Tag Archives: organization

Maintenance Records

By John L. Hruska

When owning trucks and trailers, the expense of proper repairs and upkeep can be overwhelming, I’ve found that keeping good maintenance records is a key to healthy, profitable equipment.

Maintenance Records- When owning trucks and trailers, the expense of proper repairs and upkeep can be overwhelming, I've found that keeping good maintenance records is a key to healthy, profitable equipment.
My Kenworth W900L

First and foremost, come up with a plan on how to format your maintenance records and how to keep them neat and legible. I typically use a spreadsheet with separate columns for date, mileage and repairs performed. If you don’t have a computer you can always use a hard back ledger book from an office supply store. Once you have this, separate the file or book into different categories. The categories that I use are as follows: General Repairs, Filters, Suspension, Air System, Tires, Wheel Ends, Electrical, Hoses and Belts, AC / Heater, and Major Components. Keeping your maintenance records organized makes it easier to have them readily available when you need them.

Now that you have a place to record your repairs, you’ve taken the first step to better maintenance. When repairs are performed, enter the date, mileage, what repairs and parts have been replaced and who did the work. It’s also important to record where you purchased the new parts. A new part typically carries some sort of warranty (check with your dealer). If the part fails, your dealer should stand behind it for a period of time. It’s also a good idea to keep your sales receipt. Your receipt can prove when you bought the part and can be the difference between paying again or getting a new one under warranty. Warranty parts are always a good thing, we don’t pay for them.

As time goes by, your records will prove to be a great tool. After a few repairs you can look back on different parts like brake lining, tires, or even brake drums. At this point you can do a little of your own analysis, like calculating the cost per mile on your part. To do this, take the price of the part and divide it by the number of miles that you used that part for. Now you can realize what your cost per mile is on that particular part. Sometimes you will find that a cheaper, up front cost is not always the cheapest overall cost in the long term.

Good maintenance records are always a big plus when you’re ready to sell your truck as well. When a prospective buyer or dealer gets a look at the past few years of your trucks repair history this helps you to get a better trade or sale price for your truck.

Lastly, I think it is also important to keep a copy of regular oil analysis in your record file. In my opinion oil sampling, also called oil analysis, can be a very valuable piece of information to have. It is like blood work for your engine; if you do this on a regular basis you can see the trends of wear metals, carbons and soots. You can also catch a potential failure such as water or fuel in your oil, which can be very harmful to your engine if not caught early.

spreadsheet_1
Snapshot of my maintenance records spreadsheet. Notice the tabs at the bottom for part numbers, repairs, suspension, etc.

To sum it up, good maintenance records are one of the most valuable tools on your work bench. They can help you to see the true cost of the parts and services that you purchase. If used correctly, good maintenance records can save you money and help you to take better care of your asset.


hruska_149x149John’s father started in the trucking business in 1947, John then joined the business in 1981.  He owns and operates Hruska Trucking and Diesel Transport along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Clark D Hofecker, in Windber, PA.


 

Great Tips for Cooking in the Truck

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

We are planning on making a spin-off of this blog which will include all kinds of cooking information, such as recipes, supplies, etc.  There are more and more drivers who are cooking in their trucks and sharing their cooking secrets, pictures of the wonderful food they prepare, and how they do it in the truck.

Great Tips for Cooking in the Truck- There are more and more drivers who are cooking in their trucks and sharing their cooking secrets, pictures of the wonderful food they prepare, and how they do it in the truck.We will give you tips on things like how to set up your truck in order to have a safe kitchen. If you are not an owner-operator you might have to check with your company to make sure you are allowed to do this to your truck.

Years ago we both had a 2000 watt inverter. We had them installed at Kenworth dealers (different ones) but they took the time to make sure the heavy duty wire was routed to the batteries and that they were properly grounded. This allowed us to run appliances in our trucks in the 90s that are run today mostly by APUs or GenSets. There are a lot of companies who have those installed in their trucks these days allowing their drivers comforts we could only dream about back then. More and more trucks are equipped with a refrigerator and microwave. Also those generators are able to power appliances like toasters, slow cookers, electric skillets, and my favorite, a George Foreman grill.

There are still a lot of you who don’t have the power available to operate the appliances that need 110 volts, but there are all kinds of appliances that plug into the 12 volt cigarette lighter. You can make fresh coffee, warm up foods already cooked, or even cook foods in a crock pot that’s plugged into a 12 volt outlet. It takes longer, so more planning is necessary.

