Tag Archives: truck cleaning tips

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.


 

Step-By-Step Big Rig Wheel Polishing Guide

BY:    

     “PRO SERIES”

POLISHING PRODUCTS

 

Zephyr has been helping truckers make metal mirrors for over 27 years now. From the beginner just starting out on their own rig, to the pro who does it every day as a career. For us here at Zephyr there is nothing more satisfying than seeing all of your metal transformations take shape with our Pro Series Products. We hang our hat on being able to provide you with the highest quality metal finishing products available today. The amount of pride in the trucking industry is second to none. Especially the pride in your rides. There is nothing like a freshly polished big rig pushing down the line. So, if you don’t find yourself near a polish shop and you don’t want the parking lot polisher touching your ride, we hope you can fall back on these easy steps to achieve a perfect shine every time.

FROM THIS                                                                     TO THIS

                       

Safety first. For this particular process we will be using airway buffing wheels which will require the use of safety flanges. These innovative flanges are molded from high-density composite nylon that are lightweight, yet strong as aluminum. These flanges need to be attached to each side of the buffing wheel and are mandatory when using airway buffing wheels. Next, is your personal protective gear which is just as important as flanges. This includes ear protection, hand protection, eye protection, and most of all respiratory protection. These items are all available at your local Zephyr distributor or at www.zephyrpro40.com  they are definitely a must when machine polishing.

Now, on to the “tools of the trade”!! For these wheels we will be using a 3 step process; cut, color, and finish. We will be using some of the most popular products from Zephyr. These products are available at www.iowa80.com

The supplies you will be using today:

Primary Cutting  – 3200rpm        For the first step we will be using the 8” yellow mill treated buffing wheel and tripoli compound. First off, rake the new buffing wheel and fray the edges. This breaks the buffing wheel in and allows it to more easily accept the compound. Remember, the buffer spins counter clockwise. So, be careful when applying the compound. Hold the bar of rouge on the buffing wheel working it from edge to edge for about 3 seconds. First, break the wheel down into sections. Start with the face of the wheel and work your way out to the edge. Left to right, bottom to top with nice even passes. You don’t want to apply too much pressure, let the grinder spin freely. Take your time and make sure you make even passes. Overlapping each previous pass. Move up slowly and push your black line of compound steadily forward.  When you notice the black line start to fade you will need to rake all of the old burnt-on compound off of the pad and then reapply more compound, then repeat. This is the most important step in the polishing process. If this is done correctly, then you will have really laid the ground work for a beautiful mirror finish. The rest is downhill.

Secondary Cutting  – 3200rpm  Now, you should have a very shiny surface with a light haze and what looks like hash marks. This is perfectly normal considering this was just the first step. Now, grab your green buffing wheel and green moss compound. Rake your wheel just like before and apply compound to the wheel. Again, start from the inside and work your way to the edge. The moss green rouge is a higher-end jewelers rouge which will provide you with that high luster, show quality shine. This should leave you with an almost perfect finish. During the coloring stage you will really see this mirror take shape. In between steps grab a microfiber towel and apply some of our Pro 50 Eliminator to the wheels. This will dissolve any leftover compound from around the holes. Leave the Pro 50 film on after the secondary stage, this will allow you to see exactly where your polishing line is as well as cleaning all of the green rouge off before moving on to the finishing step.

Pro 50 Wipe down                                           Secondary Cut

             

Final Finish – 1600-1800rpm  Last, grab your white untreated airway or flannel buffing wheel as well as the Blue Moon bar rouge. Again, start from the inside and work out to the edges. This will break down any buffing lines left and blend it all together leaving a flawless finish. If all three steps are done like this, the result should be a metal mirror. It takes a little getting used to, no doubt, but once you have a few wheels under your belt you will be ready to attack bigger jobs like fuel tanks and more! With Zephyr’s easy to use products, the beginner can achieve a professional finish.

Wipe Down aka “seal in that shine” – We are not quite finished yet. Now that we have successfully polished the wheel lets highlight that super shine and seal and protect it. That was a lot of work and gratifying as well, so you want to maximize your shine. Grab a microfiber towel and a bottle of the trucking industries #1 selling metal polish, Zephyr Pro 40. Fold the towel into quarters, that way your fingers don’t poke through and scratch the surface. Apply about a half-dollar size amount of Pro 40 on the towel and wipe the wheel down. Go with the grain and apply nice and even all over the wheel. Let it dry and use a fresh microfiber towel to remove it. This will repel water and road grime that you may catch along the way. Use the Pro 40 metal polish for maintenance thereafter.

Thanks for checking out Iowa80.com and if you have any more polishing questions ask the friendly folks at Iowa 80 or go to www.zephyrpro40.com  and @zephyrpolishes on Instagram and Facebook. Special thanks to Kevin Clapp, owner of Texas Premier Polishing out of Lubbock, TX, for his input and the pictures of his quality work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Be Safe & Shine On!

The Road to Becoming a Truck Show Competitor

A True Story

By Larry Pruitt

There are as many truck show competitors as there are different stories about how they got there. Here is a little bit of how we got involved in truck show competitions.  Some competitors follow in the footsteps of family members, but most are first generation competitors such as Jeanette and me.

