Spotlight on an American Trucker: Rebekah Meadows

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Owner-Operator: Rebekah Meadows
Location: Richmond VA

Meadows pulls flatbed loads for JGR Inc. She has been in trucking for 15 years and currently operates a 2007 Peterbilt 379 with midroof sleeper powered by a Cat C15 500-hp. engine with 10-speed transmission that is being converted to a 13-speed.

What type of freight do you haul?
I haul precast concrete forms, that is, wall panels, double T’s and girders. Ninety percent of my loads are over-dimensional, averaging 12 to 14 ft. wide and 60 to 84 ft. long. The average piece weight is 58,000 lbs.

Are there regularly scheduled routes or is it on-demand pick-up and delivery? 
My locations vary by jobsite. Typically, we haul within Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky. 

How do you handle maintenance and minor repairs? 
I do as much as I possibly can on my own—wiring, brake adjustments, clutch adjustments, lights, air lines and other minor repairs. I stay on top of preventive maintenance for my truck. I routinely grease it myself and get full PM service at Speedco.

How do you handle major repairs? 
It just depends on how major the repair is. If it’s something that can be done at home with assistance, and parts are available, it’s fixed here. For major motor or transmission issues, I use Eddie’s Truck Service in Richmond, VA, a local shop that specializes in Cat motors. 

What three challenges do you face with your maintenance/repair program? How do you resolve each?
The first major challenge is having the money for repairs. I do have an escrow account set up for repairs if needed. The second is not having a covered area in which to work on the truck. The weather has no mercy; I lay down cardboard when I need to be on the ground. Lastly, because I use Speedco for my PM services, sometimes it’s not convenient to wait in a long line. I cannot go under a load, so I have to wait until [I am empty] on my return trip. I plan a bit ahead on my PM service, factoring in that I may have to pass it by due to a long line.

What about maintenance/repairs to minimize downtime? 
I always do a thorough pretrip on my truck before I leave each day. OTR, I do the same before I leave my location. When I have downtime at home, either on weekends or during vacations, I go over my truck completely, checking for anything that may need to be fixed or will need replacing.

What are your mileage/time intervals on preventive maintenance?
I do preventive maintenance on the truck within 20,000 mi., which is about the same as the manufacturer requirements. 

How do you ensure good mileage from tires? Which brand?
I do not run retreads. I prefer Michelin XDA5. To ensure longevity, always check your tire pressure; low inflation can wear faster as can over-inflation. I [try to] avoid hitting curbs and driving over anything. We’re always on a job site and there’s usually debris and metal on the ground. It’s not uncommon for me to get out and scan the ground before I back up to the crane or any other spot to stage or drop.

Do you stock parts for your truck or purchase as needed? 
I keep the major stuff handy, such as sets of extra fuel filters, all fluids, radiator hose, hose clamps, lights, gladhands, grommets, air lines, spare tires, beacon lights, and plenty of wire.

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