5 entertaining oddities about semi-trailers.

Lists are among readers’ favorite items to peruse in all categories. But truthfully, you don’t expect the area of trucks and semis to be the focus of much riveting trivia. But thanks to TheTruckersReport.com, we’ve gathered some interesting unusual facts and tidbits about 18 wheelers that may surprise you. Here are five of our favorites:

  • 18 wheelers are called semi-trailers, because the trailer doesn’t have front wheels; it’s only mobile when connected to the tractor. Hence, the name “semi-trailer.”
  • Semi-trailers usually run around 53 feet long, minus the cab. With the cab they’re about 70 to 80 feet long. The maximum load semis can haul is 80,000 pounds. An 80,000-pound big rig weighs 20 to 30 times more than a car.
  • A semi-truck engine is six times larger than a standard car engine. Truck engines also have 300 to 400 more horsepower under the hood and have 900 to 1,800 more feet per pound of torque.
  • Semi-truck engines get  800,000 more miles of life than car engines. They are also designed to keep running, which keeps the oil flowing and parts lubricated. You don’t ever have to shut your engine down except to service it and change the oil.
  • It takes two football fields to stop an 18-wheeler. Strangely, it takes a semi longer to stop if it’s hauling on a smooth road. No resistance equals longer braking time.

Tenmet proudly provides the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

Trucking’s brotherhood: passing it forward

Recently, I came across a story from a woman who regularly contributes articles to an online trucking periodical. She posts her road experiences from her vantage point riding shotgun alongside her trucker husband, George, an owner-operator who pulls a dry van. One of her latest posts brought out a feel-good instance involving the kind-heartedness of the trucking community that’s worth sharing.

The woman, Wendy Parker, overheard a conversation at a truck-stop that involved several veteran drivers, including her husband, and a young wet-behind-the-ears trucker just getting started. The young man mentioned how he drives with no CB radio, a condition that leaves him in constant potential peril on the highway, though he adds pieces to his semi as he can afford them. One veteran trucker spoke up:

“Son, get you a CB radio,” the old-timer said with conviction. “I wouldn’t run the six miles from here to the Pilot without my CB. It’ll save your butt one day.”

The young kid assured them all that he was working on it, when another driver stepped up. “Hey, I’ve got one in my side box. It ain’t fancy, but it’ll do until you get another one.”

Wendy then heard her husband contribute: “I’ve got a whip and bracket in my side box, let’s get him fixed up.”

The young driver was stunned by the generosity extended his way. The old fella offering him the used CB also explained the code of the road: “That’s what trucking is all about, son,” he said. “We take care of each other out here. You take this old radio and when you get another one, pass it on to someone who doesn’t have one. That’s how it works.”

Within 15 minutes, the kid was up and running. As he thanked the men and began to climb into his cab, the eldest of the old truckers imparted some final words with a challenge: “I’ve done my time out here, son. You’re my replacement and it’s important you remember to keep the chain strong by helping others when you can. I’ll be done driving soon; you just got started. Don’t break the chain.”

Tenmet proudly endorses truckers everywhere who take part in the important work of educating and aiding young drivers coming up.

We also provide the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

A female trucker’s view from behind the wheel

It’s a bit of a rarity to find trucking news on the frilly pages of a women’s magazine. But there is Lindsay Slazakowski’s experience as a young woman truck driver right smack in the national pages of Cosmopolitan magazine.

Ms. Slazakowski unveils 13 things that she wishes she had known before signing on as a long-hauler. Among them, she points out that driving trucks seems more a lifestyle choice than a regular job. “This is not the kind of job where you’ll be home for dinner every night,” she says in the article. “You stay out, driving shipments for weeks at a time, then get a couple days off. It’s impossible to have a real life because you’re always on the road….It’s a very harsh lifestyle.”

Slazakowski drove the first 10 months on her new job before convincing her boyfriend to get his commercial driver’s license and join her in the truck. That enabled the pair to team truck drive. “This is pretty common,” she notes. “Especially for women truck drivers, who feel more comfortable having someone with them.” Slazakowski drove while her boyfriend slept, and vice versa, allowing them to motor non-stop to their drop-off destinations, saving big chunks of time and, consequently, earning more money.

According to the American Trucking Associations, women constitute only 5.8 percent of the truck driving industry, but that was enough to warrant the predictable cat-calls and sometimes flagrant sexism thrown her way out on the highways. “It’s awful and it’s gross,” says Slazakowski, “but it’s too common to ignore.”

Slazakowski also cites the ever-present danger of driving a big rig on the road. “Each year, trucks account for thousands of fatalities….Even if you’re a perfect driver, it’s challenging to operate a vehicle this big.” She also advocates audiobooks to help pass the time. “Radio is the no. 1 thing truck drivers listen to, but it’s tricky, since you’re constantly passing through new airwaves and can’t listen to the same radio station for very long.”

