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.

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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

Joey,
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