Things Not Often Taught to New Drivers: Part Two
In part one of this series of tips, we looked at things like crossing scales, how to clean a windshield, truck stop guides and how to back in a building. Here we will explore some more tips to help you do your job easier and more comfortably.
Every driver should have a tool kit consisting of pliers, vise grips, a wrench set, screwdrivers both flat and Phillips and/or a bit driver set, a 12 inch crescent wrench, a fuel filter wrench for your truck type of filter, a hammer and a crowbar. Most of these tools are self-explanatory once you get the pre-trip skills down. The bit driver set is because many of the screws used in today’s trucks are some configuration of star screws so a regular screwdriver will not tighten or loosen them.
With today’s CSA scoring, a driver should have an extra headlight and tail/marker lights in case one goes out without a truck stop nearby, and a fuel filter for the same reason. The types of fuses used on your truck are to be in your kit per regulations. If you drive a semi, having extra glad hand gaskets on hand is necessary. Round out your tool kit with some sort of spray lubricant, de-icer, duct and electrical tape, a few nails, screws and bolts and a six-inch squeegee to clean your mirrors.
Cleaning Supplies and Tips
Must haves: Window cleaner, paper towels, and antibacterial spray. With just those three things, you can keep your truck clean and healthy.
While window cleaner can be used to clean every area in the truck even the cloth upholstery, I use a spray all-purpose cleaner for weekly cleanings. Then when I have time, I get a bucket of hot water and use antibacterial cleaner to wipe everything down inside thoroughly. (pre-test both before using on cloth.)
Keeping the inside of the truck clean is an ongoing job due to dust, road grime and tracking in all sorts of bacteria. I use washable throw rugs, bathroom type of rugs work well, to cover the floors and use a carpet remnant mat in front of the driver’s seat that will not bunch up. The rug that goes around the toilet in a bathroom fits around the shifter boot perfectly. When the rugs get dirty just throw them in the wash. At least once a week, I spray antibacterial spray on the rug in front of the driver’s seat, and when I get home on the weekends, I spray the whole truck before shutting the door.
I prefer to use a furniture spray polish on my dash instead of the oil-based popular spray.
To make your rubber mats and floor shine, you can use spray tire polish after washing and drying.
Carry a small container of your favorite washing detergent and fabric softeners, truck stops often only have one or two kinds and it is expensive.
Pets: If you have a pet on the truck, you have to have a vacuum cleaner to keep on top of the hair. Make sure you get along side of the bunk and back in the corners.
It seems there is never enough space to keep things on a truck; perhaps most of us just carry too much stuff! If you have a single bunk sleeper, you can use a shower tension bar placed between the cabinet and the back of the sleeper to hang some lighter weight things on. A hanging shoe bag works well for lighter things like socks, underwear and t-shirts.
Plastic drawers and tubs come in different sizes and will fit in extra ”˜dead’ space or at the end of the bunk. Make sure they are secured.
If you are solo in a double-bunk truck, you can use the top bunk to store extra clothes and necessities. Always secure them in some fashion and never store heavy or sharp edged things up there. If you hit something, whatever is up there may come forward and hurt you.
Extra blankets can be stored under the mattress until needed.
Sadly, many facilities do not allow truck drivers to use their restrooms. I promise, there will be times when nature calls, and there will be no place to stop that has restrooms. There are various ways of taking care of this: porta potties come in various types and sizes, but most are the size of a briefcase or a small suitcase and are for travelers to use in the vehicle. Please dump responsibly.
There will also be times when you will not have time, or be in an area where there are no showers available. For these times, keep a good supply of baby wipes in the truck; use the hypoallergenic types without alcohol so they do not irritate your skin.
Carry spray disinfectant in your shower bag and spray the floor of the shower before you take off your shoes.
Spray a little antibacterial spray in your boots or shoes periodically before you go to bed. Then put in a little antifungal powder before you put them on.
Carry a couple of towels on the truck. Some service plazas on the toll roads have free showers but they do not provide towels. Some truckstops will let you shower free late night if you have your own towels.
Truck drivers are at high risk for injuries: carry a good first aid kit. Add finger splints and an ace bandage.
If you run coast to coast, when you go into high altitudes, the altitude can force toothpaste out of the tube, shampoo and shower soap out of the plastic bottle forcing the lid open. Keep those things in a zip lock bag to keep your shower bag clean.
Most side boxes are not heated; do not store anything in the side boxes that might freeze.
A pair of rubber boots is invaluable to have on the road with you to wade through mud or water.
Dilute dish soap and put in a spray bottle. When you know you will be hitting heavy rain, spray the frame, tires and wheels, and the rain will clean them for you.
Tips make your job easier and you will use the above then fine-tune them to your operation and needs. The main tip is always do the safe thing in any situation.