Though pitfalls dominate most of her concerns, there is one area of trucking, she says, that can’t be beat: “The views from the driver’s seat beat any office window.”

Tenmet proudly provides the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

More things you might not know about semi-trailers

In our previous blog we brought out 10 tidbits that the average person might not have known about semi-trailers. Before we close the curtain on the subject, here—thanks to Popular Mechanics—are a few more:

  • Ever wonder the amount of power it takes to haul a fully loaded semi down the highway? A Detroit Diesel DD15 14.8-litre inline six-cylinder engine weighs 2,880 pounds—that’s 345 pounds more than an entire Mini-Cooper automobile! The colossal DD15 powerplant creates up to 560 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque. Giving it just 1200 rpms, the engine produces 1,500 lb-ft of torque. Most turbocharged diesel engines put out between 1,200 to 2,050 lb-ft to keep a fully loaded truck moving.
  • The 1978 movie Convoy, directed by Sam Peckinpah, grossed $15 million. The film was loosely based on the hit record of the same name in 1975 sung by C.W. McCall. The previous year, though, another trucker-themed movie—Smokey and the Bandit—cleaned house, grossing over $100 million.
  • The top-selling brand of semi truck is Freightliner, which sells about a third of the approximately 190,000 semis sold annually. Owned by Daimler Trucks North America, Freightliner owns the Western Star brand as well. The second best-selling brand is Navistar International, followed by PACCAR, which owns the Peterbilt and Kenworth brands. Volvo, in the fourth spot, is the owner of the Mack truck brand.
  • Anti-lock brakes have been required equipment on semis since 1997, a change that has significantly reduced jackknife-type crashes. Today the most deadly accidents involving semi trucks are rollovers. Federal highway investigators attribute rollovers to loose road surface conditions that cause truck drivers to overcorrect.
  • New fuel-economy standards that took effect last year require semis with sleeper cabs to get 7.2 mpg on level roads.

Tenmet proudly provides the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

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(Source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/trucks/g116/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-semi-trucks/?slide=7)

Trucking dog adoption program matched 500 in first year

Singer/entertainer Susanne Spirit imparted the usual musical bill of fare at her shows most weekends at the TravelCenters of America-East (now Petro) location in Ontario, Calif., back from 2011-13. Her performances were a combination of country music and public outreach to and from the nation’s truckers for her Musical Truckin’ Dogs Adoption Program, offering pet-adoption services to drivers as part of an overall plan to help find homes for wayward dogs—many of whom wind up getting adopted by truckers all over the country.

Through her adoption program’s first year, Spirit found homes for more than 500 homeless dogs. By mid-2012, that total zoomed to 1,400.

“This program feels a responsibility to take action by providing homes, safe shelter, love and support for all domestic animals,” says Spirit on her website.

It’s not unusual for the animals involved in an adoption to log thousands of miles to get to their eventual destination. That journey, of course, is aided immeasurably by the hearts of the truckers who lend a major hand in the free transport to all sections of the country, many of whom invariably wind up adopting a dog themselves as a companion for the highway. One such adoption for a dog named Jackson involved a 5,000-mile crisscrossing of America, making connections with truckers on different routes, to finally get him to his final destination.

“At the end of the day I can rest with a smile on my face,” said Matthew Fortenberry, writer of “To the Rescue” for Animal Sheltering magazine, “knowing that…wonderful animals find a loving home with the most wonderful of people.”

Sadly, Spirit’s health of late has taken a turn for the worse. On her Facebook page, the rescuer tells of her plight but determinedly announces that the adoption/rescue program will continue, though in a more limited capacity.

Tenmet proudly endorses all pet rescue operations and supports truckers everywhere who take part in the important work of rescuing, transporting, and adopting lost canines.

At Tenmet, we provide the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

More Things You Might Not Know About Semi-Trailers

More things you might not know about semi-trailers

In our previous blog we brought out 10 tidbits that the average person might not have known about semi-trailers. Before we close the curtain on the subject, here—thanks to Popular Mechanics—are a few more:

