Category Archives: Lights

Show Trucks: The Planning Process

By Larry Pruitt

When you make the decision to start showing your truck, the first thing to look at is the segment of trucking you’re involved in. You might be involved in dry van work and all you do is drop and hook and never leave the paved road. There are other segments like grain hauling when you load on farms and elevators and the dust gets to be an inch thick. Dust is not so bad by itself but when it rains you can have a real mess. Take a look at other decked out trucks in your segment and use your own experience to determine which accessories work for you and what will not.

I found myself having to change the decking on top of my frame behind the fifth wheel so I could detach the gooseneck on our lowboy trailer. We decided to use a rhino lining on top because the stainless would get scratched. Eventually we decided to put rhino lining all of the decking to make it balance out. When you decide how to accessorize your truck, you have to take into account the segment you are working in. You can’t put mud flaps that run an inch off the pavement and be hauling grain off of a farm road.

During the planning phase, keep in mind what end result you are trying to accomplish. You want to make the truck look balanced; for example, don’t put a ton of lights on the front end and nothing toward the rear. Take some extra time to plan the lighting. Try to keep the lights the same type throughout the project. We went with clear lens on Bustin’ Out! just to be different and try to set it apart from the others. Using the same type, lens color, and size of lights is good because it allows you to keep a stock of lights for replacements also. If you use a different style of light it may not be readily available at the local truck stop on the road.

Chrome and stainless accents give this show truck a classic, old school look.

The next part of the project to look at is, shiny or painted? I’ve seen a lot of trucks that had almost everything on it painted, such as mirrors, tanks, even the front bumper. I’ve seen trucks with just the body painted and everything else chrome, aluminum, and stainless steel. The painted route is easier to get ready for a show; sand it down, repaint and you are done. I’m too much of an old school guy I guess, I like the balance of paint and chrome. The bad thing about the shiny route is there is a lot of polishing and rubbing. We have had our share of black and purple hands at different shows but we feel that it’s worth it.

Painted accents give this show truck an edgy, modern look.

The last part of this process, as far as we are concerned, is the CLEANING. You may think that cleaning shouldn’t be in the planning process, but it is part of the process and a part of the maintenance of a show truck. Probably the most overlooked part as well. It’s very important to clean the parts everybody can see and even the parts they can’t see. Pressure wash the underside on a regular basis as well as the engine compartment. The frame takes the most abuse and is cleaned the least. For a small price, you can get your frame sanded, painted, and clear coated. It makes a big difference when the judges show up and is money well spent. I can’t stress enough the importance of staying on top of the washing of your ride. If you get lax on keeping it clean it will just be more of a chore to get it to level you want to maintain. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, make sure you get ALL of the WATERSPOTS!

The interior of the truck is just as important as the exterior. This doesn’t take a lot of time or effort after you get it real clean. Every couple of days run a duster over the dash and over the shelves in the sleeper. Keep the carpet clean, or if you have a rubber mat, take a wet rag to it when you dust the dash. Everybody knows that a clean truck runs and drives better when it’s clean.

Building a show truck can be done slowly and methodically. Set a budget amount each month on how much you want to spend. Slowly get the truck where you want within your means. Moving at a slow pace gives you an opportunity to change your plan as you go along. Next time, we will discuss getting ready for the judges at your first competitive show.


Larry Pruitt is an owner-operator with over 20 years of experience and has been involved in trucking for close to 40 years. He is a firefighter in North St. Louis County Missouri and resides with his wife, Jeanette, in Saint Clair, MO.


 

Pride in Your Ride

Personalize a New-To-You Rig

By John L. Hruska

Through the years, I have bought many new and used trucks. I always seem to want to personalize these trucks to fit not only our company, but the driver too. All it takes to show pride in your ride is some good looking chrome and creature comforts.

When I buy a used truck, sometimes the truck is in good overall condition, but maybe the interior is worn some along with the outside parts. Here are some ideas on how I look at refurbishing a used truck that’s in good working order but might need some TLC.

Let’s start with the interior. First, give it a really good deep cleaning, then assess what’s needed. The carpet or rubber flooring is typically worn, so I will pull out both seats and replace it with new pieces. If the seats are worn too, this is a good time to replace them as well because it’ll save you some labor later. New rug or floor mat and seats make a huge difference for the driver of the truck; more comfort, less road noise, and definitely a better look inside.

