Is the hunt over?

2010 January 30
by Hedon

... my mother told me to pick the very best one ...

...and my mother told me to pick the very best one...

I think we may have found a truck that will work for us. We haven’t worked out all the details yet but this is what we are looking at. For all you trucking gurus out there here are the specs:

2006 Freightliner CL12064ST-COLUMBIA 120

525,xxx to 545,xxx miles depending on the unit we pick

14.0L  Detroit    515 horsepower

Ultrashift tranny (aka autoshift… hurrah!)

3:58 ratio

22.5LP tires on all aluminum wheels

235″ wheelbase

air ride suspension

sliding 5th wheel

double bunks with pretty much basic interior blah blah blah

thermo-king tri pac apu installed (hurrah!)

some misc color to be determined later (whatever)

So there you have it, truck fans. That’s what we’re working with right now. They are asking around $24,500 depending on which model we end up picking. That’s about $5,000 less than they were asking for a similar truck without an APU back in November… Hurrah! We had figured out a brilliant scheme to get the truck without paying any interest at all on it but it’s not going to work out after all. See our thought was to pay $10,000 down and split the $15,000 remaining between two different credit cards that were offering 0% interest for a year. That way we could pay the vast majority of it off before any interest kicked in… hurrah! But in the end it wouldn’t work because they can’t accept credit cards. Oh well. Guess we’ll just have to finance it the old fashioned interest-paying way.

Also, if we end up leasing on with this tiny little company that we’re considering we will need to buy a trailer. Not a huge deal though since I think we can buy a good ’02 or ’03 trailer for around $5,000 or so. This little company is tiny — they only have six or seven O/O leased on with them. They are offering us 80% of the linehaul and right now they are averaging about $1.85 per mile fleet-wide. Not like we would be getting rich on that or anything but in the current state of the trucking industry it really isn’t a terribly bad deal.

Well that’s the current state of affairs. We’re working on all the paperwork and taking things one step at a time. There is just so much to do and it all has to be done at the exact right point in the process. It can get confusing. For example we have to be signed on with the carrier before we apply for financing for the truck… but the carrier wants to know what truck we have before they want to sign us on with them. Sigh. Also, we have to actually go and check out the trucks and pick one and have it put on the dyno and have the fluids tested and hire an independent mechanic to go over every square inch of the truck to see exactly what we’re getting. Some drivers also say you should get a complete dump of the ECM but to be honest I’m not sure that I would understand all the info I would be getting so I don’t know how helpful that would be to us.

Oh well, we’re slowly inching our way forward. Hopefully good things come to those who take baby steps. Tiny, confused, bumbling, stumbling baby steps.

11 Responses
  1. 2010 January 30
    limericc permalink

    Congrats. Sounds like things are moving along. So what type of freight? Regional? Cross Country?

    • 2010 January 31

      Still cross country but hopefully not the corners so much. Florida has no freight at all coming out of it unless you have an ice-box so we don’t exactly want to go into Florida unless the rate in is so high that it also pays you to deadhead out to Georgia to pick up your next load.

      The northeast corner is just a pain in the butt to fight your way through and the tolls are hideously high so again the rates would have to be sky-high to make it worth us making the trip in.

      There’s no getting away from LA if you want to run team loads so I don’t see us being able to avoid the Inland Empire forever although rates into and out of California also suck. And there you have to deal with all the Nazi regulations they are throwing at truckers these days. On the other hand, in Long Beach they have the best Thai food in the world (outside of Thailand of course) so that would make it worth taking a small beating on the rates once in a while. :)

      The Northwest is beautiful but every single route in or out involves heavy snow odds most of the year.

      The important thing will be to learn the freight lanes and where we can consistently find the best rates in and out. And I haven’t even thrown in fuel costs and fuel taxes both of which vary by state. It all suddenly seems surprisingly complicated. How exciting! :)

  2. 2010 January 30

    Sounds like you could make some money! Your mechanic could go over the ECM dump – they’d be looking for trends like over revving, or overheating – stuff that is out of whack. Probably wouldn’t hurt to have an oil analysis done, too – you can tell if the bearings and rings are ending up in the oil, among other things. That kind of mileage is approaching a major overhaul fairly soon if it’s been abused.

    Do the sellers have repair and service histories? Those can be a mixed bag – if, say, the clutch has been replaced does that mean it was abused? Or now you’ve got a fairly new clutch and that won’t be a worry? Ideally, you want the truck that had one driver (or team) who was really into keeping it clean, fixed and running well.

