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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book Review - “Trucking Life”

The full name of the book is  “Trucking Life: An Entertaining, Yet Informative Guide to Becoming and Being a Trucker” originally written by Todd McCann in 2008 and updated in 2014 and again prior to publishng.


If you are considering a truck driving career and looking for information, I highly recommend this book for you. The ebook is available for $8.99 on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else you find ebooks.


It is 208 pages packed with information written in an easy to read and entertaining format. Trucking Life was written for people interested in becoming truck drivers, but it was also designed for those who just have a passing interest in truckers and their lifestyle.


I’ve been driving for about 35 years and found it entertaining enough to read all the way through, so you don’t have to be a “newbie” to enjoy it.


If you are just thinking about getting into the industry, there is a lot of information out there for you to explore thanks to the internet. However, not all you read on the internet is true, so be wary of hidden agendas. Todd is a straight shooter and gives you the unbiased facts. I highly stress that you do your homework first before you jump into this lifestyle. It’s not for everybody, but for some, it’s a career that you can thrive in and make good money if you figure it out. With the exception of my first year “learning” the business and hauling around “piggyback” containers, I’ve always made pretty decent money and am in a pretty good place as I am now closing in on retirement. You’re not going to make top dollar right away, you have to demonstrate your ability for a while through safe driving and maintaining a good work record.


One of the big things Todd cautions new drivers about is resisting any temptation to buy a truck and set out on your own. I am in complete agreement with him. The reasons he gives in the book are accurate, I’ve seen way too many drivers go into it and ruin their financial life going broke. There are successful Owner Operators out there, but you have to know what you’re doing and be skilled in the fundamentals of running a business and bookkeeping practices. As you are first experiencing and learning the trucking industry, it is definitely not the time to take the huge financial risk. Trucking companies have a great need for company drivers and the good ones offer a valuable benefits package, good pay, paid vacations and retirement plans. You're on your own if you buy a truck, beware! When the wheels aren't turning, your fixed expenses don't stop.


Todd and his wife started driving in 1997 and the book contains many entertaining stories of their experiences. I started driving in 1980 and wrote a seven part series in this blog about my experiences becoming a truck driver. You can link to Part I here: http://dbridgerhot.blogspot.com/2012/03/deciding-on-trucking-career.html  
It’s fun to compare the differences and similarities of the two time periods that are about 17 years apart.

Todd has  been doing some great work, he has more good stuff and links at his website: http://abouttruckdriving.com/ 
Enjoy!



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Zombie Drivers – Say What?

bbc.com
Article thanks to the National Motorists Association. Help support motorists rights and join the NMA. Links provided:

