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brian991219

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brian991219 last won the day on August 7

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About brian991219

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    Participating Member

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  • Location
    Hawley, PA

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  • Company
    Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC
  • WreckMaster Level
    4/5
  • TRAA NDCP Certification
    Level 2 Medium/Heavy Duty

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  1. I am saddened to hear this as well. I hope they capture and punish these people to the fullest extent of the law. I also hope this was not a turf war given the recent changes to the police rotation program in some parts of the city. I really hope it was a robbery attempt gone wrong or assault for a pissed vehicle owner and not a fellow tower acting out over the program changes. Philly is a tough city, one of the only places I truly feared going in my tow trucks. I would rather run Brooklyn or any of the Jersey City/Hoboken communities over Philly any day. Philly is the only place I have been robbed in a tow truck, had a bunch of thugs take my chains, tools and fuel can while I was unloading a church van. What really scared me was my wife was along for the ride, 20 years old and in a bad part of town.
  2. brian991219

    Towing company owner makes safety his mission (MI)

    As I write this I am attending the Mid West Regional Tow Show in Mason, Ohio. The vibe I get from the attendees is that safety is something out of their control. Sad. Bill Giorgis of Mike's Wrecker in Saginaw, Mi. presented a well attended seminar yesterday on OSHA and the towing industry, a subject I will be speaking about during the American Towman Expo in Baltimore, MD on Sunday, Nov. 18th. Although well attended, probably the best attended of all the seminars so far this weekend, the audience had a less than enthusiastic feel. No one likes regulations, however voluntary compliance -no, voluntarily exceeding the minimum standards and innovating new standards is what will help make us safer. Admittedly, no amount of PPE or advanced warning will stop all injuries and deaths, but the routine use of it, embracing the culture of safety always, not safety first but ALWAYS, will improve our mental state so that our safest actions become second nature. Ultimately, we can not place a price tag on safety. We are not the airline industry that declares a human life when lost in a plane crash is worth $XXX. We are better than that. So will not like my next statement, so be it as it is how I feel. A focus on safety, accountability and professionalism will cost the industry, as well as individual towers, money but it is necessary. If we raise the bar to entry, the level at which we allow companies to operate within our industry, it will cost money. That is good as it will price out the one chain Charlies and wanna be wrecker drivers. It is time to step up, invoice appropriately for our services and stand up for those rates. Where else but the transportation industry do you go that the customer decides what they will pay regardless of the invoiced amount? Try that at the grocery store this week, so how it goes for you. I was in a legal seminar on invoice collections early yesterday and I have to give props to Schaffer's Towing for hiring a lawyer to challenge these invoices that were not paid in full. They lost money in the process, the lawyer doesn't work for free and taking something to court is costly -but they stood up multiple time for what was right and in the process created case law or precedents that other towers can use to collect what is due them without the hassle and expense. More of us need to have the brass to stand up for our rights, including the right to work safely!
  3. brian991219

    Towing company owner makes safety his mission (MI)