  • Ever wonder the amount of power it takes to haul a fully loaded semi down the highway? A Detroit Diesel DD15 14.8-litre inline six-cylinder engine weighs 2,880 pounds—that’s 345 pounds more than an entire Mini-Cooper automobile! The colossal DD15 powerplant creates up to 560 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque. Giving it just 1200 rpms, the engine produces 1,500 lb-ft of torque. Most turbocharged diesel engines put out between 1,200 to 2,050 lb-ft to keep a fully loaded truck moving.
  • The 1978 movie Convoy, directed by Sam Peckinpah, grossed $15 million. The film was loosely based on the hit record of the same name in 1975 sung by C.W. McCall. The previous year, though, another trucker-themed movie—Smokey and the Bandit—cleaned house, grossing over $100 million.
  • The top-selling brand of semi truck is Freightliner, which sells about a third of the approximately 190,000 semis sold annually. Owned by Daimler Trucks North America, Freightliner owns the Western Star brand as well. The second best-selling brand is Navistar International, followed by PACCAR, which owns the Peterbilt and Kenworth brands. Volvo, in the fourth spot, is the owner of the Mack truck brand.
  • Anti-lock brakes have been required equipment on semis since 1997, a change that has significantly reduced jackknife-type crashes. Today the most deadly accidents involving semi trucks are rollovers. Federal highway investigators attribute rollovers to loose road surface conditions that cause truck drivers to overcorrect.
  • New fuel-economy standards that took effect last year require semis with sleeper cabs to get 7.2 mpg on level roads.

Tenmet proudly provides the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

For the record: Music and truck driving make a good mix

Since vinyl records began spinning on radio turntables, music and truck driving have made a favorable combination.

The distinct music genre made its appearance as an outcropping of honky-tonk music, which entered its golden age with the widespread popularity of country artists such as Webb Pierce, Hank Locklin, Lefty Frizzell, Faron Young, George Jones, and Hank Williams in the 1940s and ’50s. Stars like Dave Dudley and Red Sovine are considered the unrivaled kings of trucker music, each making a huge impact in the trucker-song heyday of the 1960s and ’70s.

Dudley’s signature hit, “Six Days on the Road,” climbed the charts in 1963, selling over a million copies, and is regarded as the pinnacle of truck-driving songs. In Dudley’s original version, the tune contained a controversial line in the lyrics that said, “…I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide…”—a reference to stimulants that some truckers use to stay awake on long hauls, with the goal always to make delivery on time or else risk getting their pay docked. Sleep as the preferred option never really factors into the equation, because of the potential loss of money. A later remake of the song replaced those provocative lyrics with a reference to looking at “the little white lines” on the road. Other hits by Dudley involving truck-driving themes included “Truck Drivin’ Son-of-a-Gun” and “Trucker’s Prayer,” among others.

Sovine began his long career in country music in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1960s that he found his niche with a string of trucker hits, led by “Giddy-Up-Go” (1965), which told of a father-son reunion at a truck stop. His biggest hit may have been “Teddy Bear,” released in 1976, which related the mournful tale of a disabled child’s CB-radio relationship with caring truckers after his dad—a trucker—was killed in a highway accident. Sovine also issued the eerie and ghostly “Phantom 309” in 1967, which tells of a hitch-hiker given a lift by “Big Joe,” a tractor-trailer driver who turns out to have died in his rig in an accident 10 years before while trying to avoid a school bus full of children.

Here are some other major hit records involving truckers or the highway/driving theme:

“Convoy” by C.W. McCall (1975).  The truck driver’s rebellion depicted in this No. 1 pop- and country-chart hit from 1975 was the inspiration for the Sam Peckinpah film of the same name, released later the same decade. Its dramatization of CB chatter between characters “Rubber Duck” and Pig Pen” helped spur on the pop CB craze of that era.

“East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed (1977). Reed’s classic also became part of the soundtrack to Smokey and the Bandit.

At Tenmet, we’re still singing your song, aiming to keep you rollin’ right. For the finest in trailer parts and service, depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

The first tractor trailer

It may seem from its omnipresence on America’s highways that the semi-trailer has been around forever. In a sense it has—coming into existence not long after the birth of the auto itself, and for good reason: As the auto industry grew and cars were sold, a way had to be developed to transport those cars to the destinations of their buyers.

But first, paved roads had to be developed, and that didn’t occur until the decade of the 1910s. And at that, it wasn’t until the 1950s and ’60s that our familiar cross-country interstate system came into being that enabled shipping and freighting to come up to a level par with the railroad and freighters.

An early carmaker from Cleveland, Alexander Winton, in 1896 was experiencing the very real need to get cars to customers from across the country. And he had to do it in an efficient and economical manner. The concept of the “automobile hauler” came to Winton two years later, when he manufactured the first semi-truck with the sole purpose of transporting automobiles. This account from the website of Great Western Transportation:

“The first semi trailer used a modified short-wheeled touring automobile (the tractor) with a cart (the trailer) attached to the rear of it. The platform sat on the top of the engine portion and rested on a pair of wheels on the other end. This may be a bit confusing as most cars and trucks have engines in the front; this car had an engine in the rear.”

