That Big Truck Blog

An American Car Hauler's Blog

“…he always did things a little differently as a kid”

10 Cars on a Cottrell High-Side...Loaded A Little Abnormally

"Ten Cars...My Way"

A little unconventional way to 10 car a Cottrell Trailers C-10LT high-side…but it works rather well. The # 4 position can be stored below the rails (the red Jeep Compass backed on) and I have had an SUV/crossover type vehicle as large as the GMC Acadia in this position. Benefits are multiple…the weight of the engine/front end are kept to the rear and most supported part of the table and there is much less “swing” weight out on the front as the ramp is raised to it’s utmost point while loading. A lot less stress on that number 4 table this way while loading & going down the road. Of course, keys are in the bottom…belly car must be backed on with flippers on the shotgun stored inward. Also the shotgun car must be driven on with the wheels to the leading edge of the ramp. These 2 final vehicles must be of short enough wheelbase/length combinations to fit within the space from the front of the shotgun table to the rear of the telescoping # 10 ramp…obviously.

Oh yeah…don’t try this without a little wheelbase in your horse.

Be safe.

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October 31, 2011 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers, Car Haul, Carl's Car Carriers Inc, General Auto Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CUMMINS ISX 565 (2002 EMISSIONS) (EGR) REVIEW

***This is an unbiased, hands-on independent user’s review of the Cummins ISX 565 (2002 Emissions) EGR engine used in a U.S. car haul application transporting new & used vehicles over-the-road. Placed in service May 2007, this review is my own personal experience from day one with the Cummins ISX EGR engine. This particular engine is pre-2007 emissions…before the advent of the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) engines. As noted in the title, this is an Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) engine…this review addresses the ISX EGR engine with the turbo-side EGR valve design as opposed to the later design which moved the valve and it’s troublesome internal parts to the cooler side of the engine.***

Turbo side image of 565 Cummins

The Red Engine...Cummins ISX 565 EGR Pre-'07 Emissions


Having just loaded my initial load on the new Cummins ISX 565 powered ’07 Peterbilt 379, I was working on a rendezvous with the baby brother in the Hagerstown, Maryland area to “test” the new engine on some rather hilly terrain on I-68 in western Maryland and West Virginia on my way back toward my Ol’ Kentucky Home . My brother operates a well-maintained 379 Pete with a 600 CAT mated to an AutoShift transmission. He has been in the biz, along with the most of the family, since before he could drive. CAT engines are his preference and he swears by the AutoShift transmissions…but this author just can’t seem to make that leap. Old School hard headed ??? Maybe. I just like my Fuller 18 speed. “Double Trouble’s” CAT is mainly stock…no Pittsburgh Power, BullyDog, or PDI tunes…as of this first test run back in 2007. Since then, he’s added a beautiful custom manifold and turbo to his freshly overhauled 600 CAT and it’s really brought the yellow engine to life. But that’s another story. This is about the red engine.

PULLING POWER

We meet up at the I-81/I-70 interchange and head west on I-70 to access the I-68 highway westbound. We are both loaded similarly with a mixture of cars & SUV’s destined to a familiar dealership in Kentucky. This route will take us across some pretty good pulls as we work on getting the cars to the market. Double Trouble is curious about the Cummins ISX power and obviously I am as well. This is not my first Cummins engine. Not by a long shot. Matter of fact, my first truck…a 1966 single-axle Dodge D900…had a NH185 Cummins thumping under those flop-out fenders. I remember misrepresenting my poor lil truck’s powerplant and calling it a “220 Cummins”…knowing full well the tag on the engine revealed my dishonesty. Alas, I have grown older & somewhat wiser resulting in my repentance from my youthful truth-strectching discourses where today, I just call it like it is. Later on in my car haul career, I will be intimately familiar with 350 Cummins, Big Cam models all the way up to Big Cam 4 with Step Timing Control (STC) and “low-flow” cooling, and N14 models. My family owned and operated everything in between in the Cummins offerings over the years in car haul, up to and including KTA600’s. So I’m not unfamiliar with the Chessie diesel engines and their history. But…this is my first ISX model. My last Big Cam 4 did me in with the Cummins brand for many years as I went over to the CAT crowd after falling in love with the 3406B model in an ’88 model 379 long hood. But, more recent developments in the EPA-over-regulated world we live in today, made for another adjustment to my available options for engine power in subsequent trucks & equipment. I dabbled in the Detroit line from 6-71 series (the infamous snail-paced, screamin’ bumblebee “238” Detroit that was very popular with the car haul companies back in the day), 8V-71 “318’s” and on up to the 92 series. I owned & drove both 6V-92 models as well as an “Double-O” V-8 version of the 8V-92 series…a 445 advertised horsepower owner-operator edition. I also owned & operated the series “60” Detroit Diesel engine in a 1998 model 379 Pete. Every engine has it’s quirks and characteristics. Spending time with them…driving and operating them in all kinds of terrain, weather and seasons…is the only way to offer really solid, reliable reviews on the engine. Dynos and testing in a controlled environment has it’s place, to be sure, but when the rubber meets the road, and the driver’s butt hits the upholstery…this is where it really matters. One manufacturer can advertise in leading trucking industry publications with full page glossy cover ads that their 600 hp engine is the “King Of The Hill”…but when an assortment of their own distributor truck engine shops cannot make the engine operate correctly and every make and model out there is leaving the “King Of The Hill” in the dust pulling up out of Indio, California coming east…that ad is as misleading and untruthful as I was in trying to hide the true horsepower rating of my first little truck’s powerplant. My own personal integrity was the only thing at stake in my youthful transgression…but when an engine manufacturer spreads manure that deep to grab more market for their stockholders, it cost a lot of people a lot of money to learn the lesson. Let’s get on with the impending “Race To The Top” to borrow an Obama education-related program phrase.

As we approach the first good pull after entering I-68, my CB lights up with Double Trouble advising me to “get in it”. I am hesitant to give it everything since it’s a new engine but it does have some miles on it since I had to move it around the southeast and various shops preparing the rack and picking up new trailer, etc. It’s not like it’s right off the line in Columbus, Indiana…or Mexico ? About half way up the “rest area” hill, I close the gap between the 600 CAT and the ISX 565. Steadily advancing, the Cummins overtakes and passes the brother’s 600 CAT. I pick up my radio mic and accuse him of sandbaggin’ and he replies that he’s all out. This same scenario plays out on all the rest of the hard pulls across I-68 (and there are several if you know the highway). I’m still reserving my elation celebrations because I think Double Trouble may be playing with me. He swears to this day that he was not and that he was all out. So, the initial impression of pulling power on the ISX 565 Cummins EGR engine vs the ’05 model 600 CAT (both engines completely stock) is:

1. That Cummins has twisted the horsepower ratings to satisfy some EPA-related regulations or
2. The Kingly Crown was prematurely awarded to an undeserving yellow motor or
3. The CAT’s driver was playing with the Cummins driver or
4. The Cummins driver is a better driver

I, personally, would attribute all four of the above but little brother might argue that point. Maybe he won’t read this. 🙂

THE ISX INTEBRAKE & ENGINE BRAKING

About this first driving impression of the Cummins ISX 565 in hilly terrain, I have to note the Cummins InteBrake (engine braking) is really far above anything I have used previously. What goes up must come down and there are some pretty good downgrades on I-68 too. I have driven this truck now for some 340K miles and the engine braking is as good as it gets, IMO. Again, comparing CAT to Cummins…I have not encountered a descent that I cannot ease down sans foot brake at posted truck speed limits, regardless of load weight thus far. My CAT experience with B-models and a new C16 I bought in 2000…engine braking was very inadequate as compared to this ISX InteBrake. The Cummins ISX rates a big plus in this category…a very important category for several obvious reasons. At 340K miles, my drive axle brake linings are still knee-deep. But even more important than the cost savings on brake re-line intervals, are the safety aspect and the overall comfort that comes with the peace of mind of knowing that the InteBrake has got your back with heavy loads.

