I’ve always been a believer in the old saying, “Don’t forget your roots.” For many of us, those “roots” usually include a few old photo albums or dusty shoe boxes filled with faded and torn photos from yesteryear. This month, I wanted to feature a short-lived but cool small fleet from the late 70’s and early 80’s named Standard Forest Products out of Springfield, Oregon, and I knew there was only one person to call for the pics and info – Wayne Johnson of Cheshire, Oregon. Back then, Wayne drove a yellow 1979 Pete 359 short hood, straddling a KTA600 Cummins “all factory” powerhouse, as well as a dark grey 352H (which also had a “K” in it) for Standard. As it turned out, Wayne’s photo album included pictures of all four of Standard’s cool and rare old rigs, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Wayne began his trucking career in 1974 driving an old Freightliner cabover for Rex Myers, a local moving company. It didn’t take Wayne long to have that truck cleaned up and lookin’ good, but the term “lookin’ good” really came into play in 1976 when Wayne started working for Standard Forest Products, hauling lumber between the Northwest, Salt Lake City and L.A. That kind of gig could have kept Wayne happy for years, but in 1980 Standard sold all of their trucks. From there, Wayne went to N+N Company, pulling vans and hauling paper products throughout the western states for owners George & Hazel Nelson – but that wasn’t even the best part! George Nelson’s side hobby was a white Detroit-powered 1965 Peterbilt drag truck that he raced at drag strips and on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Wayne has always cherished the friendship and bond developed with the whole Nelson family and even after 1986, when the paper haul was lost, Wayne still helped the Nelsons with all of their racing ventures, and he even got to run the Pete race truck at Bonneville!
Due to the lost haul with N+N, 1986 began with another cool job for Wayne. Moving over to Aerodyne Trucking, Wayne got to drive their awesome white 359 long hood with a 3408 Cat and a 20-speed Spicer trans, pulling a reefer, between the Northwest and L.A. But when the freight got slow, Wayne found himself sitting around on the road quite a bit, and with two young daughters and wife Kathy waiting for him at home, Wayne decided to move on and find something new – but he sure did miss that 3408-powered Pete! Mt. Hood Timber Products became Wayne’s next home in late 1986, where he found himself driving one of their rockin’ Kenworth K100’s. Back then, he helped blaze the trail by managing to haul over-length (maxi) loads of beams on truck and pup setups equipped with logging-style bunks with telescoping drawbars between the beds. It was the ideal way to haul this type of freight before 53’ 4-axle trailers became the mainstay in the Northwest. However, like many of Wayne’s other jobs, this one also ran out of fuel in 1988. But when that door closed, another one opened.
Wayne’s next job turned out to be a keeper, and has been his home for the last 23 years! Rexius Forest By-Products, founded in Eugene, Oregon over a half century ago, has treated Wayne like a million bucks since the day he climbed into one of their trucks. A lot of thanks go out to Arlen Rexius and the whole Rexius family (and company) for continuing to give Wayne the pride and fun that all great truckers should have for all of these years. And, of course, the greatest thanks go out to Wayne’s wife Kathy, their two daughters, and now their grandchildren for being, in Wayne’s words, “so tolerant of my passion for trucking.”
Whether you are a truck owner or a top-notch company driver like Wayne, you probably love what you do – and you probably have a photo album or two to prove it! We would like to thank Wayne and his family for sharing these pictures from the pages of his photo album, and for showing us all a glimpse back at the good ‘ol days of trucking.