May 8, 2016  We dedicated the Spring 2016 issue of Driving Freedoms to the exploration of various aspects of the technological march toward driverless, interconnected vehicles. There are some distinct safety benefits to be realized through automation and connectivity – intersection movement assist for instance – but there are also very real concerns.
There are five classifications of automated driving:
Level 0
The human driver is in complete control of the vehicle at all times (in theory anyway).
Level 1
Some vehicle controls are automated. Automated braking is one such feature whereby if an imminent collision is sensed, brakes are applied without intervention by the driver.
Level 2
Multiple automated systems are in operation at the same time but a driver sits at the controls, poised to take command in an instant.
Level 3
The car drives autonomously in certain conditions. Its operating system senses when those conditions do or don’t exist and in the latter case, provides (in theory again) sufficient warning to the driver to take control.
Level 4
Read a book, sip a cocktail, or text to your heart’s desire because at this level, the vehicle is fully autonomous in operation. All functions are computerized with no expectation that the driver would need to assume control at any time during a trip.
While some believe that Level 4 automation is not too far around the corner, we think Level 2 and Level 3 technologies will be with us for the next generation or two of drivers, an era when computerized and human-driven vehicles will interact on a regular basis. That could actually create more unpredictability on the road, which is not usually a recipe for improved safety.
A member wrote to us after reading the NMA treatment of the subject:
I think the most dangerous part of driverless cars is the generations of “zombie drivers” it will create. Think about the sales person at the store who struggles to calculate the change from a $10.00 bill without the cash register or a calculator doing it for them. Driverless cars will create millions of incompetent drivers who become totally dependent on technology. Steering wheels and brake pedals will be pointless. 
Driving skills are learned from hands on the wheel daily driving under diverse weather and traffic conditions. Someone who relies upon a driverless feature of their vehicle 90% of the time will not acquire these skills in a proficient enough way for them to become instinctual and allow them to take control of the vehicle to avoid an impending crash situation. 
There is no substitute for human skill and training. Even drones, the epitome of driverless technology that have replaced fighter jets in many military instances, still need a hands on, eyes on, brain on, human controller back at base. 
The advancement of autonomous vehicle design will continue.  The safety benefits cannot be ignored but, by the same token, security/privacy issues and legal protections for man vs. machine conflicts must be addressed.
There is a broad spectrum of issues related to autonomous driving; just a few have been touched upon here.  We are curious about your thoughts – pro, con, or mixed – about the development and introduction of driverless vehicles.  Help us gauge the sentiment of the driving public by dropping us a line at nma@motorists.org.  We’ll share feedback in a future e-newsletter.



