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Author Topic: Maybe a dumb question: truck stop how to and etiquette?  (Read 3321 times)
bobofthenorth
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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2007, 12:04:28 PM »

We don't like truck stops and in fact avoid them like the plague.  They are generally dirty, overcrowded and noisy.  There are exceptions - Rip Griffins west of Phoenix for example - and we have a short list of the exceptions.  We keep a list of diesel friendly stations and try to time our stops for those spots.  Doesn't work in new territory obviously. 

When we are forced to stay at a truck stop we look for one that isn't crowded so we aren't displacing a truck and so that we can park a long way apart from the idling diesels.  We always arrive late and leave early just because that's the way we travel but it has the effect of avoiding a lot of the potential problems.  Most truckers, despite their claim of long hours, are in the stops relatively early and don't get up that early.  The ones that really put in the long hours tend to overnight on the off ramps or in rest areas. 

As far as paying goes I avoid places that won't trust me to pay for my fuel but expect me to trust them with my credit card.  I love pay at the pump and search those places out, even if they have some stupid limit on the amount that makes me restart the pump a couple of times.  When we are on the road I have a big fuel tank, time on my hands and a convenient bed close at hand.  If I don't like the looks of a place or their attitude I can usually move on or have a nap.



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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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Busted Knuckle
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« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2007, 01:02:44 PM »

Heres my take on this.

I fuel at the Truck pumps if its the same price, but usually I am using my credit card on the road and they don't penalize you the 5-7 cents extra for using credit at the RV pump.

Always move out of the way when done fueling, just common courtesy.

Never park in the truck section unless you have too.  You CAN park in the RV section, they CAN'T.

If I am on vacation, I always extend the "you first" to someone who is working...Whats the hurry to me!

If at a rest area, I park in the RV section, if none then by the trucks, but this one is really more to my benefit.  RVs tend to stay the whole night, thus its quieter, trucks are in and out all night.  If I pick the spot farthest away from the facilities its usually quieter too!

YMMV
Cliff

Cliff it is actually the other way around! At least at Flying J, Pilot, & Loves! If you use the RV Pump you can use credit/debit card = same price as cash! But at truck pumps it = credit price! This I know from experience & is why I have gone to the trouble to get qualified to pay by check at the Flying J! When paying by check I still get cash price, and can write each check for up to $200.00 over amount of purchase! (even if I only spend $5.00 in the C-Store) Which comes in quite handy when I have to leave town in a hurry and can't make it by the bank to get cash expense $ for my trip!

Now as far as truck stop use and etiquette go, hey pretty much what others say! Be curtious, and pull forward after pumping and park after paying! Personally if I HAD the choice I'd use the RV pumps all the time for a converted bus, but with a commercial bus I ain't supposed too! (and I say that loosely cause I have been known too once in a while when the truck pumps are way backed up!) At the RV pumps they usually have a pump meter on the right or left side (handy for you non Setra, Eagle, Dina, and some Prevost owners) which makes it real nice for fueling an MCI or such that only has a right side fuel tank!  Also the same price no matter how ya pay. And your all ready in the same lot as the RV parking area (right up next to the building where ya don't have to walk from way in the back, where all the riff raff are !) And it don't smell like a urinal! Just my 2 cents for what it's worth!
Grin  BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
KY Lakeside Travel's Busted Knuckle Garage
Huntingdon, TN 12 minutes N of I-40 @ exit 108
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belfert
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« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2007, 01:40:16 PM »

I always stop at truck stops when traveling along interstates.  Trying to find a gas station that has diesel and can accomodate a bus with trailer is not always easy. 

On my last trip we used the RV or auto pumps most of the time at the truck stops, but we did use the truck lanes twice.  One problem with truck lanes is I can't fuel with a semi parked in front of me paying.  My fuel tank is in front of the rear wheels and I have to pull up further than any truck.

I know at one Flying J some of the RVs in line behind were a bit ticked as it took me a long time to fill up with 125 gallons with the small nozzle.  The Flying Js I stopped at with RV lanes now have seperate pumps on each side so I was able to swipe my card twice and use two pumps.  (The Dina has fuel fillers on both sides.)
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DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2007, 01:41:16 PM »

I have to say that my experience has been positive at all the truck stops I have ever been to except for one on I-95 in southern Florida. They would not let me park in the truck parking area and the RV area was not large enough for my coach with my Toyota pickup in tow. Otherwise I have stopped at dozens and dozens without any problem at all.

Someone mentioned that the truck lanes were full of holes in the pavement. I never found this to be a problem as they are no worse than holes in other areas. Most are in very good shape.

I did get the Flying J card and it permitted me to fuel with no prior payment and also gave me a small discount. I do not remember how much though. One of the nice things about Flying J was that they generally had a potable water source for refilling the holding tank and a dump station if needed.