FUEL MILEAGE

OK…back to the real world of driving and operating the Cummins ISX 565. My racing days are well over. I think I found a few blue hairs mixed in with my well-worn grey coif when I looked in the mirror this morning. I’m all about squeezing all the fuel mileage I can out of a gallon of the Petro Stopping Centers #2 ULSD. I might get in a hurry when it comes to supper time and the belly’s grumbling but I’m Laid Back Larry when chauffeuring the Petey Cruiser down the road. You may even find yourself muttering things under your breath if you should find yourself behind me on a 2 lane road. I try to keep with posted speed limits and I find lately, I have to watch or I’ll find myself under the limit. Retirement in south Florida, driving in the left lane of I-95 with my left turn indicator stuck on as I rocket down through Fort Lauderdale at 45 mph…my future it seems.

With my attention turned to fuel mileage rather than racing, let me share some factual information for your comparison. Let me qualify the following statistics before I post them. Many of you that are not exclusively in the car haul biz with dedicated “stinger-steered, full-sized” auto transporters may find the following mpg values very low. If you owned and operated this type of equipment for any amount of time, you will understand why the numbers will seem extremely low when compared to other type of trucking operations. I hear mpg figures from folks claiming to get almost 10 mpg with “freight” trucks…box trailers, etc. I cannot speak to that. But I can speak to the car haul business and the horrible aerodynamics inherently designed into the combination units. Loaded or empty…one can liken driving a car haul stinger unit to pulling a trio of large parachutes down the highway. If there is a niche in trucking that produces even worse mpg values, I do not know what it is. I’ve heard cattle racks have similar problems…I don’t know and cannot speculate. I can speak with authority about this particular car haul application and I can do it having operated virtually every kind of engine make and model from the smallest to the largest on-highway engines over the past 40 years or so. This is an actual, unbiased review and I have no reason to skew any of this information. I would only be kidding myself. Facts are facts and here they are:

Year 2007:  Annual Average: 4.887 mpg
2nd Quarter: 13431 miles   2792.00 gallons  4.81 mpg
3rd Quarter:  27498 miles  5567.47 gallons  4.94 mpg
4th Quarter:  31006 miles  6316.85 gallons  4.91 mpg

Year 2008:  Annual Average: 5.065 mpg
1st Quarter:   20550 miles  4279.43 gallons  4.80 mpg
2nd Quarter: 18762 miles   3592.71 gallons   5.22 mpg
3rd Quarter:  27587 miles  5305.60 gallons  5.20 mpg
4th Quarter:  22766 miles  4515.53 gallons   5.04 mpg

Year 2009:  Annual Average:  4.878 mpg
1st Quarter:   19861 miles   4040.59 gallons  4.92 mpg
2nd Quarter: 18063 miles   3584.37 gallons  5.04 mpg
3rd Quarter:  20703 miles  4204.29 gallons  4.92 mpg
4th Quarter:  18259 miles   3946.16 gallons  4.63 mpg

Year 2010:  Annual Average:  4.608 mpg
1st Quarter:   14952 miles   3383.17 gallons   4.42 mpg
2nd Quarter: 20386 miles  4458.26 gallons  4.57 mpg
3rd Quarter:  14792 miles   3057.14 gallons   4.84 mpg
4th Quarter:  14674 miles   3187.16 gallons   4.60 mpg

Year 2011:  2 Quarter Average:  4.84 mpg
1st Quarter:   14842 miles  3270.63 gallons   4.54 mpg
2nd Quarter: 12616 miles   2453.56 gallons   5.14 mpg

This is an overall mileage figure of 4.855 mpg since the truck was placed into operation in May 2007.

Things to consider about these figures:

1. I do NOT like to idle my truck.
Mainly I have this perception that it’s not good for the life of the engine. No person that knows me would classify me as a tree-hugger and I personally believe the world would be a much better place to inhabit if Al Gore and his man-bear-pig mouth had never opened. But sometimes the planets align and in this instance, my no-idle policy for my own equipment might make Mr. Gore grin but it is not because of his rantings. I feel it’s better for my bottom line if I don’t idle the truck anymore than necessary. That being said…PTO operation.

2. I operate a PTO-driven car carrier with a multitude of hydraulic cylinders and valves to operate during each load-unload sequence.
There is a LOT of PTO time logged on the truck’s Road Relay engine monitoring device. That fuel is primarily wasted away from the mpg figures. Some accounts say 1 gallon per hour when idling. I do NOT idle during PTO time…I adjust the throttle up to a suggested 1000 to 1100 rpm for power take-off operation. Probably more fuel being used at higher rpm’s, wouldn’t you think? In extreme hot or cold weather, I will throttle the engine to access heat or air conditioning when needed. (Please allow me to go off on a Dennis Miller-esque rant on the no-idling laws produced by a bunch of bureaucrats that have zero clue about trucking. I really believe they (the lawmakers and enforcers) do not care anything about the human life inside that truck/sleeper during these extreme climate time. But if you had a pet inside that truck and it was made uncomfortable to the point of heat exhaustion, I am positively certain someone would bring charges against the driver that did something so neglectful. Go ahead and turn your head, Mr. Bureaucrat and you as well, Mrs. Enforcement…it’s the truth. And dare I say…if you were the one placed in the single digit winter in Strowbridge, Massachusetts waiting overnight for a load the following morning…I am betting that you too would get that heat blowing across your goose-bumped buttocks when the time came. Oh..you’ve installed an APU…auxiliary power unit? You did, huh? After a minimum of $10,000.00 USD and about 6 months use, it gives you nothing but tortuous headaches and high repair bills. That is until the APU company goes belly-up because of all the warranty cases outstanding and the owners decide to cut and run just exactly like the 5th-amendment-pleading corporate heads of the most recent scandal involving “greenness” in the Solandra solar panel joke where half-a-billion taxpayer dollars were thrown to the windmills. The only good that I can see that may very well come of all this is the rallying cries are being heard now for the turning out of the EPA’s fluorescent energy-saving light bulbs and locking the doors…start over time, I’ve heard in the past week. And don’t look down your nose at me or folks like me…you are no more of a conservationist than I. I love the outdoors and am a crusader for keeping the earth as it was intended. But not at the expense of the human race. Hypocrites buzzing around the world in private jets, stopping long enough to preach about how I should not leave a carbon footprint by idling my truck for a few minutes to get a little heat. Hard to say what has happened to this world today…nothing describes the supposedly educated self-righteous attitudes of today better than an old George Carlin quip…telling of some PETA  idiots stepping over a half dozen homeless humans lying in their own urine in the street just to spit on a woman wearing a fur coat. Rant temporarily suspended…continue with review.)

3. As mentioned earlier, the aerodynamics of a car carrier are the absolute worst.
By design, today’s car carriers are no better aerodynamically than the very first “stackable, articulating deck” carriers in the beginning. Laws have changed over the years allowing larger combinations but this only worsens the problem for fuel efficiency. My particular carrier combination being used currently is at 45500 pounds empty weight. So we are somewhat loaded even when empty by many comparisons. The many upright tubes and cross braces produce multiple wind dragging surfaces whether loaded or empty. And in today’s economy, one cannot run a carrier empty. Back in the day, I remember working at Dixie Auto Transport in Jacksonville, Florida. You picked your outbound load to a dealer mostly in the southeast U>S. and expected to “rattle” home, which meant to come home empty. The rates were such that an owner/operator could do that…back then. Back haul? What’s that? Times change. Detroit melts. The south rises again. Plants from Nissan, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen and BMW spring out of the fertile southern ground. Ends are tied together and the battles begin. Company after company folds and goes out of business while the drivers migrate once again to their latest roosting spot…same job – just a different color truck usually. You cannot operate this costly equipment on a one-way haul today.

4. These figures were mostly taken from operations in some of the most mountainous terrain in the eastern U.S.
Undoubtedly, I could squeeze out another full mile to the gallon if I operated exclusively in a state like Florida. Maybe even more but that is yet to be determined. I have kept a close eye on some of the southern runs into and out of Florida and how my fill-ups went. I find it hard to gauge accurately tank-to-tank fill-ups. I believe longer spans such as the ones produced above will bring the most reliable reports. Fuel mileages are obviously better in flatter ground and my averages trend upward during the 2nd and 3rd quarters.

I’ll just add this to the fuel mileage part of this review…this truck/engine combination has produced better than average mpg figures than any of my previous truck/trailer combinations. Consistently better mileage thus far. Better than the older high-5th wheel combinations with lighter, shorter trailers; better than any other stinger combination with 3 and 4-car headracks and full-sized high-side stinger trailers; better than the one lonely Boydstun “quick loader” I owned with a CAT engine. That may come as a surprise when you are saying that ain’t so great mileage…and I agree with you…but if you know car haul, you understand that working a combination like this, operating in some of the worst mpg-robbing terrain on the east coast day in and day out, bumping 5 mpg ain’t so bad.

More to follow…including maintenance issues, Cummins repair facilities reports, repair records, etc. as well as that pesky, very expensive EGR valve that Cummins knows is a faulty design.

September 25, 2011 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailer Review, Car Haul, CUMMINS ENGINE, General Auto Transport | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 4

***The following is an ongoing, independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

Yep…here we are again. The “turdus migratorius”, (that’s Mr. Robin Redbreast to most of us) is bouncing around on the front lawn chasing earthworms, the neighbor’s daffodils are as golden as ever and a lone whippoorwill that I can hear but never see sings his springtime tune. The Bradford pear trees are once again fat with white blooms and everything is coming full circle once again. It’s springtime in Kentucky…2011.

An exceptionally harsh winter season has taken its heavy toll once again on our equipment and it is time to update the ongoing review of Cottrell’s C-10LT wagon. As mentioned in earlier parts of this review, Cottrell’s design is as good as it gets. Honestly, I would have been driven to update this blog sooner if the design was not so well done. We tend to be more open and vocal about negative items and sometimes we take for granted the really good job some of these engineers and welders perform. But…had the below depicted area broken sooner…I would have been all over it. 🙂 This good design doesn’t mean there are no flaws…and some of these weaknesses have been addressed beforehand here in this “blambling”. For the most part, however, one must give kudos to the Cottrell folks for their design and workmanship. Personally, I have a lot of good things to say about the particular model trailer I have been pulling around for some 300,000 miles now. But there are issues that arise and in this update, I will point out a very common weakness that I feel could be easily fixed with a little attention from the Cottrell people.

We all are aware of the need to be conscious of empty/unloaded weights. It’s not that we, as operators, do not understand this. I just mention this to cover the thoughts of the Cottrell engineers claiming that we don’t understand their end of the business. We do. We all do. This small problem could be very easily fixed from the factory without adding too much weight. There are areas, such as this one I am about to depict, that are small in size and area but they could present a costly problem if an operator is not paying attention constantly to his equipment. I “knew” this was going to happen and I must add, I was pleasantly surprised that it held off as long as it did. Did I mention…300,000 miles?

I’m calling it the number 10 position…you may quickly refer to it as the back bottom or the last deck or ???? The rearmost support for this deck (or table) is hinged and welded to a 2″ x 2″ tube with a plate across the top of the tube tying the tube, hinge and support arms together. That tube may not be a full 2″ x 2″…I didn’t measure it…just calling it at a quick glance. This deck is designed to lift up & down as well as telescope several feet in either direction. With this movement one could “overlap” a pair of vehicles to reduce the amount of rear overhang, etc. Good design…bad support underneath. Now 300,000 miles may sound like a lot of miles but $80,000.00 sounds like a lot of money also. I believe this is a position that could be enhanced greatly to resist corrosion if the tubing material was coated internally prior to assembly. Also, increase the wall of the tubing. This would undoubtedly increase the life of this weak point in Cottrell Trailers design that is utilized throughout several model trailers…not only on my C-10LT. Yes, this would add a small amount to the unloaded weight but this would be a much safer and greatly desired alteration, in my humble opinion. On to the images…

Carl's Car Carriers -ThatBigTruck Blog Cottrell Trailers C-10 Review

Cottrell Trailers C-10 Auto Transport Review - #10 Position Hinge & Support Area

Here’s the area I am addressing in this Part 4 of the Cottrell C-10LT review. As mentioned earlier, this particular design is shared by several different models of Cottrell’s automobile transport trailers so this applies in other situations as well. Over time, this design will give away and it could actually drop the ramp onto a lower tubing which could bring the ramp and it’s cargo dangerously close to the highway. If the ramp was extended rearward very far, this could present a big problem to an inattentive driver and the folks following him.

Here’s a close-up shot or two:

Carl's Car Carriers Cottrell Trailers C-10 Model Review

Close-Up of affected area - Hinge & Support for rear of # 10 Position

Another angle…

Cottrell Trailers Model C-10 Automobile Transport Trailer

A shot from the side of the affected tubing/support

Here’s the fix…

A close-up of the repaired area

Replacement tubing wall is substantial for longer life in a high-stress area

As you can see, the tubing is larger but also heavier walled which is the main focus here on this repair. The original tubing did not actually distort or bend…the top actually pulled loose due to the constant downward force of the weight of the cargo on that ramp and with internal corrosion helping to weaken the tube, the bottom (which is not clearly seen in my photos) of the tubing was pushed down and out. Now, this occurred on the driver’s side of the trailer. The opposing side did not pull out…yet. However, the top plate was distorted and bent downward which reveals that this one was going to go shortly. Cutting the old tubing out showed a lot of rust & corrosion inside the tubes.

The ramp loaded…

# 10 Position Loaded After Repairs

The forces on these 2 attachment points are considered fairly great. Even with all suspension components up to par and adjusted properly, these trailers are famous for the “see-saw” effect as they travel down the road. There is a lot that comes into play on these carriers and it is pretty amazing that this design is as good as it is.

In closing out this Part 4 of the Cottrell Trailer C-10LT review, I would like to say once again…and this is completely independent from Cottrell Trailers or any other manufacturer…it’s pretty amazing how well the equipment does what it was designed to do. Oh yeah, I could come up with a laundry list of suggestions for making the trailers even better but I can offer nothing to the engineers at Cottrell outside of increasing the tubing wall in some areas and coating the internal portions of the tubing prior to build. They have got their CAD stuff together. Once again I find myself needing to complain about the steel issue…the rust & corrosion is out of control. It could be better. And I, for one, would sacrifice a little extra unloaded weight for a trailer more solid and lasting. But then…that doesn’t move as many new trailers so quickly, does it? I’d also like to point out this before finishing this Part 4 review…there are obvious precautions a driver can take that will increase the health and life of his auto transport equipment. Most of us know this and have received valuable advice from the old professionals down through the years. Pin off your ramps…even when rattlin’ empty. Exercise care when placing heavy vehicles on aluminum decks and try to position the tires to evenly distribute the weight. Be cautious about “bottoming” the hydraulic cylinders out under load. In this review, I should add that it is much harder on the #10 ramp addressed here when you load a heavy vehicle onto the deck and leave it extended beyond it’s designed capability during transport. Yes, I know sometimes you need that extra inch between # 9 and #10 or maybe you’ve got a big one on #5 and you can’t afford the height increase if you overlap below…inevitably you will find yourself as I have…shoes toe-to-heel 4 times checking that rear overhang from the light box to the rear bumper of the vehicle and hoping Johnny Law doesn’t mess with you for 5 feet instead of the Fed’s allowed 4. Of course, I never do that. I always strive to be legal in all instances. No kidding. Really. For real. Just sayin’…if you hang that larger vehicle off the back-end, there is a lot of rocking forces in play here as you go bouncing across I-70. And a lifetime of observing all these various precautions will result in your equipment lasting longer and being worth more at resale time.

I should apologize for being out of the “blambling” for so long. I have been checking in and I need to say to all those that have e-mailed me…I appreciate your comments and the encouragement. This was just a little corner of my world plastered on the web and it has brought a lot of new acquaintances my way. I appreciate each and every one. 🙂 I do what I can when I can and it seems I’ve just been busy fighting with Old Man Winter and meeting customers deadlines.

I’ve got a new project in mind for the  car haulers of the world that have a little experience and still enjoy their chosen career path. It’s called http://www.bigrig.co and I’m going to be including some of you guys & gals I’ve met and talked with around the country. Get your images and stories ready. Don’t ya just love your job, Driver ?? 🙂

Thanks for checking in and Truck Safe !!

March 21, 2011 Posted by | 1, Auto Transport Trailer Review, Auto Transport Trailers, Car Haul, Carl's Car Carriers Inc, General Auto Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEAMSTERS TRY A NEW ANGLE

As late as December 2009, the issuance of yet another blatantly biased, half-baked report by the Teamsters organization takes aim at trying to circumvent the livelihood of many men and women involved in the auto transportation industry as independents and non-union personnel. Purporting that auto manufacturers GM and Fiat/Chrysler have begun the practice of shipping vehicles “by cut-rate and inexperienced carhaul companies“. May I begin my rant?

Hoffa and Obama...Pretty Happy Pair, Huh?

This author is a 35-plus year veteran of the car haul industry. Auto transport is the ONLY kind of trucking I have ever been associated with. My father was one of the pioneers in the business and hauled cars back when they were transporting 3 and 4 at a time, most of the cargo had tail-fins on their rear quarters and “erector set” trailers were the norm. Interstates were non-existent for the most part and President Dwight D. Eisenhower was about to put his signature on the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which would begin the Interstate Highway System. My life has been lived within the car haul industry and all the changes it has seen. World changing? No. Top-level importance on the world scene? No. But it has been MY world and I have survived within it.

I have been an owner/operator in the auto transport business from the beginning with a short stint briefly as a company driver for the now-defunct E & L Transport Co based out of the Detroit, MI area. (You will read the words “now-defunct” a lot in this Teamsters expose’…it seems the larger union companies have a tremendous history of being unable to continue successfully and they have failed 100% of the time since my early beginnings back in the 1970’s). My beginning years were as an owner/operator. This meant I owned my truck and leased it to a union car haul company pulling their company-owned trailers for a percentage…in those days 65% of gross revenue. I was a due-paying Teamsters union employee for the first 10 years of my car haul career, being forced to begin my own small auto transport company after yet another union carrier bit the dust and bounced half-million dollar payroll checks. At this time, I had worked for: (1) Automobile Transport Inc (Teamsters affiliated) headquartered in Wayne, MI, a large Ford carrier as an import terminal owner/op in Dundalk, MD. Company Closed – Cause: Bankruptcy. (2) Dixie Auto Transport Inc based in Jacksonville, FL (Teamsters affiliated), a Nissan (then Datsun) and other import carrier operating mainly out of the Port Of Jacksonville at Blount Island and also the Talleyrand terminals, eventually securing a position at the new Nissan Motor Manufacturing facility in Smyrna, TN as the main carrier and opening several other import terminals around the country. Company Closed – Cause: Bankruptcy (3) Kenosha Auto Transport Co (Teamsters affiliated) based out of Kenosha, WI and operating an import terminal in the Port of Wilmington, DE for the Volkswagen of America cars that entered the U.S. there. Company Closed – Cause: Bankruptcy. These are my own personal experiences but there were so many more. From Anchor Motor Freight, the large GM carrier and predecessor of Leaseway/Penske/etc to M&G Convoy and Baker Driveaway, the Chrysler carriers in the east to Complete Auto Transport Inc and the beginnings of the Ryder car haul network which is largely a group of bankrupt, absorbed union carriers that has enjoyed their own bankruptcy status for several years now. All of the aforementioned auto transport carriers were Teamsters union affiliated companies…100 % of them with many more “now-defunct” carriers only a memory for the multitude of relinquished employees fighting to create a living for their families today as TARP money and bailouts are doled out to Teamsters and other unions, auto manufacturers (again Teamsters realizing the political excesses), banks, etc. Let me share just a bit of my Teamsters experience to anyone that cares to read it. Facts…not spin…livelihood based…not political. What follows is an accurate depiction of the history of Teamster influence on the auto transport business and the companies they have helped to put asunder.

Scene: Port of Wilmington in Delaware. An east coast exclusive import terminal for the German automaker giant, Volkswagen. Kenosha Auto Transport Co managers have contacted my brothers, my father and I in a preliminary proposal soliciting our experience, expertise and reliable history as KAT (Kenosha Auto Transport) is considering “bidding for the VW work” in Delaware. Bidding against another brother Teamster carrier is OK even if it involves rate-cutting…as long as the due-paying members of the local brotherhood are retained. Mr. Teamster brother…those are your words in your “news” awareness campaign against non-union carriers…”rate-cutting”. At this point, Porsche, Audi and Volkwagens entered the U.S. via this port, were unloaded off the ships, stored, prepped and readied for the trek to the dealership networks serviced from this location which included locales as far away as the Kentucky area and down into the Carolinas. Sometimes special moves sent an occasional driver to the west coast but mostly we operated within the span of the east to mid-west and mid-south dealers. Crossing the Atlantic took a few weeks back then and storage in Germany as well as in the U.S. after unloading the ships many times took their toll on the batteries installed in these cars. VW Rabbit diesels were especially notorious in those days for hard-starting but many units were “dead” come time to load on the trucks. Union employee…let’s call him Spanky…his job as a Teamsters union employee is to help the drivers as they load these dispatched units, checking documentation and signing off on any discrepancies noted on pre-load inspections, etc. Another part of his job was to “jump start” the dead cars the drivers encountered. As he drove around the yard in his crashed brown Volkswagen Rabbit (retained by VW as a yard vehicle after a Teamsters union driver destroyed it in a loading mishap…one of a multitude over the years I knew of), he never got in a hurry to aid. For the record, I was a friend to this guy and liked him as a person…his work ethics stunk. My opinion and I am entitled to it. With dead Volkswagens and Porsches all over the yard…the influx of transporters waiting on this guy at morning dispatch was an incredible waste of human resources as well as equipment delays. Tremendous delays…and these were Teamsters “brothers” that were being delayed. “Get on the clock” was the commonplace response as he took yet another union-required mid-morning coffee break, leaving the loading area littered with drivers standing with gloves on, tie-down bars in hand, wanting to get loaded and be on the way to the receivers dealerships. No delivery, no pay…unless you are of the mind that being on the “clock” is a pay day. Maybe in that respect, I was not a good union employee. I believed that I should give an honest days work for an honest days pay. That’s why I remain a blue-collar working stiff today I guess and I did not advance into the management or union side of the industry. I had opportunities to do so in my career and I chose to do what I was best at. Today I am proud of my history and nobody can ever take my experiences away from me. I am not ashamed of my job and am quite proud of the way I do my job, the way I take care of my equipment and my customers cars. In an effort to quicken the process one morning, I got out my jumper cables and was going to jump start one of my dead units so I could hurry along the process. After all, Spanky is not there when I have to jump start the car at the dealership in Kentucky. I am perfectly able and capable of attaching the cables in the proper sequence and making sure there is no damage to either vehicle nor injury to myself in the process. Jumping dead batteries is NOT rocket science…a feat that needs to be carefully observed but any dummy can do it once a 2 minute explanation has been performed. Spanky sees my jumper cables and my attempt to start the dead unit and immediately (he is moving at a human pace now in his brown Rabbit, not the usual speed of a slug on a cold sidewalk) he is speeding toward me, sliding up to my staged row of cars, yelling about how I am not allowed to do this! This is his job! I am putting him out of a job! Remember…I said I liked this guy. I still do. He is just showing me a part of the Teamsters union employee that I refused to accept then and still today I despise in any human capacity. I put away my cables, sat back into my truck, watched the clock as I waited for him to get time to get around to jumping this one car so I could load it on my truck and secure it. We are talking 8, 9 and 10 car loads here…times 30 to 40 trucks usually on any given weekday morning dispatch at one scene in Wilmington, DE. The number of man hours that this one Teamster employee cost everybody involved in the process over the span of his union career would have been a staggering report should anyone attempt to calculate it. From Volkswagen of America, the transporting company, the drivers, the dealers…unbelievable, needless, hurtful delays and costs involved with this obnoxious operational “norm” in this one union site. Again, I have to remind the reader…I WAS a Teamster too at this time! I was a Teamster “brother”. This is what the union is about today. Greed or power…or both. A total and complete disregard for the work ethic and they are the first to belittle hard-working people from which they have no way to collect dues or bestow upon them limiting regulations for their authority “fix” for the day. Are you surprised, Mr Teamster, at that statement? All this time, you were huddled down into your little base, stripped, rusted out Sterling day cab truck breathing exhaust fumes to the point of blowing your nose creates a blackness on your handkerchief that resembles coal dust…your ears ringing at the day-long screaming of the 2-stroke diesel that sounds like it’s rotating the earth on its axis but can barely get over the slight rise of an interstate ramp…behind you, toting a years-ago obsolete, rusted out, patched up piece of junk trailer that has been well-documented in many states (i.e. Maryland, etc) with a penchant for “neck” breaking off and losing the entire trailer with load out on the nation’s highways for the public to deal with. How about it, Mr. Allied car hauler…Mr Teamsters brother??? Were you in the rusted, white/pastel green Allied transporter clearly marked by the way, that was wedged under the overpass on New Circle Road in Lexington, KY recently? How was it that you forgot to lower your ramp after delivering a unit at the Paul Miller Ford dealership and proceeded to clip the nice Ford F150 making it a veritable rare convertible model? You did have training, didn’t you, Mr Teamster car hauler? It’s not much to worry about though. That $40,000.00 pickup truck will be scrapped and that will just be another truck for a union carrier to haul, right? Probably you will get to haul it’s replacement after you file the grievance and your brothers get your job back citing either Ford Motor Company for making the truck with tires too tall or the transport company did something that caused this accident to happen. Hey, Mr Teamster ex-brother…was that you that told me, laughingly but seriously meant it, that you would “run across 3 lanes of traffic to run over a piece of metal that might get me a flat tire”…so you could go “on the clock”. You are fortunate I did not vomit in your face at that statement because it sickens me even today. Multiple examples can be detailed over and over again of this kind of blatant, flawed union work ethic. And Mr. Teamster, I will not be one-sided and biased as you obviously are in your report. I see this laziness in the non-union employees too. Your Teamsters card in the hip pocket does nothing to affect the heart of a man or woman in the workplace today. You either care or you don’t. You’re either proud of your job or you’re not.