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Backing off Back Pain

Dawid Szpojda, president of Schpoyda Trucking, wearing an
Alignmed SpinalQposture garment, which he credits with
maintaining good posture on cross-country hauls.
Article thanks to David Cullen, Executive Editor Also by this author and truckinginfo.com. Links provided:
Back pain is the bane of many whose jobs involve a lot of sitting at a desk or other work station. But that misery is compounded when the sitting is behind the wheel of a truck. Truckers don’t just sit. They don’t ride a desk. They drive. They can’t take even a quick break whenever they need to stretch their legs.
Then there’s the heavy lifting. Securing loads and handling freight can take a toll on the upper body. It should be no surprise that truck driving is often at or near the top of OSHA’s list of professions incurring lost work due to injury. Yet truckers must be as pain-free and comfortable as possible to work as efficiently and, above all, as safely as possible as they pilot massive, powerful pieces of machinery on public roads for hours at a time.
Elsewhere, back pain may be written off as what the weekend warrior who overdid the yardwork brought on himself. But in trucking, it’s an occupational hazard. That’s why fleets should help drivers avoid bringing it on in the first place.
To be sure, truck drivers are exposed to risk factors that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, such as neck, shoulder and back pain, with the latter being the most common ailment. That’s according to a University of Washington ergonomics guide for truckers put out by the State of Washington’s Safety Health Investment Project.
The guide points to these risk factors, all well known to truckers, as causes of back pain: poor sitting; long periods seated in the same posture; whole body vibration; and repeated lifting of heavy (over 50 pounds) loads or lifting objects to or from the floor.
Just “the physical effort needed to sustain a posture over a work day can lead to muscle fatigue as well as contribute to neck and back pain,” advises the guide, which explains how fitting a truck seat to the trucker’s body will improve posture and help reduce pain, discomfort and fatigue:
  • Place feet flat on the floor and adjust seat height until knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Knees should not be higher than hips.
  • Filling the lumbar support so it meets the back should provide “a firm yet comfortable level of support… Good lumbar support will minimize slouching (forward head positioning) and will dampen the exposure to vibration.” However, be aware that overfilling lumbar bladders can cause rounding of the spine.
  • Slightly reclining the seat back is recommended. Adjust seat distance fore and aft to make sure each pedal can be depressed without raising or rotating out of the seat.
  • Seat-pad depth is correct if at least two fingers can be placed between the back of the knees and front of the seat pad by lifting it and moving it in or out.
  • Seat pan can be tilted by tall drivers so the front of the seat meets the knees. When driving conditions require high clutch use, drivers may consider lowering the front of the seat pan.
  • Release the fore‐aft lock so the seat can float and absorb some of the cab movement in city driving or if trailer is pushing and tugs cab.
  • Steering wheel should be adjusted to meet the driver with hands at 9 and 3 o’clock positions. Elbows should be close to driver’s sides and he or she should avoid having to reach to meet steering wheel.
  • Mirrors should be adjusted so complete area of each mirror can be seen without slouching or twisting. And mirrors can serve as “a cue to sit up when you slouch instead of readjusting them.”
To help prevent injuries, the guide also recommends that drivers not go directly from prolonged sitting to lifting and carrying tasks. “Give your back a few minutes to adjust by completing other tasks such as paperwork or talking with the client. Alternatively walk around and do mild stretching. Never twist your back when entering and exiting your truck.”
Of course, any driver with continuing back pain should seek medical advice and treatment if necessary. Fleets may consider it in their own best interest to aid in this process to heighten safety, decrease health insurance costs, reduce workers’ compensation claims and drive up driver satisfaction.
Dawid Szpojda, president of Schpoyda Trucking, Pomona, Calif., says he’s convinced that maintaining good posture on cross-country hauls goes a long way toward preventing and alleviating back pain. He says that’s why he and his drivers are now outfitted with a specialized upper-body posture garments supplied by Alignmed, Santa Ana, Calif.
“As the owner, I am happy to see my drivers practicing their postural fitness during their work day,” Szpojda says. “We see that it improves their mental and physical well-being and helps to reduce fatigue.”
Alignmed offers a line of posture garments, ranging from its original Posture Shirt 2.0 (which resembles a sleek high-tech athletic shirt) to the SpinalQ version, which is considered a medical device covered by most insurance plans, according to Bill Schultz, the company’s president and founder.
Wearing a posture shirt “will help alleviate muscular pain from being sedentary and that can reduce fatigue,” says Schultz. He explains that the key distinguisher of the Alignmed design is the “NeuroBands that start in the front of the shoulders and pull back over the shoulders, down the postural muscles and convene at the spine.
Schultz says Alignmed does not sell “a compression product, as you want to allow for expansion for sitting down and not press on the belly. What we’re using are variable-stretch bands in a garment that is 6 inches longer than a regular T-shirt. The NeuroBands work to activate muscles, even while sitting and driving.
“Our garments fit snugly; they pull the shoulders back to correct posture, fire nerves and muscles, and stimulate blood flow while opening up oxygen intake,” he continues. “This helps reduce inflammation while being sedentary. And for truckers who must also perform strenuous duties, such as unloading, lifting and bending, the Alignmed Posture Shirt balances the body to enable it to perform these tasks with a reduced threat of injury.”
CORRECTED: Bill Schultz's name was incorrectly spelled in the original version of this article. We apologize for the error.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

World’s Largest Truck Convoy

Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy Set an Unofficial World Record

Truck drivers normally hate congestion, but none of the drivers in the 590-truck traffic jam on Mother’s Day in Lancaster, Pa., seemed to mind.
The annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy set an unofficial world record for the world’s longest truck convoy. Validation by the Guinness Book of World Records will take a while, but Sunday’s event seems to have shattered the previous official record of 416 trucks, set in the Netherlands, and is a high for the Make-A-Wish event, which has been held for 27 years.
More importantly, the convoy is estimated to have raised at least $350,000 for Make-A-Wish Philadelphia, North Delaware and Susquehanna Valley, a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
The event began with one little boy’s wish to ride in a truck and talk to his sister on CB radio and, thanks to the generosity of truckers, has grown into an all-day family celebration that raises hundreds of thousands of dollars.
An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people enjoyed a carnival before the trucks began to roll out and spectators lined the 26-mile loop in central Pennsylvania, cheering for the truckers, who answered with blasts of their horns. More than 120 Make-A-Wish children rode in trucks, which took nearly two hours to exit the industrial parking lot where they queued up. The RoadPro Family of Brands is the primary sponsor of the event.   

