5 Rules of sending a truck to Alaska and back in January
At the beginning of 2016 we got a load for the Military Base in Fairbanks, AK. We had to bring some parts for Apache along with some tool cases. I was trying to research how to prepare and what to expect. Most of the information I found in the forums was for commercial trucks. I did find some YouTube videos of truck drivers that are driving through North British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska, but nothing that described the whole process, so I decided to write about our experience: How we sent a truck to Alaska in January.
- Driver– The most important thing that you need is a good driver. I mean a very good driver. That part was easy for our dispatchers as we have a lot of good ones.
After picking up the load, our driver Marc sent a message to his dispatcher – “Thanks for the fun”.
- Equipment– The truck and trailer need to be well maintained and reliable. We run Volvo trucks and Wabash trailers. We did a regular PM service in Edmonton, AB and greased the trailer. One extra thing that we put was the winter guard on the front grill, which is good idea to have not only for an Alaska trip, but for all Winter trips.
Volvo trucks have a very good cooling system, which helps in the hot months, but also does the opposite in the Winter. A cheap and ugly option is to put a piece of cardboard in front, which will do the same job.
- We added the Deer Catcher just because.
- Route Planning– There is only one possible highway that you can take. What you need to plan is where to stop for food, rest and fuel. Truck stops are common along interstate highways in the US and along the more populated highways in Canada, but once you pass Fort St. John, BC you have to plan where to stop for fuel.
We made some mistakes in the planning process.
We use FleetOne fuel cards and it did not work at the gas stations in BC and Yukon.
We had to wire money to the driver, which is expensive. Another thing that needs to be done is to check if the receiving place (Money Gram in our case) has the cash available. We sent $900 via Money Gram in Fort Nelson and they did not have enough cash to give to our driver. I am not sure how did that happen.
Permits– We had a permit to drive transit trough Canada. It is part of the paperwork for the load similar to the. It is basically a piece of paper that says that we will not be unloading anything from the truck in Canada. We did not need Pars clearing or the new eManifest that Canada requires now.
Single Trip permit for British Columbia – you can call The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure at (800)559 9688 and get one. If you don’t have IFTA you can buy fuel permit from them also. It won’t take more than 10 minutes from the initial phone call to faxing the actual permit to the driver. We paid $84 for it.
Trough Freighter Permit for Yukon – you can’t call anyone for that one. The driver needs to pull over in the port of entry and purchase it from there. We paid $60 for it.
Fuel Permit Yukon – Yukon is not part of the IFTA, so in order to drive through you need to have a fuel permit. It cost $71.30 in our case. It gave us permission to purchase the very expensive fuel in Yukon. You can purchase it from the port of entry along with the Trough Freighter Permit.
5. Prepare for eventual problems– the trailer brakes froze on the way back. We took the truck to a truck wash where it was washed with hot water, so all the ice melted. Then one of the brake chambers was replaced. Two of the tires needed to be replaced, so we got a set from a shop nearby. The best part was that the price was in Canadian dollars and they ended up being $100 cheaper per tire compared to the US prices. It compensated us for the difference in the fuel price a little bit.
And this is how we sent a truck to Alaska in January. We did have some hiccups along the way, but we were able to take care of them right away and we’ll be better prepared for next time.