A rebuilding success story that gets 8.3 mpg

Bruce Mallinson | May 02, 2014

If you say you’re not mechanically inclined, I’ll tell you that you’re never too old to learn, and you can save yourself thousands of dollars by doing some of your own work and repairs.

I offer the following story about a friend, DuWayne Ehrke, who took to trucking in 2012, rebuilding an older Kenworth and using his own mechanical prowess to turn it into a moneymaking machine.

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DuWayne grew up on a tobacco farm in Wisconsin, where he learned how to turn a wrench. He became a carpenter as an adult, but when the economy crashed in 2009, he decided to become an owner-operator.

In 2012, he bought a 1998 Kenworth T600 with a Detroit Series 60 DD4 engine. The truck was faded blue and had been beaten by the sun. When I first saw it, I was shocked at how badly it needed to be repainted.

But first things first. DuWayne, being the smart guy that he is, knew that to turn a profit, his truck needed to get good fuel mileage.

He only paid $13,500 for the truck, which had more than a million miles on it. Before he ever pulled a load, he started a rebuild process. The rear suspension was first; he updated some of the parts and re-bushed it, then added MicroBlue wheel bearings. He then changed the gear ratio to 2:64.

My shop supplied some under-the-hood upgrades, including a turbocharger, a ported and ceramic-coated exhaust manifold, a crankshaft damper, a mercury-filled engine balancer, the Fass Fuel System, the OPS bypass oil filtration system, Fleet Air filters, a charge-air cooler and a high-flow radiator. We also rebuilt the ECM.

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The next and last item for this segment of the makeover was super-single tires. When the faded blue KW went to work on its first haul – 79,000 pounds to Texas – DuWayne averaged 8.3 mpg.

He subsequently did a few more rebuild phases – changing fuel lines, installing a new exhaust system and adding on new fairings and a new bumper – and today it feels like a new truck.

It’s also no longer faded blue: DuWayne had it painted Harley-Davidson gun-metal gray.

Purchase price included, DuWayne spent $54,862 on the truck, and he did most of the work on it himself.

You can do work like this. Think of how you want to improve your truck, ask questions, and get started with a positive mental attitude.

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