By Jeff Barker, contributing writer
A well-maintained and paid-for old ride – and an owner-operator who knows his way around it – can lead to less downtime and more profitability. People like that are rare nowadays.
Doug Allain, an OOIDA member and owner-operator from Mora, MN, knows the benefits of keeping a truck in excellent mechanical condition. Fortunately, he also has the knowledge to do most of his own repairs.
With many shops being clogged with late-model trucks with emission-controlled engines in recent years and a shortage of mechanics, he has what it takes to keep his 1994 Kenworth W900L with a 60-inch Aerodyne I sleeper up and running. He operates his truck in extreme conditions and situations where dependability is a major priority because help may not be readily available.
Three years ago, Doug paid $11,000 in cash and became the fourth owner of this truck. It began life as a fleet truck for a well-known graphics company based in Wisconsin almost 20 years ago and still has the familiar decals.
Doug’s uncle was the third owner of this truck for 12 years. Before buying it, Doug was also hired by his uncle to drive this same truck on occasion. Knowing the recent history of it was a huge selling point.
“I took a liking to it, especially with the classic styling of the big hood and Aerodyne I sleeper,” he said.
Doug has his truck leased to a carrier based in Minnesota and pulls a Conestoga trailer throughout 47 states and Canada. His K-Whopper is powered by a Caterpillar 3406E 475 horsepower engine that’s backed by an Eaton Fuller 13-speed and Eaton 3:73 rear ends. He averages between 5.8 and 6.2 miles per gallon.
As an old-school owner-operator who does most of his own maintenance at his home shop, Doug changes his own oil between 10,000 and 15,000 miles (depending on idle time) and uses what is drained out in a furnace for heat. He greases the chassis every weekend and carries spare parts such as an alternator, belts, lights, and an air governor in one of his side boxes as well as enough tools to do most repairs on the road when it’s practical.
Doug’s KW now has more than 2 million miles on the odometer. I’m confident that he will continue to enjoy the peace of mind and minimal downtime with his faithful old ride for many more years – and millions of miles – to come. LL