There is an old saying that goes, “You are in life where you feel you ought to be.” Now, many of us might disagree with that statement, and I would have too, back in the mid 1960’s. If you told me I was going to be a diesel engine mechanic and spend the rest of my life working on trucks and meeting so many wonderful gear heads that are just like me, I would have told you that you were crazy. “I’m going to be a professional baseball player” would have been my response. At that time that was my dream, and to this day, I keep my Wilson baseball glove wrapped in two plastic bags just to preserve the leather and save that wonderful smell. When I open those bags and put that glove on my hand, many wonderful memories come flooding back.
When I was 16, my father owned a 1959 Chevrolet Convertible with a 283 engine, a 2-barrel carburetor and a 2-speed power glide transmission. This Chevy was not a fast car by any means, and to this day I wonder why he owned such a small engine. His previous car was a 1956 Packard. That Packard was powerful and he loved to drive it fast. My father loved Harley Davidson motorcycles, and in 1937 he and my mother rode a ‘37 Harley from Pittsburgh to California with only $66.00 in their pocket. They were gone for three weeks and returned with $6.00! He didn’t have a motorcycle when he began his family of four children, of which I am the youngest.
My father, who was a mechanic, could fix anything – he even worked for Harley Davidson during his younger years in Pittsburgh. He and his father built several “spec” homes in the Morningside section of Pittsburgh, and he attended Conley Vocational School. This man was an electrician, plumber, carpenter and mechanic – he could do anything – but above all, he was a gear head. When you’re raised by this type of man, you feel you can do the same. While I still had my learners permit, he bought a new 1965 Impala Super Sport with a 396 engine and “four on the floor” (4-speed transmission).
The day he purchased that Impala, I was working at a local Winky’s 15 cent hamburger restaurant. I was looking out the window when he pulled in and I’ll never forget the smile on his face. I was out the door in a flash! I jumped behind the wheel of that dark blue Super Sport and took it for a spin. As I rolled my right foot on the throttle, I was amazed at how fast that car went – it had plenty of power and torque! My new addiction with horsepower started at that very moment. I loved the feeling of a great running engine and the exhilaration of powering up those big hills in western Pennsylvania.
From there, my life turned away from baseball and instead to street racing, drag racing, autocrosses, hill climbs, and finally road course racing, where I set a track record at Nelson Ledges Road Course in Warren, Ohio, that took seven years for someone to break. My dream of being a baseball player changed to the desire to be a professional race car driver. I didn’t know who, how or where to go from there. I thought someone would discover me for my racing achievements, but that did not happen.
Chuck Passmore, owner of a small diesel injection shop, was amazed at my mechanical abilities with Corvettes. Chuck asked me to take over his shop in Pittsburgh so he could move to Tampa, Florida. I worked in dispatch and traffic management at the age of 27, and I told him I knew next to nothing about diesel engines. He told me, “If you take what you know about Corvettes and apply it to diesel engines, you’ll do just fine.” So, here I am, 33 years later, still working with diesel engines and loving it!
So, back to the opening statement of this article: “You are in life where you feel you ought to be.” I feel that I am doing what I was meant to be doing – working with a great group of owner operators from all over of the world. Are you where you feel you ought to be? Were you meant to drive a truck and to read this article? Do you crave a great running truck? I think so, or else you wouldn’t be passionate enough to care to take the time to read this. Embrace your passion, and, to borrow a line from the U.S. Army, “Be all you can be!” I will continue with my passion and you should continue with yours.
Here is something you Cat guys may not know – a Caterpillar Acert engine is an EGR engine. An actuator opens the intake valve during the exhaust stroke and allows exhaust to flow into the intake manifold to be burned again. Even though Caterpillar doesn’t call it an EGR engine, it is re-burning the exhaust. Now that your Acert is out of warranty, you should convert it back to a single turbo engine (unless you are happy with its fuel mileage and reliability). This conversion will gain back 1 mpg that the engine lost when it became an Acert. It is an expensive job, but the twin turbos and intake valve actuators are expense to replace when they fail, too. The fuel savings alone from this conversion will pay for itself in less than a year.
Many exciting things are happening at Pittsburgh Power, and we will continue to work hard to help you, the owner operators of the world, improve your engine’s fuel mileage and extend the life of your trucks. We appreciate your business and look forward to many more years of service to the trucking industry. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at Pittsburgh Power in Saxonburg, PA at (724) 360-4080 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!