Monday, 29 December 2008

It's at this time of year when people start to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. I was thinking of my past, where I came from and how I got to be where I am now and I would like to share a little of it with you.
Born in Motherwell, Scotland in 1963 in a loving, hard working, christian family to good parents (hi mum & dad) and Grandparents that had to struggle to raise families during the 2nd World War.

I have two younger sisters, Linda and Alison. My childhood was a happy one, although we did fight a lot, with each other and me with other people. We never had much and it was always a struggle for my parents. In the late sixties there were lots of new housing estates getting built, tower blocks and flats, Gowkthrapple, Wishaw was one of these and we moved from our tenement building (not quite like the one below but gives you an idea what I am talking about) with outside toilet to a brand new flat in "Gowkie", luxury.

Got my teenage years out of the way in Gowkie, trying not to get involved too much in the gangs, drugs, and bigotry in a typical housing estate. School was a bit of a blur for me and the time to leave wouldn't come quick enough.
1979 and at the age of 16 I left school and, due to my Dads job, in the August the family made a huge move (well it was to us at the time) to St. Helens, England.
This house seemed like a palace, a 3 bedroom modern semi, even with its own driveway and detached garage.
I went straight to work after a couple of weeks and have only been out of work once since then and that was in the middle of "Maggies Britain" during the Falklands War.
At 23 I was fed up with supervisors and managers looking over my shoulder telling me what to do and when to do it so took my HGV and the day I passed got my first driving job. I drove extensively throughout Europe and Scandinavia for the first few years of my driving career. I soon found myself, thanks to a friend, working for a very large tanker transport company.
I was with that company for a while but times were changing along with managers that were no more than University Graduates that didn't , or have the inclination to, understand the job.
I moved on and drifted from job to job, still mainly on tankers.
Great Britain was becoming a miserable place to live. Overcrowding, racism (the whites being the oppressed most of the time), violence and almost impossible to get around without delays.
We started looking at Emigrating with a number of countries under consideration. When we narrowed it down Canada became our only real option.
Six months after our first visit to Canada I landed here with a work permit and my wife and two sons followed about 7 weeks later after having sold everything. The rest can be read about on here, scroll down.
We are happy here with a life that we never thought we could have. The downside? Leaving the rest of our families behind, it's not easy but no one ever said it would be.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Had a few inches of snow overnight again so that meant more shovelling, this is getting tiresome. No work till Monday, wish the same could be said for the snow, at least it has warmed up a little, -18c (-27c with wind chill). Got to go, its snowed again.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Sue was back at work this evening so I decided to tag along for the ride. I took a few shots of the local streets in Steinbach while we were out.
We had a great night, and a late one, at Chris and Sally's last night. The first time that most of us had been together since the summer. Some very close friends as you can see ;0)

Thursday, 25 December 2008

It's almost over already. Jacey came around to ours at 08.00 this morning to open her presents with us and then they both went to Jacey's house to open their presents that were there. They both had Christmas at their own houses.
This evening we are going to Chris and Sally's house for a get together.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

I had some requests for pictures of inside the truck so there they are. I went on another quickie this week down to Owatonna, Mn about 45 miles south of Minneapolis and got back at 6.00pm Christmas eve. So all thats left for me to say is;

Thursday, 18 December 2008



Thought I would try and compare the last truck I drove in UK with the one I currently drive. The main difference is the length. The tank in the top pic was 35ft long but the one below is 45ft. Only 10ft but there is also a big difference in the chassis length of the tractor unit. It makes manoeuvring in confined space very interesting. As I mentioned in a previous post there are no baffles in the current tank but the one above was baffled and had 3 lids to assist in washouts.
The tank in the UK also had a hydraulic cargo pump fitted but the current one does not and relies on either the customers air or pump. The tractor units are fitted with delivery pumps but are very seldom used, I was talking to a driver that has been there for six months and he has never used the cargo pump or the compressor on the truck to make deliveries.
The tractor unit is fitted with a bunk heater to keep you warm at night without idling and an espar heater to warm the engine prior to starting on those really cold mornings. Personally, once the temperatures drop below -15c/-20c I don't turn the truck off or you risk your diesel freezing which then means you have no way of keeping warm or even warming the engine to try and start it. Most mornings you wake up with ice on the inside of the windows but I have only had my fuel freeze once (up to now) and oh boy was that cold.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Just a quickie this week so far. Left for Regina, Saskatchewan yesterday morning and got back home for lunch today. The rest of today was then spent with Craig while he bought, registered and insured a truck.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

