Tag Archives: truck cab

Keep on Truckin’ & Showin’

By Larry Pruitt

We haven’t shown very much in the last couple of years.  Bustin’ Out! is now over ten years old.  Our priorities have changed somewhat as we have been off racing with the grandkids.  Along with that, the truck is starting to show its miles and as much as you try to keep up with making a good showing wear and tear has taken its toll.

We are making plans to do quite of bit of work and make some (we think) pretty cool changes to make it new and improved.  Work has already started on some new and different stainless and we are going to tweak the paint a bit along with updating and changing the lighting package.  We are planning to start showing again next year.

This truck showing bug gets in your crawl and it’s hard to shake it off.  As far as addictions are concerned, we think this is a pretty good one to have.  You go down the highway everyday and you catch yourself looking at trucks that go past and you say to yourself, “I like what they did with the lights there or the way they used a different piece of chrome here and there.”  You’re always thinking of ways to incorporate something new into your ride and making it your own design so it doesn’t appear that you just stole the idea from somebody.  It does become challenging to add any kind custom work to your truck.  Every time you think you’ve run out of ways to customize an aspect of your truck, somebody somewhere in this great country of ours will come up with something completely new that we have never seen before, and within a couple years there will be variations that builders will make to that new innovative idea.  So, it’s an ever-evolving phenomenon that seems to always take it to a higher level of cool.

I must caution you with new and innovative cutting-edge ideas also comes the practical dilemma.  As I have said before, you have to make sure the changes to your truck is conducive to the application of your business.  For example, don’t install a big rear drop bumper with twenty LED lights on a dump truck.  You will most definitely have the coolest truck in town, that is, until you unload it for the first time.

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the working trucks.  The trucks that you see on the highway when it’s pouring down rain and you’ll also see them sitting in traffic in the middle of an ice storm.  I have to take my hat off to those men and women.  They’re the same people that you’ll be competing with at the truck show next summer.

2017 Walcott Truckers Jamboree Supertrucks Beauty Contest: Trucker’s Choice Winner, 1st Place Polish & Detail, 1st Place Working Truck Combo 2012-17, 2nd Place Custom Graphics, 3rd Place Lights at Night Road Legal, 3rd Place Interior OEM Sleeper. Brian Dreher of Campbellsport, WI. 2016 Peterbilt 389 & 2016 Great Dane, $$$.

At times there seems to be a growing disparage between “show only” and “working trucks” and I’d like to commend the truck show promoters on their ability to keep them separated at all of the big shows.  If you let the two together it only serves to make the competitions less fun and as I believe, unfair for both groups.  As far as I’m concerned, those two groups are opposite ends of the spectrum.  I have seen so called “working trucks” show up to a show on a trailer.  One thing that a truck show competitor loves to hear is when someone walks up to them at a show and says, “You don’t use this truck for work do you?” and you see the pride in their face and hear it in their voice when they tell them, “Oh no, this truck runs five or six hundred miles a day.”

2017 Kenly 95 Gear’d Up Truck Show: Best Interior Winner, 2nd Place Tractor Trailer Combo, Honorable Mention in Lights & Uniqueness. Mike Harlow, 2016 Peterbilt 389 Carhauler.

I would also like, at this time, to thank the great folks at the Iowa 80 Group for giving me this platform.  I have enjoyed this opportunity to be able to share some of our experiences and kind of reminisce about our travels as truck show competitors.  I would like to give a big THANK YOU to all the folks who have taken the time out of their day or evening to read my ramblings.  Some have told me how much they have enjoyed my story and I must say I was really touched by those nice comments.

So long for now, you never know we may come back with another group of stories, we’ll see! Until then, keep on truckin’ and showin’.


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.


 

Your First Truck Show

By Larry Pruitt

Hello again.  Well you should have your truck in good shape by now, Righttttttt!  It’s time to find out what the judges think now.  CLICK HERE to read more posts from my blog series.