    Personally, I’ve never bought a truck, but I looked at a bunch for my ex boss many moons ago. He usually bought used, and had the best luck with the trucks that had some care for appearance, as opposed to the ones that had filthy interiors (just a quick vacuum doesn’t catch nooks and crannies) and scummy exteriors – sporting that dull finish that super caustic cleaners give when washing away months old crud.

    The gearing would seem to me to be a bit low for a Cat or Cummins, but I think that is specced out about right for a Detroit. I’d sure think it will be running around the fourteen to seventeen hundred range most of the time, which is where they need to run for mileage and power. Detroits don’t take to lugging a whole bunch like a Cat. I’ve never cared for Detroits, but it’s hard to argue with their mileage, low entry cost, and low overhaul costs (particularly compared to a Cat).

    Of course, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I can’t help but think of you two like my mother and sister when it comes to things mechanical, so the old unsolicited advice module kicks in.

    And, while I know you don’t want to waste a bunch of money on chrome gewgaws, IMHO you still have to make this rig “yours.” So, I’m gonna plug an old biker chick’s custom pinstriping out of Wichita. If, in your travels across the Midwest, you’ve seen any M. Bruenger or Farmer’s Oil trucks, you’ve seen her work. She does all our pinstriping, too, and she’s pretty reasonable as well. I think our stuff costs less than $600, IIRC.

    I’ll be derned. Just googling around, and she has a website – and one of our trucks is featured on her “doors and stripes” page. I just really like her work, and were I buying a big blank truck, I’d be for having her doll it up a little. Tasteful and not overdone. I was pretty excited to see what she did for my ride when we were getting it prepped.

    • 2010 January 31

      Hey Jeffro!

      We are all about hearing any words of wisdom you care to share. Thanks so much! I told Stace that she is the one that reminds you of your mom and I’m the one like your sister cause you and I could go out and have a beer and scope out girls or something while she on the other hand IS SO DAMNED OLD! She insists that it’s just that she’s mature and sensible and you connect to that in her. Whatever. :)

      These are old fleet trucks so I can only hope that we might get lucky and hit a one-team truck. Doesn’t seem likely though. I just hope they are a little more proactive than USXpress when it comes to things like pms and repairing little things before they become big things. At least they surely have good records.

      I know they aren’t going to be spec’ed exactly like one might hope for their first truck. On the other hand, $24,000 for a 500,xxx mile truck is pretty hard to pass up. We are hoping to get 300,000 to 400,000 miles out of her before she needs an overhaul. At that point it will be a decision whether to inline and keep her for a couple more years or trade up.

      I was thinking that our last truck at USX was 435 hp and it ran at about 1450 rpm at 65mph which was right in the sweet spot for that truck. I was thinking that this one has a crap-load more horses frolicking around under the hood at 515 hp but I couldn’t figure out where the sweet spot would likely be on this one. We are all about the ***M***P***G*** here at HagCentral so that’s been a concern.

      Thanks for the heads up on the lady in Wichita. I went and checked out her work (and of course I’ve always admired both the Bruenger and Farmer’s trucks cause they are seriously sharp) and she does some awesome free-hand work on those trucks! At some point we are definitely going to have to stop by Wichita and have a chat with her. Of course right now we don’t even know which color we will end up with so that’s kinda putting the pin-striping before the base-coat.

      Doubt we’re going to have much coin for tricking out the truck for a while though. We need to buy a frig so we can continue our ridiculously healthy new eating habits on the road. Then we also need to buy set after set after set of stupid chains that we never intend to use so we can pass muster on the side of the road out west. I’m sure there’s a million other things we will need to buy that aren’t coming to mind right now, but maybe that’s just that weird self-protection thing that Fernando occasionally pulls off. :)

      • 2010 January 31

        Seriously, I’m stoked about the trucks you’ve found – the specs are pretty much spot on and the price is right. You’d be looking at $60k to $90k for a W9 or 379. The Paccar products are nice, but not three times the initial cost for entry owner operator nice. I’ve never driven an “auto,” but one of my buddies has one in a T660 and is in lurve with it.

        And yeah, you’re gonna find you need all kinds of stuff – scads of stuff – that all cost money. I have a cooler in my truck – the fridge thing is a bit large for a day cab. I make up some sandwiches every Sunday night and take ‘em with me for the rest of the week. I tend to stay closer to the house than you two will.

