Why pick a fight with the air? And: Downtime for the spot market 3 o’clock hustle

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Updated Jun 16, 2021

This edition of the Overdrive Radio podcast comes as the Mid-America Trucking Show continues in Louisville, Ky. In this edition, a couple of my conversations with two owner-ops with some commonality between them in a willingness to be the contrarian in this loud age, on a variety of things. That’d be Lexington, Kentucky-based owner-op Chad Boblett, running with one truck and using brokers, and the operator you’ll hear at the podcast’s top, Henry Albert. Albert moves truck parts between Laredo and points in the Southeast when he’s hauling and not working with dealer reps or other operators to train them on new technology as part of Freightliner’s longstanding Team Run Smart initiative.

Albert’s been demonstrating lately in his own operation the effect of speed increases on fuel mileage, an attempt to investigate the benefits of time saved versus the sacrifices made in increased fuel costs.

Experimental side skirts on Henry Albert’s van trailer in a dedicated combination unit he runs in, trying out new technologies not solely but heavily of an aerodynamic variety. Trial and error with these yielded a bad result to begin with but better with adjustments, as he notes in the podcast.Experimental side skirts on Henry Albert’s van trailer in a dedicated combination unit he runs in, trying out new technologies not solely but heavily of an aerodynamic variety. Trial and error with these yielded a bad result to begin with but better with adjustments, as he notes in the podcast.

Albert, if you didn’t know it already, you might call a prophet of the benefits of aerodynamics, and that well predates his time in the Freightliner program. He’s been talking about that since I met him in 2007 when he was Overdrive’s Owner-Operator of the Year that year, part and parcel of a background racing stock cars as a young man. In the podcast, he describes the 70-75 mph speeds he’s been pushing along his lanes, and the benefits accrued in, for him, added time off, by eliminating a 10-hour break on a roundtrip. What did it cost him in fuel? Take a listen:

Also: Speaking of the fights Albert mentions in the podcast …. These fights you might be better able to prioritize over fighting the air with non-aerodynamic equipment. To wit: much has been made of the contractual games played by brokerages. Contract issues are assuming more importance as owner-operators respond to the imposition of electronic logging devices by solidifying solid freight partners and, generally, I think it’s safe to say, do less of what Lexington, Ky.-based owner-op Chad Boblett originally built his business on. Namely, that’s following the hot markets from anyplace to anyplace, working with a wide array of brokers solely in spot negotiations.

Owner-operator Chad Boblett, founder of the Rate Per Mile Masters GroupOwner-operator Chad Boblett, founder of the Rate Per Mile Masters Group

I sat down with Boblett, also the founder of the well-known and quite busy Rate Per Mile Masters Facebook group, to talk a little about what you might call a “highway hack” of sorts aimed at taking advantage of daily cycles for better rates in spot negotiations. You may have come across this hack before: He calls it the three o’clock hustle, most effective in a market recently favorable to a trucker looking for a load, at the time of day brokers on typical 8-5 work cycles might get nervous about their ability to get a customer’s load booked and moving.

Find more images of Albert’s truck, and more ways to listen, below:

Henry Albert, pictured Wednesday afternoon in the Papa John’s parking lot at MATS.Henry Albert, pictured Wednesday afternoon in the Papa John’s parking lot at MATS. The current Cascadia Albert’s hauling in — specs are detailed in the podcast.The current Cascadia Albert’s hauling in — specs are detailed in the podcast. For an a van-trailer-hauling owner-op, side skirts can be an effective early aero addition — as can simply reducing the trailer gap behind the tractor. Albert recommends not angling the front of the skirts such as they are done here to conform to the positioning of the FlowBelow fairings behind the drives.For an a van-trailer-hauling owner-op, side skirts can be an effective early aero addition — as can simply reducing the trailer gap behind the tractor. Albert recommends not angling the front of the skirts such as they are done here to conform to the positioning of the FlowBelow fairings behind the drives.
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