Proper operation and maintenance: The key to running a truck for millions of miles

Written by Leonard D'Orlando,

My travels out West take me to a vast number of places where I meet many people along the way. Some are Onspot customers and others are not. It makes no difference to me as I value the people and conversations, good, bad, indifferent. Occasionally, I meet someone who runs the auto chains and has a unique story to tell not just about our product, but in general. Doug Stairs is one of these people.

Doug is an owner operator who hauls for United Natural Foods (UNFI). He makes runs out of the Colorado distribution center which sometimes take him out West to Utah, East to Kansas, or South down as far as Texas. Doug runs a 1996 Peterbilt 379 with over 2.5 million miles on the clock. The cab of the truck is painted white like many other, however, it stands out from other Petes on the road with its white breathers and white drop visor, instead of the traditional chrome. What makes this truck even more unique is the blue frame that wears the name of his company “Flying W Quarter Circle Trucking.” The name is unique as it refers to a registered Wyoming two iron cattle brand that his wife Lisa inherited when she was 6-8 years old. This is just one of many stories of heritage and history that Doug shares whenever we have a chance to catch up on the road.

What does it take to run 2.5 million miles with the same truck? First and foremost a true professional driver who understands how to adapt to changing road conditions and traffic patterns. Consistent maintenance is also another priority. Granted Doug has changed his share of parts along the way, but the cab and chassis (which was stretched) are original. Detailed notes and records of all the work done further help maintain the longevity of the truck. This is not only a testament to the truck manufacture, but Doug’s regimented maintenance schedule as well.

Dougs frame

Onspot automatic snow chains for 10 years. That’s right Doug is currently going into his 10th year with the original sets of auto chains. Doug purchased two sets of auto chains (one set per drive axle to provide traction and be legal through chain control areas) back in 2014. He still runs the same systems today, just replacing wear and tear parts as needed. Like his truck, Doug keeps detailed notes on the maintenance of the chains and has only recently needed to replace parts -helmets in 2019, angle joints 2020, and new chambers in 2022.

Proper operation is another contributing factor to the longevity of the auto chains. Doug only uses the Onspot auto chains when absolutely needed. For example, if he runs I70 from Denver to Salt Lake with a fully loaded trailer and snow conditions are present, Doug may not use the auto chains until he is near the Eisenhower stretch which runs approximately 11 miles, and even here he turns them on and off as needed. Often times, Doug says he will use the auto chains on the downhill grades only coming out of the Eisenhower tunnel as it aids in braking, allowing him to only use stage one on the “Jakes” (Jake brake) and tap the brake petal as needed.

It is not just about traction. Doug says that an additional benefit of the auto chains is the peace of mind that not only he has, but his wife Lisa as well. During the winter months the two of them will talk about the weather conditions that are expected in the areas Doug is traveling. This communication enables Doug to prepare for the road conditions ahead or find alternate routes. The auto chains provide an extra feeling of security for them both, knowing that Doug will be legal going through chain control areas, and will not have to risk the dangers of getting out and chaining up. Or in Doug’s words “I don’t have to outlaw (not chain up) or cowboy (basically hang on) going through chain areas.”

Content for commercial drivers How to keep up with the schedule Truck driver safety Slippery Roads Maintenance Automatic Snow Chains Commercial Drivers automatic tire chains driver safety Commercial Driver Delivery All about automatic snow chains All about automatic tire chains Customer Testemonials Snow chain regulations History Transport

Leonard D'Orlando

About Leonard D'Orlando

Leonard has six years with Onspot Automatic Tire Chains in North America. Four years as a field technician on the East Coast and two years as a Regional Sales Manager. During the four years as a field technician Leonard provided install and maintenance training to dealers. Leonard also performed fleet reviews for customers and provided technical service support. An alumnus from the University of Maine, Leonard graduated with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Education. Leonard also attended Texas State Technical College where he earned an associate’s degree in automotive mechanics.


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