My first trip for Jade Transport went really well. I left Wednesday afternoon, got to Kankakee Illinois Thursday evening, loaded and was back in Winnipeg Saturday morning with a total of 1900 miles. The top pic is the truck I am using just now and the one below shows Gerdi in front of me travelling through Wisconsin.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Orientation was completed just before lunch today. Arrangements were made for me to meet one of the city drivers, who only stay local, and ride along with him tomorrow to complete my training. When I arrived home there was a message to call Rick in dispatch. When I called he asked if I would mind if they changed the plan a little. Instead of staying local I have been given a truck and will take an empty tank to Kankanee, Illinois and swap that for a loaded one and back to Winnipeg. They don't know if I will be keeping that truck but for now I am in truck #155. I will be running with another driver for as long as it takes for me to be comfortable.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Fuel 0.759/litre

Orientation has been going well, although getting bored of it now. I am hoping that Monday will be the last day in class. The other driver on orientation has never worked on tankers before so orientation has been at his pace and I think he is struggling with some of it.
Most of the tanks are around 7500 us gallon capacity but the thing that really surprised me is that they are single compartment and don't have any baffles, prepare for a rough ride! The other main difference from the UK is the fittings, most of them are all cam lock couplings, even for corrosives. The reason for having no baffles is they only have 1 lid so it would make cleaning inside almost impossible if they had baffles fitted. One good thing in North America though is the shipper is responsible for supplying all the diamonds and placards for dangerous goods and the driver is not allowed to carry any spares.
Stopped to fuel the car on the way to Winnipeg yesterday and filled it up for $50, it was 0.759c per litre. That is now less than we were paying when we came on our research trip in January 2007. It was a little warmer back then too, -34c with wind chill last night.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Ok now I am liberty to tell who it is, I have made my decision, well had it made for me actually.
My truck is still off the road and I haven't made a cent since Friday.
Today I was to return for a second interview at 10.00. I arrived a little early to find out that I hadn't been booked in to meet the owner and he was already in a meeting. I left after being asked to return at 11.00. On my return I was met by Ian who conducted the first interview and he led me back to his office. We started completing some paperwork and when he gave me the application form for the benefits package I had to stop him, "Ian, are you able to tell me if I have been successful with the interview?". "Yes, I told you I wanted you here". "So can you tell me when my start date is?". "Yes, it's the 3rd December". "But that's today!". "That's correct, we may as well start orientation while you are here, no point in wasting time is there?". "erm, no".
So that was pretty much the way I started at "Jade Transport"
Little did Ian know that it was Sue's day off work and she was sitting outside in the car waiting to go out for lunch and do a bit of shopping. I had to go for a drugs and alcohol test so that was my chance to drop Sue off at the mall and then pick her up again at 5.00
Got orientation for next 2 days then should get allocated my truck. Then I will spend a couple of days on local work with a senior driver and then it's on the road again.

Monday, 1 December 2008

I am a great believer in the theory that everything happens for a reason. Last night I got a call telling me I wasn't needed in work till 10.00 today. At 09.00 I go a message saying it would be at least noon before I was required. At 10.05 I got an email from a company that I had sent my resume to on 21st and had been trying to contact the recruiter since Friday noon. The email was asking me to contact them to arrange an interview and road test. So, strike while the iron is hot. I called them and arranged the interview for today and the end result is a job offer with a reputable, privately owned tanker company in Winnipeg.
I haven't yet accepted the offer but they do operate some very nice equipment and with around 12 years experience on tankers I think I would be OK with that.
Now what do I do? Discussions are under way!
For those who questioned my decision to change jobs and leave Big Freight in the first place, the recruiter / driver training manager is also ex Big Freight, although not in my time there.

It's that time of year again and Sue made an early start with the decorations, shame about the cards and shopping though.
Had a little more snow at the weekend but still not much compared to last year, although it got a little cold this morning, -20c but feels more like -28c with wind chill.
Had a better week at work this week. Only started Monday afternoon because of the breakdown last week and I was finished for Friday lunch with 2850 miles covered, getting a little better although it will soon be 09.00 Monday and I am still at home waiting for my load assignment.