        You probably already have some emergency stuff you carry. I have hub oiler plug covers, gear oil for hubs, tire gauge, spare belts and the necessary wrenches to put them on, a couple pairs of Vice Grips (handy for stuff like pinching off air lines until you get to civilization), spare fuel filters and a filter wrench, plus some auto tranny fluid to fill the filter (so you don’t have to fish it out of your fuel tank), several gallons of antifreeze, extra glad hand seals, plastic wire ties, starter fluid, circuit tester and some other extra stuff for wide loads. If I had more room I’d have a bunch of extra brass air line fittings (and some chunks of different sized air lines) and more tools (combo wrenches up to 1 1/4″, 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″drive socket sets), an extra leveler valve for the air ride suspension, maybe even an extra alternator, a quick fill hose and freon, extra breakers, fuses, wiring and black tape, an extra air compressor regulator, some Teflon tape or goo, a long air hose with a tire chuck on one end and a glad hand on the other (long enough to go from the emergency air end on the tractor to the furthest tire), and a mechanic tied up and stuffed under the bunk! That’s all pretty much what I carried (except I was the mechanic – hah!) when I hauled grain and had the room. If you can use and install some of these things, you can at least limp in to a shop rather than paying the big service call money. As you become accustomed to your truck, you’ll find out what the high wear items are that you can replace yourself – say for some reason a certain switch keeps breaking. Best to have one on hand.

        You want your mechanic to look at linings – clutch and brakes. Belts and hoses? Probably mostly still original. What color is the antifreeze? See how tight the driveline is. How much front end play is there? There will be some – half a million miles tends to loosen that stuff up. Look over the steer tires – how are they wearing? Brand new steer tires might be hiding alignment problems. Caps on the drive tires? More than likely – but how many times have they been capped? If you really like a certain tractor but don’t care for the tires on it, make ‘em swap some better ones off another tractor in stock. All the gauges (and backlights) work? Lots of holes in the dash or pretty clear? Netting in the cubbyholes torn loose or in good shape? Lots of missing screws? Seat cushions worn out? Might have had someone large like me wearing that seat out. Look at the breaker box – if it’s still in the same spot on a Freightliner Classic it really sucks to get to it – the removable panel in front of the shifter under the dash – but once it’s out (dzus fasteners, a quarter works good) look it over for obvious electrical work (lots of new breakers or new anything that stands out) or sloppy add on wiring that might cause you problems later.

        Fifth wheel – make sure the slider release actually releases and the tracks are smooth and clear. The only way to check the jaws is to actually hook up to a trailer and see how much play is there. If the surface of the plate is all worn down, the driver or drivers never bothered to lube it, so there would probably be other signs of neglect as well.

        I’d expect to see some new air brake pods and slack adjusters – that is normal. The air lines probably won’t be too weather checked on a 2006. Open the drains on the air tanks – if you get water the air dryer is probably kaput. Hardly anyone ever changes the filters in those dryers anyway.

        I know there are some specific things to look for on Detroits but I don’t remember what they are – I think it has to do with oil leaks hidden under some of the covers – or one of them or something. Yeah, big help there. IRRC the accessory drives are under cover and there are panels covering where heads might leak, but I might be full of it. Been a while since I’ve even seen a Detroit in captivity.

        Like I said, I’m probably preaching to the choir. You two have probably put on more miles in the past two years than I do in three or four, so it’s not like y’all have been running around with your eyes closed.

        So, it sure sounds like you’ve found some good starter material. You two are certainly approaching this with a great deal of common sense with a big eye towards the ol’ budget. Lots don’t think that far ahead. That’s “half the battle” right there!

  3. 2010 January 31
    limericc permalink

    I certainly hope you removed your very special rainbow painted lug nut covers. They will bertainly have to go on your new rig.

    • 2010 January 31

      That’s exactly what I was thinking!

  4. 2010 February 2
    Belledog permalink

    Good luck with the truck purchase. So glad you will be out on the road again soon.

  5. 2010 February 5

    wow!!!….we are super excited about this!!…..please keep us updated and let us know about this company you’re gonna lease on with….

  6. 2010 February 8

    You have been BUSY, girl – congrats on the truck selection and I hope you have it paid off – like tomorrow! Look forward to catching up on OurBigGayborhood soon!

  7. 2010 February 9
    limericc permalink

    OK, so whats the latest?

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