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When running on snow-covered roads is it better to run at a higher or lower rpm to avoid the drives kicking out?
bigrigger_5@xxx.com

Snow covered isn't too bad as long as it's not slippery or slick. The danger in having the drives kick out from under you is highest on icy or slick pavement -- even wet roads can pose a problem under certain circumstances.

This issue here is torque. Torques is what turns the wheels, and today's engines produce their maximum torque at low rpm, usually in the 1100-1300 rpm range. You want to avoid running your engine in that high torque output range when ever the roads are slippery. So, depending on how bad it is, you'd want to run at 1600-1700 at cruise speed, and if you're crawling up a slippery hill, keep the engine revs right up there, say 1900-2000. It's not great on fuel, but you lessen the risk of breaking traction.

And don't forget the engine brake. On slick roads, many engine brakes will stop the wheels dead and kill your traction. If that happens, you won't be able to restart fast enough to prevent a jackknife. The best you could hope for is to kick the clutch in REALLY quickly and hope you can recover.

It's best not to use the engine brake at all on slippery pavement.

Jim Park

Must log sheets be handed in right away or is there a time limit, and can your pay be withheld until they've been handed in?
leasdeb@xxx.com

The American rules stipulate that log sheets must be handed in to the carrier within 13 days, and the Canadian rules say the sheets must be turned over to the carrier within 20 days. The US rules state that driver must keep copies of the preceding seven days' logs as well as supporting documents such as fuel and toll receipts, etc. Canadian rules require that drivers working on the 14-day cycle retain 14 days worth of past logs, or seven or eight days' worth, depending on which cycle the drivers is working in.

As for the requirement that they must be handed in before you're paid, that may be a company policy. It's possible that log sheets are used in calculating pay, or to verify hours worked and miles driver, etc. If that is the case where your work, it's likely that you won't be paid until the log sheets are handed in.


Jim Park

In your recent article on mountain driving, you suggested drivers shouldn't use "Jake Brakes" on rainy or snowy roads. Is that true always?
djc_70@xxx.com

There's no universal Yes or No answer to this. Caution should always be used when operating on anything other than clean dry pavement. Since an engine brake has more than enough power to lock up the wheels, it's possible that when the wheels lock up the engine will stall. Some recent model trucks have electronic safeguards that will disengage the engine brake if the wheels are about to lock up, but don't depend on it.

It a matter of traction. If the roads are very slippery, or the truck is lightly loaded, the likelihood of skidding due to wheel lockup is far greater. A situation like this will cause the drive wheels to lock up and skid, causing the trailer to push forward. This results in a jackknife where the tractor turns sideways and slams up against the side of the trailer.

Use of the engine brake on slippery roads requires a high degree of vigilance. I suggest you descend the hill slowly with the engine brake on low or medium setting. If the road appears slippery, turn it off. Of course, you'll need to be going slow enough to use your service brakes at a modest application pressure as well, as they may cause a wheel lock up too. Even ABS is no guarantee against a jackknife. The jackknife may have already begun before the ABS allows the wheels to begin free-rolling again.

Jim Park


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