The first time is always the most difficult.  We have found that the best way to go about the show type cleaning is to start at the top of the truck and work your way down.  That way you won’t have to go back and redo something you have already cleaned.  One exception to this rule is tire shine.  Don’t put tire shine until your truck is in place for judging and before you do your cleaning on the fenders.  I guarantee, if you’re anything like me, you will find that stuff in places you never thought you could — that stuff goes everywhere!

Our 2007 Mack ‘Bustin’ Out!’

Your first show will have you working harder and redoing stuff more times than you could ever imagine.  I remember at our first show, we worked until late in the night for a couple of nights before the show.  I can remember sitting there at about midnight a couple of days before the show thinking, “If we don’t win something at this show I’m may have to rethink this deal over.  This may not be worth the effort.”  For the record let me tell you it was well worth it.

Our first show that we really tried to compete, was at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree in 2010.  We had the truck looking good, we left the house early on Wednesday morning and I think every bug in the state of Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa converged on us and committed suicide on the front of my truck.  Then to add insult to injury, I believe it also rained before we got there.

Colin Stuart’s Peterbilt

The first stop after unloading everything was to the Truckomat.  That gets you a pretty good start on the cleaning process.  Dry the truck as fast as you can so you have as few WATERSPOTS as possible (see The Road to Becoming a Truck Show Competitor for more advice about avoiding the dreaded waterspots).  Now it’s time to get parked.  The folks at Iowa 80 park the show trucks in line, they wanted to put me next this really nice Peterbilt owned by Colin Stuart.  Colin is a very successful and experienced truck show competitor.  I can remember asking the Iowa 80 Super Trucks Beauty Contest people, “Can you park me somewhere else?  I don’t stand a chance sitting next to this truck with airbrushed horses on the side of the sleeper.”  Not only did his truck have a beautiful paint job, but I found out later that it also has a working fireplace in the sleeper.  They told me, “Don’t worry, you guys are in separate classes”, so I thought, “OK, I’m good with that.”  I introduced myself to Colin and told him this was my first real show and I didn’t really know what we were in for.

I want to publicly let people know how much people like Colin Stuart and Ron Brubaker helped us at that first show THANK YOU so much for your help and guidance.

Ron Brubaker’s 1993 Peterbilt 379 ‘One of a Kind’

 

So back to the cleaning.  We worked all Wednesday evening and then again Thursday morning all the way up until they called ‘rags down’ at 10 o’clock.  When the judges started to make their rounds, I was lucky enough to watch Colin talk with the judges.  Colin told me that when the judges come around, show and explain what you have done to your truck and why you did certain things.  Point out all the details that you’ve done.  For example on Bustin’ Out! we have puppy paws at different places on the truck near a handrail or door handle.  This is something the judges may not notice until you point it out to them.  Remember also, that when you show the truck you are as much a part of the truck as the truck itself.  We had polo shirts embroidered with the name of the truck made that we wear, we even had them made for the kids and grandkids too.

The judging took two or three hours to complete, so now the only thing to do now was wait for the awards.  We didn’t really expect much as this was our first show and all.  I believe if I remember correctly, we wound up getting 2nd in our class which made me perfectly satisfied.  I’m sitting there reveling in our accomplishment and then they got to the other awards for theme and polishing.  We wound up getting an award for our fireman theme and 1st for OEM sleeper detail.  To say the least, we were most definitely blown away by how much success we experienced on our first big show.  Tradition at Walcott is that all the winners get together for a group photo and I remember Colin asking me if I thought that all that work was worth it, I told him, “I believe it was!”

Larry, Colin, & Ron receiving trophies at the 2010 Walcott Truckers Jamboree

I can remember driving home the next day and I would start laughing out loud and Jeanette asked me what was so funny, and I said, “I can’t believe what just happened!  I never expected all of this.”  So then the conversation started about what are we going to change to get even better for the next show.  It was an incredible experience that we look back on often, and as I said before, “I believe the effort was well worth it.”


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.


 

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.


