Secured for Success

Ace Doran leverages open deck securement expertise in a challenging engine load.

Loads that pack more pounds per square inch require considerably more know-how to haul.

Such was the case with this job carrying 33,341 lbs. of machinery 593 miles across Louisiana. The eight engines and related parts were destined for service in oil refineries, construction sites and shipping yards.

The added gravity of meeting high expectations.

The machinery was being shipped for a long-time customer of Ace Doran, a division of Bennett Motor Express. Lengthy relationships like these are the powertrain of Ace Doran and Bennett’s success and provide personal validation of the machinery hauling expertise that we provide to our customers. They know our drivers can get the job done time and time again and provide a degree of professionalism and service that makes their job easier.

According to Ace Doran Agent, Wayne Erickson, “We’ve dealt with this customer for years. They like the way we handle their business and the safety and service we bring to the job. We talk to them on a daily basis. They trust us. We want drivers we trust—that can handle the freight and who are dedicated to doing the job.”

Heavy cargo requires heavy experience.

Having the right driving style is essential in loads like these. The driver on the job, Jimi Uphoff brings 19 years of experience to the wheel. In addition to not wanting to go too fast because of the risk of tipping over, he says, “You definitely have to give yourself room to stop because it takes so much longer to stop these things. And you gotta take your turns wider—especially with the spread axle.”

The spread axle of the trailer Uphoff used provides advantages for heavy loads as well as disadvantages when it comes to maneuvering. “You can’t shift your gears  while you’re turning because if you’ve got a lot of weight on the back of the spread axle it’ll stop you,” he says. “If you go into a turn and you take it out of gear, it’ll stop you in a heartbeat.

Experience is essential for securing loads like these.

Strapping down the load, or in some cases chaining it down securely is serious business on heavy loads. The varying shapes and weights of cargos can pose a different challenge on every project. Finding a securement solution falls on the driver. According to Uphoff, once it’s on the truck, it’s your responsibility.

“Sometimes you have to get creative as far as tying stuff down,” he says. “It’s all trial and error. The more you do it, the more you learn.”

Skills developed from decades of doing.

Uphoff is a road scholar who learned to secure difficult loads from the unofficial masters of the art. “When I first started—that was 19 years ago—I walked up to an old timer and I said, ‘Hey, man, I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.’ And he just took me under his wing,” he recounts. “And the first six months or so, that’s what I did on every job: I’d just go up and ask the old-timers.”

These hard-fought skills made the 16-ton engine run seem easy. “These engines aren’t so bad because they’re bolted right to the skids.” He said. “We throw straps over the skids. Then you’ve got to climb the load and put your edge protectors under the straps because you don’t want to cut your straps.”

Watch your weight or pay the price.

With eight massive motors like these, knowing how to distribute the load is the key to maintaining a legal weight. Failing to do so can bring time-consuming hassles and fines. “If you’re over your weight, you’ve got to go back and start all over again. And if DOT catches it before you catch it, you can get a ticket,” He says.

Uphoff has learned from his mistakes, receiving tickets that have ranged from $4,000 to $45 in the process. Avoiding future penalties on loads like this involves a little mental math to distribute the weight strategically among all axles: steer, drive and spread.

“I can have 34,000 lbs. on my drives (the tractor’s back axles). 12,000 lbs. on my steers. And seeing I have a spread axle on my trailer, I can have 40,000 lbs. on the back—so if I put too much weight on the front of the trailer, I can very easily go over that 34,000 on my drives. And that’s where you have problems. That’s why you want to even it out and put it more towards the back,” he explained.

Finding a balance of speed and safety.

With every haul, there are universal challenges drivers must face. Delivering on time while staying safe are top priorities. Uphoff met both of these head-on. A clerical error led to a significant delay that threatened to make him late to the customer. “I put it in the wind and because of what I did, I was able to deliver on time,” he said. “But that’s just trucking.”

Efficiency may be Uphoff’s strongpoint, but safely delivering on time is his creed. Like his securement expertise, it is a product of experience. “The way I look at it: if I think of something that could happen, then I gotta try and prevent it and I do whatever I can to prevent it. And that just came from experience,” he explains.

Success is often the absence of failures.

Uphoff and his T660 Kenworth “anteater” tractor count this haul a win for all the things that didn’t happen, including incidents, accidents, delays or miscommunication. With his proactive and preventative approach as well as our company culture of professionalism and safety—the engine haul was secured for success from the beginning.

Ace Doran and Bennett bring safety best practices and securement expertise to heavy machinery transports all over the U.S. For more information on Bennett’s Step Deck Trucking Services for general freight and heavy machinery, visit

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