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to buy or not to buy

or the past couple of weeks I have been giving serious consideration to purchasing my own truck and working as an owner/operator for my company. I have always said I wasn't interested in doing this because of the added financial risk and headache of basically being in business for yourself. I've always added the caveat, "I might would consider it if I had a partner in the truck to share the financial burden and run as a team." It occurred to me, however, that I actually have that in the form of my trainees, since I can still train for my company as an O/O. In fact, in some respects it's even ideal since I wouldn't have to split the profit, all of the miles driven would be paid to me. This is a potentially lucrative proposition. After some ballpark numbers crunching, we're talking gross pay just over the 6 figure mark after the basic expenses of truck-loan payment, fuel, and general maintenance. The loss of employee benefits would be a small dent in this windfall of income and I would still make-out like a bandit after it's all said and done.

My biggest concern with all of this now is my home time. I've become rather spoiled being home every weekend on this dedicated account. If I become an O/O I won't be able to continue working for this account. I could switch to the Dollar General account based out of Kentucky that could get me home every weekend, but I know from a previous experience with pulling one of those loads, that it is some back-breaking work. Similarily, there is a Sara Lee account I could work for that would get me home roughly every two weeks or so. I could also pull for a regional division and be home weekly as well. The problem with all of these options is that it will greatly limit where I run, keeping me more localized and I have a suspicion that Western PA would not apply in any of these options. I like going a little bit of everywhere, anwyay. Which leaves the general 48-states division, but drivers are typically out 17 days and home 3. This isn't a blanket rule, just an average. If I developed a good relationship with my dispatcher, I might could work myself home to Lexington or Western PA every weekend, but I'm not sure I want to make a sudden change on ifs and mights. Of course, I have a really good relationship with my dispatchers now, and I'm sure if I ever wanted to come back, they'd have me.

My former student, Russell, made me aware of an outfit that he's going to work for that assists drivers with truck purchasing. I could still work for Werner, but I would be leasing the truck through them in a "rent-to-own" fashion. This piqued my interest because, essentially, it lowers the financial exposure for me. If after 6 months or a year, I decided that it wasn't for me, I could return the truck and walk away from it without having to worry about re-selling the truck and paying off a loan. It sounds almost too good to be true and has me thinking even harder about the prospect.

It's been a lot to think about, and while I'll still spend a week or two mulling it over, my mind is nearly made-up. I'll always wonder what it couldn've been like if I don't. Given the opportunity to try it nearly risk-free, I'd be stupid not to at least give it a go and see if I can make it work with my personal needs. If it doesn't, I can always go back to being just another cog in the corporate wheel.

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Good luck, bro. It's been an idea I've kicked around as being a cool option for a while (if I found the right situation), so I'll be very interested to see how it goes for you.

Century. Detroit Diesel. Do an excessively good job on maintenance. Bunk heaters, etc. These are the things I remember from that guy converting people that night in Allentown.

Question: do most Class 8 OTR semi's running 8 or 6 cylinders? I would assume 8, but then I've been surprised at some of the applications in which I6's are used.

I used to be a supervisor at Navistar (International)'s Melrose Park engine plant, where the DT466E I6 was produced. Detroit Diesel's I6 was a rebadge of that engine.

Every heavy truck I've driven's been a straight 6.

'll definitely be getting myself a Century. It's hard to beat for fuel economy. As for the engine, the Cat C-15 is pretty hard to beat. It regularly beats out all the competition in customer satisfaction for fuel savings, being lighter, dependable, etc etc.

The big thing I'm thinking about is whether to snatch up an older truck with a pre-emissions engine for the better fuel economy and lower price tag or a newer truck for the fewer miles. I'm leaning toward the former at the moment.

Freightliner used to do something called "selectrucks" I looked at that. Its a lease for 3 years, and at the end you buy the truck for $1.

guess it would depends on what the payments were like and how much you had to have down. Other than that it sounds like a pretty sweet deal, although I'm sure they have some early-termination/breach-of-contract fee if you decided you wanted out.

From what I remember, the out clause was they got to keep all money you had put into the lease.. you got 0 equity until you made that $1 payment after 3 years.

I remember thinking about pitching you on teaming up, too, but I couldn't figure out how to reconcile the extreme distance between Rochester and Lexington.

Beh. If you're ever interested, and can think of a way for us both to get reasonable hometime, you've got my number.

The only problem is that "home time" would be three different locations. :^(

Well, at least you're closer to me than Lexington. That's why I kind of tossed you out - it'd be a lot more do-able if it was here & there. Also, at the time I was thinking of it, you weren't in the picture, really.

I went thru two Cent Classix in 4 months. They both had less than 300k on them and on one I was only the second driver on it since they got it new. The later models are pretty reliable but they seem to suffer hardcore from some reeeally stupid shit that every dealer shop is always telling me is because they have way more of a bumpy ride and more vibe. little annoying parts like the coolant sensor kept jiggling off (both trucks) causing the engine protect thingie to kick in(it thought it was gonna overheat or something) and automatically shut the truck down. Major freakouts ensued. went thru a bunch of sensors and finally figured out how to pad it so it just doesn't jiggle off anymore and started carrying a spare. a hose kept doing that too. all were deets so the engines were really awesome and it never leaked anything or had any serious probs. it's a pretty good truck if you just take some preemptive ghetto-fabulous measures and all the frtliners are just so much more cost efficient. everyone in my company with those newer funnylooking petes is getting like 6 mpgs. i want a newer volvo but they dont give those out to solos in my comp unless you've been driving w them for 5 yrs.

