With high fuel prices, new rules, and more trucks being designed with aerodynamics in mind, long hoods and square noses are quickly becoming a thing of the past. But, there is no doubt that these older trucks helped shape the trucking industry into what it is today. And even though the day will come when we won’t see these relics on the road anymore, they will be preserved by a disappearing breed of men and woman who still love them and will run them to the end. One of these men is Bill Warner Jr. (44) of Circleville, WV.
Growing up, Bill was no stranger to trucking. His dad (Bill Warner Sr.) owned and operated B & B Trucking of Circleville, WV. Mostly running Ford LTL9000s, Internationals and KWs, Bill Sr. hauled gravel, logs, and pulled flatbeds locally. Anytime Bill Jr. would get the chance, he went along with his dad trucking. “I must have rode at least a million miles with him – I was in the truck all the time,” says Bill Jr. Around the time that Bill Jr. turned 18, he purchased a 1978 Ford LT9000 dump truck and left for Washington D.C. to haul dirt and gravel. After hauling in the D.C. area for over three years, Bill Jr. bought an 1989 International Eagle and began pulling a dump trailer. For the next three years or so he hauled metal and coal over the road until coming back to run just the surrounding states near his home in West Virginia.
In 1991, Bill Jr. became the owner of his first Peterbilt – a 1986 short-hood 359. Over the next few years, Bill Warner Jr. Trucking would grow to become the successful business it is today, which now consists of 10 working trucks and several show trucks. As far as loads, nothing much has changed. Bill’s trucks continue to pull dump trailers, hauling coal out of Huntington, WV to Riverton, WV, apples when in season, and grain. Besides dump trailers, they also haul bark and mulch, equipment (every once in a while), and run a newly-established wrecker service, as well. Needless to say, Bill is a very busy guy!
In 1999, Bill came across a 1981 Peterbilt 359 sitting behind a garage with bushes grown around it. The truck had a 450-hp 3408 V-8 Cat, a 6×4 double-over transmission, and a 280-inch wheelbase. Being out in the weather had taken its toll on the truck – it no longer ran, all of the hoses had dry-rot, and rust had set in. After much convincing, the owner sold the truck to Bill, who quickly realized he had a lot of work ahead of him.
Once the truck made its way back to Bill’s shop, the frame was sandblasted and repainted, new front and rear fenders were installed, and all of the chrome pieces were replaced. Inside, gorgeous hardwood floors were laid down and the old Eldorado seats were swapped out. Amazingly enough, though, the truck’s brand new 84-inch Double Eagle sleeper had been untouched – even the original factory plastic wrapping was still intact! Up until 1983, the truck had originally been charcoal gray and had a 63-inch flattop sleeper. After the truck was redone in 1983 by the original owner, it was hardly run – in fact, it only had a little over 250,000 miles showing on the odometer when Bill bought it!
In 2004, Bill wanted to have the House of Colors Candy Brandywine sleeper repainted. Deciding to keep the Stagecoach theme the truck already had, Bill had his Uncle Mike “Mountain Man” Lambore, an extremely talented painter, repaint the sleeper and its murals. When completed, the truck had been adorned with an incredibly-detailed custom paint job that told a story.
The mural on the drivers’ side of the sleeper has a stagecoach storming through a canyon river in the Old West. The scene shows a band of robbers shooting from the canyon cliffs – the horses are scared and they only have one man to keep them safe. If you only looked at the drivers’ side mural you would never see the whole story, but the passenger side tells how it ends.
The mural on the passenger side shows the happy ending – the stagecoach made it to town, the fair lady who was inside is safely departing the coach, and the sun is setting on the thief-inhabited canyon. Upon closer inspection, you see the intricate details of the town – each building is named after a member of the Warner family – “Bill’s Saloon” is on one building, “Marshall Cody” (Bill’s son) is on another, and “Miss Debbie’s Place” (Bill’s Wife) is on a third.
At the truck shows “Stagecoach Express” is never lacking attention from both spectators and judges alike. “It does good wherever it goes. I don’t know what it is about that truck, but even the people who don’t like Peterbilts like it,” says Bill. Not only does the “Stagecoach Express” have the inventiveness to draw in a crowd, it has the trophies to prove it, snatching Best of Show at the Western Maryland Truck Show, Best of Show at the America’s Truck Wash and Chrome Shop show, and winning its class in Louisville at the Mid-America Trucking Show back in 2001.
Besides the “Stagecoach Express” Peterbilt, Bill Jr. is the owner of many other first class rides and home-built show trucks. When asked about his hobbies, Bill laughed and said, “I don’t really have any hobbies, I just build trucks!” His collection includes several 359s, an X-model Pete 379, a Legacy Edition Peterbilt 379, and a 1989 Ford LTL9000. In 2011, the newly-built Ford truck did stunningly-well at the shows, and even earned a spot in the 2012 Shell Rotella SuperRigs calendar.
I would like to thank Bill for his willingness and time – Bill’s enthusiasm for old rides is a fire I don’t believe will burn out any time soon. In a world that keeps moving forward, some things will remain the same for guys like Bill and many others – their great passion for old-school trucking and their love of those long, square hoods will continue. These old relics may one day disappear from the highways, but Bill Warner Jr. and others like him will do everything they can to make sure that these classic big rigs are never forgotten.