Shannon Pyles has been driving solo for one year following two years of training with her father. Her father’s a truck driver, her grandfathers are truck drivers, and even her great-grandfather was a truck driver, so she’s always been around the trucking industry. She owns a 1995 Freightliner FLD mini-condo, a 53-ft. Great Dane trailer, and a 48-ft. Wabash trailer to haul refrigerated products (produce, nursery, etc.).
Q: How are maintenance and repairs handled? What do you do to minimize downtime?
A: I do most of my own maintenance. I grease every week and check tires, that kind of thing. Although I can do oil changes, I hire my brother once a month. I fix little things myself—lights, hub seal, alternator—but for the big stuff, I take the truck to a shop. I try to use an engine shop as much as I can. At home, there are mechanics I trust. Otherwise, I use whatever shop I break down next to.
Q: Do you stock parts or purchase as needed? If you stock, which ones?
A: Right now, I stock oil filters. I plan on stocking up, but mostly I buy on demand.
Q: What do you have in place to ensure CSA compliance?
A: I do daily pretrip inspections, plus I have mechanics look at the vehicle each time I bring it into the shop.
Q: What are the major challenges you face with your maintenance program?
A: One [is] my size. I weigh 135 lbs. and things are heavy for me. Some nuts and bolts are too hard to bust loose. For the jobs I know I can do, I use a cheater pipe and stuff like that, using leverage. Another issue is knowledge. I’m 22 and I hate working on mechanical things. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. I do it as little as possible, so I don’t know everything I need to. I spent five hours [recently] trying to fix a light. It was a ground wire that I hadn’t connected right.
Q: How do you ensure good mileage from tires? Which brand of tires do you prefer? Do you use retreads?
A: Right now I use retreads, but once I get a little further down the road with my business, I plan on only buying virgin. I use mostly Firestone, but I’d like to use Michelin. And the best way to get the mileage from tires is to check air pressure every day or at least every other day. I try to keep the air at 110 psi.
Q: What do you enjoy most about trucking?
A: Because of a skin condition and blisters, I can’t be in the heat or walk very much. So trucking is something I can do even with my disabilities. Also, I’m an aspiring writer. I’m a novelist with one book published on Amazon, and one in the works I hope to get published by a major publisher. On my downtime, trucking gives me time (sometimes) and money (sometimes) for me to write, and to get to my goal of being a professional novelist.
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