Preparing for maiden voyage as an O/O

by Mark Lee

Well that’s the first month done, only another 59 to go and I can become an owner/operator rather than just an operator!

My first week started in the classroom, orientation, or a week of being told how to do the job I’ve been doing for the past 28 years by a washed-up old supertrucker. That’s what I thought until I started class. 

It actually turned out to be a very useful time, some of it refreshing my memory, other parts teaching me something new. 

Useful new stuff too and I’m actually glad I did it – to the point where I may volunteer to sit in for certain aspects on a regular basis so that I can keep on top of things in our constantly changing industry.

Then it was time to head out on my first trip.

 It was a bit of a mad rush to be honest, lots of planning had gone into my new enterprise and I had picked up the truck the weekend before starting orientation so the company could apply the decals, license the truck and fit the satellite system. 

My plan was to move in a bit at a time during the week, however it spent a couple of days locked in the body shop having the decals put on and every other evening locked away in the shop as the satellite installation didn’t go as easily as it should have. They also did a re-torque for me as the truck had been driven up rather than piggybacked so it had some miles on it.

The end result was that I got my truck back on Friday evening.

 I had to fit an inverter as it was too busy in the shop for them to do it, so I went and got some heavy-duty cables made, arriving at the auto-electrical shop just as the owner was turning the sign to closed. Lucky for me, he made up my cables – now to fit the thing. I wanted to tie into the shorepower system so that I could use the electrical sockets located all around the cab, rather than using extension cords.

An easy job, right? You’d think so, but you would be wrong, especially as I had never wired a Canadian plug before so I had no idea which colour represented what. They’re different back in England, but fortunately Google came to the rescue, the inverter was securely mounted, wired up and good to go. 

But now I wanted to move the fire extinguisher from beside the seat into the side locker. I’m obsessive about keeping a clean cab and dirty boots have no place on my floor, so I kick them off before I get in and put them beside the seat. The fire extinguisher’s location made this impossible, so it had to be moved and mounted securely.

So now it was dark, my hands and arms were cut to ribbons and I had a car full of stuff to put away. I was scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. the next day, because I had wanted to hit the ground running and get out there making money as soon as possible. I had a deep and meaningful conversation in my head about putting my mouth into gear before my brain and decided that moving in would be postponed until the morning.

I awoke the next day in a cold sweat convinced I was about to be run over, but the incessant beeping was not a back-up alarm, it was my phone suggesting now would be a good time to drag myself out of my nice comfy bed and start making some money.

 First things first, coffee, except the dog had other ideas, galloping around the house like it was possessed, finally ending up at the back door. So I let her out, only for her to want to come back in again so she could tap on the door to be let out again – this continued for some time and I swear she was grinning at me all the while.

I eventually escaped the madness when my wife came to my rescue and set off the two kilometres to the yard, threw all my stuff in a big heap in the sleeper and kept my fingers crossed that I hadn’t forgotten anything. 

I reported into the office, got my paperwork, hooked onto my trailer, did a pre-trip and then the Check Engine light came on. I won’t repeat what I said, but you can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t hear those words in church.

 However after calling the dealer I was told it was probably caused by the satellite installation draining the batteries down and it should clear itself after a few ignition cycles, which thankfully it did. As I write this I’m three weeks in already. The truck has performed faultlessly so far, I’m sitting at 8.89 mpg Imperial right now with 19,000 kms under the bumper, which is fantastic for a brand new engine. In fact, it’s the highest mpg I’ve ever recorded on any truck I’ve owned or driven.

 I’ve had a couple of heavy loads and done three-and-a-half trips over the rocks, so it’s even more remarkable and I’m praying to the trucking gods that it continues. From my research and the experience of friends running the same truck, it looks like it will, I just hope for once that I’m not the exception to the rule.

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