You might file the subject of this post under the “Highway Hacks” tag, because it details Beadle’s partial solution to replacement-parts scarcity for his 1976-model Peterbilt cabover. At once, his purchase of an identical — including identically spec’d when original — 1976 Pete as a sort of “organ donor” for his daily driver is not something that’s going to be exactly simple for that many owners of older-model trucks to do. As with most remarkable stories about old trucks, Beadle’s involves a little luck.
The “donor” truck happens to be just “seven serial numbers behind mine on the assembly line,” Beadle says, which he discovered long before he bought it this past year. “I bought it for parts, all because I needed an ‘insurance’ parts truck, since my truck is obsolete.”
Doing so, he rescued those parts from some weeds growing up around the rig in Pearsall, Texas, not far South along I-35 from where he lives in Devine. “I’ve know about this truck for about twenty years,” Beadle says. More than a decade ago, “an older, now-deceased friend of mine had bought it and I’d done some work on it for him. I got curious one day and looked at the serial number and was amazed to find it to be 83092P, whereas mine is 83085P.”
The P, he adds, denotes the place of manufacture in California (the Newark, Calif., Pete facility at that time) “that is no longer in existence.”
Somewhere along the way, Beadle’s older friend, Jim, had sold 83092P to another party and Beadle lost track of the unit only to see it turn up after a few years sitting in the corner of the yard of a “farm operation in Pearsall, Texas. … where weed grew up around it for about 10 years. Windows down and doors unlocked, it’s a wonder that it wasn’t trashed more than it is.”
What Beadle heard the first time he inquired about potentially purchasing the truck from the farm: “We ought to just give it to you.”
He didn’t consider it fair to just take it, but he said he’d offer something if they didn’t give him a number.
Time went by, as much as a “few years,” even, he says. “It was on the backburner when I decided I had better make a move or something or someone would get it away from me. Quite frankly, I was afraid someone would set fire to it just to be mean …”
They made a deal for the truck for $1,800, as is. “I felt that was a good number — the parts are, in my opinion, priceless!” Beadle says. “I’ve already put to use the air cleaner can, transmission and numerous other parts. I now have the luxury of refurbishing parts to like-new status before I use them, and also I have the time cushion to do these things before I’m in a bind to need them,” keeping downtime to a minimum and affording Beadle the ability to prepare parts at his own pace, in most cases.
As far as he’s concerned, it was a “wise move to take advantage of while I could. That’s it in a nutshell.”