Teamster Union Carrier Goes Up In Smoke

Teamsters Union Carrier Goes Up In Smoke

Try as they might, the Teamsters roll out this “news” that a non-union car carrier is incapable of performing not only a satisfactory job of auto transporting, much less an OUTSTANDING job of vehicle moving. I have personally trained several dozen “union” car haulers and independents galore along the way. I have introduced guys that needed and wanted jobs to feed their families to a hard job…some made it, some didn’t. Some good, some uncaring, compensation-seeking slugs. Live and learn but calling it as I see it. For the Teamsters to find a California representative and a Missouri senator to get on their bandwagon and then find a PR contact to publish this sleaze (Democrats all of you??? How is that??? and then I should add…Oh, what a surprise that all have Democrat affiliations??) is as wrong as Spanky with his all-powerful jumper cables. The examples of Teamster union drivers in the car haul industry that have destroyed automobiles, light trucks, vans, etc in their day-to-day jobs as car haulers could not be contained on all the internet paper here. Mr Teamster car hauler…were you the driver that ran a new Fiat 131 off the headrack onto the ground some 13 feet below in Wilmington years back? An acquaintance bought the engine and related drive-train prior to the Fiat being crushed it was so bad. Can you say total loss, Mr Teamster car hauler? Oh, maybe you were the driver over at the Newark, DE Chrysler plant that ran through a staged line of new Dodges as you played around with the new model in the yard. Never did make that one stick on you, did they? It might be something to mention at this point that this plant recently closed too. More union brothers out of work. I don’t mean to infer that you were responsible for the plant’s closings…it just comes to mind. And, by the way, non-union carriers have been operating out of that plant for many years before TARP was an acronym in a Democrat’s mind.

For the record, I am aware of the many car haulers purporting to be “professionals” operating in the non-union side of the industry today. Wedge trailers, rollbacks…unscrupulous fleets utilizing anybody they can find to steal a dime from and lay the burden of expense on wishful-thinking drivers and operators. They will not stay in the business but as they fall, new ones with new hopes and “tickle-my-ear” dreams of big $$$, enter the fray. I, too, have seen the supposed “professionals” tying to the wheels of the transported units. I have moved many used auction units and noticed the wrongly-applied tie-downs that have distorted the undercarriage. But I can also attest to the fact that I know Teamster union drivers that have been the culprits of such practices. The implication by politician and union heads that a Teamster driver is a more capable person because he pays dues and carries a union card is as absurd as the TARP program itself and the socialist direction of this country’s leaders today. I’m not making this political…they did. I am simply standing up for myself and the “non-union” car haulers I know to be outstanding and top-shelf drivers that are being slandered by an uncaring, greedy base of Teamster-union led, politically motivated, running-scared cretins that have no respect for the facts and the truth. This NON-UNION and PROUD OF IT auto transporter of 35 years will put my ability up against anyone in the world today and as for the foolish woman (I won’t even mention her name to prevent any credit being given to her) that makes the statement that “non-union carriers are not as proud of their job” as a union carrier…you pen-in-hand, mouthy imbecile…you wouldn’t know a t-hook from an s-hook if it smacked you between the pampered eyes…go back to writing what you know about if there is such a subject. I am proudly non-union today and have no desire to enter the ranks of the soon-to-be-taxed-by-Obama-insurance-plans companies that will no doubt go the way that ALL previous union affiliated auto transporters have gone. The union car haul graveyard is not full yet…there are a few left…but as they enjoin one another to survive…as they find yet one more hedge-fund investor/group to stave off bankruptcy legal proceedings, the cavernous hole in the automobile transport memorial park has already been dug.

One more note, Mr. Teamster Democrat supporter…the late and beloved Ted Kennedy was widely held as the responsible mover of the legislation leading to the deregulation of the transportation industry with Pres. Jimmy Carter signing on. Leaning toward smaller government in this very brief moment of his career, he saw it as a way for the consumer to realize lower prices. If you are looking for the changes that bring us all to this point today, you really should look at one of your own in Sen. Ted Kennedy. That enabled me, Mr. Non-Union_and_Proud_Of_It Car Hauler, to apply to the “now-defunct” (that word again!) Interstate Commerce Commission in 1991 where I received operating authority certificates to begin my present non-union-and-loving-it career today. In one of his opening statements for the deregulation hearings, your beloved Senator said, “Regulators all too often encourage or approve unreasonably high prices, inadequate service, and anti-competitive behavior. The cost of this regulation is always passed on to the consumer. And that cost is astronomical.” If that doesn’t exactly call down the Teamsters union attitudes from Spanky and his jumper cables to the convening heads arguing and negotiating for a careless, employee’s job back after destroying the entire number of top-loaded cars on his union carrier truck…well, I’ll eat my non-union-textile-workers hat.

That feels better now…and it didn’t cost me one penny for the dues, and I keep my self-respect in the process. What a deal.

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Auto Auctions, Auto Manufacturers, Auto Transport Trailer Review, Car Haul, General Auto Transport, Non-Union, TARP, Teamsters | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 3

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 3

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT REVIEW CONTINUATION

***The following is an ongoing, independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

With the earth’s axial tilt approaching it’s farthest away from the sun, Old Man Winter has begun his annual visitation a little early for some of us. And with the southern states getting highly unusual “first” snows, a skid-jerkin’, chain-poppin’ carhauler doesn’t have a lot of time to ready his horse and himself for the harsh weather conditions ahead…matters not what part of the country you operate in.

I would like to address a Cottrell Service Bulletin on this third installment of my personal review of the C-10LT high-side auto transport trailer as it applies to this model. It is officially designated SB # 006 by Cottrell Trailers and applies to this reviewed model C-10LTA and C-10LTB trailers. The beginning models of these trailers apparently required more bottom gusseting near the front of the trailer to add support to the front upright posts of position # 3. When this was discovered, Cottrell Trailers made available to owners a kit that included 2 new bottom gussets pre-cut and a pair of tubes to telescope into the top of the front uprights to add more support. My trailer was no exception in this warranty issue covered by this SB # 006 service bulletin. Please see this important notice for specific Cottrell requirements for kit installation and weld procedures. It is imperative that weld procedure be followed and adhered to according to Cottrell Trailer specs. Improper gusset weld can be troublesome per this link: SB006 Weld Bulletin.

Small cracks developed on the top of the front posts at the bottom edge of the horizontal beam on my trailer…an ’07 model. At first notice, I was not at a location that I would want extensive repair to be performed and opted for a weld repair to close up the crack until the repair could be properly handled.

Cottrell Trailer

In completing this repair/warranty issue, hydraulic lines will have to be disconnected at the top of the posts…both ends should be disconnected and the lines strapped to the top beam out of the way. I retracted the cylinders to remove as much hydraulic fluid as possible and set the posts on the pins prior to disconnecting the lines. On my trailer, there was an electrical connection for the top horizontal rail “chicken lights” so that was placed out of the way with the hydraulic lines. Pull the retaining pin out of the top saddle and allow the cylinder to rotate and hang from the opposing end/pin. (see image below) Good time to verify fit of the o-ring in the fitting on the cylinder end. If I’m not mistaken it is a #6 o-ring in case you need to look for one. *Hint…Home Depot or the “Do-It-Yourself” display at your parts store.

After the lines have been removed, you may want to place a jack in the position depicted below to achieve a closing of the gap in the crack area…that is if you have waited long enough to develop a crack. If not, you may still want to place some support in the area shown in the image to keep things as they should be. Not sure if it’s required by Cottrell but the placement of the jack in the area shown immediately closed the small gap at the top of the posts. Jacking in the 5th wheel area even with a cum-a-long stretched to the top of the post could not close the gap. Only a small amount of pressure on the railroad jack placed under the bottom beam closed the gap immediately on both sides.

