This month we bring you another set of trucks we ran into at the Great Salt Lake Kidney Kamp Truck Show last summer (this should tell you the caliber of trucks at that show) – two very cool and immaculately-rebuilt classic trucks owned by Ralph Smith Co. of Bountiful, Utah. An outfit with humble beginnings, this 60-year-old operation began with no more than one truck and has grown to nearly 100 employees today.
Ralph Smith Co. was started in 1952 by Ralph Bailey Smith. With only one truck, an F8 Ford dump truck, Ralph Smith began by hauling sand and gravel for contractors around his home base of Salt Lake City, Utah. Unfortunately, in 1979 Ralph Smith passed away, leaving his company and two trucks behind. Since 1979, still under the leadership of the Smith family, Ralph Smith Co. has steadily grown into a company with eighty drivers, eleven mechanics, and seven office personnel, not to mention some very cool classic trucks.
Ralph Smith Co. operates within several different segments of the industry including sand and gravel, hauling with a myriad of dump trailers, belly trains and side-dumps, as well as demolition, heavy haul, step-decks and flatbeds. When it comes to contracting, Ralph Smith Co. can handle whatever you throw at them, and then some. The two trucks seen here are not in Ralph Smith Co.’s working fleet, but instead are part of their fleet of non-working vintage trucks which they built and maintain for show purposes. The two trucks featured here are unit numbers 303 (the narrow-nose) and 305 (the wide hood), respectively.
Unit 303 is a classic narrow-nose 1962 Kenworth model 825. Powered by a 335 Cummins routed through a 5×4 set of sticks on 4.63 rears, the truck won’t get anywhere very fast but it will look good doing it! Adorned with minimal chrome, the truck keeps with its period, and with a recovery winch, it has an intimidating, no-nonsense look. The truck still sits on ten tube-type wheels and features eight “Super-Logger” tires. Outfitted with a custom interior provided by Gusco of Salt Lake City, the truck is neither ostentatious nor uncomfortable. Found in Montana, Unit 303 is also one of the few trucks out of color with the rest of the fleet (most of their trucks have a yellow and white scheme, similar to that of unit 305). The truck is painted in Ashworth colors (red and black), in memory of Linette Smith’s father, Wayne Ashworth, who was also a truck driver. Linette is married to Doug Smith, Ralph Smith’s son, who is part of the current family running the company today.
Unit 305 is a 1971 extended-hood Kenworth W900A. Painted in the classic Ralph Smith Co. livery, this truck is strictly period-correct. The truck was restored to be as close to accurate as possible, with the only custom feature being (loud) straight pipes. Like Unit 303, this truck is outfitted with a 335 Cummins and 4.63 rears, but it has a 13-speed transmission. A lifelong Utah-based tractor, the truck was offered to the Smith family after being saved from a junk yard. Back then it was missing the radiator, transmission and rear-ends, and it had a bad engine. The restoration of the truck began in 2009, and then it made its debut at the Great Salt Lake Kidney Kamp Truck Show in August of 2011. The truck, after its beautifully-performed restoration, is immaculate inside and out. In classic long-hood A-model fashion, this truck really needed no extras to be an immediate attention grabber.
As mentioned, Ralph Smith Co. maintains a small fleet of vintage trucks, including four other A-model Kenworths. Ralph Smith Co. is a member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the ATHS (American Truck Historical Society) and often includes their rigs in local parades.
We first got in contact with Ralph Smith Co. through two of their drivers at the Great Salt Lake Kidney Kamp Truck Show this past August. Terrell Lund and Cody Neimoyer had brought a number of the Ralph Smith Co. antique trucks to the show, as well as Cody’s daily work truck. Each machine was cleaned immaculately inside and out, and had about six coats of tire shine sunk into the side walls!
Terrell, a Utah native, was raised in a trucking family and has been driving his entire life, getting his start on his grandfather’s lap. Terrell got his CDL as soon as he turned 18, while also doing a four-year community college program to learn how to turn wrenches on the big trucks. Terrell has been working for Ralph Smith Co. since 1993, doing both mechanical work as well as driving. He currently drives a very impressive 2005 Kenworth W900B scrap-hauler. Powered by a 475 ACERT Cat pushed through a Super-10 and 3.35 rears, Terrell’s truck is outfitted with a scrap dump body and pulls a 38-foot Mac end-dump scrap trailer. A family man, married for over 14 years to his wife, Christina Reynolds Lund, Terrell has two children (Austin, who is just about ready to get his driver’s license, and Katryna, 9). When not working, Terrell enjoys camping with his family and getting out to the truck shows.
Cody Neimoyer, like Terrell, has been driving for Ralph Smith Co. since he could get his CDL when he turned 18. Though born in Medford, Oregon, Cody was primarily raised in Salt Lake City, and when Doug Smith, the father of the current Smith generation, asked Cody if he would like to try driving a truck for a living, he jumped at the chance. Since then, Cody has learned to drive trucks with several different set-ups. Currently doing primarily heavy haul work for the company, Cody says he drives whatever the company needs him to drive. Cody’s typical ride is a 2000 Kenworth T800 tri-drive powered by a 600 Cat routed through a Fuller 18-speed. The truck was incredibly well-presented at the truck show, especially considering the types of loads it hauls. Cody has been married very happily to his wife Melissa for twelve years and the couple has four children – Cody B. (11), Brayden (9), Austin (5), and Belia (1).
When I met Terrell and Cody at the truck show, I could tell that they were an interesting pair of drivers. We chewed the fat and talked about all sorts of subjects, and then later decided to do an informal photo shoot on Sunday, the day after the show ended. Not wanting to waste a good opportunity for a great location, we all headed out to the Salt Flats for the photo shoot. On our way out there, we noticed an enormous amount of hot rods and streamliners on trailers passing us by. Later, when we realized that it was Speed Week on the Flats, we knew it was going to be an interesting day. Perhaps what was most interesting, however, was to see how many of the hot-rodders and racers that came over to look at these neat old rigs. Who would have thought that it would be us slow-pokes getting all of the attention and second looks!
The Ralph Smith Co. is a family operation, and all of those I have spoken with carry themselves that way. In one of the photos, you will see a group shot of some of the guys, including (from left to right) Justin Peterson, Harry Smith, Cody, Terrell and Doug Smith. No one seems to be too good to speak with you, and they’re always willing to give you a hand. 10-4 would like to thank Ralph Smith Co. for the awesome time we had in Utah with them – we look forward to seeing them again at the show in 2012.