

Good luck to you!
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Old 01-05-2015, 07:52 AM   #9
Easily trainable
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Joined: Apr 2006
Location: The Teton Rockies
Oddometer: 8,489
Got my cdl with the fire department years ago. Had hazmat, air brakes, passenger, and tanker endorsements - I could drive anything except a tractor trailer. Kinda fun driving around small towns in a 53' telesquirt

Oldmanb777 is right: don't be afraid to tell your boss where to stick it when something is FUBAR. I was made to drive a thousand gallon tender to a fire once. It was known that this tender had no brakes - as in zero brakes. As in the brake fluid reservoir couldn't hold fluid. In the winter. On icy roads. Interesting drive, I made it safely thanks to the driver's schools. Parking it on a hill was a matter of delicate timing with setting the right gear and turning off the engine at the right time... Somehow that truck's engine got blown up in a training night a short time later, just after it rolled - unattended - backwards into some landscaping posts in a local campground...

Nowadays my cdl is on my license but is inactive. No med card and no reason to get it. The hazmat endorsement has been dropped cuz I have no need to have a background check and fingerprinting. WTF? If I was a terrorist I don't think I'd bother with following the licensing laws...
I know I'm feeling badly when I have no interest in speeding
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:02 AM   #10
ray h
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Joined: May 2010
Location: Waynesboro, PA
Oddometer: 253
Good job getting your CDL.
never give it up, even if you decide you don't like driving at some point.
I've had my CDL for about 11 years. I started driving by accident really, I worked in a distribution center, the company I worked for sent me to school for my CDL so I could jockey and shuttle trailers between their warehouses. I actually started jockeying a few months before I could get into CDL school so I really taught myself to backup and shift.
The company I worked for down sized and reorganized and I found myself out of a job so I took my CDL on the road. I drove for a few years, got paid well, paid everything off and got tired of working 60-70 hours a week. I wanted a bit of a break from driving just for the summer and took a part time job teaching CDL students for a community college. Four years later I was still teaching CDL students, (who would've thought I would like teaching, not me that's for sure). Taking student drivers out on the road is quite an experience. The number of things that happen is mind boggling. Anyway, I taught for 4 years and when a full time position opened up in the office I took it. I've been the Assistant Coordinator for the truck driving school for about 2.5 years.
I've about had enough of working in an office, I've been thinking about going back on the road, get myself a nice little local driving job and get out of the office politics for awhile.
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:40 AM   #11
Newly minted n00b
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Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Baja Oklahoma
Oddometer: 998
Been there done that. I dropped my CDL last time I renewed my DL since they're a liability when you get a traffic ticket.
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:58 AM   #12
ray h
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Joined: May 2010
Location: Waynesboro, PA
Oddometer: 253
Originally Posted by Gander View Post
Been there done that. I dropped my CDL last time I renewed my DL since they're a liability when you get a traffic ticket.
How's that?
Unless you plan to drink and drive, everything else is the same.
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:17 PM   #13
ParrotheadJeff OP
Class A CDL
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Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Price, UT
Oddometer: 1,247
Originally Posted by ray h View Post
How's that?
Unless you plan to drink and drive, everything else is the same.
Ray - It's more than just drinking and driving, although that's part of it. If you have a CDL, you're DUI at .04 instead of .08. Also, if you have a CDL, you can't take traffic school and among other things a burned out headlight can be a moving violation at the officer's discretion. It takes 55 years to have something drop off your CDL traffic record as well. There's a lot more to it than just that, but you get the idea. I'll probably keep mine, but I can't blame someone for dropping their CDL if they're not using it to make a living.

oldmanb777, adam_c_eckhardt, rapidoxidationman, Gander, and ray h - Thanks to you all for the replies and support! Please keep 'em coming and keep sharing the stories, too!
Learnin' to drive the Big Iron!
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Old 01-05-2015, 09:58 PM   #14
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2009
Oddometer: 115

I work for a transport company delivering all kinds of vehicles cars, trucks, SUV a little bit of everything and enjoy it. Its my retirement job and works out great. we never transport any combo rigs. But we do some seriously large trucks. I got my class A one hell of a long time ago and just never dropped it as I worked my way thru college with it. And now its come back handy again.
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:21 PM   #15
Past Tense
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Not in MT, for now.
Oddometer: 3,944
Do a search in Inmates or Jomomma and you'll find a ton of stuff on CDLs, seriously, do the search, lots of good information there. I could write a book here but it's already been posted there.
You've got the licence now protect it with your life.
Tommy, what you ridin' there?
Uh... Roll top desk!

Do I look like a man with a plan?
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