 

Best Tips for Personalizing Your Cab Interior

Personalizing Your Cab | Trucker TipsBy Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Most drivers spend more time in their trucks than they do at their house, so it’s very important that every time you open that door it welcomes YOU home. This is your personal space, your office, your headquarters for operations. It is a reflection of your taste, the pride you have in your job, your industry and the things you like. It can make you a happier driver when you crawl into the cab.

Trucking is a lifestyle, not just a job and the view that comes with it is often times better than corporate America’s CEOs get to enjoy. Although our view is outstanding, space is limited, so it is to a drivers benefit to maximize space wherever possible, creativity here can be your best friend. Lots of things can, and should, do double duty, keeping the things you use most often at your fingertips. One of the first and most important things about the cab interior is the scent, ALWAYS keep it smelling fresh, choose something you like and keep it well supplied!

Over the seat organizers can hold everything from pens, scissors, maps, CAT scale and truck stop directories, stapler, calculator, back scratcher, notebook, miscellaneous bookkeeping supplies, dash duster, etc. They also keep things neatly stowed in colorful organization. It is also helpful to have a good LED flashlight on a strap so that you can hang it from a hook or elsewhere for ease of use in the dark when you need to grab it in a hurry for inside or outside use.

We all have our favorite colors, the ones we use to brighten up the interior and maybe co-ordinate with the exterior of our trucks. We use them to complement other colors and generally just personalize our space. One of the quickest, easiest ways to start is to get some rugs. Bathroom rugs work really well, the ones with the rubber backing as they don’t slip and slide all over on any type of flooring your truck may have and as a bonus, they keep your feet warm! The contour rugs, those made to fit around the base of a toilet fit perfectly around the base of most air ride seats. They also fit nicely around the boot of a transmission. If you have 2 full sets of these you can have a spare for spills or wet and salty, muddy conditions. They also keep your floors (whatever surface you have) clean and easier to maintain. There are many styles of floor mats also readily available, in case you don’t want or like the idea of rugs.

Best Tips for Personalizing Your Cab Interior- Most drivers spend more time in their trucks than they do at their house, so it’s very important that every time you open that door it welcomes YOU home. This is your personal space, your office, your headquarters for operations.
Shawn Swanson, Prophetstown, IL – 2002 Kenworth & 2010 Reitnouer Trailer – Pure Attitude – 2016 Walcott Truckers Jamboree

Speaking of floors, there are many different surfaces you can install in your truck if you own it, from carpet to laminate, wood to tile. These are available in a plethora of colors and styles as well, to meet your needs and taste. Some of them are quite durable as well and can be kept clean very easily. Getting a ‘blow gun’ and having it installed beneath the driver’s seat is a great, time saving tip that works really well, much better, in fact, than a whisk broom or vacuum, as it reaches spaces the others can’t. Usually, even if you drive a company truck, when you buy one of these the company will allow their own shop to install it for you since it is such a handy tool, as long as you are willing to leave it in the truck when you switch out.

The seats in your truck are yet another area that can be customized, either the seats themselves, if you are an owner operator, or with seat covers you can purchase in many styles and fabrics for company drivers. Even owner operators who like the seats in their trucks can change it up inside the cab by simply buying a set of seat covers in a fun and comfortable fabric. We’ve been told that sheepskin covers are highly recommended for comfort in both winter and summer. You don’t have to break the bank to be cool or comfortable.

Keeping a place specifically for your glasses is a good idea as well, having one spot to hang them, always, will help keep them from getting broken. Same can be said for your headset and cellphone charger, those removable hooks are a fantastic option for those items. You can mount them to the surface inside your cab somewhere and hang these things in the same place every time. This way, you will instinctively know exactly where it is when you need it and reach for it in just the right spot. I have always been the night driver and I found this part of setting up our truck especially important.

Using brightly colored towels or throw pillows inside the cab area will complete the setting, bringing your own personality to the space. These can have a team or color or branch of military service, whatever is important to you. Doing this personalizes an otherwise impersonal space and makes it your own, turns that truck into your home!

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.