By Jeff Barker, contributing writer
Taking a trip along the interstates in West Virginia may not seem like a big deal at first, especially if you’re not having much trouble pulling those steep mountain grades. A lot of beautiful scenery out there, right?
Now take a minute to think about the wood products industry that stays busy during peak seasons in those places far away from the blacktop and out in the boonies – especially where trucks are involved.
There are a lot of rough conditions out there that would reduce most any late model truck into junk within a few miles. A driver who experiences a breakdown back there might not be able to get help anytime quick because of patchy cellphone service.
It’s basically “survival of the fittest” for the trucks and the drivers at the wheel who may have to do their own repairs to get rolling again.
George Kincaid Jr., an OOIDA member from Quinwood, WV, was running a later model truck until he was sidelined by an engine failure not too long ago.
Knowing he needed to get back to work, he bought a clean 1992 Kenworth W900B and put it to work in October 2012.
“It has been much more reliable so far. If anything does go wrong, it’s more likely that I can repair it myself. There’s very little that can go wrong compared to the newer truck I got out of,” he said.
A 425 horsepower Caterpillar 3406B engine powers George’s truck. That’s backed by an Eaton-Fuller 15-speed transmission and Eaton 3:90 rears on a Kenworth eight-bag air ride, which is a good combination for the kind of work he does.
He pulls log trailers and flatbeds throughout his home state and neighboring Virginia. Because of the seasonal nature of his line of work, he is planning to expand his flatbed operation into more states – especially now that he is more confident with the older truck he is running now.
Knowing he will be racking up some more miles, George intends to stay on top of his truck’s maintenance and do what he can to keep his old ride reliable. He also has an old school attitude about his oil changes. He does them on shorter intervals when his truck is operating in rougher conditions.
“I do it at 8,000 when I’m hauling logs, and will extend it to 10,000 when I’m on the road,” he says.
He may be averaging just 4 miles per gallon, but remember he’s hauling at gross legal weight most of the time in demanding conditions.
Kincaid, 38, started hauling furniture locally in West Virginia and drove a 24-foot straight truck before getting into a tractor-trailer in 1999. George was taught by an older driver and started his truck driving career in a 1985 Freightliner.
“I developed a deep appreciation for these older trucks; they have that feeling like a worn glove about them,” he said. “It also feels like you really have something under you.” LL