Setting the record straight
I was quoted in your last issue concerning Volvo trucks and I would like to add some comments to clarify my position on the subject of wheel alignment. I had told Ruth Jones in a telephone interview that Volvo owners would not get proper alignments or advice at some Volvo shops. That is true; however, I did not mean to exclude alignment shops, vehicle manufacturers and alignment equipment manufacturers. I also did not want to exclude the other make-dealers. Keep in mind that most heavy-truck dealers are dualed with another nameplate and if they cannot adjust toe on a Volvo, they can't do it on a Pete either.
There are many things that can happen to tires: cupping, scalloping, etc. We are not talking about that right now. We are talking about tires that wear out too fast. Tires wear out too fast because they are not running parallel to each other because the toe-in is not adjusted properly. It is not a caster problem and it is not a camber problem and it does not require an expensive alignment machine to measure it. The truth of the matter is that the simplest measuring device is the most accurate. There is absolutely no need to spend the money on a complete vehicle alignment when all you need to do is adjust toe. And it makes no difference whether it is done with a simple trammel bar or a laser or a computerized alignment machine, accuracy is the key and "close enough" is not good enough. The tolerance is the same as the thickness of 10 sheets of writing paper, and it sometimes takes more than several tries to get it right. If a repair shop cannot measure and adjust toe, it can't even replace a worn tie rod end.
I want to be perfectly clear that I have the utmost respect for Volvo trucks. In my opinion, the VN is the finest piece of equipment available. Some people will have problems with a truck regardless of the nameplate, but I can assure you that Volvo is not the only one to fuss with tire wear. I may have retired at Volvo, but I worked for other brands, too.
I worked tirelessly for over 15 years to get someone to understand that the life of the first set of tires is maximized when the toe is adjusted right during production. I have not been successful due to the same political environment that is evident in the letter from Volvo's service director to Ron Dunaway. He is being influenced by manufacturers of expensive equipment who have convinced them that this is necessary. They have a lot of money tied up in this and someone would have to eat crow to get rid of it. Someone once said that "everything complicated doesn't work; anything that works is simple."
Enjoy the magazine
To all the hard working people at OOIDA. I have enjoyed my free subscription to Land Line for many years, but it is time to join the ranks of paid membership. I'm a company driver and still enjoy it after 10 years. In fact, I'm really more efficient and peaceful now than when I started. Freight is "just" freight and customers are always important, but not beyond reasonable. Please keep up your good work, we all know we need your efforts and your straightforward approach.
Frans H. de Weers
San Antonio, TX
Roses to scale house ladies
I would like to send the ladies that work at Indiana I-94 eastbound scale house, 200 roses each. I have never seen such professionalism and compassion for people. I was pulled around to the barn for a DOT inspection. The officer was very professional. She found something with the company trailer that put me out of service. While I waited for road service to come and fix the trailer, I went inside the scale house. The ladies were very friendly and answered all my questions about what they look for with trucks to pull around. They could have written me a ticket for the trailer but just wrote a warning. After talking with them for about two hours, I told them that if only one-third of scale house employees were like them there would be less friction between truckers and DOT.
I was not the only trucker impressed with them. I talked with several who had the same feeling I did.
Eddie N. Hoyle
I'm not sure that the officers mentioned in October's Roses & Razzberries section deserve the recognition you bestowed on them. Personally, I appreciate the even-handed enforcement exhibited by the officers at the Coeur d'Alene, ID, weigh station. In metro Detroit, every 'burb of any size has a truck cop or two that seems to turn a blind eye to city, county and state owned CMVs. And my hometown of Farmington Hills, MI, (pop. 80,000) is no different. The truck cop on the Farmington Hills Police Department (FHPD) told me he knew city trucks were exempt from conforming to legal axle weight regulations. Wrong! The city sent its 25,000-lb. (empty weight) tandem dump truck down a street posted for 2 1/2 tons maximum weight. Wrong! City dump trucks hauling aggregate routinely ignore the state's tarp law. Wrong! Also, the city has allowed employees with only a simple driver license to operate small dump truck and trailer combinations in excess of 10,000 lbs. Wrong again!
When confronted with these examples, city officials either don't answer at all or they dodge the question as best they can. Even the FHPD lieutenant (now retired) told me there was "no way" that "his" officers were going to cite a city CMV. So I think the Idaho guys have the best and broadest view of CMV law enforcement. It may well be termed "justice for all."
Farmington Hills, MI
Say no to cheap freight
All trucking companies that want to be in business in 2001 need to flat out tell their customers that they are going to pay higher rates now or there will not be trucks available to haul their freight. No business can continue to operate at a loss or at the break-even point. Operating like that is the root of most of the problems facing the trucking industry. It impacts safety most of all. It just seems that most can't see this. In the last year, I have spoken to many traffic managers that were happy to get a truck to move their freight at any price. Wake up, folks -if you wait for the government to bail you out, you will be out of business. If you stand up for yourself and quit hauling loads that are not profitable, you will be helping all of us.
Scenery Hill, PA
Different rules for trucker's children
I am a single parent of two children enrolled in a Lutheran school about 18 miles away. I take the children to school three days a week in my semi-tractor. Recently, the principal asked if I had a minute to talk inside. I had the truck parked on the street in front of the school about a half-hour. After the meeting I got in my truck and noticed a $20 parking ticket. I immediately called the city police department and spoke with the supervisor. He was less than cordial and let me know I was off the truck route and parked in a bus unloading zone. He also informed me that if I was caught off the truck route I would be fined $150 and it would go against my CDL.
I called the city clerk's office to see if I could get a special use permit to get the children to school. The answer was no. Next I called the city attorney and discussed the matter with him. He said they can't make exceptions to the truck route laws. I asked the attorney if I could deliver a load to the school with my semi; he said yes. Well, I said, how about delivering my two children to the same school, bobtailing. He said no.
This morning I made a call to my state representative. He is looking into it. I told him it is really something when I can deliver a load of toilet products to the front door of the school with a tractor and trailer, but I can't take my own children to school with just the tractor. Products get first class delivery, but children have to walk in the cold, carrying a 15-pound backpack of books.
I've never been so scared
These fuel prices are completely out of hand. The federal government keeps preaching about safety and new rules and regulations, yet they allow the price of fuel to double in just a few short months. What these prices have done to us personally has caused us to run our truck non-stop, without a single day off in 10 trips. We have to make more trips because the increase in costs has risen to the point where we are making so little profit that we can't even make our payments. Our tags and insurance are due at the end of the year and the money we saved to pay for them has been used to keep everything current. I've never been so scared in my entire career (23 years).
The blows dealt us now by the government may very well become fatal to our small company, as well as to our personal lives. If the fuel prices stopped rising right now, and HR4441 is passed by the senate, and they don't implement the ridiculous hours-of-service rule changes proposed, we may be okay, but if any of these proposals are passed/not passed, I honestly don't know if we will survive.
Our costs have increased by over $1,000 per round trip. We cannot absorb that kind of loss. The first thing sacrificed is safety because we have to run harder and more miles and our maintenance suffers because we have to stretch out the bills for repair. How can this help our current situation?
Heather D. Hogeland
Likes his Volvo
I cannot believe what I am reading about Volvo in Land Line. Now, I'm not a scientist or an engineer I'm just an owner-operator. My 770 came through with Michelin XDA2 steer tires, low profile. I did not get much past 60,000 out of them, so I got to thinking I know my 770 with full fuel (300 gallon capacity) and all my gear weighs close to 12,000 lbs. bobtail on the steer axle. I work the Northeast corridor and my average hauls are less than 800 miles. A lot of those miles are twisting and turning in cities. So, with all this considered, I put on a set of Michelin XZE lo-pro tires on my steer axle and balanced with Equal. Now I'm averaging 130,000 plus miles before they start shouldering with about 7/32 tread wear left. I've never had this truck aligned yet.
As for warranty problems and bugs, I have had my share. I have pulled into various dealers from time to time in the Northeast from Chicago to the East Coast. I have never been turned down for any problem I've had by any of these dealers. I have been patched a few times until parts arrived and were replaced. I have yet to receive in the mail any invoice from Volvo and any of its dealers for anything.
In closing, I have to say my Volvo is the greatest truck I have ever driven or owned. In fact, on some weekends we bobtail it to my son's high school hockey games as we have more room and a nicer ride than my '97 extended cab pickup.