Crown Logistics VTC

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BK Vissers
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Crown Logistics VTC

#1 Post by BK Vissers » 26 Jun 2017 00:29

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This thread is for stories by the members of the Crown Logistics Virtual Trucking Company. Comments ARE welcome!

Crown Logistics is an intermediate-sized carrier based in Sacramento, California, operating a fleet of some 200 trucks. It has the same owners as Crown Construction, also Sacramento-based.

Unlike most VTCs, this one is very light on paperwork and heavy on story-telling. As a group we want to write about how our business struggles to survive, how we start of with little and hopefully build a successful little company. We work on plots and stories together for the writing. Not every trip will be posted, just the interesting ones.

We are challenging ourselves with economy mods, realistic driving behaviour, trucks that can't simply swap engines or chassis, etc.

We are not looking for more members at this time

Current Members:

BK Vissers
Andrei383
Hounddog


Credits:

Garage Mod & Sign - Hounddog & BK Vissers
Freightliner Argosy, Classic & Coronado skins - Andrei383 with BK Vissers
Trailer skins - Andrei383
Freightliner Coronado - Dmitry68
Freightliner Argosy - Lucasi, Stas556, Dmitry68
Freightliner Classic - Nikola(Konstantin-Donbass), Kriechbaum, Odd_fellow
Last edited by BK Vissers on 04 Jul 2017 11:25, edited 10 times in total.

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BK Vissers
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Re: Crown Logistics VTC

#2 Post by BK Vissers » 26 Jun 2017 00:32

Map of Sacramento - Top of Map is North

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Last edited by BK Vissers on 13 Jul 2017 01:00, edited 5 times in total.

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Crown Logistics VTC

#3 Post by BK Vissers » 26 Jun 2017 16:58

Orientation Day

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Ethan

Starting a new job is exciting but also nerve-wracking. The taxi dropped me off in front of the Crown Logistics building in Sacramento. I wanted a chance to look around a bit as it is a complex with several buildings, including administration, garages, and warehouses.

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Crown Logistics

I didn't have a lot of time before orientation, but I could not resist taking a peek through the open doors of one of the garages as I went to the administrative offices. Waiting inside was some older-looking truck, maybe in for repairs or something.

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Part of the fleet

Crown's offices were in a modern building. The outside looked well-kept, and inside, while busy, seemed pretty organized. I attended my orientation session with another new driver, Brian. We met the company president, who gave a brief introduction, then the dispatch chief, the safety and compliance officer, the head mechanic, and the Human Resources administrator. Brian and I got to talk a bit between sessions, and we hit it off pretty quickly. Both of us had worked as drivers for hire, and had short term jobs with several companies before landing this one at Crown. I told Brian that I really hoped to finally have some stability and job security.

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Better hurry or I'll be late!

They gave us time to eat, and this day at least, lunch was provided by Crown. It was certainly a welcoming bunch. The lunch room was a mixed affair, staff intermingling with managers, fostering a sense of community. I'm sure there had to be unpleasant people like there are in every workplace, but I didn't run into any. We still had time so Brian and I decided to explore a bit more and wandered into the maintenance building, where a rather ancient Kenworth was sitting on jack stands, wheelless and forlorn.

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Scrap or overhaul?

As we headed back for the afternoon portion of orientation, I spotted the truck that I peeked at through the doors when I arrived this morning. It was certainly an old one, at least in trucking terms, my guess was a 2007 or 2008. I had the impression that Crown kept their trucks longer than a lot of companies, but they had their own service and maintenance department so they were not paying for others to do it.

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Another oldie

I didn't know what I was going to be given to drive, so I continued on toward the offices until Brian called me back. "Hey, Ethan, this has your name on it!"

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Is this my truck?

Sure enough, as I came closer to the truck I could see my name on the door. "Maybe someone else works here with the same name," I said. Secretly I hoped for something newer, but I guess that's like every person getting a vehicle, car or truck, you want the latest thing with all its new features and comfort, and...less things breaking down. Still, I had to admit, the truck was clearly being maintained, and was beautifully washed and shiny. I stood on the step and peered inside...

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Look at the shine on that paint!

