Some guys are just born to drive – they have a driving destiny. And no matter how hard people try to talk them out of getting into trucking or convince them that it is not the life they want to live, they end up driving anyway. Such is the case for Jason Schmidt of Colgate, Wisconsin. Both his father and grandfather were truckers, and both tried to stop him from getting started in the business, but when it’s in your blood, there isn’t much else you can do. Today, Jason (31) gets to drive an amazing custom combination, built just for him, and he is loving life!
Growing up in Glidden, Wisconsin, Jason spent a lot of time on the road with his dad, Rod. Back then, his dad and uncles ran log trucks all over northern Wisconsin, while his grandfather (Don Schultz) ran over-the-road. At 12 years old, Jason was already greasing trucks and driving them around the yard. Jason has many vivid memories of sitting on the doghouse and watching his dad drive – he was mesmerized by it! When it came time to graduate high school, Jason’s dad told him that he couldn’t get his CDL until after he earned a college degree – from there, the choice was up to him.
Moving to Milwaukee to attend Milwaukee Area Technical College, Jason studied business management and carpentry. After graduating, the plan was to go into business with his twin brother, Josh, building houses. But, as fate would have it, Jason did not stick to the plan – the day he earned his college degree he started driving a truck for his cousin. After bouncing around a few different places, he found himself driving a dump truck for his uncle Spike. Through this uncle, Jason met trucking icon Jack Moss and his son Steve. These guys are known for their amazing trucks and have a great reputation in the trucking world (Steve’s red 1952 Pete 350 was featured on our cover back in December 2011). Not long after that, in 2008, Jason got a call from Jack asking him if he wanted to come drive for them. Jason accepted and has been with Jack C. Moss Trucking of Germantown, WI ever since.
Jack Moss started trucking in the early 1970s. Back in those days, he drove a cabover Kenworth for Highway Transit. In 1980, he bought his first truck – a 1974 Pete 359 short hood with a 30” sleeper – and then in 1989, he bought his first new Peterbilt from the dealer in Green Bay. From there, the rest is history. Today, hauling mostly food-grade steel coils destined to be cans for various food products, their current operation consists of 15 trucks and about 20 trailers, and primarily runs in and around the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota. With one of the nicest fleets in the area, boasting all long-hood Petes with owner-operator specs, nice paint jobs and extra chrome, Jack C. Moss Trucking is known for hiring only the best of the best drivers – and Jason is proud to be part of the family.
When Jason first started driving for Jack, he went into a 2000 Peterbilt 379 painted light blue with a Seminole paint scheme featuring cream and dark blue. After about three weeks, Jason was given the chance to get into one of their nicer trucks, so he seized the opportunity. That truck is the one you see here – which he still drives today – but back then it looked a little different. At that time, it was Cobalt blue like it is today and had cream-colored stripes, but they were different stripes. It also had a 63-inch sleeper, stainless deck plates, single-round headlights, 8-inch miter-cut stacks, stock boxes, bigger fuel tanks, a stock interior (for the most part), a smaller bumper, and no air-ride on the front end. It was a nice truck back then, just not as wild and custom as it is today.
At the beginning of 2013, Jason was given the choice to drive a new glider kit they had on order or to refresh his existing ride – he chose the refresh. For the next several months, Jason and Steve, along with a lot of other helpers, worked nights and weekends giving the truck a full re-do. When it finally made its debut later that year in June at the SuperRigs show in Tomah, Wisconsin, it was good enough to be chosen for a spot in their 2014 calendar. And now, here it is being featured on our cover!
Sporting a 312-inch wheelbase, the 2001 Peterbilt 379 got a fresh new paint job from T/A Truck Painting in Pewaukee, WI featuring Cobalt blue with cream stripes and Marina blue outlines. The stripes were designed by the master, Jim Higgins. The 63-inch flattop sleeper was swapped out with a 48-incher, air-ride was added to the front axle, and WTI double hump fiberglass fenders were installed over the drives. The old oval-hole wheels were switched to round-hole versions, new boxes from 12 Ga. Customs with billet step plates (from a local boat shop) were installed, and the 8-inch miter-cut pipes were changed to 7-inch Dynaflex straights.