Saturday, May 14, 2016

11-year-old in police chase with cement truck

An 11-year-old boy in Minnesota struck two police
cars as he led law enforcement on a dangerous chase
 in stolen cement truck.
 
Article thanks to hardworkingtrucks.com and Tom Quimby. Links provided:
March, 2016  A dangerous joyride in Minnesota over the weekend provided another tough lesson on why you should never leave your keys behind in the ignition.
An 11-year-old was arrested Sunday in Dodge Center after commandeering a cement truck and leading police in a dangerous pursuit that lasted for over an hour.


While no one was hurt, police report that the juvenile struck and damaged at least two police cars. The chase reached speeds of up to 80 mph.
The boy took the truck after finding the keys in the ignition, Inside Edition reports.
Some residents watched and recorded the action in the small city about 75 miles southeast of Minneapolis as the boy drove the truck repeatedly around an otherwise idyllic neighborhood with police following close behind.
Not long after striking a nail strip, the right front tire came of the truck, but the boy kept driving, causing more damage to the truck and road.
After coming to a stop in a cul-de-sac, the boy attempted to run from police but was quickly apprehended. He told at least one an officer that his father had taught him how to drive and that he was sorry for having stolen the truck, according to fox9.com.
A witness in a video posted below said he could see the boy “smiling, hooting and hollering” as he was being chased by police in the neighborhood.
http://www.hardworkingtrucks.com/11-year-old-in-police-chase-with-cement-truck

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

So you think you want to be an Owner-Operator?

safetydriven.ca
Guest post by Jeremy Robison at Tetra Capital. Links provided:

The idea of being your own boss, making your own schedule and choosing the loads you haul seems perfect, right?  If only being an Owner-operator was that easy. When you work for a trucking company there is someone else who is responsible for all the financial considerations of the business but when you go out on our own as an owner-operator those responsibilities become yours. Below are some key items to contemplate when you are considering the transition or have already put the peddle to the metal.

Fuel – finding ways to save and pay for it
Once you become an owner-operator what you are spending on fuel becomes more of a concern since it will directly impact your earnings.  Reasonable speed and highly maintained equipment is significant to fuel efficiency.  Having a fuel program is another important fuel consideration.  It will be beneficial to find partners who offer programs such as fuel cards, fuel discounts and fuel advances.

Work smarter not harder – watch out for hidden and unexpected fees
Many times people in trucking become numb to dollar amounts because everything is so expensive with $500 for tires, $300 for fuel, and a $20,000 engine rebuild and the list goes on.  So it is not uncommon to overlook a $20 charge/fee that happens on a regular basis.  But by the end of the year that charge/fee on a regular basis could mean thousands of dollars.  Make sure you are working with partners who don’t add unnecessary fees that will add up over time.

Finding freight to keep your truck on the road
Regular freight from people you can trust will make things easier on you.  The key is to build relationships even if you are taking brokered freight, you will make more money over the long haul.  It may also be beneficial to find partners and resources that offer free load boards.

Be very leery of extremely high paying freight, it boils down to risk versus reward.  If someone is paying a rate that is out of the norm it is because you have a lower chance of getting paid.  The best rate per mile on a load that doesn’t pay is not good.   Reputable brokers and shippers know what the going rate is for all their transportation needs.

Keep your wheels turning even if you have to take a poor paying load.  Certain areas of the country don’t pay well due to supply and demand.  Chances are if there isn’t good paying freight in a certain area today, then the freight won’t pay well tomorrow either.  Get moving!

You are now the owner, driver, CFO and more – how do you manage the bookkeeping, working capital and other financial considerations?
When you work for a trucking company they handle all the finances so you don’t have to worry about the financial aspects of running the business; including submitting freight bills, collecting on freight bills, insurance for you and your truck and more.  Once you make the switch to becoming an owner-operator things change.   If keeping up with all these requirements is too much work or will keep you off the road for longer than you can afford, you might want to look for a partner who can help with some of the financial aspects.  

