With the nice break in that not-so-nice winter blast we just lived through I’ve started to get busy with one run after another.
This past week was pretty productive and I had work every day. One short hop Monday, another trip up to Colorado Tuesday and got home Thursday, and two short runs yesterday. And I’m scheduled for another Colorado run this coming Monday. For now I’m enjoying my weekend and catching up on home stuff. Gotta do laundry too today and re-pack for Monday.
Talk about a different situation altogether from my first few runs! Nice weather makes all the difference. Fast roads, easy driving, no stress. Just getting on down the road and watching out for nutty drivers and other obstacles.
It looks like I’ll be able to keep moving almost constantly for at least the foreseeable future. Which means I might actually start making big enough checks to nibble away at the business start-up costs in bigger chunks than I have been so far. The general goal money-wise is to pay off all of those costs, including the trailer and truck, by the end of the first year. Which means no splurging on other non-work related stuff, but that’s ok!
If I can stay on track with the plan, by next year profits will be up and we can start putting money away for retirement. If I ever do retire, that is. With my personality maybe partial retirement would be better as I get pretty bored just sitting around…
Anyway, my learning curve is starting to flatten out some. I have learned a ton of new stuff already. And I’ve been actively working hard at time/fuel management and making the absolute most of my 11 driving hours daily.
On my return run this week from Colorado I set the cruise control at the speed limit and picked my return route carefully. Amazingly, I made it to my driveway with ten minutes of driving time left on my log.
The secret to making good time is pretty un-secret. I just kept moving as fast as the speed limit allowed, and steadily. No stopping off for un-necessary stuff. Which really makes the miles fly by. And picking good roads.
My first two trips to Colorado I tried two different routes on the way up. One was fast but too much added mileage which negated the higher speeds, the other I hit some pretty crummy roads. On the way back I tried different routes and took more mental notes.
I guess trial and error is one way to route. What looks good on a map may actually be pretty bad on the ground. I have to consider the number of lanes, the condition of the roadway, the terrain, and try to find the best direct route that has the least number of negatives.
Until I got the extra fuel tank on and all connected, I had to route for fuel stops too. But now that it’s functional, I can run a very long way without fueling. This has helped tremendously with routing as I don’t have to worry about finding truck-friendly fuel stops in little towns along the way. Right now, I can load on 144 gallons, and even with a heavy load on, can make it about 800 miles before having to refuel. With a light load or no back-haul coming home, it’s even farther between fueling.
Then there are just some towns that are a pain in the neck to negotiate through with a trailer. I am learning how to avoid them without adding extra miles or hitting roads that aren’t trailer-friendly. The GPS is helpful once I have my route set up, but I don’t use it to choose the route. For that I use maps and my own experience driving various roads.
Then there is load securement. At first, I had no idea what a boomer was or how to use it. All I knew is that was something on the list of “gotta-haves” for this business. And chains and straps. Now, I never had to tie down much of anything before, so I have had the crash course in load securement and am getting pretty good at it. Oh, and tarping! I have only had one tarped load but fully understand why people don’t like doing it. It’s a pain and the tarps are heavy things, not like those little plastic ones from Wally World. Completely different animal!
Everything I’ve hauled so far has been different and had to be secured in particular ways. Some of it is good with straps, like pallets of steel coils, pallet racks of gas bottles, and small tanks. Some of them get braced with wood nailed to the trailer bed then strapped. Some things are funky shaped like sand traps and the things that go on the top of gas wells, and they get chained down and sometimes get extra straps as well.
One thing is for sure, I think I can safely secure just about anything they throw at me now, and without male help. Which seems to drive some men crazy, by the way.
Yesterday I hauled some tank tops that looked like huge Mickey Mouse club hats. They were just half-orbs flat on the bottom and with 2 ears. And they were on pallets. So I chained each one down, tightened up the chains with boomers, and hit the road. Well, chains tend to get loose with all the shaking and bouncing around on these roads, so I stopped on the way to tighten them up. While I was busy doing that, an older guy in a pickup with a young guy stopped to “help” me.
It was nice of them, but the truth is I had to show the younger guy how to use the bar to tighten down the boomers, which probably took me longer than just doing it myself would have. But they insisted on helping! Then the older guy got me tickled when he decided I had to have wire wrapping the boomer handles so they wouldn’t pop open, and he fished out some wire clothes hangers and wired them all down.
I didn’t want to rain on his parade, so I just let him do what he wanted and got on down the road after thanking him for the help. In truth, the boomers can pop open, but I have learned if I think they will to just use a bunji cord wrapped around it a few times and hooked to the chain works just as well as wire. And it’s a lot easier to handle and quicker to take apart when I get to my delivery point.
All in all I’m starting to get a pretty good grip on things. And it’s going a lot smoother than it did at first! So if the weather will just cooperate a little, I think this will be a very productive spring. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway!