Line One
Letters to the Editor

Remembering when
Thank you for an outstanding publication. You do a great service to all of us out here chasing the white and yellow lines. I remember back in 1975, the fuel crunch was really gaining momentum. I was on I-80 at stop #64 in Laman, PA. We got blocked into the truckstop for a "shutdown" for a while. We were told it might be for four or five days. The next day a "concrete cowboy" went around taking donations to go to Watergate City and fight for our cause. Meanwhile the governor of Pennsylvania, Shapp, was coming up to speak to us. Well, the next day another owner-operator and I decided we would head down the road. We would shut down at home. So out the yard we went, both pulling three-axle lo-boys. We tore up some lawn and curbing, got on the interstate and headed home, stayed there about a week. Maybe Jim Johnston was there; he could have been.

I went along with all the mass confusion and shutdowns and we did get a fuel surcharge payable to the buyer of the fuel. We did survive the shutdowns. I think quite a lot of expenses went out of pocket, but it opened some eyes. Of course, back in those days you could get a pretty decent truck for about $35,000, not like what is paid for one today. It's a sad day for trucking and the owner-operators out there. I wish you the best.

Frederick Bliss
St. Albans, VT

Editor's note: Jim Johnston was there!

Don't understand something on your lease? Don't sign!
Read what you sign before you sign it. If you do not understand something, do not sign until you do. I, for one, have no compassion for the owner-operators leased to Millsap and Son. What are these people thinking? How can these people not know something is wrong when they don't get a check in the first couple of weeks? It's mindboggling that someone would wait around for three months to get a check and still be working for the same company. You people need to do a little more research before you go to work for somebody. It is stupid to pay $1,275 a month to haul someone else's loads. You can file for your own authority and find your own brokers for a lot cheaper. I don't see how some people make it from point A to point B. One reason they can't find an attorney to take the case is because the attorney does read the contract and knows these people signed it and it is legal.

Jerry Womack
Knoxville, TN

Rules work if drivers agree with them
If they were to really talk to the drivers and listen to us, the problem (HOS) would resolve itself. We know what we can and can't do physically. We are not all alike; each of us is unique. We must be treated as individuals both by our companies and by our government. If the HOS were agreed upon by a majority of the people that the new rules will affect, there would be no need for black boxes. The reason murder is no more rampant is because most people agree that it is wrong.

We all remember when the national speed limit was 55. Very few states tried to enforce the law because no one agreed with it. Those that did try to enforce it failed miserably. The same is true here. New HOS rules would be easily enforced without black boxes if the drivers agreed with them.

Karl Coulson
Elk Grove, CA

"Road Law" scores
I like the new column, "Road Law." We need that kind of information from people who specialize in this area. And thank you and all the others for putting out such a great trade magazine.

Dave Snellings
Crofton, MD

Outlaw drivers will always break rules
I am writing in regard to the HOS saga. It becomes increasingly clear that nobody is happy with the HOS, either present or proposed. The proposed rules, which nobody likes, make it a perfect government project, and passable. Scary, is it not? Due to the diversity in trucking and the type and kind of drivers that we have, I can see a chronic problem trying to set new rules. Drivers (some, not all) have broken the rules since their inception, and will continue to in the future. Black boxes will be costly and ineffective. The outlaws will have a method, program or device that will disable it.

Richard M. Hollenbeck
Abilene, TX

Wisconsin troopers ask motorists "Paper or plastic?"
Re: your article that reports Wisconsin state troopers are now asking speeding motorists if they would prefer to pay their tickets with cash or charge card. Troopers in Kenosha County, between Chicago and Milwaukee, are packing wireless terminals that allow motorists to pay fines for speeding or other moving violations with a simple swipe of a credit or debit card.

The article said the advantage for police is obvious, "If we make them pay on the spot, we're done," State Patrol Trooper Keith Wynstra told the Seattle Times. Motorists still can show up in court and regain their money if their citation is dismissed or reduced.

Now I know why I saw so much revenue enhancement activity in Kenosha County on a recent trip. The law was out like vultures. Next thing to come is that the states will be mailing "Congratulations, you are pre-approved for our low-interest credit cards."

Ron Fulton
Scenery Hill, PA

Who says we can do nothing about it?
We need to come together on a few issues. First of all, the road has changed for the worse. It's rumored we can do nothing about it. Let me correct this fallacy. We can do something about the fact that no one stops to help another trucker broken down like before. The correction is simple. Stop, help, and let the driver know you're a member of OOIDA, let him know what this organization is. Second, there is no courtesy anymore. Resolution? Again, simple enough. Be courteous. The third is a little trickier. The radio? Some choose to just turn it off, others just listen. I will not be driven off my radio because of lack of courtesy or filthy mouthed people. I still get bear reports and directions, sometimes it takes awhile, and sometimes I do put up with smart alecks, but I get my info. If we band together as brothers like we used to, our jobs and lives will be easier. If we all put forth a little effort, we can change.

Jerry Pack
Germantown, KY

Detroit Diesel to the rescue
My husband and I own a Freightliner Classic XL with a Detroit 500. Recently we had a problem that set us back and with the skyrocketing fuel prices our situation seemed bleak.

We called Detroit and spoke to Guy Lamieux (a service rep) and explained our dilemma. He went out of his way to see what could be done to rectify our problem. It was handled within two hours with very satisfactory results. We just had to write to your magazine to say that Detroit is a company that stands behind their product 100 percent. You are not given the run-around. Their professionalism is highly commendable, as is that of their fine team of representatives.

Craig and Marlene Rehrer
Brockway, PA

It's the sound
The annoying factor when it comes to engine brakes is not the usage, but the sound. The American public wants a relatively quiet refuge at home. This country is populated coast to coast and if we keep eliminating engine brake usage solely on that premise then we won't ever be able to use them, henceforth you've eliminated a vital safety feature on trucks.

Every driver I ever talked to says engine brakes should be a requirement on all trucks. My "Jake" allowed me one brake replacement on the tractor and two on the trailer in 750,000 miles. More factors to be considered are engine brakes come in three stages. Should we outlaw the use of all stages? I wonder how many drivers have aerodynamic trucks. My new T2000 has very little rolling resistance and the oversized brake drums and linings sure help but I still use my engine brake when I feel it is necessary.

I really don't think we want the government telling us how to drive our trucks. I personally like the sound of a loud raspy exhaust, although I would never drive a truck with one. Can you imagine what the driver hears? But to ban the usage of truck brakes because a few people are inconsiderate or a few others have been inconvenienced just gets the bandwagon rolling for more restrictions and regulations. Is that what we really want, another regulation?

Tim Trotter
Castaic, CA

Real men don't idle
I remember a time prior to 1973 when real men drove trucks. Union drivers for the large freight companies, and owner-operators for household goods, and some flatbeds.

Then came CB and the wimps followed chattering like little old ladies. Then the scaredy-cats brought along girlfriends, wimps and mommies.

These same wimps of course, are always too old or too hot so the trucks idle all night and most of the day when stopped for lunch, dinner. I have been on the road for 36 years and not one night have I let my truck idle. I have slept in my truck down to zero and I slept in my truck in Houston in mid-summer. Of course I can't sleep in truckstops. I have to seek out places where there are no trucks.

Calculate how many barrels of diesel fuel are wasted nationwide due to idling? And all the places where trucks are not wanted or allowed to park. All because they will not shut off diesel engines. Of course when they run over landscales and throw their oil cans, etc. around, this does not endear them to the business community. At some of these business ventures, motels and restaurants, truckers are tolerated for a while and then, the "no trucks, no parking" signs go up.

So how many barrels of diesel are wasted per day in the U.S.? About 200,000 barrels. Do the math.

Danny Jefferies
Oklahoma City, OK

Guilty of being a cash cow
This letter will probably sound like thousands of others sent to you about fines and the republic of California. But here goes.

On July 19, 2000, at approximately 11:40 a.m., I was inspected at the WB I-10 Banning facility. I was asked to provide the routine paperwork, which I promptly surrendered. Before forfeiting my logbook, I honestly admitted to not being current (last entry July 17, midnight), but informed the officer I was legal (not over the 10 or 70-hour rule). And I had a fuel receipt to verify where I had spent the night.

Though the officers were professional and polite, I was told directly that I was guilty of being out of hours and had to prove my innocence, which I was allowed to do. Strange, I thought people were innocent until proven guilty. The ticket was for $416. In my opinion, this is nothing short of extortion.

Perry A. Stevens
Deer Park, WA

Jakes for safety
I feel the engine brake on my truck is for safety. The safety of me, my load and the people around me. And if you're in town you have a lot more people near you. I have 430,000 miles on my truck, on the original brake linings, so use of the engine brake also saves me money on brakes. I believe it saves fuel also, because you tend to start slowing down sooner and not using the brakes, which is a waste of energy every time you use the brakes.

Dennis Marcott
Owen, WI

Cell phone use
A letter to the editor in the Springfield (MO) News Leader states: "Everyone talks about banning the cell phone when safety should not be the reason for taking away freedom. If someone commits an accident and they were using a cell phone, use the law to punish them."

It takes some common sense and some discipline to be a good driver and that is the real problem and issue, isn't it? I have been using cell phones, CB, radio, tapes, CDs, shaved, had kids, dogs, cats on board, have done my share of talking and even watched TV while driving on the road, for the past 45 years. I have used them in my car and while driving over-the-road 18-wheelers over 200,00 miles a year, plus in boats and RVs. Are people saying this can't be done safely?

Just because we see someone talking on a cell phone doesn't mean they are driving unsafely. Let's not get carried away without knowing the whole reason why some people are unsafe drivers until we check out all the things they were doing in their vehicles before. "Make people pay but don't take away their freedom."

Gerald H. Barsness
Springfield, MO

Germ fest
My wife and I stopped at the TA in Aurora, OR, on July 28 and I went to the men's room. When I finished, I washed my hands as usual. I noticed the guy cleaning the commodes by spraying with some kind of cleaner and wiping with a towel. What really shocked me was that when he finished with the commodes, he turned around and started wiping the sinks with the same towel. I called TA's corporate office. They said they would have someone in that department contact me, but to this day they have not. Wonder why I washed my hands at all?

R.E. Mills
Rochester, WA

Volvo owner finds solution
This letter is to bring OOIDA up to date with the events surrounding the abnormal steer tire wear on my 1999 Volvo 770. Let me state at the onset that I appear to have solved the problem after an incredible amount of time and effort - no thanks to either Volvo or Michelin.

Tires on truck as ordered: Michelin 11R22.5 XZA2 all around. Weight of steer axle bobtail, full fuel with driver: 12,420.

Right out of dealer, truck had a bad steer wheel hop. Balanced tires. Problem got only a little better. Bought Centramatic balancers. Problems only improved a little more.

At 60,000 miles, steers developed strange scallops 5-6 inches long, two or three per tire in different locations and spacing on the tires. Rotated two drives to steer. Former steers now on drive began to wear normally with no further scalloping. Wheel hopping on steers still evident, even though different tires had no problem in the drive position (unless masked by mating wheel and Centramatics together). Had truck aligned setting specs exactly in the middle of adjustment range.

At 90,000 miles steers began developing unusual wear pattern that looked as if one had jacked up the front end, spun the tire, and held a metal lathe knife on each tread band and carved out a quarter inch of each tread band. Both steers were the same. Steers again rotated to drive and two different drives brought up to steer. Wheel hopping disappeared instantly.

At 160,000 miles, steers were again worn as before in bands. Steers again rotated to drive. Wheel hop did not return.

At 187,000 miles I got the idea to try a steer tire load rated heavier, so I replaced 11Rs with Michelin 12R22.5 XZ2s which are steer position only, have another steel belt and layer of sidewall cord in them - rated for over 14,000 lbs. at 115 psi.

At 260,000 miles with 73,000 on 12R XZ2s, steers are fine. Tire surfaces are even and smooth.

At 270,000 miles DONVEL Steering Stabilizers (air bag helpers for front leaf springs) added to help take weight off shackles and reduce road shock to front end.

Current mileage 287,000. No problems. Truck now rides smoothly, straight, and tires wear properly.

David W. Bowling
Arlington, TX

Editor's note: While we congratulate David Bowling for finding a solution to his steer tire wear problem, neither Land Line nor OOIDA guarantees that his solution will work for other Volvo owners experiencing the same problem.