By Jeff Barker, contributor
There’s a lot of truth to the old saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” In some cases, that also includes rebuilding a truck from the ground up.
Mike Huddleston is an owner-operator and an OOIDA member from Gun Barrel City, TX, who believes in doing things the old-school way. As a former truck mechanic who busted knuckles in the shop for more than 15 years, he has the knowledge and expertise to make a lot of things happen on his own.
In 2009, Mike bought this 1985 Peterbilt 359 with the initial purpose of building a hauler truck for his son’s dirt bike supercross team. He pulled the truck out of a pasture and hauled it home before he and his son started the process of rebuilding it from the ground up.
They completely rebuilt the Cummins big cam 400 engine, Eaton-Fuller 15-speed transmission, and added a Peterbilt low air leaf suspension with 3:76 rear ends. The frame has been stretched to a 320-inch wheelbase.
Knowing the need for his family to have comfortable accommodations while traveling to the races, Mike improvised in that area too. The shell for the sleeper is actually a body from an old moving truck, but it has been fully insulated and set up with sleeping quarters, a shower, restroom, dinette, and a host of other amenities. He set it up with a generator, fresh water tank, gray and black water tanks, and a roof-mounted air conditioner – much like a nice motor home.
Mike eventually decided to put his cool creation of a truck to work full time and now hauls flatbed freight between Texas and the Midwestern states.
Being an owner-operator involves a driver wearing many different hats. When it comes to being one’s own mechanic, Mike definitely has that huge role filled already and he has the drive to make it work.
“I’m still learning a few things about it,” he said. “I still haul my son’s team around as well, but there’s definitely a bit more work to hauling freight. And I’m definitely finding that out.” LL