A year later, Winton Motor Carriage began producing the hauler for not only its own use but for other car manufacturers as well. There was one proviso, however. The platform only held one automobile. Before the cart was mounted onto the pulling car, the automobile to be delivered was wheeled onto the ramp of the cart and fastened to the platform. The edge of the platform resting on the ground was then elevated and attached to the top of the trunk of the pulling vehicle. Today’s RGN flatbed trailer, the removable gooseneck, utilizes the same principle of being driven onto, then hitched, to the tractor.

Logging and semis have an old history too, but that’s for another time.

One more mention of historical fact: Tenmet proudly provides the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

10 things you may not know about semi-trailers

You cautiously pass them on the highway, glancing to your right and seeing nothing but a driver’s side door, the hulking mass of metal dwarfing whatever passenger car you’re riding in or driving. As fellow travelers on the highway, we kind of take these cargo Goliaths for granted. Thanks to Popular Mechanics, here are 10 things you may not know about semi-trailers.

  • About 5.6 million semi trailers (or tractor trailers) are registered for use in the U.S., almost three times the number of semi trucks (also called tractors). It was the trailer that gave rise to the name semi truck. Since the trailer has no front wheels and can be used only when connected to the tractor part of the truck, it’s called a semi-trailer. The terms “semi” and “semi truck” evolved from that. The combination units are also referred to as transports, semis, tractor-trailers, big rigs, and 18-wheelers.
  • Typically semi-trailers run 53 feet long.
  • One-third of all of the 1,900,000 semi trucks operating in the U.S. are registered in California, Florida, and Texas.
  • There are 3.2 million truck drivers in the U.S.
  • About 90 percent of trucking companies and owner-operators field fewer than six trucks.
  • On average, semi-trailer trucks drive about 140 billion miles a year in America, with 68 percent of all goods in the U.S. delivered by semis.
  • The two largest commodities shipped by weight on semi-trailer trucks are agricultural and building materials.
  • Semi trucks make up just 15 percent of commercial trucks in the U.S., yet they travel 42 percent of all miles covered by commercial trucks.
  • It is estimated that semis get roughly 6.5 miles to the gallon, although different trucks get fuel economy in a range from 4 to 8 mpg. Going up a steep hill, a truck’s mileage might drop to 2.9 mpg, but going down the same hill it might go more than 23 mpg.
  • Maximum weight for a U.S. semi truck and full trailer is 80,000 pounds spread over 18 conventional wheels. But in Australia, “road trains” can have four trailers and weigh in excess of 300,000 pounds.

Now that you’re an expert on big rigs, here’s an 11th tip: Tenmet proudly provides the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!

Horrors from the Highway

Anyone who’s ever climbed behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer or semi big rig knows that the prospect of driving the Queen Mary inside tight white lines on the road can make for a potentially disconcerting situation. As always, studious preparation and detailed scrutiny of the vehicle and trailer in all areas before heading out is the surest way to bring peace of mind to the wary trucker. But stuff indeed happens. Below are a few “trailer tales from the road” from drivers who courted disaster but just barely averted it. Go to school on their experiences.

  • A farmer loaded a four-horse equestrian fifth-wheel trailer starting from the front with bags of feed from floor to ceiling until the gooseneck actually snapped off! Fortunately, he never got this overloaded trailer onto the highway.
  • A small cargo trailer rated for 3,000 pounds was loaded with asphalt roofing shingles until the tongue bent and the tires flatted. The company engineer learned of the failure when the owner complained to the manufacturer that the trailer failed when it was “only half full.” (The load was later measured at 13,000 pounds!)
  • The owner of a small travel trailer loaded a number of heavy five-gallon drinking water bottles in the very back where they would be “out of the way” during a trip. After speeding up to pass a truck, he pulled back into his lane and the trailer went into an uncontrollable oscillation. His family was terrified as the car and trailer pitched from one shoulder to the other. Luckily, he was able to regain control before the rig flipped or went head-on into another vehicle. (Remember, liquids are heavy. A full five-gallon bottle or tank weighs about 40 pounds.)
  • The owner of a new cargo trailer from a major manufacturer thought his truck sagged a bit too much when he lowered the trailer tongue onto the hitch. He checked out the tongue weight and found that it was over 800 pounds?with the trailer empty! Over 30 percent of the trailer’s empty weight was on the tongue. The axles had to be moved forward to balance the trailer before it could even be loaded. Imagine if it had been loaded and driven!

Don’t wait for the unexpected to happen to you. At Tenmet we proudly provide the finest in comprehensive truck/tractor and semi-trailer repairs and parts. And our fully furnished 24-hour mobile service truck fleet is always at the ready for roadside calls and customer-location service work.

Tenmet aims to keep you rollin’ right. Depend on The Dependables…Tenmet!