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Mr. Programmer, I've got my hammer
he final week with LARM was a doozy. We left Frankfort, KY on Tuesday morning and were in Seattle by Thursday. By Sunday morning we were in Atlanta.

Coming out of the deep south and bound for New Jersey, the solenoid went bad in the transmission and I lost my low range of gears. Not a huge deal as I was highway driving, but not a lot of fun pulling a 42,000 pound load when I had to get off the interstate for a detour in Baltimore. I told dispatch I could take it as far as Allentown, PA but then they needed to find someone to finish taking it to the customer: there's no way I was going to try manuevering and backing that heavy of a load in the high-range reverse.

I got here around 06:00 and passed the trailer off to the driver who would finish the delivery then took a nap for a few hours. Earlier, LARM had been given approval to exit training and process out to get his own truck. We went for breakfast and I tidied up some of the loose ends of his training then I handed him over to the training department at the terminal. I was due for my annual review, which involved a good amount of routine corporate bullshit that tied me up for a couple of hours.

I had turned-in my repair request to the shop that morning but still hadn't heard anything. I checked with the shop foreman and was assured I was at the "top of the list". It was after 19:00 before they finally got the truck into the shop. They can't get the parts for it until tomorrow afternoon so here I sit. The good news is, it's a relatively cheap and quick fix. I'll be heading home this weekend, then plan to work until Easter. Over the course of those three weeks, I'm planning to spend some time in the Omaha area getting my windshields replaced as well as a water pump. Finally, I'm going to get the alignment done on Sally as well.

Lately I've been giving some serious consideration to ditching this lease agreement and purchasing a truck. I've considered a new one, but the thought of a 60 month or more term with payments much higher than what I have now doesn't sit well with me, even for the promise of less repair headaches for the next couple of years. This truck will be paid for in another year.

What irks me though is that by the time I'm done paying for the truck, I'll have paid nearly twice what it's worth. At first this didn't bother me, I've known this from the beginning. The reason I accepted this lease is because I was unsure if I even wanted to be an owner/operator, and the lease is pretty much no strings attached. If I want out, I just take them the truck back. I'm out the money I've paid every month, but I'm not stuck with a truck and loan. After doing it for nearly a year, despite the hassles involved, the independence which comes with it trumps. I've been pricing some used trucks at a dealership in Kansas City which offers 3yr/300k mile warranties on any trucks with under 425k miles, and they have several listed for around $50k.

A 36 month loan/lease agreement would be payments comparable to what I have now, for a truck that has half the miles (and presumably half the headaches) of Sally with a warranty to boot if anything major were to occur. I'm not sure that I can secure the financing necessary to do it, but I've submitted one application today just to see what happens. Cross your fingers and wish me luck.

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Can you remove me off your Daily Log filter now?

23:10 EDT - Allentown, PA
Tonight I reduced Paul from friends in name only to casual acquaintance. It was high time really. Between lame icons of 70's lite-rock bands and replies to my entries which barely passed for internet lulz, his continued presence in my comments was just becoming pathetic and embarrassing.

I crossed my fingers. But your making it hard for typing. But I do wish you luck but at the same time, part of me is getting completely interested in the whole truck driver "world". The ups and downs, random what could happen what couldn't where you could go where you couldn't is really starting in on tickling me into it. More and more as I learn about the lifestyle [not sure if that was what I wanted for a word] and all from you makes it that way. But, I am a person whom doesn't like driving so there comes the struggle.

But, I keep reminding myself that I gotta keep my eyes open about maybe Mr. truck driver coming around.

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Oh and a present. Click for the larger version.

i'll see yr hammer and raise you a cracker

Re: i'll see yr hammer and raise you a cracker

Awesome. Ha.

Man, that would be scary for me. I didn't think about it before, but you're virtually buying a job. Don't you think in two or three years you could be tempted by a newer truck and go through this all again (and again and again etc), never getting out of the payment plan?

I'm really tempted to buy a NEW truck right now, I just don't think I'd be happy with the payment structure. It also seems silly to me to have new student drivers grinding gears, etc on a brand new truck.

But yeah, I suppose it's possible. As long as I'm working it MORE than pays for itself in the long run. As far as "again and again", a new truck could serve a driver for at least 10 years with a minimum of problems. My thinking is that someday in the future, when I'm through with my child support obligations, that I'll purchase a brand new truck and quit training, with the intention of it lasting me for the rest of my trucking career.

(Deleted comment)
Actually, the past several weeks have been relatively problem free. She ran a good 15k-20k miles without any breakdowns or problems. Not bad for a truck with nearly 800,000 miles on it. :)

Good luck, I hope it works out!

Buying slightly (relatively speaking) used with warranty seems like the best way to go ... at least for us 4-wheelers - I think if you plot cost vs. operating expense you'll see this to be true.

I see the reason - psychological mainly - that you went with the older truck on a lease; but probably not the best thing from a financial standpoint. Compare cost of dumping the lease now and buying vs. keeping for the lease term and owning. What can you expect to get for Sally then? You'll have what, well over 1M miles on her. Could you sell then for enough to make a decent downpayment on something with 300K miles and warranty?

Have you ever discussed any of this with a CPA in terms of tax issues, or a financial planner?

Best of luck. You need to think bigger, like buying trucks and using your ex-trainees to start your own Soopageek Fleet.

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