One option would be a freight bill factoring company who would be able to help you with the “back office” operations of your new business.  Some will handle invoicing, processing, postage, collecting and more so you can keep focused on generating revenue. Freight bill factoring can also get you immediate access to working capital. When you work with the right partner it can also be fairly easy. Here is how it works:
  1. You deliver the load.
  2. You submit the freight bill to the factoring company.
  3. You get access to the funds within hours.
  4. The factoring company waits to get paid by your customer.

It is important to find a freight factoring company who will be transparent and offer no hidden fees such as no Documentation Fee, Application Fee, ACH/Direct Deposit Fee, Filing Fee, Due Diligence Fee, Administration Fee and Termination Fees.

Without a truck you have nothing – how do you get the equipment you need?
One of the benefits of working for a trucking company is they will take care of getting you the equipment you need, but when you become an owner-operator that falls onto your shoulders.  You must consider what equipment you need and what you can afford.  There are several ways to obtain the equipment you need.  This includes purchasing with cash, getting a loan or leasing.  Of these options, the one you may be the least familiar with is leasing.  Leasing can lower your initial out-of pocket expenses as well as cover costs such as warranties, maintenance, parts and installation. Leasing can also offer more flexible terms than a loan and provide tax benefits.


Regardless of your experience, if you are considering becoming an Owner-Operator you should research and think through all the positives and negatives of making this change.

ABOUT JEREMY ROBISON

Jeremy is an expert at helping transportation companies of all sizes grow by giving them access to the working capital they need. He has been involved in various roles within the transportation industry, including: freight factoring, equipment financing, equipment purchasing, lease operator program, driver manager, recruiting, payroll and equipment maintenance. Jeremy is President at Tetra Capital (www.tetracapital.com), a freight bill factoring company and can be reached at jeremy@tetracapital.com.



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Rear View Camera On Travel Trailer and 5th Wheel

tadibrothers.com
Install a Rear View Camera on your Travel Trailers and 5th Wheels
Article thanks to fulltimefamilies.com and and Kimberly. Links provided:
When towing your travel trailer or 5th wheel, the hardest thing to do is see behind you. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s behind you such as other vehicles, pedestrians, trees, etc? This camera system comes in handy for day-to-day towing / driving, backing up into your campsite, or even just seeing where other vehicles are on the road with you. They give you better visibility than a conventional rear view mirror even when you’re not towing. With the optional camera add-on to your tow vehicle as well, you can now hook up to your travel trailer or 5th wheel without guidance from another person to direct you. I personally know this has saved my marriage on numerous occasions.