I believe it was back in 2009 we attended our first Walcott Truckers Jamboree. We had just purchased the 2007 Mack truck the winter before, but we also have a couple of antique trucks and we used the 2007 Mack to haul our 1959 Mack to the show. The antiques at Walcott are just an exhibition, not a competition. Well, that year we were running late and didn’t get there until Thursday morning, the day of the judging for the Super Trucks.
That morning I went out to the truck stop to unload my ’59 Mack. I let Jeanette sleep in at the hotel and planned to meet her back at the hotel for breakfast after I unloaded the ’59 at the truck stop. I was visiting with a friend of mine while he was registering for the Super Truck Beauty Contest. He said that I should enter my ’07 Mack into the competition. My response to him was “Are you out of your freakin’ mind? My truck isn’t good enough to compete,” and we all laughed.
As I stood there, I overheard the ladies at the registration tent explaining about the different goodies that competitors received just for entering. Imagine that, free stuff just for entering! They got 10% off at the chrome shop just for entering and I thought, “I could use that discount” as I had a whole list of stuff I wanted to purchase for my new truck while we were up there. The goody that sealed the deal was for me was the two free pork chop dinners. If you aren’t aware, the pork chops at Iowa 80 are world famous! So signed up and I told my friend, “Yeah count me in.”

The judging started at 10 o’clock and it was already 8 o’clock, so I went across the way and got my truck washed at the Truckomat and halfway dried it off. I parked it in line with the trucks that were immaculate and just about perfect. I jumped into my pickup and went to the hotel to get Jeanette. You should have seen the look on her face when I told her, “Dear, hurry up and finish your breakfast we are in the Super Truck Beauty Contest and judging starts in 30 minutes.” On the way back to the truck stop I had to explain to her what had transpired earlier. I don’t know how many times she asked me, “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” and I told her, “Of course not, but we’ll figure it out as we go.”

Judging at the 2009 Walcott Truckers Jamboree. Notice this clean Pete has no water spots!

We wiped some of the water spots off of the truck before the judges got to us, but the other 100,000 water spots stayed put. The judges came around, but they didn’t hang around very much. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have moved on also. To this day, water spots drive Jeanette crazy. The amount of beautiful trucks was awe inspiring and the attention to detail these competitors have for their rigs was mind boggling. Just for the record, I think we were the only entry with water spots.

 

My red Mack on display at the 2009 Walcott Trucker’s Jamboree

We visited with some of the other drivers and started some very good friendships that wonderful weekend. I asked them a lot of questions, and here are a couple of their suggestions.  Pick a theme and stick with it – We picked a fire theme and tied it in with the Mack bulldog.  Pay attention to the details – Be sure to fix all the rock chips, get all of the wax and bugs off, and line the lettering on the tires up to the top so you can read the brand of the tire. Oh yeah, most importantly… NO WATER SPOTS!  Needless to say, we didn’t receive any awards that year, but we vowed that the next Jamboree we would make a good showing.

 


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.


 

Spring Cleaning

Top Tips to Refresh Your Truck

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Winter takes a toll on everything, including, or maybe especially on your truck. The chemicals they put down on the roads to melt the ice and snow and make them safer are hard on all things truck, from the paint to the wiring, the stainless to the aluminum.

Keeping it all clean during these winter months becomes a full time job depending on where you are based and where you run. No matter your lane, the chemicals and salt are murderous to your equipment and it is vital you get it washed as often as possible to keep these contaminants from eating your truck alive. It always feels great to drive a clean truck, even if it only lasts a short time.

Top Tips to Refresh Your Truck- Winter takes a toll on everything, including, or maybe especially on your truck. The chemicals they put down on the roads to melt the ice and snow and make them safer are hard on all things truck, from the paint to the wiring, the stainless to the aluminum.When the warm weather finally comes around take the opportunity to roll down the windows and let in that fresh air. Open up the doors while cleaning your interior and start at the top of the cab and work your way down. You’ll first need to rid the interior of any build up of dust or dirty particles that have accumulated in the corners and seams of your ceiling with a stiff brush. A blow gun attached to the air lines under the seat work well here, or even a vacuum cleaner if you are able to get one with the right attachments.

Once you have cleaned the ceiling you can do the seats themselves, then concentrate on the dash. Here, you may need to have a cotton swab or toothbrush to get into all the little crevices and vents. I am assuming you have removed all of the litter and trash that may have accumulated on the dash and floor itself over the long winter months? Y’all do realize that the little peeper window in the door on the right side is NOT a garbage level indicator, right??? Your truck IS your home on the road, so hopefully you don’t have trash piled high everywhere. If your dash is full of trash it could be an invitation to a nice DOT officer to take a closer look at you, at your truck, at your paperwork. Just sayin’.

There are a multitude of cleaners on the market today, everyone has their favorites. If you don’t know what to use, ask other drivers what works for them and check out their results before you spend money on products you know nothing about. I have a compact carpet shampooer that I break out a couple times a year to clean up my interior, especially in the springtime. It leaves everything smelling fresh and clean. It was a small investment many years ago and has paid for itself a hundred times over since I can not only do the floors, I can do the upholstery, walls and ceilings of every truck we’ve driven since I bought it, whether we owned it or not.

Springtime is also the time to clean out the cabinets and cubbies, get rid of those items and supplies you carried specifically for winter. Clean out your closet, put away the heaviest coats and boots and scarves and gloves and clothing, make way for lighter things. Organize your cupboards and once again, get rid of out of date items. It’s springtime! Get out your cameras and brighten up the colors!

Stay safe out there and 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.