LP Tanker Truck Driver
About 4 months ago, when an opportunity arose to drive for an LP tanker line, I upgraded my credentials to add hazmat and LP license, and started delivering raw mix, (propane/butane liquid) with a 10,600 gal tanker from the gas well collection site in south Alabama to a couple of different fractionary processing plants in Louisiana. With a 280 mile one way delivery, you have to be on your toes and manage your pick-up and delivery times carefully, and try to get there and back and end your day successfully with fueling, closing your paperwork and logs, and being ready for the next run. No matter how long you have driven, It takes some training to familiarize with the transfer pumps and valves, and loading independently, and knowing how the facility operates. On the delivery end its mostly getting there during the right times, on the scales, taking test samples, waiting, and then the primary hook up, engaging the truck pump or using the facility electric pump and then re- weighing the empty tank upon departing, getting your tickets and you’re gone again. The main thing is to get tomorrows pick up authorization, turn in today’s info to the dispatcher, and keep those logs up to date!
When you first start your day, inspect everything from your truck, your trailer, and never fail to make regular walk-arounds each time you get in and out of your truck.. Pay attention to your tare , empty weight and as you fill your tank, be considerate of expansion,and maximum load restrictions, and then perhaps some consideration of your fuel weight and how these things might affect your crossing the D.O.T. scales as you cross state borders, or even if you are randomly selected for an inspection. Have all your p's and q's done and be ready! Also watch for safety issues in and around the collection sites. Be sure to honor their rules and lock up behind yourself as you ease out the gate if it is an unattended transfer site. One time I had a transfer pump that went down with no one there, causing me to scramble and use those posted emergency numbers. Fortunately with my electrical background, and knowledge of pumps and mechanical, I was able to get the information on locating the plant controls, and I reset everything and kept on going.. with that in mind, be mindful of the other drivers following you in, and leave the plant where they can easily make their hook-ups with the hoses, find your loading sheets,and sometimes you might want to leave notes for the next guy.. but don't hold him up if he's already trying to get in the gate behind ya. He wants to LOAD AND GO! Just be safe and don't skip any steps, especially follow the "flare off" procedures before you unhook the vapor and liquid lines. Remember to chock and un-chock your wheels! Wear your Protective Gear as well!
Some of the important things to remember as you launch your career in the Hazardous tanker category is that you will have to start thinking “STOP at all RAILROAD TRACKS” (& use four way flashers). You will have to think “I HAVE A LIQUID AND unstable WEIGHT MASS and NEED TO BE CAUTIOUS IN THE CURVES, and slow down for TURNS." No abrupt lane changes, or sudden jerks on the steering wheel. Use Careful STOPS with attention to the rules for braking distances and stopping, No leaving your vehicle unattended along the highway, and make sure you carry your paperwork, hazardous placards, and implement emergency procedures on board. It is crucial to know the hazardous routes of travel. Check your tires, hubs, and brakes often for overheating or other malfunctions. BE aware that other travelers, and normal drivers aren’t aware of the cargo or risks involved. Don’t assume anything! I am not ashamed to mention that I have had recent classroom training, as well as on the road driver training, besides my lifelong experience as a driver/operator. Make sure you KNOW what you are doing at every moment. Good sleep and rest is important! Make sure you use your off time to rest and recuperate from the stress and strain you are under on the interstates and in the industrial plants.
As national attention is on finding new resources and developing new oil and gas fields, this is a very much in demand haul. Liquid tanker is wide scale and growing. Chemicals, liquid petroleum, crude oil, and other liquids are in demand. They must be transported. Lots of Jobs are being created even as I speak. Countryside wells are being drilled throughout the south. Again you need to train. You need to add drivers endorsements. You might need a specialty license such as I had to get in order to haul Liquid Propane. Ease into it and be careful.. Listen to those older guys who will be helpful if you are respectful! Also these more specialized companies may require up to 2 years of general driving experience unless you are applying out of a driver’s training course.
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I found the LP (liquid) loading and transfer very uncomplicated, and I gave 120 % to make sure it was a success for me and for them. Sometimes you face challenges like this that force you to be innovative and to grow! If you are handed a Lemon, Make Lemonade! These are points for consideration in the day to day life of all commercial trucking positions.
I have included some extra flave' in this article, but as I look back on life, and experiences, we all have our own stories, and we own our own stuff! Once shortly after getting married I was hauling deisel fuel to a rock crusher (south of Big Delta) in the mountains of Alaska, and it was snowing so much I couldn't but guess where the road actually was!. I said a prayer and asked "is it possible to send an angel in the night to guide me down this highway?" -Within minutes, a tanker pulled by me all cylinders a-roaring, and led the way, breaking trail in almost a foot of fresh white "termination dust"; all the way to the rock crusher where I was headed. It was a driver who had been driving that road for years and years: I made it home that night to my new bride, and Oh, I was tired. but not too tired to tell her I loved her! And thanks to the driver that made my snowy eighteen-wheeler trail !
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