When picking your equipment to purchase, look at what best fits your budget and features you would like to enjoy.  Some features include night vision, monitor zooming, widescreen, color camera / display, and foot marker lines.
Some of the high-end radios / DVD / GPS combo head units come with camera outputs.  If you use this feature, there is no need to purchase a monitor because the camera will interface directly with this setup.  I would also suggest that if you plan on purchasing this type of system, you may want to have a dealer install this product in your tow vehicle if you are not familiar with car stereo installations.  You can come back to this article if you choose to install the camera portion yourself later.  You would just skip the monitor install portion and connect the video cables to your installed monitor.
There are two other kinds of monitors on the market today.  One is a stand-alone monitor that can mount to your dashboard by Velcro, two sided tape, or screws.  The other style monitor hangs from the existing rear view mirror in your tow vehicle.  This monitor is good if you plan on having a camera mounted both to the tow vehicle and the trailer you are towing.
There are many systems on the market that can leak water and make picture quality unbearable.  I have found that the license plate mounted monitors have a tendency to capture moisture and come out on the image making the video quality poor.  I suggest using a name brand product such as Pyle, Audiovox, or Sanyo just to name a few.  These systems generally come with the monitor, cutting tool for the camera mount, and one camera.  They do sell cameras that are already installed in sealed boxes and it may be wise to use one of these if you don’t want to build your own as laid out in the article.  These tend to be more expensive though and will work great with this system.
This system that I am about to show you and explain how to install will give you the advantage of having eyes in the back of your head at all times.  Most diesel pushers and Class C motor homes come with these handy gadgets, so why should 5th wheelers and travel trailer owners have to sacrifice this convince?
I do not recommend the wireless cameras due to the clarity and signal loss you will encounter from the rear of your tow vehicle to the cab where the monitor is installed.
Follow this simple step-by-step process and you too can enjoy all the benefits of having eyes in the back of your head.
All of these items can be purchased from your local Radio Shack or equivalent store.
Tools Needed:
  • Wire Cutters / Butt connector crimpers
  • Philip Head Screw driver
  • 50 FT of 18 Gauge Power Wire
  • 2 – 2 Position 12 Volt Switches (only one needed if not installing second camera)
  • Butt Connectors (Blue in color)
  • Butt connector rings (Blue in Color)
  • Self taping Screws
  • Bolts and Wing Nuts (Optional) See step 3 under preparing the camera(s)
  • Washers
  • Electrical Tape
  • Wire Ties
  • Electric or Cordless drill
  • Drill cut out tool (Size varies depending on camera.  Some of them come with the tool when you purchase the camera)
  • 1 composite Video Splitter (not needed if only installing 1 camera)
  • 2 composite Video to Video extenders (Female to Female) (Only 1 needed if installing 1 camera)
  • 1 50 FT composite video cable (Yellow plug)
  • 2 Project Enclosure Box(s) (6x4x2″) (only one needed if not installing second camera)
  • 4 small “L” bracket(s) (only two needed if not installing second camera)
  • Clear Calking
Camera Components Needed:
  • 2 Rear View Camera(s) with night vision – (1 if not installing one on your tow vehicle.)
  • 1 In vehicle camera monito
The first thing to remember before installing this system is that it is not difficult.  There are a lot of parts involved, but they all plug together and no real modification is needed to your trailer or tow vehicle.
In these instructions we are going to assume that you are installing 2 cameras.


Preparing the camera(s):

Step 1:
Take the 2 project boxes and cut a hole with your drill through center of the box. Cut both the front cover and the back of the project box. It helps for perfect alignment to keep the cover on the box while your drilling through both sides.

Step 2:
Insert the camera into cover of the project box through the hole you just drilled. Tighten the camera holding screw that was supplied with the camera so the camera is secured in the box. Feed the camera wires through the back of the box and add some caulking to the edges of the cover for the project box. This will help keep moisture and water out. Put the cover on the box and tighten the screws down. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for the second camera.

Step 3:
Using the “L” Brackets, mount them with 1 screw on each side of the project boxes. This will provide an up and down swivel motion used for when you need to aim your camera. You can substitute screws with wing nuts and bolts for this part so you can easily tighten or loosen the brackets from the side of the boxes for ease of adjustment.

Trailer Wiring:

Step 1:
From the back of the trailer run the single 18 gauge power wire to the battery on your trailer. You may want to run the 50’ component cable at the same time, but this wire will need to run to the front of the trailer. When running the wires, find a good spot to hide the wires. This would include running the wire under the trailer and using the wire ties to hold the wire you are running to the trailer frame, other wires, or propane pipes. Stay away from the trailer brake wires so you do not interfere with their use by accidently disconnecting or cutting them.

Step 2:
Once you have the power wire run, crimp on a ring but connector to the wire on the end near the battery, but do not connect to the battery yet.

Step 3:
Run the ground wire from the camera to the frame of the trailer. Try not to extend this ground if you can due to a better ground is a shorter ground. Crimp on a ring butt connector to the ground wire. Use self-tapping screws and a washer to connect the ground to the frame. You may want to drill a small pilot hole in the frame so that you can get more leverage on the screw.