    Randy, you and FlagFixer have a very valid option on the table, one that I myself have been promoting. These motorist assist programs are all part of effective managed traffic programs currently operated by almost every state DOT agency in the US. I see no difference in permitting, even mandating a blocker truck for towing operations when compared to the requirements to use a shadow vehicle (block truck) for roadway maintenance. Is removing wrecked or disabled vehicles not required maintenance of the road system? Another point about the free service patrol operations, in many areas these are operated under the direction of the state DOT agency by independent contractors. Many of these contract operators are also area towers, so I want the industry to see this as a viable solution and not just another power grab by a governmental agency. What is stopping towers in areas not serviced by service patrols from petitioning their DOT to develop a program. Further, it can become a profit center for the business -not that this is the goal of this discussion, but we are capitalists and right or wrong business drives demand. I have long been an advocate for professional development training, not just one and done classes or classes designed so everyone passes. As Randy pointed out earlier, our training standards industry wide are not up to the same standards as the other first responders that we long to be. In this case we are way behind the eight ball. As an industry we must call for proper professional development ourselves BEFORE it is forced upon us by the likes of OSHA and FMCSA. Randy makes mention of ASE, for those that don't know, ASE certification is the gold standard for automotive and truck repair technicians, similar to i-CAR in the collision industry. While we do have outstanding training options available to us they fall short of meeting the gold standard of certification. They also leave out many important topics. It seems that towing training today focuses on below the hook techniques such as rigging and calculating loads -all important but not all inclusive. Answer these next questions honestly. How much of your day is spent performing recoveries vs. traditional load and go tow jobs? Do you see the disproportionate amount of focus on recovery training compared to how to efficiently and effectively load and go? How about scene safety? All of this is more important to operator safety than the potential to overload rigging on a recovery. Yes, that will kill you also but the statistics simply don't make that as likely as a struck-by or other injury as a result of improper loading procedures or poor scene safety discipline. It is sad when a truck stop chain, actually all 4 of the major truck stop chains do a better job of on scene safety discipline with $12-$14 per hour technicians that only respond to a few calls a week than we as "professional" towers do. Pay attention the next time you see a Road Squad or Pilot road service vehicle on a job, they have advance warning, cones, proper truck placement as well as proper PPE. If they can get the same guy that cleans the shower at the truck stop to comply with proper procedures why can't we get a career towing operator to do the same? Goodmichael, I have always liked to read your opinions and we are usually of the same mind set. I agree with your call for insurance, call providers, equipment manufacturers and other industry leaders to step up and do something. Each has a chance to make a difference in their own arena. It is well known that I represent the Jerr-Dan brand of equipment as a salesman, but putting that aside, they are the first manufacturer to step up and make dual side free wheel standard on their carrier decks. It is a simple mechanical solution to an age old problem, one that all carrier makers should have implemented by now. They also have an inexpensive wireless remote option that can control 1 to all 5 functions on a carrier, allowing the tower to remotely lower his deck into position before even leaving the safety of his cab. How is that for doing their part? The days of manual L-arm wheel lifts are over, self loaders are so much faster and can be safer since most of them are remotely controlled from inside the cab thereby limiting exposure time. Dynamic makes a self-loader medium duty wheel lift (16 ton). Why is this not an option on more medium or even heavy duty trucks? Also, as a former heavy tower I ask -why do we still use axle forks as the preferred method of front hookups on heavy tows? I had NRC wheel grids on my trucks in early 2000's, prefer them over forks any day. Quicker, easier and I am not under the truck in the pinch zone for nearly as long as I am with forks. It was mentioned by Todd Menzel during the Tennessee Tow Show about redesigning our standard hookup process. Why don't we take the lead from the refuse industry and use automation more in our industry? How about compelling OEM makers of heavy trucks to install air, brake and electrical connections on the front of their trucks like the military does? Even better, designing a industry standard pin attachment? Many coach bus makers already do, making the hookup process much easier and therefore safer? How about using dual side drive truck chassis to build our wreckers on, again like the waste industry. We could easily exit from the non-traffic side and reduce exposure. In conclusion, this has opened a great discussion on a topic of vital importance to the industry. I have long called for increasing the bar to entry in this industry and holding ourselves more accountable for professional standards and continuing education. I have to take continuing education classes to practice as a safety and compliance consultant, hell even my hairdresser has to take C.E. credits to keep her beauticians license. We as an industry have done a hell of a job of memorializing our fallen, with due respect, however if we put the same effort into changing our industry we would not have the same need to memorialize the fallen because there would not be so many! It is time for professional towers to demand their place on the vehicle design committees of OEMs, highway management committees with DOT, even on regulatory bodies governing the trucking industry. We need to contribute to the regulations and ideas that are being developed to be sure our point of view is taken into consideration. When highway safety initiatives are designed the tower is often an afterthought, or the designer believes we have access to the same resources as the other governmental response agencies do. Bottom line, either we as an industry take charge of our future or the government will do it for us. I assure you their solutions will not benefit us at all, in fact the effort has already begun to replace private towers with public agency responders in many areas. Be forewarned that it is up to all of us as a collective to effect change.
  4. brian991219