Normally after fueling I pull forward to let the next truck fuel, but occasionally I would go ahead and park so that I was completely out of the way. That way the next truck could fuel and then he could pull ahead to let the next truck in. The attendant/cashier would have the credit slip in a stack of others when I went in to pay. I always used a credit card. I only fueled once a day in the evening and I tried to always use the Flying J.  Great food there also. We typically never cooked while on these cross country trips.

I sometimes would overnite at WalMart, especially in a new area where Miss Lazy wanted to explore. She brags that she has visited a WalMart in every state. Seldom would I overnite in a rest area. I also stopped at one of my favorite national restaurants (cracker Barrel) several times. I would generally arrive late in the evening, park and eat. Overnite there and eat an early breakfast before pulling out.

Other than the one time I never had any problem parking. In fact, a few times a trucker would see that I was having trouble finding a parking space and would pull forward to the front slot so that I could pull in from the rear. It was impossible to back in with a toad. Some really nice guys.

I used the automotive pump once, but they had not provided enough space for me to pull out and I really had a problem getting out of there.

Richard

If I was fueling in Arizona I used the automotive pump, but I always made sure I had room to pull out. The ones where you pull in and are facing the facility can really give you a problem. They are not built to accommodate a bus with a toad. Most of the RV parking areas are somewhat limited in space and are many times not designed to accommodate this combination.

I made the trip from California to Ft. Lauderdale and back many times and have to say that the problems I experienced were very few and far between.
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Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, a good Reisling in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming:  WOO HOO, what a ride
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« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2007, 07:53:18 PM »

Let me tell you my story about refueling. When I bought my bus we picked it up in Reno, NV to head back to Connecticut using I-80. we stop at a few truck stops to fuel up and because my fill is on the side opposite the driver you had to remove the hose from the main pump set it down and then fill using the slave pump. Well everything went good I went in and gave them my credit card went out put the nozzle on the ground went to the other pump and removed the nozzle and lifted the lever to activate the pump put it in the fill tube with the latch to keep it going went around the back of my bus to check the oil and here comes a wave of diesel fuel across the pavement. What had happened was that the trigger had caught the second notch of the nozzle and when I started the slave pump it activated both unknown to me until I went around the back. So here I am standing in about 25 to 30 gallons of diesel fuel in a larger pool because the pavement had settled where the trucks come in. I figured we needed a hazmat crew to come out to clean it up. I told the attended that we had a major fuel spill and he says not to worry they do it all the time. I don't think he really knew how much was really out the. We would probably need a small dump truck of speedy dry just to absorb it all. I paid and off we drove with some slippery rear tires for a few miles. SO BE REAL CAREFULL WHEN YOU PUT THAT MAIN NOSEL ON THE GROUND, HANG IT OVER THE PUMP IF YOU CAN.
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Steve Canzellarini
Berlin, CT
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jackhartjr
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« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2007, 09:11:18 PM »

bubbaqgal, out of curiousity, what was the truck stop that ran you out.  I try to spend my money where it is appreciated.  To run you out was crass.  I noticed they took your money for the fuel!
Thanks
Jack
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Jack Hart, CDS
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Dallas
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« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2007, 04:16:32 AM »

bubbaqgal, out of curiousity, what was the truck stop that ran you out.  I try to spend my money where it is appreciated.  To run you out was crass.  I noticed they took your money for the fuel!
Thanks
Jack

I'll answer for Cat, It was Sapp Bros. in Council Bluffs Ia.

Over the years I've probably bought 20,000 gallons of diesel from them. Guess what? They won't get another penny of mine!

Dallas
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muddog16
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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2007, 06:20:41 AM »

When we picked the bus up and drove it home we stopped at a Pilot to fill up and check the oil. Being new and I mean "new", while the wife was browzing inside, I decided to use the restroom in the bus I thought man this is great when you need to go just "do it"!  While i was doing my thing my son came running into the bus and said, "dad we have a huge water leak" i quickly finished and hurried out to inspect  "our water leak", yes you guessed it the toilet tube was straight down and not connected to anything!  This is always a great thread, you can always learn new things. Another thing the Pilots that we stop at are are always clean and pleasant! One other thing I've noticed, worrying about that extra 6 to 7 cents a gallon then walking inside and buying 15.00 bucks worth of snacks as over priced as they are in  truck stops is totally funny! Grin
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Pat

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DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2007, 07:28:50 AM »

I always thought the food at the Flying J was better than that at the Pilot's. I generally let my stomach do the talking. LOL
Richard
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Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, a good Reisling in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming:  WOO HOO, what a ride
Sean
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« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2007, 10:02:13 AM »

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet:

At Flying-J, if you get their RV-targeted rewards card, which they call the "Real Value" card (play on words with the RV initials), this will do several things for you:

  • It will activate the pumps at the truck islands.
  • It will entitle you to the cash price, even if paying by credit at the truck pumps. (Bear in mind that Flying-J no longer accepts Visa at the truck island -- Discover, Master Card, and American Express still work fine.)
  • It will then give you an additional $0.01 discount per gallon below the cash price.

