From cheap to neat
While many budget-minded owner-operators will often buy a cheap starter truck to run for just a few years, some will elect to keep them over the long haul.

By Jeff Barker, contributing writer

Shane Foutch, an OOIDA member from Moyie Springs, a small town in northern Idaho, wanted to drive a truck since he was 4 years old.

As a child, Shane watched his grandfather work as an owner-operator. He knew then what he wanted to do. Shane got his start more than 17 years ago as a company driver and worked his way into being an owner-operator.

About 11 years ago on a Montana ranch, Shane found a 1992 Peterbilt 379 that had been sitting for a while. He knew he had to have it. He bought it for cheap, got it home, and spent time getting it ready to hit the road again.

“I really wanted a Peterbilt that was mechanically sound, but didn’t want to get killed on the purchase price,” he said.

“This truck was originally in a large fleet based in the Midwest,” he said. “It had very few bells and whistles on it, but over time I made it into what I wanted.”

Shane pulls a step-deck trailer and hauls open deck loads, including oversize permit loads, throughout the United States and all of the bordering Canadian provinces.

“Over time, I developed a great deal of confidence in this old truck. I’m willing to go anywhere with it now,” he said.

His clean old Pete is powered by a Caterpillar 3406C mechanical engine with 425 horsepower. The transmission is an Eaton-Fuller 10-Speed and the rear ends are 3:90 ratio on a Peterbilt air leaf suspension.

Shane definitely had his priorities in the right place when he started off with a cheap, paid-for truck. Because he has a family, Shane didn't want a huge truck payment hanging over his head every month. So he worked hard and now owns a truck he can be very proud of – not to mention he has stuck with the same employer where he got his start almost two decades ago.

Since he bought the truck and put it to work, he has replaced a few items including the entire engine after a crankshaft main bearing problem. He also had the transmission and rear ends gone through for more peace of mind.

The custom touches include clear LED lighting everywhere, new aluminum wheels, and a new exhaust system. He runs Chevron Delo oil in the engine and changes it every 12,000 miles.

With the cost of fuel being high these days, Shane says he almost never drives this truck above 60 mph.

“It’s not worth it to go that fast with fuel costs on the rise. People may give me grief about it, but I like the idea of my quarterly fuel mileage averages being just under 7 mpg,” he said. “It’s so much easier on the equipment – especially an older truck like mine with almost 1.9 million miles on it – that I want to keep around for a long time.”

Shane doesn’t like to idle his truck either except in extremely cold weather.

“I enjoy sleeping with a breeze blowing through my cab on a warm day, and I will bundle up on a cold night just like most flatbedders do,” he said.

Shane hasn’t done any upgrades in his truck, he said.

“None really. In fact, I don’t even own a GPS unit and don’t care to either.”

True old school truckin’. LL