Step 4:
Use one of the 2 position toggle switches and cut the power wire you ran where you would like to install the switch. The switch cannot be exposed to weather, so you can install this in either the battery box or somewhere in the trailer. Just remember that both ends of the wire will be connected to the posts on the switch. It doesn’t matter what wire connects to what post, just as long as each of the two wires are on separate posts. The switch will be used to turn the camera off when your trailer is parked. You can leave it on all the time, but it does draw minimum power from the battery if left in the “on” position.

Mounting and connecting the camera:

Step 1:
Now that all the wires are run you can connect the camera. Mount the camera at your desired location on the trailer with self-tapping screws. Use the calking and calk the screw holes that you made in the trailer.

Step 2:
Connect the composite video cable to the camera by plugging the male end of the cable to the female end of the camera video lead.

Step 3:
Connect the power wire to the camera using the (blue) butt connectors and then connect the ring butt connector to the battery on the trailer by using the screw from the battery terminal that holds the terminal down to the battery.

Step 4:
Go back to all of your butt connectors and use electrical tape to wrap the connectors. This helps to keep moisture and dirt out of the connectors.

Tow Vehicle Monitor wiring:


Step 1:
Find the position in your tow vehicle where you would like to mount the monitor. Mount the monitor using the provided hardware. This would include Velcro, screws, or two-sided tape.


Step 2:
Run the wires from the monitor to power and ground of the tow vehicle. You will need to take the power wire and connect it to a switched power in the tow vehicle. I suggest using the radio remote turn on feature or radio switched power “on” wire. Cut the wire you choose and using the (Blue) butt connector, crimp the two wires together.

Step 3:
Locate a good ground for the monitor and mount that either by crimping it to the radio ground or to a ground directly on the vehicle chassis. If you choose to mount on the chassis, crimp on the end a ring butt connector. Using a small drill bit, start a pilot hole and then using the self-tapping screw, mount the ground wire.

Step 4:
Run the composite video cable from the monitor to the rear of the tow vehicle. This will connect to where you plan on mounting the camera. Run the cable out of the vehicle via the firewall grommet and down the engine compartment. Then run the wire under the vehicle using wire ties to tack the wire in place. Again, avoid the break lines and this time, the fuel lines.

Step 5:
Connect the composite wire splitter to the composite video cable that you just ran to the rear of the vehicle. Connect one of the composite video extenders to the splitter.

Mounting the Camera on tow vehicle:

Step 1:
Find a place where you would like to mount the camera on the tow vehicle. I recommend mounting it on the license plate frame or on the bumper in a place where it will be out of the way from either your tailgate / rear door from opening and from bumping when either backing up or someone was to bump you.

Running the power wire for the camera:

Step 1:
From inside the tow vehicle, route an 18-gauge power wire from the power you choose on the radio to the rear of the vehicle where the camera is installed.

Step 2:
Using the 2-position switch, connect the switch in between the power lead for the camera and the power cable that you are splicing into. This will be used to turn the power off to the tow vehicle camera and will allow the video to pass to the monitor from the trailer.

Step 3:
Ground the camera on the tow vehicle to the chassis. Crimp the ground wire with a ring butt connector and mounting using the self-tapping screws. You may want to drill a pilot hole to make it easier to mount the ground.

Connecting the camera(s) to the monitor:

Step 1:
Connect the composite video cable to the camera by plugging the male end of the cable to the female end of the composite video splitter.

Step 2:
Go back to all of your butt connectors and use electrical tape to wrap the connectors. This helps to keep moisture and dirt out of the connectors.

Using your new camera system:

You are now ready to connect your trailer and get video from the new camera that you just installed. Using the camera in the tow vehicle, back up using the camera and connect your trailer as you normally would. In your tow vehicle, flip the toggle switch that turns off the camera on the vehicle. You should now have a blank screen. Get out of the vehicle and connect your composite video cable to the extension cable you installed on your tow vehicle. Turn on the switch on the trailer that powers on the camera. When you get back in the vehicle, you should now see what is behind the trailer on the monitor. For trailer disconnection, just reverse the procedure.