Make a grocery list and take advantage of getting to a grocery store or a Wal-Mart, at home or on the road. If you have a fridge, it’s easier to keep healthy food on board such as fresh produce, yogurts, meats, and cheese.

A collection of spices that you like are also a good idea. Even if you don’t get carried away you should at least carry basics like salt and pepper. Anything that doesn’t require refrigeration (spices, condiments, etc.) are useful since all OEM refrigerators are small. Zipper storage bags work better than anything else for storing food since they can be used in or out of the fridge and take up much less space, plus they are sealable. The freezer ones are best, since they are the strongest. You can use a variety of sizes from snack size to gallon size for organizing all of your supplies. Rectangular plastic baskets work out really well and fit great into most cubbies in sleepers. You’ll have to measure your particular sleeper and take those measurements with you when looking for baskets to fit.

Get creative with your storage spaces. The more “stuff” you carry, the more you need to organize it. Make sure you always secure your cooking space. The last thing you need is a crock pot flying through the air if you have to make a sudden stop.

I would like to share with you a simple recipe that is both good and good for you. Ingredients: a tub of cottage cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil, and an onion (optional). Mix all ingredients together and let the flavors mingle into something fantastic.

I also have a suggestion for those of you who want to eat healthy but don’t know how to cook or don’t have the facilities to do so. This is simple; get yourself one of those little 12 volt lunch box looking heaters. After you get that, you can pick up those single serve Lean Cuisine dinners from the frozen food department in the grocery store. Put one into the heater and plug it in. In about 30 minutes your food will be steaming hot and ready to eat. You can pull over, get out your plastic fork, and bon appetit!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Great Gifts for Truck Drivers

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Great Gifts for Truck Drivers- Christmas will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start shopping for that perfect gift for those important people in your life. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started earlier rather than later so your budget can withstand the extra expense of the holiday.Christmas will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start shopping for that perfect gift for those important people in your life. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started earlier rather than later so your budget can withstand the extra expense of the holiday.

If the one you love is a new driver the list of things that would make useful gifts is long.  It takes some time to get organized and figure out what you need when you are new in this business. For the old hands out here, new things are coming down the pike every day. If you look, you can still find something that will be a thoughtful and appreciated gift.

Let’s start with the new drivers, for years I carried an over the shoulder shower bag, now I have found that a duffle bag with wheels is greatly appreciated. I woke up one day, older, and said to myself, “hmmm, I suppose trucking hasn’t always been as kind to my body as I would have liked” and realized  that, just maybe, a shower bag on wheels might make my life a little easier, which it does. Try to find a bag with all the little cubbies to hold your shower necessities.  A fun pair of shower shoes might be another idea.  Everything can’t always be strictly practical, personalize whenever you can, for example if your loved one likes dogs, get something dog-inspired.

Great Gifts for Truck Drivers- Christmas will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start shopping for that perfect gift for those important people in your life. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started earlier rather than later so your budget can withstand the extra expense of the holiday.If you get a chance, wander the aisles at a chrome shop like Iowa 80 to see all the latest must haves on a truck. There are many ideas there for drivers! If you can’t make it to one of their store locations you can call toll free for a catalog or you can go to IOWA80.com and look online.

An extendable back scratcher is a nice idea and an extendable fly swatter is always welcome.  An over the seat organizer helps keep things in easy reach and put away so they aren’t cluttering up the dash.  Office supplies like a cute calculator, fun paper clips, scissors, dash duster, a nice ink pen, can take away some of the boring in your work space. A good sized thermos or thermal coffee mug could be great gifts for your driver as could a pair of polarized sunglasses or warm gloves. A shaving kit bag for a man or a make-up bag for a woman as well as a warm, comfy blanket throw for either gender would all make good gifts.

There are lots of things you can buy in pink or purple now, tool boxes with pink handled tools, your every day coffee cup… you can even find things with a bit of bling on them for us ladies! You don’t have to give up being a girl to drive a truck.

For a driver who has all the necessary stuff, finding something personalized is extra special.  A t-shirt from a favorite OEM or apparel company is always a favorite. Then there are the staples that may need to be replaced, anything from work gloves to a bluetooth headset. A favorite is always something to make the truck smell good, being closed up inside for so many hours without being able to have fresh air circulate creates a real need for it, so air fresheners, in many different scents, would be a nice gift. Especially if it could last longer than a day!

