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Oil, Engines & Owner-operators
‘Patent Leather’ boosts fuel mileage with wing

Feature Editor

OOIDA members Tim and Jamie Barrett’s 1997 Western Star Constellation has logged more than 476,000 miles, but its shiny black exterior still lives up to the truck’s name, “Patent Leather.” In 15 years as owner-operators, the Barretts have found some creative ways to save a few bucks and earn some extra dough.

To increase their fuel mileage, they installed a wing on top of their truck’s sleeper. They say this adds about three-quarters of a mile to the gallon, and at today’s prices the savings add up. On a recent trip from Florida to their home in Tucson, AZ, the Barretts’ truck used 102 gallons less fuel. At $1.20 per gallon, their savings would add up to $122.40.

The couple’s truck runs a Cummins 535 engine and a 18-speed Eaton transmission. To keep it running smoothly, the Barretts use Chevron Delo oil and have their PMs and oil analysis done every 20,000 miles at Speedco.

With 25 years in trucking, Tim has tallied 2.5 million accident-free miles. He has his own authority and operates as T&J Transportation Services. Tim and Jamie travel with a third partner – Gus, their African Grey Congo parrot. Gus doesn’t drive, but he does plenty of talking.

They haul primarily restaurant and bar furnishings for Zuckero & Sons, the same company that pays them to advertise the manufacturing company on their trailer. Tim does the custom painting on the trailer and bills Zuckero every quarter for the advertising. The Barretts have been making money from their trailer advertising since 1998.

Married 18 years, Tim and Jamie plan their time off around their birthdays, both in July, and their wedding anniversary, Aug. 8. They take three weeks off to include all three of these special days, plus spend plenty of time with their five adult children and six-year-old grandson.