    2018 Midwest Tow Show Mason Ohio Roll Call

    I will be there! Doing a seminar on general DOT compliance issues facing the towing industry in an open question and answer format. Friday 2:45-4 PM in the Symposium. If anyone has a specific question they would like to have answered please message me and I will do my best to include it in the presentation.
  5. brian991219

    Fraud

    Wow. I can't add to this particular scam but can comment on the generic looking websites. Ron, there are several companies that sell web packages to towers that are not tech savvy, they are basically the same website -images and all with their phone number and address pasted in. Kinda cheesy if you ask me, it is easy to build your own professional looking and unique website with services like GoDaddy.
  6. brian991219

    Texas Tow Expo Rollcall - Aug. 16-18, 2018

    Sure am. landing in Dallas tomorrow afternoon and will be there thru the TX Legislative Conference on Sunday afternoon. Presenting a seminar on the latest with the TRAA petition to exempt towers from the ELD mandate, spoiler we lost. This presentation will also be a basic course designed to help you decide if you need ELDs or not. Thursday at 4 PM in Appaloosa 3 Also doing a mini-clinic on Friday at 2 PM on the show floor on best practices to implement ELDs if your fleet needs them.
  7. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    BW, funny we were just talking about the 600R earlier in this thread and this popped up. Crawford up in Mass has a used one for $119,000 on a nice M2 Freightliner. They are not the Jerr-Dan dealer I work with, but are good people. Check it out. http://crawfordtruck.com/classifieds/showproducts-used-907.html
  8. brian991219

    Re: Tow Operator Struck - San Diego County

    Damn. Sorry to hear this, it boils my blood when the operator appears to be doing things properly and still gets struck. They are in my thoughts.
  9. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    That is a great option, especially if the Freightliner is spec'd right. I would like an extra cab and air brake as this extends the wheelbase, adds steer weight so it tows better and gives you on-board air for when you get a truck to tow with air brakes. It would pay to go 33k GVWR chassis, heavier rear and better components that will last longer, plenty of braking power, although if you want your non-cdl guys to be able to winch and tow smaller vehicles then 25,999 and hydraulic brakes is the way to go. A well spec'd Freightliner can replace a F-550 in the fleet and still tow cars, so you can have the intermediate sized truck to support your heavy without taking on too much extra expense. You will find those 12 tons can grab many of the smaller RVs, even the ones that look big. Many are Ford chassis with gas engines and not all that heavy on the front, just need to figure out how to fork them without grabbing a frame extension. I towed more Rvs in Albuquerque with our 16 tons than our heavies, also many shuttle buses and smaller school buses. This is a market we are not representing well at Jerr-Dan any more. We still offer the Cougar, but our true medium duty line is weak. Good luckk with the Miller, they are good units as well.
  10. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    You are much better prepared than most, best wishes with whichever route you take. Only you know your market and your ability to absorb risk. A 35 ton is a good truck, little big for the F-550 type chassis as it is hard to grab those axles and the wheel grids for the heavy trucks don't always clear the pumpkin on the 4x4 versions. There are some nice units on the market ready to roll today, the 2019 chassis are out so you should get a good deal on a 2018 chassis. Don't be afraid to go with the autoshift either, drove one the other day in a Jerr-Dan 35 ton with a Pete chassis. Took it from the plant in PA all the way to the customer in CA, 18 speed Eaton auto with a Cummins motor and it ran well, shifted smooth. One last thought on new vs. used for heavy. You will have to pay a 12% Federal Excise Tax on all new heavy trucks, if you buy one that is at least 6 months old and previously titled the FET is waived. That 12% makes a huge difference in cost! Look at it as the extra money to put all the recovery equipment and tools you want on the truck in exchange for a pre-owned unit. Heavy trucks hold value much better than light duty trucks, so it may still serve you well to buy a used heavy for your first rig.
  11. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    Why not? Since he has shown interest in a Vulcan V-30 here are the specs. Lift 12,000 retracted, which can be easily done with spring forks. I will give you that extended 8,500 is a stretch for axles. A typical road tractor has a 12,000 front axle weight rating and actually weights about 10-11,000 so well within the specs. That said, rear towing a tractor with a 16 ton is the better way to go, only lifting about 5k or so. The right wheelbase and front axle weight on a 16 and it can safely and legally tow at the underlift rated capacity. Also, it was never suggested a 16 ton could do the work of a heavy, simply that it is a good stepping stone into that world to see if you are ready to do heavier vehicles. Here is a link to the ratings for the V-30. It is quite a capable truck, are the other 16-20 ton units on the market today. https://www.millerind.com/images/uploads/brochures/V-30-web.pdf
  12. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    I am not a Miller dealer so I don't know for sure, but I think it has been discontinued for civilian use. As far as I know they still make it for their military and NATO contracts, just not distributed here anymore. I think they sold less than 100 of them to towers, mostly were sold on cabover chassis for the NATO contract. They were cool, but fairly useless as a rotator. The boom only had 60 inches of extension making it difficult to pick and swing even the smallest of car unless you could get right on top of it. Great for picking one end of a load and shifting it, winching in tight areas and such. Don't get me wrong, we don't regret having ours but for the price having a boom that swung wasn't all that great. The other problem was the independent underlift was limited on lift height whereas the integrated would go as high as the boom, never short on ground clearance. We bought that one second hand, only had 8,000 miles on it and the price was the same as a new V-30 at the time. The first owner paid almost as much as a 25 ton for it new.
  13. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    That was the weakest part of the whole truck. Danlar was the second owner, actual found it through your board back in 2011. Came out of Ohio. If we were building one from scratch it would have been on either a Freightliner M2 or Western Star 4700 chassis with a bigger motor. This particular truck had a 300 HP MaxxForce and 6 speed Allison auto, ran well for where it was first sold but in the mountains outside Albuquerque it was a dog. We had thought about a remount, almost pulled the trigger but then I had to come back to Pennsylvania for family reasons and Danlar closed the towing operations shortly after. The newer Internationals with the Cummins motor are reliable. The MaxxForce engine was their biggest weakness. Cabs are quiet and comfortable, although they do have a bit too much plastic for my taste. Below is the truck that the International with the Holmes 600R replaced. This Vulcan on the M2 chassis was tough as nails.
  14. brian991219

    Buying my first heavy

    The heavies breaking can be from misuse, especially with new operators. Keep in mind, the weights are sometimes 10 fold what a light duty truck deals with so when something goes wrong it goes wrong fast. Not trying to use fear as a motivator but look at all the failure videos floating around the internet, most of the catastrophic ones are heavy wreckers. Simply put, one piece of rigging fails and there may be enough force to roll the truck over or worse yet kill the operator or a bystander. Same with driving skills, the smaller trucks are easier to recover from a moment of inattention or poor judgement, a heavy duty only takes a second to wind up on it's side in a ditch. Of course with training and caution these are easily overcome. Simply being unfamiliar with the transmission in your new wrecker, or large trucks in general, may result in driveline failures, damage to the towed vehicle or even a crash. Not to mention the skill needed as a mechanic to prepare a heavy vehicle for tow, it isn't as easy as hooking up a wheellift and going. Usually drivelines or axles need to be removed, fairings secured, air supplied to the chassis, service brakes plumbed into and more. RVs and coaches often require removal of accessories like generator exhausts or skirts/flaps. Perhaps developing the driving skills as well as hookup skills is the primary reason I recommend a 16 ton first. It is a great intermediary to learn on that is much more forgiving. The overall expense of owning and maintaining a heavy wrecker is huge, that is why the rates seem so good from the outside. Heavy duty towing still has the same profit margin as light duty, maybe even less. As a business case study you are asking the right questions, so keep researching and see if the market will support another heavy duty tower. Then decide if you are willing and able to invest upwards of a half million dollars to start a heavy tow operation and operate at 10-15% ROI, or would that same half million be better served expanding your current services, buying a Subway franchise or some other investment. Lastly, does you market provide an abundance of skilled class A CDL drivers? Do you have, or are you able to get a class A CDL yourself? What is your plan for a backup truck and driver when needed? And, most important -also most costly- what will the insurance premium be on a heavy duty wrecker? Sadly, no the 600R is not for sale. It was sold to a company in Texas several years ago. Hated to see it go, was my favorite truck out of all I have operated over 25+ years.
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