The next thing is something with the dash. I like to give the dash a little “bling” with some chrome or color that match the trucks color. You can get toggle switch covers, dash layovers, parking brake knobs, or even a gearshift knob handle with a chrome extension. If you do all (or even some) of these things, you start to get a cool look that all comes together with some color and chrome.

Next, get some air fresheners color matched to your interior in a scent that you like, and your interior starts feeling more like home and less like the generic used truck you just got off the lot. These small changes give your driver a good start to a pretty cool interior that you can be proud of. It’ll make the driver more productive and certainly helps him or her to feel more comfortable going down the highway.

2014 Kenworth W900L

Now for the exterior. After another really good deep cleaning, assess the outside and determine what you’d like. I typically will have a truck detailed or repainted and then I decide what’s going to make the truck pop and be a little different. First, I always trim all the wheels and all lug nuts with chrome covers and axle covers. Iowa 80 has great selection of these to choose from whatever is your preference or style.

Next is the mud flaps. New, matching flaps always look better and also shows the DOT that you care about what you’re doing. Make sure they’re nice and neat, not upside down and different lengths with scattered holes in them. Now you’re starting to pull the outside together. Maybe add some chrome flap weights, to bring out your new flaps with style.

I like to add some extra lights as well, but be careful – too much and the truck is junked up, not enough then it looks like a fleet truck. Try to find the balance of lights that you like, then use them in an equal series on each side and keep them symmetrical on front and back. Sometimes it helps to look at some other trucks and find what you like. I even take photos of trucks that I like so I can keep the ideas to do a truck later. LED lights are always a better alternative that incandescent lights, they have a longer life and usually a better warranty.

Next, add some more shine with a drop visor, if that’s your thing, or maybe some stainless half fenders. I always fill in behind the sleeper with at least one frame mounted aluminum step box. It is a great tool, very durable, and you’ll always have room for an extra gallon of oil or antifreeze. And I don’t have to worry about the drivers putting those items in the sleeper compartments to make a mess.

2014 Kenworth W900L

Ok, now you have a great start in making your newly purchased truck your own. Keep thinking of new ideas to keep your truck looking good and use accessories to set yourself apart from the crowd. Don’t forget! – The folks at Iowa 80 will always be there for you with phone support to help you find all those parts and accessories that you need to bring some pride and style to your truck.

Keep pride in your ride!!


hruska_149x149John’s father started in the trucking business in 1947, John then joined the business in 1981. He owns and operates Hruska Trucking and Diesel Transport along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Clark D Hofecker, in Windber, PA.


 

All Roads Lead to Walcott

All Roads Lead to Walcott | Trucker Tips
By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

All Roads Lead to Walcott- Every year, the weekend immediately following the 4th of July, Iowa 80 holds their annual “Walcott Truckers Jamboree” which was started by the Moon family 36 years ago as a way to thank the drivers who support them all year long.

Every year, the weekend immediately following the 4th of July, Iowa 80 holds their annual “Walcott Truckers Jamboree” which was started by the Moon family 36 years ago as a way to thank the drivers who support them all year long.

Twenty-five years ago, July 12-13 1990, was the first time I (Kim) ever attended. At that event, I made friends whose friendships I have enjoyed through the years; not to mention that show gave me the ‘bug’ to attend and compete in subsequent truck shows all over the country!

Walcott is also the place where many of us met our dear friend Bette. For those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to have known her, Bette was a renown trucking photojournalist. She could either be found driving her little golf cart “Rooster Cruiser” around the show grounds or perched high up on the scissor lift getting those great shots of the entire show. It was considered a great honor to be asked, by Bette, to take your truck ‘up on the hill’ on Saturday morning for a photo shoot. If that happened, you knew you had truly made it in the show truck world. She looked forward to coming to Iowa every July. Pictures of her work hang on the walls in the chrome shop and in Iowa 80 Group’s corporate office building.

The Jamboree grows every year;  adding events, concerts, fireworks, displays, and vendors. This show truly has something for everyone. It is a fun family event for the drivers who come and bring their wives and kids, the Moon Family has even extended the event from the original two days to three due to its popularity. There are friends that gather at the Jamboree annually, like a family reunion, and that’s just how it feels!

