2020 - Volume #44, Issue #1, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
They Upgrade, Rebuild Or Restore Peterbilts
The company got into the business by turning an old Peterbilt into a motor home. With 23 years under its belt, employees have completely restored many old models. They’ve also upgraded others with new engines, transmissions and all the fixings. The company will also supply parts for do-it-yourselfers.
“Some guys like upgrades, and others just want to get their trucks back to what they were,” says Mike McQuiddy, Courtland Truck Works. What all their customers have in common, he adds, is what his wife calls “red oval disease”.
“The old Peterbilts weren’t the biggest or the baddest, but they were the most well-liked by truck drivers,” he adds.
When it comes to restoration, Courtland will fabricate any parts they don’t have in stock or can’t find. “Gear sets and transmissions are the only things that get sent out,” says McQuiddy. “We are constantly buying rigs and have a backlog of trucks to pick up and part out.”
Restored trucks are often limited in use to driving to truck shows. Current emission standards require substantial upgrades if older trucks are going to be used for commercial transport.
Bob Spooner delivers Courtland’s restored and rebuilt Peterbilts with his own 1961 Peterbilt 281 that he bought new. At 77, he may be one of the oldest commercial drivers in the country, as well as the longest operating, having started commercial trucking in 1959. His Peterbilt is approaching 9 million miles on the classic truck.
Spooner notes that while the truck may be old, nothing under the hood is. In fact, even the cab was replaced after he and the truck survived a tornado that lifted it off the ground and dropped it on its side.
Courtland did most of the recent work, including the truck’s third engine and an 18-speed transmission that replaced the 5-speed main box and 3-speed auxiliary. All the wheels are now hub pilot style, and it has front brakes. It even has cruise control.
Recently Spooner returned from a delivery in Ontario and a few weeks later headed for Tennessee. The California-based firm has shipped out restored or rebuilt Peterbilts to most states in the U.S. and Canadian provinces, as well as overseas.
“We have more customers out of the country than in,” says McQuiddy. “The Swedish market is crazy for Peterbilts, and the Australians are just as bad. We’ve hit about all the European countries other than France. We’ve sent a bunch to England.”
McQuiddy says a ballpark figure for an upgrade starts around $150,000. A full restoration from the ground up of a long 3-axle, leaving no bolts unturned, can run $300,000.
“What is done and to what extent depends entirely on the customer,” says McQuiddy. “Some just want parts and will do it themselves. Others want us to do the hard stuff like stretching out a frame or changing out suspensions.”
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Courtland Truck Works, 12019 Hwy. 160, Courtland, Calif. 95615 (ph 916 775-1633; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.courtlandtruckworks.com)
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