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Oil, engines & owner-operators
Frequent oil changes keep “Big Bertha” rolling

Rene Tankersley
Feature Editor

Mike and Roseann Daniels, a husband-wife team from Titusville, FL, haul expedited freight for FedEx Custom Critical in their 2000 Century Class Freightliner C112 truck. They’ve named the truck “Big Bertha” because of its size and its one-piece fiberglass RSP body style manufactured by Supreme Industries of Goshen, IN.

Big Bertha runs with a 330 ISM Cummins engine and an Eaton Fuller AutoShift 10-speed transmission. When asked how they like the autoshift tranny, Mike chuckles. He’s speaking to Land Line from a Freightliner shop where his transmission is getting new solenoids after Mike paid a hefty tow bill.

“With a straight stick, I could have limped it into a dealer,” Mike says. “When something goes wrong with the autoshift, you have no choice but to call for a tow.” However, Mike and Roseann still like the convenience of the autoshift feature. “I’m not going to kid you, it’s nice when you’re trying to eat a sandwich while driving,” Mike says. “Women drivers like it, too. Roseann loves it. That’s one of the reasons we bought it.”

Having racked up 96,000 miles, Bertha relies on Shell Rotella T, regular oil changes and Lucas Oil treatment to keep up with the hard running necessary to expediting freight. Mike and Roseann get the oil changed and do PMs every 10,000 to 15,000 miles at Speedco. They reserve oil analysis for those rare times they run over 15,000 miles before an oil change.

Additionally, the couple uses Lucas fuel treatment every once in a while. They get 8 to 8.5 miles per gallon in their expediting truck that weighs 30,000 pounds empty and grosses at 55,000 pounds.

In addition to hauling gym equipment, computers and general freight, Big Bertha hauls her own tools because Mike and Roseann like doing their own maintenance. Bertha also hauls her own electric power, a 8.5 kilowatt generator, which runs a 1200 Btu room air conditioner to keep them cool without idling.

The couple gets their advice about preventative maintenance from a mechanic friend. “The more you change the oil, the less likely you’re going to have an engine problem,” Mike explained. “The oil breaks down. The more you give it fresh oil, the parts won’t wear as bad.”

Their business keeps them away from home seven to eight months at a time with a few days home before hitting the road again. The Internet keeps them in touch with their customers and Mike’s 10-year-old daughter, who lives in New Jersey with her mother.

Computers and business go hand in hand for Mike and Roseann. Mike has an associate degree in computer science from Florida Community College. Roseann has a bachelor’s degree in business from Ohio State University. They recently got their own authority and promote their business, Daniels Express Special Services, with their web site at