Insertion of the telescoping tubes is pretty straightforward and all I could offer here in the procedure would be to make sure you block the possibility of the tube falling down into the bottom of the uprights. Don’t ask me how I know this. There was a pin placed in a side hole of the upright for this purpose but when the c-clamp let go and the tube fell, it kicked the blocking pin right out and settled down near the bottom of the tube…caught by the inner hydraulic plumbing I think. Not a big deal but we were able to tack weld some flat stock through a side pin hole and retract it back up into position. Cottrell specifies 1/4″ of the telescoping tubes be left out the top and welds placed there. In addition, there are plug welds that must be made on the side and the rear of the front upright posts after drilling. Grind smooth.

These are not intended to be complete kit installation instructions…there are many more warnings that must be acknowledged, i.e. isolating ECM modules and other electronics prior to welding by removing battery cabling, etc. This is my personal experience with this model trailer and it is my intention to include every repair and maintenance issue that is encountered as I work this trailer through it’s useful life. This repair was performed at approximately 235,000 miles of use. I have become accustomed to making good use of this new design which allows the “pulling on” of vehicles on this # 3 position as opposed to the CS-10 and 12 models. I also utilize this position many times for a larger unit and yes, large SUV’s can be pulled on and the doors will swing wide open to exit the vehicle.

Be Cool On Yer Stool, Driver…and Truck Safe.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers | , , , , | Leave a comment

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 2


COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 2

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT REVIEW CONTINUATION

***The following is an ongoing, independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

“Strap-only” trailers are being marketed arduously now by Cottrell Trailers as they convey manufacturer’s decisions requiring “soft-tie only” attachments. Keep in mind, I am reviewing a chain trailer here. Soft-tie options for chain trailers are readily available and being used daily across the country with minimal, if any, problems. A recent discussion with a veteran car hauler that regularly uses this method of “over-the-tire” ratchet straps on chain-supplied Cottrell CS-12 2005 model year equipment has reported seeing some cracking in the aluminum tables extending from some of the holes used for 3-point securing of the straps. It should be noted that he regularly transports large SUV’s that weigh 5300 pounds and more. I have yet to see any evidence of this in any of my experiences with Cottrell models but I am not doing as much “heavy” unit moves as the above mentioned operator nor am I using extensive strap moves. There are also those rumors of jurisdictions moving toward questioning the practice of using straps via aluminum decking attachment points. I cannot verify this and that is why I call them rumors. If you have personal knowledge to educate the rest of us, jump in. Your comments are welcome.

However, I believe we will see and hear more negative information about this tie-down option as Cottrell seeks to convince operators to buy new equipment or “convert” current trailers over to strap-only. While ratcheting “over-the-tire” straps are acceptable fare by most, if not all, manufacturers to date, it appears there is movement toward strap-only equipment at the urging of trailer manufacturers. It is my opinion that the push by Cottrell has much to do with the current state of the economy and the hard hit auto transport business. Cottrell Trailers remains standing while others have fallen because of innovation and industry-leading design and I do not intend to take away from that when I opine about marketing practices used. Some would just say it is just good business to do what is necessary to keep the employees working and I suppose it is. I can envision the brass in Gainesville having these weekly pow-wows in which each associate has the task of presenting ideas to jump start the once booming business in these hard economic times and while I agree that is the way I would run my business if I were “Mr. Cottrell Trailers”, I have some reservations about some advertised and solicited programs currently being offered for this market. One example, before I continue on to the review itself (and this has to do with this review later on), is a recent phone call/sales solicitation from a Cottrell rep to a family member who operates several full-size stinger car haulers. The Cottrell rep included a proposal to “convert” a chain trailer to a strap-only trailer. (Yes…Cottrell does refurbs, modifications, repairs, etc also). However, the righteous response to the Cottrell rep was this…“Just what year trailer is it that you want to convert for me? It would have to be a 2007 model or newer because anything older than that would be rusted and rotten to the point it would be wasteful ignorance to put such cost into a trailer!” I had to laugh, as much as it hurts, because I know the pain.

The last new Cottrell trailer I bought was a 2000 model…a CS-12. I ran mostly southern California via the southern routes which put me in little snow. (The harsh chemicals used by highway departments in wintertime really do a number on vehicles today but I seldom saw any of that. In an effort to understand the harshness of the chemicals being used today for highway de-icing, a study of the most popular applications all proclaim the low corrosive nature on metals (autos, bridges, etc) from the likes of calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), calcium chloride, CG-90 Surface Saver, CMS-B (also known as MoTech) and others. If these are not the chemical culprits responsible for the premature rusting of rolling stock, then substandard steel is being used). However, in 3 years, the trailer frame rails were eat through from the inside out with rust. You could poke a hole with your pinkie in the main frame rails on this $59,999.00 trailer (that price was in 2000…2007 prices were in the $80,000.00 range!) after just 3 years. Now, if you go to Cottrell’s website, they will state a 2 year “structural warranty”…leaving them off the hook for the substandard steel choices their procurement department has made. Yeah, yeah…I know these trailers have to be made lighter so we can haul more but I believe Cottrell has made some serious mistakes in their choice of suppliers OR material preparation prior to building these trailers. What good is a lighter weight trailer if there are no frame rails after 3 years? OK…I hear you, Mr. Cottrell Service & Repair…replace the frame rails??? How much is that going to cost me??? $10K. $20K More?? Either way, it seems ridiculous…no…IT IS RIDICULOUS for any business to pay this much for a piece of equipment and it basically rots inside out before a 5 year depreciation can be taken on it. What’s the fix? Hey, Cottrell! Listen up! No, I am not an engineer like your educated designers but I have been around this block for a long time. I have inhaled the “zinc coating” smoke & vapors from the insides of the Delavan “Work Horse” trailer frame rails when we would cut the beams to do a stretch job. Once you smell that, you don’t forget it. And just like the olfactory senses embed this memory, the ocular organs leave a lasting impression as well. Old…and I mean old… Delavan steel frame beams could be halved and inspected and the insides of these rails would be as clean as the outer painted surfaces. It appeared to be a coating of some type that these rails were dipped in. It was quite a chore with a grinder to remove this coating prior to welding. This stuff we called “zinc coating” may or may not have been zinc however it was a proven obvious deterrent to the rust problems we see today. (To be fair, later model Delavan trailers also went the way of rust and premature fatigue but there was an obvious change of ownership or management in the Buffalo, NY organization causing this problem). Why can’t you thoroughly pre-coat the entire beam of this thin gauge steel to make it last a little longer? Surely you are not doing this for your own company security as we have to prematurely replace equipment you have poorly prepared? Look…Cottrell has THE design down pat. They have discovered the way to hold seemingly paper-thin steel beams, posts and aluminum ramps together to transport outrageous loads safely. C’mon Cottrell…make ’em last a little longer! We know it can be done and probably by a simple coating of the materials. Now that I have gotten that off my chest…