I almost jumped in surprise when someone other than Brian spoke behind me. "I think you won't be able to focus on the afternoon's orientation session until you get a chance to sit inside your truck, huh?" It was one of the fleet manager's assistants. He tossed me the keys. "Go ahead, we can wait 5 minutes." I opened the door and put the ignition to ON, watching the lights and gauges come alive. The assistant leaned into the doorway. "This is one of the oldest trucks in our fleet. There is a Kenworth on stands that's older but that's about it. Your truck is from 2008, so it's seen a lot of use but the maintenance department went over her carefully. We'll go over how to report problems this afternoon. Come on," he said with a grin, motioning me down from the cab.

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I could spend all day here!

I had a hard time focusing on the last orientation session. I could not help but think on my "new" truck. In truck terms it was a grandfather in age. Despite the cleaning Crown did there were signs of its age all over the place. I was excited and a bit disappointed. After orientation was over, I had to do a full inspection of my truck. Anything I missed was politely but firmly pointed out. The compliance officer was with me and he stressed safety over speed many times. Finally, I sat in my truck and turned the engine over. My mild disappointment faded quickly as I listened to the big Detroit rumble. With a wave to Brian, who was going to be taken to his truck, I eased the Coronado into gear and let her poke her long nose out the door.

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Meet my girl!

Leaving Crown's garage, I had no work ahead of me. Crown said to take the truck on the road and get used to her. As far as I could tell, everything was working. I have to say, it felt pretty good to see my name on the door. It gave me a feeling that I had a future here....

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First Date

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Re: Crown Logistics VTC

#4 Post by andrei383 » 26 Jun 2017 19:52

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Brian

With a sigh of relief I was in Sacramento. Hours on a Greyhound bus will really get on your nerves. Today was a big day, after years of hopping between small trucking companies, earning my stripes as an OTR driver, I had finally found a company that seemed less like a temporary job and more like a career: Crown Logistics. There was no longer a nagging worry that I may not have a load for the week or the threat of the company going bankrupt.

The Sacramento terminal was very well kept, modern, even. I've seen my fair share of terminals, some barely even classed as one, and I could easily say this was one of the best. Even better was the people. I met Ethan, a fellow new driver, who shared a similar interest for work stability. I guess it was something shared by the entire industry. We both went through orientation, including meetings with some of the higher-ups. I could tell the company ran like a family, they even provided lunch, thankfully not just hot dogs from across the street:
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Ethan and I explored the shop, coming across some older trucks. I found it quite strange considering their recruiter, Sandy, boasted about their new fleet when I first applied. To Ethan's chagrin, and my amusement, I spotted a Freightshaker with his name on it. (Anyone in the industry would know why Freightliners picked up that name.) The Coronado was old, in fact the second oldest in the fleet, yet well kept. With orientation done, Ethan set off with his truck, a sly smile on his face from the beautiful sound of its Detroit Diesel.

Jeff, one of the technicians led me to my truck. Not saying I was disappointed, but I now knew what Ethan felt. "Here you are, 2010 Argosy. She's a glider you know," Jeff pointed out. "She's got a C15 under her, 435 horses, but I think some of them ran away!" Jeff chuckled heartily. The truck was older than it looked, probably had a repaint at some point in its life.
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Inside, the truck definitely showed its age. The first thing that hit me was a warm, musty smell from being under the sun. That and the ironic "New Car Smell" air freshener dangling above. In the sleeper, a CRT TV, surprisingly still working. Jeff handed me the keys and I fired up the CAT. She struggled at first but finally settled into a nice idle, its sounds muffled only by the air-conditioning, set all the way to max.
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It was a short drive to the warehouse where I would be picking up my first load, furniture heading to Fresno. It was weird to be driving a cabover, sitting above the steer axle meant it was a rough ride, especially for this old truck. The gear shifter was in a completely alien position to me and I was missing gears all the way to the warehouse. There, it was clear which trailer was mine, Crown maintained a fleet of its own trailers in addition to contract work for other companies. It was an older one, probably of the same vintage as my truck. I backed in and hooked up, ready to begin my first load for Crown:
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Last edited by andrei383 on 01 Jul 2017 12:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Crown Logistics VTC

#5 Post by Hakan » 26 Jun 2017 23:54

very cool story!

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Re: Crown Logistics VTC

#6 Post by andrei383 » 27 Jun 2017 12:48

Thanks Hakan!

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Brian

With the trailer hooked, I could really feel the engine's missing horsepower, but boy did it sound good. It was easily one of the best sounding trucks I've ever driven. Slowly I began to get more acquainted with the truck, sure she was a bit old, but she held a certain charm and uniqueness about her:
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Once on the highway, the Argosy started to settle back into a working life. Aside from the constant wind noise leaking in a door or window seal somewhere, and the occasional rattle of the interior fittings, it was a good ride. I noticed drivers all around me catching a second glance at my truck. Indeed with its shape and bold paint job, it was a far cry from the sea of fleet Cascadias and T680's:
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The trip down CA99 was a pretty short affair. Just as I was getting settled back into highway driving I was staring down the Fresno exit and city limit:
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I pulled into the warehouse lot, assigned door 1. I began to back up and started realizing all my reference points were off. Of course muscle memory from years of driving a conventional truck doesn't quite help when you're driving a cabover. It was back to square one, concentrating hard as I finessed the truck and trailer into the dock:
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Trailer parked, I basked in the success of delivering my first load for Crown. I excitedly filled out the report, knowing that this was the start of a great adventure:
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Last edited by andrei383 on 01 Jul 2017 12:03, edited 1 time in total.

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Crown Logistics VTC

#7 Post by Hakan » 27 Jun 2017 14:51

cool story man :D!

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Re: Crown Logistics VTC

#8 Post by BK Vissers » 28 Jun 2017 16:48

Hakan wrote:
27 Jun 2017 14:51
cool story man :D!
Thanks, Hakan! Glad you like it!

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Crown Logistics VTC

#9 Post by BK Vissers » 28 Jun 2017 17:08

First Trip

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Ethan

My first trip was exactly what I hoped for: a long run on highways and regional routes, with plenty of variety. It was a round trip from Sacramento to Las Vegas, 580 miles each way, with a stop at Reno going each way. Crown did Full- and Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) transport, so the load was for two different clients.

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Leaving Las Vegas

By the time I left the terminal in Vegas for the return trip home, I was pretty comfortable driving my Coronado. This was the crown jewel of the Freightliner stable, the truck that was meant to be given to the best drivers as a reward. I got it because it was very old and no longer quite the pleaser it might have been in its youth. It was a very comfortable truck to drive, smooth-riding and easy to steer. The Detroit Series 60 engine was rated at about 500hp, giving it plenty of power even for the hills and mountains in and around California. Aside from a few niggles, it was the best truck I ever drove, even better than much newer ones.

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The Open Road

Those niggles I mentioned? Well, for one thing it was rattling and squeaking a lot inside. This wasn't poor soundproofing, it was because - I feared - things were coming loose! And while everything worked, I was concerned that the old girl put out so much smoke. Not like trucks from the 60s, but for a 21st century truck it was a dirty beast.

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Is that burning oil I smell?

The 300 gallon fuel tank gave the girl long legs but I decided until I was more certain of her fuel economy in different conditions, I wasn't going to let the tank go down to less than a quarter full.

I pulled off the highway in Tonopah searching for a gas station. The town was small and didn't have a lot of traffic. A kid snapped a photo of me making the corner with his iPhone. I gave him a friendly "toot" with the horns.

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Hey Kid!

The gas station had only a couple of fuel pumps, one of which, fortunately, was diesel. The owner stared out the window at my truck. He wasn't used to seeing something that large at the fuel island.

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Hogging the pump for 25 minutes

With 300 gallons of fuel in my tanks once more, I got back on the regional road heading north for Reno via Carson City. With the cruise control on, I could just relax and enjoy the drive. This is the life!

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Seriously loving this job!

About an hour south of Carson City, I got treated to a spectacular sunset. I was relieved when the road turned from northwest to north, as it was so low as to be blinding as much as it was gorgeous.

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Makes your eyes water

The sun already set, Carson City was darkness, with nothing but trucks like mine on the road north toward Reno.

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Just us truck drivers out tonight

It was after 11pm when I arrived at the terminal in Reno. My unloading was scheduled for 9am, so I parked in the lot and shut down. Both the truck and myself. The sleeper was really comfortable!

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Reno Terminal

Much to my surprise the unloading happened on schedule and was finished by 10am. A slow drive through Reno's traffic brought me to the interstate and the sign pointing me homeward.

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From here it's straight to Sacramento

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Crown Logistics VTC

#10 Post by Hakan » 28 Jun 2017 17:18

Awesome story again!

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