When asked how they ended up in the trucking industry, most folks give the same answer – either their dad, grandfather or another close relative had a truck and they were around them while growing up – and the rest is history. Then, there’s the few who find the industry by sheer fate, with no real reason for having trucks in their blood. Brandon Smith (36) of Raleigh, NC is one from the latter group. But, just because you weren’t born with the diesel “sickness” already in your veins, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a transfusion later in life that gives you the “disease” just as bad! And, based on his amazing rig seen here, Brandon is as sick as any other second or third generation trucker out there!!
Raised on a small farm in Raleigh, North Carolina, Brandon wasn’t around trucks much growing up. When he reached high school, