Since buying my new step deck trailer in January, I've been primarily transporting lumber as there's so much of it in Virginia.  Forests cover 65% of Virginia's land area and the timber industry is one of my state's top natural resources.  The log trucks roll pretty much non-stop around here and bring their fresh cut trees into these mills and flatbeds/step decks haul the finished product out. 

There are different grades of lumber; some require tarping while others don't.  This week, I was transporting a higher quality lumber that was dried and being shipped to a chemical treatment facility.  I needed to be close to home this week due to family commitments and contracted to move quite a few of these short haul loads.  They paid very well as they were "keep dry" loads that required tarping if rain was expected.  I crossed my fingers that I could move all of them without having to tarp which costs me nearly 2 hours of extra time to put on and secure and take it off and stow away properly.

If the load gets wet, the customer will refuse it and I will have to transport it back to the shipper.  I will not get paid for either trip and my company (me) will be responsible for the charges to dry the lumber again.  On one occasion this week I left the lumber mill with coordinates set for my destination only about 70 miles away.  I left with no tarp and checked my weather app and knew it was a 50/50 chance.  I also knew the route very well and had a pull off spot in mind if I needed to pull over and "throw a rag on it" if rain was inevitable.  Sure enough, the rain clouds formed as I was nearly halfway to my destination.  I thought about the cost if I let this load get wet and dutifully pulled over to a safe location and tarped up just in time before the thunderstorm hit.

In retrospect, it was definitely a bad gamble.  I was only able to cover the load before the storm hit.  Then, I had to wait inside my truck for it to pass over before I could properly secure it.  If I had tarped up before I left the plant, I would've made it to my destination much quicker.  But I guess, you win some and you lose some!

Comments (7)

Joey Slaughter

Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. Joey has been in the trucking industry since 1992.

Read These Next...


Trade Show Freight

June 27, 2017


Out in the Elements

March 03, 2018


Block & Brace

October 05, 2018


Shalom, I agree totally! Craig, I'm glad you've had the same experience as me and can feel my pain!

July 03, 2014 22:23:29 PM

Before the spotted owl issue hit here on the west coast in the late 80's, timber and lumber transportation were huge, after 1990, not so much. Like you I was transporting dimensional lumber (some green and some dried) and plywood from the mills to a treating plant for a small trucking company. Some could get wet and some needed to stay dry. We also reloaded at the treating plant and delivered to the docks for shipment overseas. I gambled on one load from Eugene, OR to Coos Bay, OR. It was a two hour drive and I ended up tarping on the side of the highway. Never did that again! The trucking company owner ended up buying a used 42' curtain van and transported all the dried lumber and plywood on that trailer. It saved a ton of time and work and allowed us to move more loads. If you stay in the short haul lumber business it is worth considering. Sometimes I really miss those days!

July 01, 2014 14:05:30 PM

well, Joey,
your lucky it's Lumber & not a HHG move.
but just give the FMCSA a few years...@ best..., they'll expand the whole HHG website to cover all forms of trucking.
you see, under the FMCSA HHG website rule, any costumer can complain about freight been damaged by a carrier & the FMCSA have full authority to investigate, Judge & execute the punishment {revoking operation authority, or fines up to 11,000$ per incident}.
but why are we to worry about it, they only go after House Holds Movers...they'll never go after us...
yeh'a right...

June 30, 2014 18:39:24 PM

Haha Tyrone. There's no doubt about it!

June 29, 2014 20:57:36 PM

Oh yea I remember all to we'll my tapping days! ! And there will be plenty more days that you will gamble with! !

June 29, 2014 20:28:14 PM

Thanks Kasey, I'm still learning. That's a mighty tight tarping job on your profile pic. I wish mine would look like that.

June 28, 2014 18:41:42 PM

If in doubt double tarp. It will help protect corners also.

June 28, 2014 14:39:06 PM