To make everything look right with the smaller sleeper, the fuel tanks were shortened. After that was done, all of the welds were smoothed-out and then the tanks were fitted with airplane-style flush fuel caps. Looking for that clean look, many items were painted, including the fuel and air tanks, the boxes, the visor, the mirror brackets, the headlights and brackets, the chopped breathers, the body drop panels, and all of the light bars, which came from 12 Ga. Customs. Up front, the truck was fitted with a 20-inch rolled-edge bumper from Valley Chrome, a round-hole punched grill from RoadWorks, and the single-round headlights were changed to double-squares with shaved blinkers. Behind the sleeper, the air bags and shocks were hidden underneath and then T/A fabricated a panel to cover the space left behind for a seamless look. A smooth, painted deck plate, a painted “I” panel between the fuel tanks from 12 Ga. Customs, a rear light bar and four bunk lights completed the rear-facing details.
As you can see in the early morning shot, this combination lights-up rather nicely. Featuring plenty of watermelon-style LED lights on both the tractor and trailer, as well as hidden red lights underneath for that glowing look, all of the lights have been placed in a neat, well-thought-out pattern. And speaking of the trailer, the 48-foot 2012 Reitnouer, which has a 10-foot spread, has been painted and polished to match the truck. The landing gear, frame, suspension and brake covers, and light bars were all painted blue, while the landing gear supports and deck supports were polished. Extra stainless pieces were added to the back of the trailer, and additional lights were mounted throughout.
Going inside the truck, the interior was completely gutted and redone. The folks at T/A smoothed-out the textured dash pieces and then painted them blue to match the exterior – even the door jambs are painted to match, stripes and all. Custom door panels were made with the map pockets removed and custom “Moss” emblems, the arm rests were painted, and chrome pedals were installed. The cab also features a cream-colored steering wheel, shifter boot and dash panels, as well as custom blue and cream seats. Back in the sleeper, a bunch of stuff has been painted, but it is still pretty stock.
The truck’s original 550 Cat 6NZ, which had about a million miles on it, was pulled out, rebuilt, and painted to match. Wanting the turbo to look like it was polished, they had it ceramic coated. Extensive amounts of paint and detail work was done on the engine, and it turned out amazing. And since Jason knows how to drive right, they did not “turn up” the motor – it is still stock, in regards to power. “If you drive it right, you can still get good mileage out of a stock, older motor,” said Jason, who averages about 7 mpg on most trips. Special thanks go out to Kenny Weber and his grandson, Jai, for helping out with the build – especially the engine.
While all of this hectic truck building was going on, Jason’s long-term girlfriend Monica had their first child – a baby girl named Layla – in March of 2013. Jason and Monica have known each other for most of their lives – they even went to kindergarten together, but they never dated. After high school, they both left to attend college but saw each other occasionally on holidays or when they came home to visit. Seven years ago, they finally got together and have been with each other ever since. Oddly enough, Monica has the same last name as Jason (Schmidt) so he often jokes about how they don’t need to get married. Monica works at a children’s hospital preparing IV drugs for the sick kids who need them. She loves her job, but it has got a little harder to see all of those sick kids now that she has a child of her own. Little Layla, who just turned one a few months ago, is pretty much the center of Jason and Monica’s universe – as she should be!
Jason loves working with Jack and Steve, and is very grateful for the awesome rig he gets to drive that was built just for him. When asked why they let Jason build this truck, Steve said, “He earned it. He works hard, he is dependable, he has been with us for years, and he keeps his truck extremely clean – we couldn’t ask for a better driver. He deserves to run a truck that looks as good as his does.” When you love what you do and you have passion, it shows in the quality of your work. We are glad that Jason did not listen to his dad or become a home builder, because when that diesel gets in your blood, there’s no getting rid of it. At that point, it is best to just give in and fulfill your driving destiny!