As I said, Cottrell Trailers design is as far ahead of the game as the build prep bunch is behind. I stand amazed at the trailer durability concerning the welds and bracing. After 225,000 miles, I just had to do my FIRST “crack” repair and it honestly consisted of a hairline crack horizontally across the front upper posts just below the main upper beam. Both posts at the top…about half way across…requiring a weld to repair. I’ll be watching closely to see if it requires more in the coming days or weeks and I am guessing it probably will eventually need some gusseting or additional welds to properly stop this. I recently did some extensive suspension checks and saw no problems, cracks or weak areas. The design is a definite winner. I am often asked by other car haulers about this post-forward design and “Do you like it?” I always reply with a big “Yes!”. The post forward allows easy door access top and bottom and I can pull that unit out on # 3 without fear of overloading the table of a CS-12 had I tried that. One drawback in this position that I have found is the “tilt” deck in the bottom front (# 7 on a 10 car load) does not go as high as my old CS-12 models which limits the height/size of car when attempting to do 8 units in the trailer (11 car configuration…3 on truck, 8 in trailer). The difference is minimal between the two model trailers but it is just enough to create a problem I didn’t have with the CS-12 trailers. I guess it would be easy enough to fix this but why should I have to??? $80,000.00 should get me what it was designed to do. Admittedly, you don’t see a lot of guys (or gals) today doing this “2 end-to-end in the belly” anymore but I’ll do it every chance I get. It’s revenue and it’s a lot of difference at the end of the year. I’ve been surprised at some comments from old hands in the biz telling me they had no idea you could do this on these trailers.

Carl's Car Carriers

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers | , , , , | Leave a comment

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 1


COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT A AUTO TRANSPORT REVIEW PART 1

COTTRELL TRAILERS MODEL C-10LT REVIEW

The following is an independent, unbiased review and commentary by CB Stephens of Carl’s Car Carriers Inc and is based on regular, everyday usage of the equipment in the course of automobile transportation activities for which this trailer was intended. CB Stephens is a 33-plus year veteran in the car haul field as an independent owner/operator and small fleet developer. Carl’s Car Carriers Inc. is a Tennessee-based automobile transportation service chartered in 1991. Cottrell Trailers can be visited by clicking this link: CottrellTrailers.com

After working with this “post forward” design high-side automobile transport trailer for some 225,000 miles, I thought I would share a personal experience review for others considering a new high-side Cottrell Trailers purchase.

I ordered a new C-10LT A (short decks with flippers) in early 2007 after speaking to a factory rep that informed me they had one opening available due to a customer declining a previously placed order. It was explained to me that the Cottrell factory order process includes fabricating, cutting and preparing all parts and specifications about 30 days in advance. That means after that 30 day window, a customer cannot make many changes to the spec’d trailer order. Maybe paint, tire brand, etc? That was early 2007 BEFORE the Wall Street bust and the current economy woes that hit most all industry pretty hard. Car hauling was no exception and possibly was hit as hard as any. At the time of my order, there was still quite a backlog on getting a new trailer unless someone opted out of an order and you were Johnny-On-The-Spot or one of the larger companies that handled a number of trailers on a regular basis. Being a single trailer purchase, I got lucky when Motor City Auto Transport changed their mind from a high-side post forward model to another model, leaving that pre-cut trailer within the 30-day window looking for a buyer. I was at the right place at the right time and my name was placed on that trailer schedule. A Viper Red paint choice and a few small changes moved me up from a 3 to 4 month wait to a 30 day delivery ETA at the Cottrell Trailers factory in Gainesville, Georgia.

I have had extensive experience with many manufacturers of auto transport equipment over my car haul career that began officially for me in the early 1970’s. Even before that, my Dad, Claude Curtis Stephens, was a well-known, well respected car hauling professional for many years and I grew up around his trucks and trailers…all “high” 5th-wheel models. For much of his career, Troyler Trailer out of the Scranton, Pennsylvania area, was some of his favorite equipment but keep in mind this was a different day and there were some pretty stringent regulations for car carrier equipment back in those days. I remember maximum length limits of 55 feet overall in most states…8 feet wide was the limit before the 102″ allowances came along with the STAA (Surface Transportation Assistance Act) of 1982. Stinger-steered trailers (described mostly as a tractor/trailer combination where the kingpin is 5′ or more behind the rear axle centroid) were around then but the companies my Dad was leased to operated mostly high-5th wheel trailers and utilized a single car headrack (the super-structure custom fitted around the cab/roof design of various truck/tractors to facilitate the loading and transport of an automobile). It was not unusual in those days for heavy modifications to be performed on trailers as regulations changed to accommodate the maximum load potential. Steel frame rails in those days were substantially heavier and stronger and lent themselves well to complete frame stretching with a multitude of design options and changes per the operator’s ideas.

On to the C-10LT A review…it is my desire to provide an unbiased perspective on this trailer model with NO hidden agendas. I have no connection with Cottrell Trailers other than being a current user of one of their models and having used many different models of Cottrell trailers over my 30-plus year car haul career. I also have owned and operated Delavan trailers, Boydston trailers, Stuart trailers, Troyler trailers (both highly modified and factory 10-car units) and a host of other cut, hammered, chopped and stretched pieces of auto transport trailers as I did my best to put food on the table for my family like Dad taught us.

This particular Cottrell model C10-LT has the unique distinction from the earlier CS-12 models that include the “post forward” design which simply means the first 2 upright posts have been brought closer to the front of the trailer and at slightly less angle than the CS-12LT.

These images reveal this feature at the locations of the red arrows…the first being a 2000 model CS-12 with traditional post positioning while the second image is the C10-LT A 2007 model “post forward” design.

I have owned and operated about half dozen various CS-12 trailers prior to this newer design. It is this author’s opinion that the Cottrell high-side trailers are at the highest level attainable in the auto transport industry today as it applies to design, versatility and current regulatory limitations for size, dimensions and weight. Most of my own business will include used car dealers buying a mix of cars, large and small, and sport utility vehicles along with minivans and light trucks. This requires the versatility of the high-side design, again…my experienced opinion…where load potential can be maximized AND in the case of split buyers/split loads…requiring a minimum of loading/unloading to accomplish the task of delivery. With this design and the CS-12 models, it is possible to bring a unit off one of the top forward positions without unloading the top rear positions in many cases. While there are those times when this cannot be accomplished due to the size and dimensions of a particular unit on these trailers, there are many times I have been able to save double handling of cars just to get one unit off. This is enough to keep me in the “high-side” market alone but there are other reasons I personally choose to run one of these trailers. Versatility is the chief reason for a high side model as far as my car hauling niche goes. If I were operating short haul and quick load/unload was a priority, I may consider a 9-car quick-loader or comparable offering. I would be shorting myself if I went with any other design for my current customers.

I will continue my review of this trailer and include various load images, etc on subsequent posts here in this blog. If you have comments or images of your own, please forward them to thetruckist@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do about including them here.

December 24, 2009 Posted by | Auto Transport Trailers | , , , | 6 Comments