I've been asked by a loyal reader to write about the various trucks we have driven/lived in over the past six years and since I don't presently have anything very exciting to write about, I'll be happy to respond to his request.
Our first truck was a Freightliner. I remember the day Craig received this truck. He was just released from training and had to wait for it to be returned from the dealer after having some work done on it. It had previously been driven by a driver who quit, and quite frankly, the truck was a pig sty and reeked of cigarette smoke. As we worked together trying to clean it up, I kept trying to calm myself down, wondering to myself if selling everything that we owned, and doing this trucking thing was such a bright idea. But Craig promised me that by the time I would join him, in about two months, that it would smell better and look in tip top shape, and he didn't let me down.
Over the next two months, Craig "frebreezed" it every opportunity he had, and installed a refrigerator, microwave, and TV. What more would we need? There was ample room in the sleeper, and we were more than comfortable living in it except for the time it leaked while we were in New York and had to find a way to stop the rain from coming inside.
Being a novice OTR truck driver, we had no comparison to other trucks as far as power or handling, but most of our loads were light when we hauled boats, and when we did have a back haul with a Genie or some other type of equipment, we didn't seem to notice it being inadequate.
When Craig hurt his back in Texas July/2007, our Freightliner was left at a tiny truck stop in Fort Stockton, TX and driven back to the yard by a team driver. When Craig was cleared to return to work in October/2007, we were assigned an International that had been left by a driver near Roseburg, OR. We drove up there to retrieve the truck and I was happy to see this truck was somewhat clean, but it had the tell tale smell of cigarettes. I left Craig with the truck and drove back to California, where I loaded the remainder of our items and met up with him in Spokane a few days later.
The International had windows up by the bunk, and more room in the sleeper. I remember joking with Craig that it was so spacious we could dance. In this truck we had room to make a small office area on top of one of the cabinets, where we installed a scanner/printer, which we put to good use with all the border crossings we did delivering boats. It drove very much like the Freightliner and we enjoyed living in it until we made the decision to change divisions and go to the green side of the company TWT.
Finally, on our third truck, we had one that had not been used by a smoker! It was a Peterbilt, and from what we heard over the years, is that die hard truckers swear by a Peterbilt. I can't say that we will be one of those people. It was extremely hard to get used to the cramped driving compartment, and as an added shock to my system, I had to deal with no cup holder for the passenger seat. Oh the horrors of it all! We couldn't fold up the top bunk without folding Craig's mattress in half and making it like sleeping in a taco shell, so we kept the top bunk down which meant hunkering down under it whenever I needed to fix meals. Storage was adequate, and with the use of computers and phones to watch movies and TV, we no longer needed to use any space for an actual TV.
The long nose made for some tricky maneuvering and tested Craig's skills at many of the Shippers and Receivers we were dispatched to. We also didn't think it had that much power going up the hills either. The one thing we absolutely loved about it??? It had an APU which provided us with wonderful AC when the weather was hot and warmth when it was cold. We could put up with any other inconvenience as long as we had that APU.
Which not leads us to our latest truck, a Kenworth. What a blessing to be assigned a brand new truck with a cup holder for both of us and an APU. The trucking Gods were looking down upon us. This truck has the new PACCAR engine and Craig has noticed a big difference in performance. First it gets much better mileage per gallon than any of the other trucks. We average about 9mpg where we were only getting 5-6mpg with the other trucks. It takes the hills with power and the turning radius is fantastic. The fifth wheel is not adjustable, but we haven't found that to be an issue with scaling.
The driving compartment is even tighter than the Peterbilt, and I have joked with Craig that the truck designers should really check with me before designing the inside of another truck. The lower bed is much bigger than any of the other trucks, which leaves very little room to stand up and move around. Trust me, there is no room for dancing in this sleeper area. I do love that the storage areas have doors instead of curtains that snap, and are so large that I have not been able to completely fill them up, no matter how much I have bought at Wal Mart. I would have liked to see less windows, as it causes the sleeper area to get much too warm. We end up keeping the covers on the windows all the time.
So you're probably asking which one we like best, or you're completely bored with this post and couldn't care less, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Ideally, if we could take a little bit from each one that would be the perfect situation, but we can't. The one truck I would prefer would be the International because of the room and spaciousness that it gave us, and in the category of performance, I would have to go with the Kenworth and the new PACCAR engine.