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CDL- who has one?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by snow, May 17, 2003.

  1. snow

    snow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 1,002

    Just wondering who here has their CDL. I have my permit and am trying to learn to drive. I talked to a lot of my friends with trucks, but they're really busy now with work and don't have much free time to teach me.

    I got information on a local tractor trailer driving school ( i want to get my class a). Due to my friends being busy, i think that is the way i go. I figure they teach you on their trucks, and you can take your CDL test with their trucks there. Everything is at one location, and the school is only 30 minutes away or so.

    Who here has their cdl? how did you get it, school or someone taught you?

    I hope to start school there this coming up week maybe.

  2. gordyo

    gordyo Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    Got my CDL Class B when I was 18 working for a Landscape Contractor using their truck, and then went to Andover Tractor Trailer School a few years later to get a CDL Class A license.
  3. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I bought a VW Beetle and learned how to drive a standard on my way home with it. Once I knew how to shift gears the steps up to pickup trucks and a 5 ton dump truck were no big deal. We pulled compressors with the pickup trucks, so I learned how to back up a trailer that way. We bought a dump truck and a trailer to haul the backhoe around on, and that's how I learned about pulling bigger things than a compressor. This all happened back in the days when there were not even different classes of drivers licenses (except for motorcycles). When the class system was started, and later the CDL, I was grandfathered. (No wisecracks about old age, Arc !) I did have to take a written CDL exam at one point.

    One thing anyone considering a CDL needs to think about--if you're stopped for DUI you're only legal for half the BAC of a non-CDL driver *no matter what kind of vehicle you're driving*. Just recently they made a rule that if you're stopped for speeding, and are more than 12 mph over the limit you get a 60 day suspension, *no matter what kind of vehicle you're driving*. (Or so I've been told. Somebody correct me if I'm mistaken.)

    Unless you're really going to use the CDL you might want to think twice about having it.
  4. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Class A here.

    I started pulling trailers at 7 with the old farm tractor at home, my Dad taught me how to back up.

    At 18 a friend of mine took me to the Grand Union warehouse where he worked and showed me how to hook up the trailers there. I played in their yard for 2 days, then rode along on a couple trips with the drivers where I drove inside NY State. Took the test and was promptly put to work at Grand Union. Lasted 20 years.

    I know you've got garden tractors, how about a trailer for that? If you can back that up, then transferring this knowledge to mirrors only takes a few days. The longer trailers are much easier to back, they don't come around so quick.

    I'd get some road time with your friends and if you feel comfortable, rent a truck with driver for the test. The driving schools will cost you a pile of money and if you already know what you're doing, what's the need?
  5. Jerre Heyer

    Jerre Heyer Senior Member
    Messages: 948

    Class A with double/triple and tanker. Let the Haz mat lapse cause I don't use it any more. Only have to take the written ( computer test ) to update if I need it again.

    Another down side is keeping the current physical on file.

    Started out kinda like Pelican...Farm tractors, dozers and loaders pulling all sorts of trailers around the farm and on job sites as a kid. Earliest memories of driving a crawler loader with a pan over a 3' drop off. ( mental note to check the clutch linkage once and a while ). We had mirrors on the crawler to make pan loading easier.

    Did alot of hay wagons. This takes alot of practice because the front tires move with the tongue and you are effectively moving two vehicles. We put hitches on the front so you could drive them into the barns backward.

    Got on the roads towing between farms with tractors and trucks. Didn't worry about license then we just had to be able to reach the pedals and start and stop ( lots of dirt country roads )

    Moved up to light and heavy equipment trailers around 16 and Tractor trailers shortly there after. I was lucky to be able to get lots of hands on.

    Unlike Pelican I would recommend the Driving school. They can teach you alot in a short time and concentrate on the necessary information. The schools here give you alot of drive time and you get over the road hours before and after you test. They teach team driving also.

    I got my CDL the new way cause I don't have the wisdom and ____ _____ of digger( Sorry Arc wasn't here to do it ). I had to take the permit test, Do the pre trip insp and driving test. Study and practice and it's a piece of cake.

    In a note of good humor it snowed about 6" the night before the test. I plowed all night and had made arrangements to test the same day as my brother in law. We got to the site and it was still covered because the plow contractor hadn't made it there yet. I plowed the lot while he pre tripped the rig. We had a green test guy from southern PA who only had a road map and was on his first over the road run in the area. Sure glad we put the extra weight over the drives that day.