All Roads Lead to Walcott- Every year, the weekend immediately following the 4th of July, Iowa 80 holds their annual “Walcott Truckers Jamboree” which was started by the Moon family 36 years ago as a way to thank the drivers who support them all year long.
Super Trucks Beauty Contest, Walcott Truckers Jamboree 2015

A very popular part of the Jamboree is the Super Truck Beauty Contest; which is always well represented. There are many judged classes for drivers to enter their trucks in. The contest always attracts lots of beautiful trucks. Having so many in one place is truly a sight to behold.

All Roads Lead to Walcott- Every year, the weekend immediately following the 4th of July, Iowa 80 holds their annual “Walcott Truckers Jamboree” which was started by the Moon family 36 years ago as a way to thank the drivers who support them all year long.
Antique trucks on display

There are also antique trucks whose owners form little communities on the event grounds. They get together year after year celebrating their common passion. All of the trucks that are entered in the contest or display in the Antique area, receive either a trophy or a plaque.  Iowa 80 believes that every driver that enters is a winner, the effort every driver puts into getting their equipment ready to show is acknowledged and appreciated.

This year was Heather and my second year as OEM interior judges.  Since not many people know more about this particular class than the two of us, we got invited back! We thoroughly enjoy seeing just what this generation of drivers is doing to jazz up their trucks on the inside and are VERY familiar with what equipment comes with a truck from the factory and what doesn’t. This is the largest class in the show to judge because we need to see both bobtail and combination, but we take it very seriously and do our best to be as fair as possible. We also know how much heart and soul goes into building and showing these rides! It is our honor to do this and we love being able to.

All Roads Lead to Walcott- Every year, the weekend immediately following the 4th of July, Iowa 80 holds their annual “Walcott Truckers Jamboree” which was started by the Moon family 36 years ago as a way to thank the drivers who support them all year long.
Lights at Night, Walcott Truckers Jamboree 2015

Lights at Night is also our pleasure to be able to be a part of judging, along with Paul Ableson and Roger Hogeland and this class is so much FUN! It’s truly beautiful to see but must be done quickly and we all need to agree on the winners. We do this by first selecting those trucks in each class that have the best overall flow.  Then we go over each truck chosen to see more detail and determine which has the most pleasing appeal; which has the best theme front to back and top to bottom; which are the most eye catching; and the best representation for the industry. It is not an easy task, by any means, but necessary; and all are truly winners. It really weighs heavily on us since we know first hand how it feels to be judged. I have always felt it should be a requirement that judges should be retired show truck people, at least some of them, and the Iowa 80 folks agree.

Over the years we have had many fun ways to pass the time, water gun fights standout for me, the second year for those, tanker Dave Marcotte brought ‘ammunition’ in his “Liquid Chicken” tanker. Getting soaked on a hot summer day was so much fun after all of the work involved in getting our trucks ready for competition against some of the best looking trucks on the road.

We have had trucker games over the years that included musical bales, water balloon toss, tire roll, strong pull, tire flip, even pet contests for best tricks and pet beauty contests since so many of us carry our fur babies with us on the road.

If you are a first timer to the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, as I (Heather) was last year, you will find a hospitality that is unrivaled! They throw a drivers’ appreciation event in Iowa like I’ve not seen in my almost 40 years in our industry. Kim has been fortunate to run the I-80 lane so she could come to Walcott weekly, I, on the other hand, lived in Southern California and ran upstate New York, so my lane was more I-40,44,70, etc.,  so it wasn’t until last year that we were able to schedule our first entire visit.

I was very impressed with the entire event, it was the 50th Anniversary of the Iowa 80 Truckstop last year and the Jamboree itself turned 35 so it was a really big year for them, but the Jamboree is a really big event every year. I was able to meet the entire Moon family, and I must tell you, they mean it, THEY APPRECIATE YOU!

The Jamboree began as an appreciation to their customers and that is what it still is. It is the number one purpose for the event, they want to give back to those people who helped them become the World’s Largest Truckstop.