im in an 05 columbia now, they changed a few things on it. its supposed to be a class below, but honestly i've grown to love the damn thing.

so awesome you're turning o/o! I have this dream of driving one of those obnoxiously long customs that i'd decorate the interior of myself then have an artist friend mural on the outside. with all the fuel surcharge matching and the increase in places offering bio, seems ppl stopped freaking so hardcore over fuel prices.

the only constant advice i've heard across the board is not to lease from the company you haul for, no matter what company it is.

so glad you're still having a good time out there and the relationship is still going awesome. you're my ideal model for being a trainer you seem to have fun with your trainees and still teach them well enough to want to stick with it. they already asked me if i wanted to start training since my one year safety record is fast approaching. I vascillate between "oh heeeeeell no" and "it would be fun to teach another girl how to be safer on the road and would be nice to not have to talk to myself so much".

they just gave me some totally funny laison position that basically, when i am either off-duty or i'm not en route, i call drivers that are either about quit or are having major roadside nervous breakdowns. at first i thought wow this is an honor because they say i'm so nice and calm & have good customer relations that i got recommended to do this. and the money's amazing for essentially being a therapist. But... it also kind of creeps me out to find out that i work for a company that often employs ticking timebombs.

you're lucky to have run east-west. i'm pretty much stuck east of oklahoma. i was thinking of going to Smith cuz two of their drivers won't stop until I've been assimilated, and they are awesome, but now it turns out i'll actually be making good money at USX.

u still training?
and i always wanted to know what town you had to park in order to go have off-duty fun in NYC.

You should write one of those "off-duty fun" guides. you'd make a killing on the new generation of freaky truckers.

hanks for all the kind words!

I've actually given some consideration to doing co-ed training, one just for the change of pace, but two because I know that trainers who will train lady drivers are scarce. Usually it's other lady drivers, and we know how rare that is in this business.

As for parking to go visit NYC, I have two tips for you.

1) Willowbrook Mall: it's right offa U.S. 46 just west of Paterson in the Wayne/Totowa area. Heh, it's actually almost directly across from the actual Fountains of Wayne store from which the band took its name. You should be able to Google search it to get the street address then Google map it. The directions are super simple: if you're heading eastbound on I-80, take the Lincoln Tunnel exit (52 or 53 I think) onto U.S. 46, but go west instead of east... it's right there on the left hand side of the highway. There's a park and ride located there in addition to the spacious mall parking. They don't seem to mind trucks parking there. I've left my truck there for a day or two without any trouble. The bus from there goes non-stop to Manhattan for under five bucks.

2) Secaucus Service Plaza: If you're going south bound on the turnpike; on the West branch of it there's a service plaza near the Secaucus exit. You can park there and jump the fence at the rear of the plaza into the neighborhood behind it. There's a bus line that runs along that street. It's a little trickier than the #1 solution, because it involves a bus change on the return trip, but it's not too hard to figure out.

Your situation sounds pretty clear-cut, especially since you've the bonus of a cushion to provide a soft landing should things not pan out - that can make all the difference. You could probably still bank quite a lot for toughing out 6 months. Depending on the terms, a lease deal could be smart since I imagine the depreciation / resale on a semi can be quite significant. Then again, they run forever so who knows? (I'm hardly qualified here).

I know of a couple people doing the owner-op deal, and they love it.

Plus if it works out you could totally build a pimp-ass rig. You know, like the ones covered in marker lights that you can see from space...

've never been the type who really cares about pimping out vehicles, especially a "work" vehicle. I'm rather spartan and utilitarian in that respect.

Yeah I'm thinking that regardless if it "works out" for me or not in the personal sense, I'm probably going to do it for at least 6-12 months and bank some cash before I revert back to being a company driver.

I guess I can see that; my own tastes veer toward the understated as well. It's still pretty kickass to be driving at 3am and see rolling lighthouse go by though...

I hope you like the owner-op deal. That way you can give me the run-down someday ;)

Well, after our long conversation about this today, you know I will respect any decision you choose. You know I especially want the one option that you brought up. Though I might have to become a lot lizard to pay off my loans. :^P

Seriously though, give it a chance. And if it doesn't work out, you know at least you get to see the kids a couple times a month, and I'm totally fine with road-trips to Kentucky. :^) I know it's hard for you though, when you're not SURE if you'll get those weekends.

Since I know nothing about the trucking industry, trucking, trucks, or motor vehicles in general, I thought this would be the best time for me to comment:

I was thinking about buying a Trans Am. See, these two rich motherfuckers have bet me that I can't pick up a truckload of beer from Texas and return it to them within a specified amount of time. I was hoping that we could team up. I'd call myself The Rugged Speedster With a Hat and you could be Snow Angel.

Call me.

eh. I'll keep you in mind if I ever need a Bandit.

Remember - You only take the hat off for one thing...

That'd be an awesome move, man. Good luck.

I also say good luck and it sounds like a plan, but at the risk of making another pop culture reference; You may not be able to beat the security of having a regular run, but something could also be said for having a little variety. The prices may have changed, but that whole "$1 a mile, no questions asked" might help you find Sheriff Lobo.

nd best of all I don't pay prop-er-ty tax! Bah dump bah dump bah dump bah!

so I'm slowly but surely befriending anyone who's friends with Katie because I'm a stalker and such.

Will you be my friend?

Please understand I'm not actually a creepy stalker.

o wit, my LiveJournal friendship with Her Highness began in a very similar manner, although I believe I promised to stalk her.

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