    Good Luck with your CDL once you have it you'll be able to drive most anything. Consider the School bus and passenger bus endorsement. You could sub drive for schools and could put in some miles on tour buses to pick up extra $$$.

  6. snow

    snow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 1,002

    Thanks for your replies guys. I do plan on using my CDL. I'm not going to get it just to have, some of my friends who do pretty large scale excavating/trucking are always looking for drivers.
    While i could save some $$ learning from someone else, they might not be able to teach me until the fall or so when they slow down.

    I do have garden tractors, no trailers for them. I did have a landscape trailer for my truck and i do have a jet ski. Like Pelican said, the bigger trailers don't swing out as fast. My jet ski is a PITA to backup because it'll swing out a lot.

    I've also never driven a big truck. I can drive stick, but the biggest truck i moved was a C50 or so chevy 6 wheeler dump.

    I think the school is the best for me, as i graduated high school in january, and work part time 3-7pm i have a lot of time in the mornings to do to the school.

    I'm just trying to get some more info before i apply there. They have different programs there with 20, 50 and 160 hours driving time and also 2/3/unlimited cdl testing with their trucks.

  7. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    About 25 years ago I worked with a driver who was on old timer *then*. He'd been at it for forty years or so. He told us he was hired to drive truck and his entire training was, "Here's the keys, find a gear you can get it out of the yard in."
  8. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Digger, that was the same intro I got at a construction company I worked for just after I got my license (Grand Union was a part time gig for a few years). First day on the job the owner said "Take truck 23, go to Poughkeepsie Asphalt and get a load". I had never been in a dump truck before, but by the end of the day, I was running with the guys who had been there a while. The owner was a screamer, you didn't dare screw up!

    Bryan, if you can do some practicing with any trailer combo before you go to the school, you'll save yourself some time and money by having that part of the process done. It does take a bit of getting used to shifting the multi-range transmissions.

    The Mack 5 speed is about the easiest truck to shift, though it will get gear bound in hilly terrain with a load. Once you learn the Roadranger, it's a very forgiving tranny, if you screw up it's easy to get going again. Stay away from the over/under versions for your test unless you've really mastered it.

    Any of you guys run duplexes? What a beast they are! Miss a gear with one and you almost always have to come to a complete stop and start over again, and the ballet you have to perform in the cab is a bit nerve wracking!
  9. HerkFE

    HerkFE Member
    Messages: 92

    Just got my CDL.

    I grew up driving everything from lawn tractors to tandem axle dumps with tag-alongs. My father owned a pretty decent sized construction company so as a child my "Tonka Toys" were the real thing! Never bothered with the license. Small town, no problems kind of thing.

    After I left home I really didn't need it until recently. Now I am starting to aquire my own equipment and it keeps getting bigger. No longer pulls legally behind the pick-up so......CDL time. I went for the class A only because there are a lot of guys around here who need help from time to time hauling loads. Never hurts to network, so having it has opened a few doors for me. Also have used a friends tractor-trailer to move my equipment. Little trade off for driving for him once. Works good for me.

    I went to the school, only because it is tough to find a guy willing to let you beat up his gears while you learn to find them! LOL :realmad: Took the "short course", about 11 hours behind the wheel and passed the test with no problems. If you have any trailering experience then it is just getting the tractor shifteing down. My tractor that I used was a PITA but after a day or so I figured it out and only ground those gears a few times! :rolleyes:

    Was it expensive? Kind of, about $1400. Do I think it was worth it for me? Definitely. Plus, depending on your business you can write some of it off as training if you use it for your business (I do).

    Good luck!

  10. lamarbur

    lamarbur Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    where are you looking at for school. N.E.T T in Ellington? I use to teach there, part time, many moons ago. I live in Union, of that is close to where ever you are.
    Larry B
  11. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    I will say that if your going for a class A, its a lot easier to take the test in a true tractor trailer, then a dump truck and trailer.

  12. Arc Burn

    Arc Burn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,138

    Hey digger,how did those trucks handle with square wheels back then?I understand if you can't remember:confused: :D

    Seriously though,i also have a class B.I got mine working at a municipality,i was in bridge construction and the job title required having a class B,so if i wanted the full rate,i had to get the license.I studied the book and the saftey instructo went thru the basics like pre-trip,very important because you will have to show them at the test you know what your doing.Other than that,i drove for 45 minutes,they scheduled a test and i passed no problem.

