Some people are surprised when I tell them that I don’t drive for maximum fuel mileage. I drive for maximum profitability. The smartest owner operators understand that statement. You don’t leave $200 at the dock to save $20 in fuel. The same operator does not waste $20 worth of fuel needlessly. Driving for maximum profitability and driving for maximum fuel efficiency are not always the same thing. Sometimes they are.

Since I have had my new Cascadia, under loads, it has been a borderline 9.0 mpg truck. Last week, I had my heaviest load yet. The net weight was 47,131 lbs. It scaled at 79,560 lbs. My tank had just flipped over to 9.0 from 8.9 about 20 miles from the shipper. I figured that doing my drop and hook would drop it to 8.9, but it didn’t. This was a good opportunity to see if I could post a 9.0 at 80,000 pounds. 

When I left the shipper, I had 498 miles to the consignee. My ELD was reading 9:19 drive time and close to 11:00 left on my 14 hour clock. My ETA was close to 12 hours before my appointment time. There was no reason to rush. I chose to set the cruise control at 63 mph. I wanted to maintain a 7 second following distance in order to manage my momentum and avoid using the brakes. 

I made it out of St. Louis and across the river fairly easily. Once I got across the river I was able to not touch my brakes until the I55 and I39 junction. There were several cars coming from Peoria and they were tight together. By the time I made it onto I 39 my tank had bumped up to 9.1. That was good because I39 between Bloomington and Rockford is where good tanks go to die. Honestly, I think that they are growing more windmills on that stretch than corn. There was also the matter of taking my mandatory 30 minute break. There is a truck stop at exit 54 and I had a shower credit to use there. Plus following the advice of Henry (old timer) Albert it was an uphill stop. That way I could use the uphill offramp to slow my momentum. It was also close to the Illinois River which allowed me to use that hill to build my speed back up to 63. 

That 9.1 had dropped to 9.0 before I made it to that fuel stop. It held well into Wisconsin and past the Portage split back onto I39 towards my customer near Wausau. It dropped to 8.9 about 75 miles from the consignee. SHOOT! I arrived at the customer at 18:45 for my 07:00 appointment disappointed that I missed the 9.0 this time, but thinking that 8.9 with 47,131 in the box isn’t bad.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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Good job Jeff. If possible, can you do the same run/load with the cruise control set at 55mph? I drive 55mph at all times except when coasting down hill and pull similar weight loads in a 53' dry van. On a thirty day average my truck does 8.1 to 8.3. It's a 2012 Cascadia, DD15, 10over, 3.55 axle ratio, wide base Michelin's, etc.

June 09, 2017 15:43:17 PM

I would say that's amazing. The first truck I drove years ago did a solid 4 mpg at 80,000 lbs, all day, every day. With that perspective in mind I would say you are doing amazing.

June 08, 2017 8:35:40 AM