This article originally appeared in
Big Rig Owner
December 1, 2014
By Bruce Mallinson
The rebuilding of OLD IRON…
Since the EGR engine came out in 2003, we have been telling owner-operators to buy 2002 and older trucks and refurbish them. Most people don’t because they are not mechanically inclined. Well, guess what? Nobody was born mechanically inclined, and we all had to learn how to turn a wrench. You are never too old to learn and you can save yourself thousands of dollars by doing some of your own repairs.
DuWayne Ehrke, a Wisconsin farm boy, born in 1962, drove his grandfather’s Dodge pick-up when he was four years old on the tobacco farm. His parents, who were both school teachers with Masters Degrees, purchased a tobacco, hog, and dairy farm so DuWayne has been working since those early years. He had to be in the barn to milk the cows at 5 a.m. and in school at 7 a.m. Needless to say, he had to learn how to turn a wrench: Farm equipment DOES break!
To get away from farming, DuWayne became a carpenter and built custom homes. When the housing market collapsed, he decided to become an owner-operator. He called me in the fall of 2011, and we discussed which truck he should purchase. My advice was a T-600 Kenworth with a 60-Series, DD4 Detroit. His haul was from Wisconsin to Texas, mostly on level terrain, so the 12.7 Detroit would be perfect for his haul.
He found a 1998 T-600 with a 12.7 Detroit with 240,000 miles on an out-of-chassis rebuild. The transmission is a Reman 10-speed, soon to be replaced with a Micro-Blued 18 speed, with 40,000 on it and the clutch. This truck was faded blue and had been beaten by the sun. When I first saw this truck, I was shocked at how badly it needed to be painted. DuWayne is a smart guy and he knew that he had to make the truck get good fuel mileage and then the fuel savings would pay for the paint. The cost of this million mile plus truck was $13,500, and was purchased on 3-8-12.
Before this truck ever pulled a load, DuWayne started the rebuilding process. The rear suspension was first. He updated some of the parts and re-bushed it, then Micro Blue wheel bearings, and changed the gear ratio to 2:64. Pittsburgh Power supplied the turbocharger, ported and ceramic coated exhaust manifold, crankshaft damper, mercury filled engine balancer, Fass Fuel System, rebuilt the ECM, OPS By-pass oil filtration system, “Fleet-Air” filter, new charge-air cooler and high-flow radiator.
I was impressed with DuWayne: That was a nice sale for his first time purchase from Pittsburgh Power. The next and last item for this segment of the makeover was super single tires. It was then time to put the faded blue T-600 Kenworth to work: The first trip to Texas grossing 79,000 lbs. was at 8.3 miles per gallon with unlimited speed and unlimited power. Do you think DuWayne was a happy trucker? You bet he was! Proud as a peacock of the old faded blue T-600, he knew that at 8.3 mpg he would have plenty of money to continue the rebuilding of the truck.
Last December, phase two started and all new fuel lines were installed. He removed, cleaned, and added 35 gallons to each fuel tank along with new rubber liners on the fuel tank straps. DuWayne then fabricated a 6″ exhaust system from the turbo to the Pittsburgh Power Quiet Performance Mufflers. New fairings, brackets, and side skirts along with a new stainless front bumper were then installed. A new windshield along with door seals, new felt in the window tracks, 1/4″ thick insulation was installed in the door panels and the floor to aid in heating, cooling, and noise suppression. New rubber cab mounts along with new air bags on the bunk make this Kenworth with 1,700,000 miles on the odometer dead quiet in the cab: It sounds and feels like a brand new KW!
In February, DuWayne installed a Reman steering box and new air compressor, which delayed him from attending the Owner-Operator Snowmobile Conference in West Yellowstone, MT until Saturday afternoon. So, he only got to ride on Sunday with us after driving 1,488 miles through a severe snowstorm. We did some awesome mountain climbing on the snowmobiles and DuWayne said it was worth it to meet the other owner-operators. This was his second snowmobile conference and he shares the love of snowmobiling with me.
The faded blue Kenworth is now painted Harley Davidson gun metal gray. This winter, for the past 12,400 miles, the fuel mileage has dropped to 7.83 because of the cold windy snow-covered roads – and he will admit that he is abusing the cruise control. DuWayne says that when he drives with his right foot the fuel mileage will improve by 6 to 7 tenths mpg, which puts him back up to the 8.3 mpg range.
The total investment in this beautiful Kenworth, including the $13,500 he paid for the truck, is $54,862.00. DuWayne has done most of the work and this does not include any of his labor. Phase 4 of the rebuilding process is the interior and I do not know when this will start.
Do you think DuWayne Ehrke is proud of this truck? You bet he is! Farm Boys can do anything; their parents instill it in them. They have to work, and you can do it also. Don’t ever use the “CAN’T” word. Think of how you want to improve your truck; ask questions, and get started with a positive mental attitude. Stop by with your truck and we will give you a wish list of where to start with the rebuilding process. You might have to purchases some tools, but they are deductible.
Written by: Bruce C. Mallinson, Pittsburgh Power, Inc., 3600 South Noah Dr. Saxonburg, PA 16056. Phone (724) 360-4080. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of the articles compiled here where written by Bruce Mallinson. Attribution to other contributors is given in the specific articles.