    I myself would have taken a course had there not been someone to go over this stuff with me because i knew zip about big trucks like those,i just a stupid welder:p .I would say take a course if it makes you more comfortable,no sense showing up to a test"blind",they will know right away!Good Luck:waving:
  13. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,222

    I got mine when it was the old system class b then had to take the writen when it became the cdl.I learned to drive with some rental truck we had and with freinds trucks.Then when I went up to take the test went up with a guy I know who had a new truck.But nowing what your looking for in the pre trip inspection is a plus.Long as you study the book and know how to drive a stick you will be ok.
  14. gordyo

    gordyo Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    Ahh the memories this brings back of hauling Banana's out of Port Newark NJ to North of Boston in a old Mack U-600. Shift into 1st gear and leave the port, read the New York Times while waiting for the RPM's to finally get up enough speed to shift to 2nd, which loaded with a gross of 79,650lbs was about the other side of the G.W bridge. I think I was finally able to shift to 3rd around Hartford, 4th gear around Framigham and finally coasted into my home town in 5th on a downhill run with a tailwind drafting a cement mixer. :dizzy: Thankfully the guy asked me how I liked his truck and when I told him that I could drag the trailer home with a Donkey faster he gave me an International with a big Cummins in it and a 9 speed spicer and that was a much better tractor for that job.
    Last edited: May 18, 2003
  15. Snow,

    I have a clean CDL-A with motorcycle and tank/hazmat endorsements. I took the 160 hr course and they said they would give anyone unlimited road test till obtained. 8 out of 9 guys passed the first time out. The one guy that failed was the youngest and the most confident or should I say cockiest.

    My 160 hr course cost about $3200.00, but worth it.They help you to identify parts on the tractor and trailer and to make sure you knew your pre-trip inspection inside out, showed safety movies, gave daily quizes, taught log books, had guest speakers and they taught things you can't get from buddy's. They also helped everyone to find work after passing road test.

    I do believe you have to be 21 for CDL-A. Yes, the laws are tougher on anyone who posses a CDL. Any moving violation in large truck, will always show on MVA abstract.

    What ever school you are interested in, go and spend an afternoon and ask students how they like it. Check several.

    Good Luck and safe driving.

    Bob V
  16. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    They were round, just like today, but they were carved out of stone, or logs--you still watch the Flintstone's before your mommy tucks you into bed, don't you?

    I've never driven a fifth wheel trailer at all except for a few laps around the parking lot. I can see why they'd be easier to manuver than a tagalong trailer. If you really want a test of skill and determination try backing a compressor up with a 10 ton dump truck. You can't see which direction it's pointing til it's almost angled to far to get straightened out....
  17. Jerre Heyer

    Jerre Heyer Senior Member
    Messages: 948

    I solved the cement mixer / Jet Ski / short tongue trailer problem a few years ago. Made a 3' extension tongue for 2" ball trailers. Have also modified a couple of locals mixers for pintle hitch with retractable tubes for them. They can tow short and the pull the pin and slide the tube out for a long tongue backup. Works on the aluminum snowmobile and jetski trailers quite well cause they use heavy wall tube on most of them.

    Did alot of tight backing with a dump trailer between houses and this led to modifications. You can't turn the truck a whole lot to steer after you get off the road.

    I agree about the 5th wheel being easier to steer. Sliding plates are sweet too to get a tighter turn.

    Snow a thought comes to mind about 5th wheels. Do you have any buddies with camper trailers for pickups? It's good towing experience and you can work on backing into those camping spots.

  18. HerkFE

    HerkFE Member
    Messages: 92

    I second Jerre's idea....

    Great idea if you can find someone with a gooseneck or 5th wheel set-up in their pick-up. Do you know anybody big into horses? Lot's of goosenecks in that crowd! I know, I have one! Great practice because you can do the 90 degree or greater turns with them. Sure makes it easy to put those trailers in tight spots! Kind of spoils you.....

    Good luck!
  19. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    I was gonna suggest it too,but Jerre beat me to it.

    Took mine using a pickup with a rented fifth wheel car hauler.Easy rig to manuever and back up,passed no problem.
  20. Bill c

    Bill c PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ny
    Messages: 85

    For a class A cdl in ny you must be 21 years of age.The harsh cdl regulations only apply in ny when you are driving a vehicle that requires a cdl to operate.

    Also geoff mentioned that you should take your test with a tractor rig and I agree with that also,because in ny if you take a cdl A test with a dump and trailer you get a combination vehicle cdl liscense which is not good for driving tractor rigs.