I had such a good time last year that we scheduled the event for this year even before we left the property! Roger and I were lucky enough to be a part of CAT Scale’s Super Truck Limited Edition Collector cards (Series 3 & 5), So we have always been a part of the Iowa 80 family, but now, after going to the Jamboree, we truly FEEL like a part of the family!

All Roads Lead to Walcott- Every year, the weekend immediately following the 4th of July, Iowa 80 holds their annual “Walcott Truckers Jamboree” which was started by the Moon family 36 years ago as a way to thank the drivers who support them all year long.
Audrey Cloutier, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 2016 Kenworth & Wabash trailer “Pinkie”. Took 1st Place for Custom Graphics and 3rd Place for Interior OEM Combo Tractor/Trailer

This year was, again, a blast, even with the rain on Saturday! We made new friends and saw old ones. I got to meet Tamie, Kim’s best friend from high school and we met Audrey Cloutier from Quebec, Canada who runs solo between there and California in her pink W900 Kenworth and matching refer trailer. This event is such fun you truly need to make plans to be there next year, believe me, you won’t be disappointed!  Mark your calendar for July 14-16, 2016.

Stay Safe out There & Keep It Shiny!


 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Lights:

Wired Right They’re A Beautiful Sight

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

For many of us there are few things more beautiful than a well-lit truck and trailer. All those extra lights, although a source of pride when working, can turn into a terrible nightmare! Be sure to have a plan when you decide to add lights. Wiring needs to be done properly, with care and with the correct products for each application.

With all the choices available nowadays, you are able to add so many options to both the exterior and interior of your unit without even having to upgrade the alternator, as was the necessity before LEDs. The old incandescent style lights used so much more power and burned hotter causing the bulbs to burn out regularly.

If you own the equipment, you can do whatever you like; if you drive company equipment, please ASK FIRST. Do not ever cut a wire or drill a hole into someone else’s truck without getting their permission beforehand. Lots of companies have very strict rules regarding this issue and we wouldn’t want any of you to violate them. With all of the new electronics in the trucks you could really cause some damage, so PLEASE, respect your company’s rules.

It’s important to remember as you are installing lighting that every connection has the potential to become a problem if you don’t do it properly. Take the time to do it right, use quality lights, electrical connectors, tape, liquid electrical tape and make sure all wires are well wrapped and tucked neatly away, not rubbing on any sharp edges.
There are many interior applications for extra lights as well, a nice glow on the floor is always welcome, for example.

Extra lights can enhance your visibility; safety bonus! Reflective tape works well, but only when lights are shining on it, whereas lights can be seen anytime they are on and the more lights, the better, right? LEDs are so much brighter, as I mentioned earlier, but they burn much cooler, so if you have them, especially on the back of your trailer, you must remember to stop every so often in snowy weather and go back to clean off the tail lights so you are sure to be seen.

Wired Right They're A Beautiful Sight- Be sure to have a plan when you decide to add lights. Wiring needs to be done properly, with care and with the correct products for each application.
Paul Saline, Rio, IL – 2009 Kenworth – Satisfaction – 2014 Walcott Truckers Jamboree

Every driver that’s ever inherited an electrical problem knows what a nightmare truly is. They will drive you crazy and cost you hours in shops. The only way a mechanic can find the problem is if a light or lights aren’t working. If it’s an ‘intermittent’ problem (a word we love to hate!) you can end up pulling out your hair! When you pull into a shop and everything is on, all you can do is walk all around it to see if there may be an exposed wire that could be grounding out. Then you wiggle the plugs between the truck and trailer trying to determine which unit has the problem.

A bad ground can wreak havoc. Salt and calcium chloride treatments that are used on the roads in winter are the enemy to your electrical system. That stuff gets into the connectors that weren’t properly wrapped and sealed. Again, be sure none of your wires are rubbing against sharp or rough edges. Secure them as firmly as possible after wrapping them well.
When everything is working and you are all lit up going down the road, you have a true sense of pride and enjoy the feeling, enjoy seeing the reflection of all those chicken lights in your mirrors. It’s those moments that make me remember how much I love truckin’! Takes my breath away!

Stay safe out there, & Keep It Shiny!