The card is available for the asking at any Flying-J, or you can also get it from the FMCA if you belong to that organization (the FMCA-issued ones say so on the card -- not sure what that gets you, though).

To the best of my knowledge, Flying-J is the only major truck stop chain to provide this type of reward card specific to RVs.  That being said, every major chain (Pilot, Petro, Loves, TA, AMBest) has a "driver reward" card program aimed at professional drivers.  We have a card from every chain.  Every fuel purchase will accrue points on the card that can be redeemed for various merchandise or services in the C-store.  Although free showers seem to be the most common reward, something we don't need.

Unless we have to dump our tanks (the RV dump, when available, is usually adjacent to the dedicated RV fueling island), we always use the truck islands.  I am usually putting in 170-270 gallons of fuel at a time, and the small nozzles take forever.  At the truck island, using both sides, I can put 270 gallons in in less than ten minutes.  I've been forced to fill up in auto-pump-only stations where putting that much fuel in took over an hour.

And, although it is usually a last resort for us, we've spent the night in many truck stops.  We always park with the trucks.  We get waaay too much unwanted attention out in the RV area (in those places that even have one), which is usually right next to the C-store and the auto pumps, where Odyssey will be the biggest thing around.  Every yahoo that stops to buy a bag of ice will walk around us three times -- sometimes even trying to peer in the windows.  Nestled in between two trucks, though, we virtually disappear.  Most of the truckers figure us for an entertainer coach, and leave us alone.  Almost every one that does speak to us, though, is friendly and mostly curious.  Many come right out and say they are looking forward to doing the same thing when they retire.

In regard to truck stops that do not allow overnight RV parking, I have to say that the few cases we've encountered have been due to local ordinance or regulation, and not the decision of the truck stop management -- it's not good business to boot your customers out.  That said, if a truck stop does not have signs prominently posted prohibiting it, and then takes my $700 for fuel, I'll be damned if I am going to move without a refund.  If your policy is that you don't serve RV's, fine -- then don't sell them any fuel, either.  You can't have it both ways.  (IMO, of course.)

As for fueling etiquette, it is considered polite to move quickly up to the pump when it becomes vacant, swipe your cards (or call the attendant on the phone), begin fueling immediately, and then immediately move forward when fueling is finished so that the island is clear for the next customer in line.  Then go in to the fuel desk to finish your transaction.  In only a few cases have we called on the phone and then been told that we needed to go inside first to hand over our card.  Cleaning your windshield or airing up your tires is fine (most truck stops have 130psi air hoses at every truck lane), but try to do that while fueling, rather than afterwards, especially if there is a truck behind you waiting for the pump.  As a side note, most truck lanes also have hose bibbs, and we often fill our water tank at the same time we are fueling.  The proper direction from which to enter the island is usually marked, either with signage on the canopy, or arrows painted on the ground.  When in doubt -- the pump with the meter and the card reader is always on the left side, and the "satellite" nozzle is always on the right.

We don't often buy things in the C-store, as the prices are high compared to the grocery store, but there are some things where a truck stop is your best bet:

  • "Motor Carrier's Road Atlas."  This highlights all the STAA truck routes in the country, lists all low-clearance issues on every such route, and also details various laws state-by-state regarding statutory height, maximum size of vehicles, axle weight limits, and so forth.  We use it all the time, and it is updated annually.
  • CB accessories.  We find Pilot has the best selection.  I break about one antenna every six months or so (it's the tallest thing on the bus, extending to nearly 14'), and buy my replacements at Pilot.  Much better selection and prices than Radio Shack or similar.  If you need a whole radio, wait until they are on sale.
  • Greasy buffet food.  Not our thing, but it's hard to beat the price, if that's what you're into.

And the nicest truck stop we've ever been in, IMO not to be missed, is Jubitz on I-5 north of Portland.  It has a great restaurant, a store, a theater, a hotel, a game room, a bank, and a post office.  Oh, and you can buy fuel there, too.

A couple more things to know:  In two states, Oregon and Indiana, pricing at the truck island is tax-exempt.  When you go in to pay, you will be assessed the tax ($0.24 per gallon in Oregon, 6% in Indiana).  Knowing this ahead of time will avoid surprises.  Also, this means that the pumps will not start for you without talking to the fuel desk first (the card reader asks for an ICC/DOT or PUC number before it will dispense).

In Arizona, the truck price includes a tax that cars don't pay.  If you weigh more than 26,000 lbs, or have more than two axles (which covers many of us, I'll bet), you are not entitled to the exemption.  Filling up at an exempt pump (such as found on the car or RV islands) can subject you to heavy fines.  By contrast, you can get the same discount at the truck pump if you tell them you are non-commercial and weigh less than 26,000.  If you've got three axles, any passing cop will know you don't belong at the car island, though I bet few would weigh you if you have only two.

HTH.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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