TRANS FAT, Powder Pony
Warren Caves discusses the perils (and rewards) of shopping. Images by Torque it Up.
You know those times when you go out shopping for an item and bring home something completely different?
I usually go out for a loaf of bread and come home with a 57-piece socket set, a six-pack of undies and a slab of beer − but maybe that’s just me.
Brian Stevens, of B&R Stevens Transport, was originally looking for a Kenworth T909, but ended up coming home with a 2011 Peterbilt 388, built to 2009 United States compliance requirements.
Brian has been operating a small fleet of Kenworth and Western Star trucks carrying out powdered concrete tanker work throughout NSW for some time. As the miles and the years march on, Brian started looking for a final truck in the hope it would see him into retirement.
Brian’s son-in-law, Luke Field, happened to spot something a little different up for grabs and thought it might be suited to satisfying his father-in-law’s quest for completing his driving career in something a little unusual, lifting Brian’s cool rating in the process.
Listed for sale by its previous owner, Barup Bullbars of Wagga Wagga, the Peterbilt 388 had been utilised by that company as a race transporter and promotional pony, and was screaming out for some personalisation.
Imported originally and converted to right-hand-drive compliance by Truckworks Australia in Adelaide, the ‘Pete’ 388 had worked in Brisbane on heavy haulage applications. Its next career move was for a new owner hauling walking floor trailers and fridges, running locally around Brisbane and some interstate work, before being purchased by Barup ‘Bars, and finally bought by Brian.
The previous owners would have to have a really close look to recognise the Peterbilt now, as FAT 388 has had a major metamorphosis.
This transition has enabled Brian to cash in on all those years of waiting for the bathroom, and criticism for leaving the toilet seat up. You see, when Brian’s daughter got married, Brian hit the truck drivers’ equivalent of the jackpot in the son-in-law stakes.
Luke operates Hy-Shyne Customs and Stainless, a truck modification and customising business in Sydney’s south-western suburb of Ingleburn. In what could be construed as a weird kind of dowry offering, Luke has put a whole lot of work into the Peterbilt to achieve its current standard.
Luke explains: “We basically stripped the truck back to a cab and bonnet on a chassis. We removed anything we thought could be improved, or that might inhibit the refurbishing programme, and went from there. The chassis was completely repainted from front to back in Burgundy Red PPG paint, complimenting the cab colour of Pirate Black, a PPG two-pack paint incorporating a purple pearl”.
Once the colour scheme was completed, the truck then underwent the process of accentuating and highlighting individual areas with either refinishing or adding customised accessories in stainless steel and chrome.
The tanks were wrapped in stainless as were the straps. A custom, low-slung tail-light bar was installed, along with custom low-mount guard brackets and Hogebuilt stainless, low-rider guards from the USA.
The front steps were converted from small boxes to custom-built, stainless steel step toolboxes, while the original Barup bumper remains on the front end.
Under the cab and chassis, the eight-inch “Monster Pipes” weave the exhaust gases on an unimpeded journey skyward with a noteworthy tone.
Luke says he had to also put a lot of work into the routing of the blower piping, located between the chassis rails for the pneumatic tanker, fabricating ’Y’ joints to ensure no fouling of components around the driveshaft, cab and chassis.
For the full customised effect, United Pacific of Longbeach, California supplied the bolt caps to cover all visible fasteners. The chassis walk plates have been painted to compliment the chassis and cab colour scheme, and the rear laser-cut section leaves no uncertainty as to the truck’s heritage.
“When we got the truck, it had stainless steel front wheel arch flares. The gap around these flares was deeper than we wanted, so we pulled them off and fabricated custom wheel arch flares that give a more low-line look for the truck,” Luke explained. “Within the design of the flares and the combination park light/indicator [the light defaults to whichever lamp is in operation at the time], we mirrored the shape and design of the Peterbilt logo as seen on the side of the hood, to give a blended look”.
A stainless windscreen drop-visor adds imposing street credibility, and limits glare.
Lucidity lights feature around the exterior of the truck, with United Pacific again supplying the bullet lights marking the roof. Hella LED driving lights tuck away as neatly as if they were original equipment, below the headlights.
The cab and 50-inch, low-line bunk internally didn’t escape the custom treatment either, with major personalisation and improvements within its shell.
In the original cab fit-out, according to Luke, there was a lot of grey, which can be a little drab. To spice things up and add contrast, Duncan’s Trimming of Narellan re-trimmed the seats in a mix of black with red highlights, including the Peterbilt logo embroidered into the seats and the lower seat skirts.
The bunk was already fitted with an in-cab heater/cooler, and was also re-trimmed to complement the front seats. On the cab ceiling is an amazing Peterbilt logo on a high-gloss plaque.
The steering wheel and foot pedals are by Outlaw Customs of Colorado (USA), which also supplied the chrome gauges that are interspersed by grey woodgrain dash panels and burgundy infill panels. These really compliment the red and black used on the seats and trim. A gearstick extension has been fitted with chrome cover.
When you’re on long runs you need quality tunes, and the full Rockford Fosgate treatment has been thrown in. Speakers in the doors, plus two 12-inch subs and an amp joins the slide out fridge under the bunk. An Alpine drop-down media unit sits between the sun visors, and another resides in the bunk.
The standard driveline has been retained in the form of a Cummins EGR engine, with 620 ponies (462 kW), driving through an 18-speed manual Eaton Road Ranger transmission. The rear axles are Spicer 46-160s.
Luke admits that he went “a little crazy” with this one; but I reckon if that gets you free beers from the father-in-law at Christmas, then it’s all worth it.