Posted on December 08 2016
I want to build something a little different. Something that can be used for my business, will have big cool factor, be functional, but most importantly “make people smile.... and by that, I mean the kids!“
A challenge yes, but Mike’s company is all about the communities they work in and the families in those communities. ”Let's build a truck - a custom truck." Not a lifted half ton. Not a slammed dually. Something with a few more wheels. Like 10. "If we are going to do this, it has to be all in“. Big smiles means a Big Rig! A Peterbilt, and being a car guy it has to look classic. A 379 Pete should do the trick. Now being a movie fan - which one of the coolest movie semi trucks would be immediately recognized by every kid and be one cool rig with killer paint. Hmmm, what better flamed out truck is there? Optimus from the Transformers! This should do the trick. The kids will go nuts and maybe some day, some of those smiling kids just may grow up, remember our truck and who knows, maybe join the company.
In January of 2015 - the challenging project was initiated. Create a custom working hauler in 6 short months. It needs to be hauling heavy gear in June. Yes, a working rig. No show queen. Heavy industrial sites and back roads compatible. The team is assembled and gets to work.
The first challenge is the truck itself. The classic 379 Peterbilt in the movie is no longer made, so the team custom orders a fresh 2016 389 Pete off the line. Now this has to be movie perfect, so factory paint and options will not do. While the truck is being assembled in the factory, a top notch painter is brought on board, a graphics guy to draft up the flames, a machinist for the one off hood ornament, and a crack parts team, combing through movie clips and parts books sourcing everything to make the vision happen.
The transformation begins… pun intended.
Once the factory fresh 389 arrives in their shop, the Prince George Peterbilt Team work their magic, pulling apart a shiny brand new truck in order to customize and install all of our specially chosen very long list of custom pieces, transforming it into a unique hauler. Paying strict attention to all the movie details, both big and small, this soon to be dressed out workhorse is well on it’s way to perfection. The short list of mods include: custom front and rear fenders, grill, exterior cab running lighting, headlights, cab lights, safety lights, exhaust, fuel tanks, battery box covers and steps, air intakes, mirrors, custom bumper, headache rack, visor, lowered suspension, wheels, sleeper, and much more.
Readying for it’s first road trip
With most of the new bits ‘n pieces in place, the truck is buttoned up and is made ready for a quick shake down blast down the highway to the custom paint shop for some sprucing up of the boring factory paint.
The fun really begins…
The new Pete finally arrives at Rags To Riches and is promptly attacked by their skilled team. All the new bits that were so painstakingly added are now pulled off. All the shine is stripped away, and the truck is now looking like an angry, wet cat.
The aftermarket front fenders look exactly that - aftermarket and will not do. Johnny takes on the task with some serious fiberglass skills to make them into something way cooler - bobbing the tails to give them that ol’ skool look and making them flow with the body properly.
Once the body is fully stripped and prepped, Marty gets to work on the flames. Pulling out his fine line tape and years of experience, he curls the tape around the custom graphics drawings with ease, flowing with each curve. Now the hard part - doing the EXACT same to the other side, and the roof too!
“Instead of the standard brush and paint method, let’s add a little more challenge to take it up a notch - let’s airbrush them in” Marty says with a mischievous grin. And not just the tried and true striper's paint, “let’s use a pearl to make it pop!” Marty is show’n the skills with a little lick of pearl here, there and everywhere, outlining the killer flames.
Adding the essential striping
Flashing in a little gold
After all the striping work, the flames are reverse masked to protect the stunning pearl blue from the next stage - the gold. Making the candy paint dance in the light is all about the base colour. Coat after coat of the rich metallic gold is carefully laid on to these huge panels, ensuring it goes down even and consistent.
A little candy coating please…
With all the gold laid in and flashed up, now the finesse begins. The exacting process of building up the many passes of transparent candy colors. This shows the many years of experience behind the paint gun. The even blending of the deep candy red, to orange, to rich yellow/gold in just the right amount of paint and speed requires a master’s touch, and Marty rolls up the sleeves.
One too many passes - the red goes too dark. Uneven pattern, and the paint will show “tiger stripes”. Oh, and lets have the nose of the truck blend through 3 colors… and transition from one to the next, and on all 3 sides to match perfect. “No problem”!
After many, many hours of sanding, painting, masking, more painting, more masking and yet more painting this giant hot rod, the moment arrives. Pulling all the tape and paper away to reveal that all that effort is rewarded. Nailed it! Colors are perfect, blends are amazing and the candy dances and changes hues in the light. A little more dry time and the multiple layers of clear coat can be applied. Once fully cured, the whole truck is sanded once again and buffed out to a perfect shine.
Now time for the rest of the ‘Rags To Riches’ team to step back in and ever so carefully, put all the shiny bits and fenders back on - around FRESH PAINT!
A custom hood ornament
With all that fancy paint, we can’t just settle for the stock hood ornament! From a solid 6” x 6” x 12” block of aircraft grade aluminum and a rough pencil sketch based on a blurry clip from the movie, the truck’s badge is CNC milled to perfection. 4 separate pieces are machined, fitted, hand polished and assembled.
With it’s paint polished, the shiny bits back on, and stem to stern detailing complete, the custom hauler is brought out into the sun. The entire team is blown away by the results. The truck is readied for the trip back to Prince George for the final touches, the custom made bumper, custom made headache rack and lighting. Oh, and several stops along the way for a some photo ops for the kids.
Dressed and ready for work
The new Pete made it’s debut at the Pro-Trucker Custom Truck Show, and took home two 2nd place trophies. Next show, it will have some grease on the fifth wheel, some miles on the tires and be gunning for more trophies in the “working” class. After all, this truck is not a show queen - it is a working rig! Pretty good for first time out.
More importantly to Mike, and Dave the hauler operator, is the smiles and wide eyes it brings to the kids and adults alike, as it rolls past on the highways and in the work sites and communities it travels through.