Gifts given to us from the ones we love mean a lot when you are gone from home, and if you are just getting into this crazy business, I think they might mean even more. Merry Christmas!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Best Tips for Personalizing Your Cab Interior

Personalizing Your Cab | Trucker TipsBy Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Most drivers spend more time in their trucks than they do at their house, so it’s very important that every time you open that door it welcomes YOU home. This is your personal space, your office, your headquarters for operations. It is a reflection of your taste, the pride you have in your job, your industry and the things you like. It can make you a happier driver when you crawl into the cab.

Trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job and the view that comes with it is often times better than corporate America’s CEOs get to enjoy. Although our view is outstanding, space is limited, so it is to a drivers benefit to maximize space wherever possible, creativity here can be your best friend. Lots of things can, and should, do double duty, keeping the things you use most often at your fingertips. One of the first and most important things about the cab interior is the scent, ALWAYS keep it smelling fresh, choose something you like and keep it well supplied!

Over the seat organizers can hold everything from pens, scissors, maps, CAT scale and truck stop directories, stapler, calculator, back scratcher, notebook, miscellaneous bookkeeping supplies, dash duster, etc. They also keep things neatly stowed in colorful organization. It is also helpful to have a good LED flashlight on a strap so that you can hang it from a hook or elsewhere for ease of use in the dark when you need to grab it in a hurry for inside or outside use.

We all have our favorite colors, the ones we use to brighten up the interior and maybe co-ordinate with the exterior of our trucks. We use them to complement other colors and generally just personalize our space. One of the quickest, easiest ways to start is to get some rugs. Bathroom rugs work really well, the ones with the rubber backing as they don’t slip and slide all over on any type of flooring your truck may have and as a bonus, they keep your feet warm! The contour rugs, those made to fit around the base of a toilet fit perfectly around the base of most air ride seats. They also fit nicely around the boot of a transmission. If you have 2 full sets of these you can have a spare for spills or wet and salty, muddy conditions. They also keep your floors (whatever surface you have) clean and easier to maintain. There are many styles of floor mats also readily available, in case you don’t want or like the idea of rugs.

Best Tips for Personalizing Your Cab Interior- Most drivers spend more time in their trucks than they do at their house, so it’s very important that every time you open that door it welcomes YOU home. This is your personal space, your office, your headquarters for operations.
Shawn Swanson, Prophetstown, IL – 2002 Kenworth & 2010 Reitnouer Trailer – Pure Attitude – 2016 Walcott Truckers Jamboree

Speaking of floors, there are many different surfaces you can install in your truck if you own it, from carpet to laminate, wood to tile. These are available in a plethora of colors and styles as well, to meet your needs and taste. Some of them are quite durable as well and can be kept clean very easily. Getting a ‘blow gun’ and having it installed beneath the driver’s seat is a great, time saving tip that works really well, much better, in fact, than a whisk broom or vacuum, as it reaches spaces the others can’t. Usually, even if you drive a company truck, when you buy one of these the company will allow their own shop to install it for you since it is such a handy tool, as long as you are willing to leave it in the truck when you switch out.

The seats in your truck are yet another area that can be customized, either the seats themselves, if you are an owner operator, or with seat covers you can purchase in many styles and fabrics for company drivers. Even owner operators who like the seats in their trucks can change it up inside the cab by simply buying a set of seat covers in a fun and comfortable fabric. We’ve been told that sheepskin covers are highly recommended for comfort in both winter and summer. You don’t have to break the bank to be cool or comfortable.

Keeping a place specifically for your glasses is a good idea as well, having one spot to hang them, always, will help keep them from getting broken. Same can be said for your headset and cellphone charger, those removable hooks are a fantastic option for those items. You can mount them to the surface inside your cab somewhere and hang these things in the same place every time. This way, you will instinctively know exactly where it is when you need it and reach for it in just the right spot. I have always been the night driver and I found this part of setting up our truck especially important.

Using brightly colored towels or throw pillows inside the cab area will complete the setting, bringing your own personality to the space. These can have a team or color or branch of military service, whatever is important to you. Doing this personalizes an otherwise impersonal space and makes it your own, turns that truck into your home!

Stay safe out there and Keep It Shiny!


hogeland_grimm_149x149 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.