Iron Afflicted: Jonathan Eilen’s 2010 Peterbilt 389

| January 31, 2013

Jonathan Eilen says he didn’t want his late brother Jake’s old end-dump to be parked somewhere and go unused or, worse, “have the thing looking cruddy and crappy after a couple of years,” he says. So late in 2008, he hooked the 40-foot trailer onto the truck he drove at the time and put it to work.

Jonathan Eilen says he wanted the black and orange motif from his trailer to continue to the tractor and into the interior, and he touched nearly every interior piece with hand-fabricated flamed pieces and added matching orange flames to the truck’s door panels, shifter and dash.

The black and orange Maximizer trailer was one of several that matched Eilen’s late brother’s famous black and orange truck. The two colors were his favorites, and his truck and trailer featured the black base topped with orange trim and a few flames.

But after Jake died in a car accident in November 2008, Jonathan took hold of it, he says, “just to keep my brother’s legacy live.”

Less than a year later, Eilen’s dad talked him into buying a truck (he’d driven his dad’s company-owned trucks prior) to see if he liked it, and if not, Eilen says his dad was willing to buy it back from him. “I told myself ‘Well, you’re not getting any younger,’” he says. “Might as well go for it.”

Eilen bought a new 2010 Peterbilt 389 in September 2009 and started “taking one thing off to replace it, then another,” and before long, he says, he had the entire interior ripped out of it. “My dad came out and said ‘What in the heck?’ He looked inside and there wasn’t a thing left in it — just bare wires and plastic pieces.”

Eilen’s show-winning working combo has its name neatly airbrushed on the lower interior edge of each door. The name, Iron Afflicted, was chosen because he works with iron daily when fabricating parts for his trucks or racecars.

Eilen says he wanted to do the black and orange to keep Jake’s legacy going and worked on the truck in bits and pieces, with help from his brother Pat who fabricated and mounted most of the truck’s parts.

With a little help from his brother Pat, he built, fabricated and mounted most of the truck’s parts. While in progress, Eilen says his dad cleared out a little room in his shop to stow the truck and its pieces until he finished. “It really just sort of became a family project,” says Eilen, who also recruited his father-in-law, a body shop owner, to help him paint.

“We always help each other out when it comes to getting down and doing the dirty work,” he says. “We all kind of work together with all of the trucks we’ve built, and we always bounce ideas off of each other about what we should try next. We just work together as a group.”

The finished product is a tribute to black, and that theme flows throughout – inside, outside and under the hood are coated with a pitch black base. “I don’t have any lights on top of the truck, just whatever I need to keep it DOT approved,” Eilen says, though he did put orange lights underneath the truck to “make it pop at night.”

He also wanted to touch on his hot-rod, motorcycle and stock car driving experiences by trying to make the truck as unique as possible. “Everything flows from front to back,” he says. “I wanted the black and orange to carry through, and it does, inside and out. Motor, truck, trailer – everything’s got it.”

The rebuild took about a year, and the 389 rolled out of the shop and into the Custom Rigs’ Pride & Polish show in Dallas at the 2010 Great American Trucking Show and took home the Best in Show honors in working-class combo.

Just before its completion, Eilen says he and his crew were tasked with coming up with a name. What they settled on, Iron Afflicted, simply “sounded good together,” Eilen says. “I wanted something to do with metal, iron or steel, because we work with them so much, building trucks and cars and whatnot. And afflicted goes well with it, so that’s what we called it.”

  • MarionCDavies

    Most of the articles on any driver oriented site focus on the weak economy, tepid business climate, lousy working conditions and generally abysmal pay for drivers–but there’s always one of these show-truck jokers dumping money into a truck like it grows on trees! Where does the cash come from and what’s the return on investment? How does more paint and chrome equal better pay checks? Somebody ‘splain me that!

  • 11Ridindirty

    Marion,

    Personally I appreciate the effort’s of Jonathon. It does nothing but help build a positive image for the industry. Also, if he does it, I would think he is like me and does it for the love of trucks and trucking. The fact that he is doing it as a memorial for his brother makes it even better. Trucking has always been a tight community.

    As for how he can afford it in these times, I might be able to help you with an explanation. End dumps, dump trucks with pup trailers and dump truck and transfer trailers are all specialized fields. Besides having to spend the the extra money for the equipment, it also takes a different skill set from over the road. We do not have large corporate trucking companies to compete against, and the few who have tried at it have failed.

    Drivers make a fair wage for company drivers. Most are paid by the hour. Most owners who are either local or regional, realize their costs to stay in business along with what would be considered a fair profit. Basically we have not gotten involved in the race to the bottom like the OTR industry has.

    With that said, we have a little more capital to spend on project trucks and upgrading.

    I am currently working on a project truck, While not of the scale that Jonathon has done, I find it very enjoyable. I also get a lot of comments every time I do something to a truck not to mention the free advertisement.

    As for the weak economy. you are correct, we had three hard years, and they were hell. But we have managed to survive, and a lot of the cut throats did not make it. Last year was considerably better than the three before. I hope this helps explain how some of us can manage to make a great living, and still chrome and paint our trucks to the point of obsession.

    One suggestion I might have for you if you are struggling, is to specialize. Most of these trucks you see in here, if you read the entire article, have a nice niche in speciality trucking, where they are rewarded for their experience with a fair rate. I consider a fair rate wages to your self, and a fair profit.