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Evolution of Truck Stops

Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands.
The modern-day travel plaza with a movie theater, food court and gym has its roots in the old West. It can be traced back to the famed Pony Express mail delivery and the stagecoach lines which brought passengers, freight and mail west.
For as long as Americans have been crossing the country, they’ve needed places to rest, refuel and get something to eat. For Pony Express riders who, in 1860, began carrying saddlebags of mail from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Ca., the way stations were little more than places to swap horses along the 2,000-mile trail.
Because they could carry up to nine passengers, stagecoaches, which reached their peak in the 1860s, required something a little more hospitable. Stagecoach stations were about 12 miles apart and the nicer ones offered a meal and overnight lodging.
Soon, horses gave way to railroads, then the internal combustion engine. As the cars grew more powerful and drivers ranged farther from home, there grew a need for places for them to eat and refuel.
At first these were little more than gas stations with diners attached, but truck stops really came into their own in the 1960s after the Federal-Aid Highway Act launched construction of more than 40,000 miles of interstate highway. Mom-and-pop stops gave way to franchises and services which had been spread among a cluster of buildings were consolidated under single, ever-growing roofs.
Truck stops began evolving into travel plazas in the 1980s as operators pursued four-wheelers and RVs. Corporate ownership did their best to scrub the sites of the seamy images truck stops once had and began adding features such as gift shops, movie theaters and more.     
Though the corporatization of travel plazas has resulted in a certain sanitized sameness, there are still some truck stops out there that have become destinations purely for their size or kitschy appeal.
Among them, South of the Border, a 67-year-old, Mexican-themed stop in Hamer, S.C., which features a reptile lagoon, amusement rides and a sombrero-shaped restaurant; Iowa 80 Truckstop, “The World’s Largest,” which opened in Walcott in 1964 and sprawls over more than 600 acres to accommodate a trucking museum, dentist, barber shop, chiropractor, move theater etc.; and Sierra Sid’s in Sparks, Nev., which has a casino, gun collection and John Wayne memorabilia.  
But those type of attractions are more for tourists than truckers.
Owner operator Thomas Miller said the price of fuel is the biggest factor when considering where to stop. The RoadPro Pro Driver Council member said he also likes to stop as close to shippers and receivers as possible and that adequate parking is a must. Healthier food options are a plus, but he doesn’t like the trend toward reserved parking.
A driver can't always predict exactly where he is going to be at the end of his day,” Miller said. “I find it incredibly irritating to arrive and the only spaces left to park are paid reserved spots, and then find out all of those are gone as well. In my opinion, it’s the travel centers just using parking as another source of revenue.
“I do a lot of my own cooking so food doesn't play a big role,” he said. “Amenities such as showers, TV room, and laundry facilities are certainly a plus.” 
Fuel prices also determine where fellow Pro Driver Council member Maggie Riessen stops. What else matters? “I love a good sit-down restaurant,” she said. “Next is parking. I like a place with clean showers and laundry. I don't like to stop at ones that are always the same. I get bummed on fast food; variety is always best.”  


TRUCK STOP FACTS
2,500 – Number of truck stops in the U.S., defined by National Association of Truck Stop Operators as anywhere with at least one shower, 15 parking spaces and diesel fuel for sale.
6,000 – Number of locations that sell diesel fuel, but don’t have other amenities.
950 – Number of overnight truck parking spaces at Iowa 80, the largest truck stop in the country.
500 – Number of overnight truck parking spaces at Florida 595 Truck Stop in Davie, Fla., and Petro Stopping Center in Atlanta, Ga.
325 – Number of overnight truck parking spaces at Jubitz in Portland, Or., the biggest stop on I-5.

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