 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Show It Off:

Tips for Getting Your Truck Show Ready

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Getting Your Truck Show Ready | Trucker Tips

Mid-America Trucking Show or MATS is the unofficial, yet very official kickoff to the truck show season. Yes, it IS a thing! If you want to take your truck and/or trailer to a show just pick a weekend, you should be able to find one someplace.

Iowa 80, of course, has the world famous Walcott Truckers Jamboree the weekend following the 4th of July every year, which includes the truck beauty contest, and it is one of the most exciting, fun filled events of the entire season, so all of you should definitely try to attend this year’s event. We are both planning on being there again, and the entire staff at Iowa 80 do everything they can to make it an event to remember since it is their gift to us, the drivers. The Moon family does this to thank us.

Tips for Getting Your Truck Show Ready- Getting your truck ready to be judged is a huge undertaking, but the rewards for driving a truck that sparkles and shines after a show are just as big!
2016 Walcott Truckers Jamboree

Getting your truck ready to be judged is a huge undertaking, but the rewards for driving a truck that sparkles and shines after a show are just as big! It’s like getting a new truck over and over again, only better, because showroom shine isn’t clean enough to win a competition these days. It’s got to be much cleaner than that to be serious. To get it show truck shiny requires serious work, every nook and cranny has to be touched, but because you are touching all these places, you are much more likely to find a potential problem BEFORE it becomes a problem, so all that hard work does have its rewards. Another advantage is more often than not when you are pulled in to a DOT checkpoint they will be awestruck by your equipment rather than looking for something to pick apart.

There are so many new products for cleaning and shining everything these days that it really is up to each individual and the look he/she wants to achieve. Do you want your tires finished with a shiny, wet look or a dry, clean finish? Paint pens have been used to letter tires for many years and can be purchased at lots of places and in lots of colors and brands. They work well, but tires need to be clean and free of dust, then lightly wiped with a small amount of paint thinner where the lettering will be applied. This will remove any oils and allow the paint to adhere to the rubber. When dry, apply a very light coat of spray-on clear acrylic sealer. After this entire process is complete, you can carefully stage your tires and use whatever tire protectant you choose and your lettering will look perfect.

Waxes and polishes are too numerous to count, again, personal preference will win out. Use whichever products you like best for a base, but on judging morning, a quick detail product works great so you can spray and wipe down the entire unit. If you have the chance beforehand to get all of your aluminum buffed out to a pristine finish, it helps greatly, but you still need a quick detail product so you’ll be able to wipe down everything, aluminum included, because water spots will be there from a wash or dew or something. It’s really a must have.

If you are entered in an interior class, the same applies, clean as if it were brand new. The more miles on the truck, the more points it gets, the dirtier it is, the more points you lose, so clean it up. Make sure you don’t overlook those hard to reach places, clean things you don’t generally think about, pull out your seat belt and wipe it down, it gets dusty. The seat bases get dirty too in everyday use, whether or not you have a skirt to cover them, make sure they are spotless. The pedals and the boot for your shifter; those two places gather a LOT of dirt and muck yet were most often overlooked when we were judging interiors, and those places are right out in the open! Don’t worry so much about scratches or wear, be concerned with DIRT, cleanliness, or lack thereof. Another thing to be aware of when entering an interior class is the smell inside your truck. You want it to smell inviting, not irritating. Add some air freshener or aftershave, a freshly baked item, something pleasant and not overpowering, just enough that’s hardly noticeable, that would be a winning move!

Under the hood a good degreaser and power wash is a must. If you want to add little things to your engine to dress it up you could start with a few nut covers and some colored wire loom on hoses that match your truck. Looming is sold in a variety of colors and sizes and can be complemented with ties of the same or contrasting colors. This is an inexpensive way to get started dressing up your engine if you don’t get too carried away. If you can afford it, then, go ahead, get carried away! You can also take your paint pens and paint your belts to match the loom and tires if you get really into it.

During the show, be sure to start up the truck from time to time, many a show truck have needed a jump at the end of a show because they’ve forgotten to do that. Take part in the light show whenever you can, they are SPECTACULAR!
Go out there and enjoy the compliments you get when you leave the show! The real fun of having a show worthy truck is driving it every day all across America, day and night!

Stay Safe out there and Keep It Shiny!


hogeland_grimm_149x149 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.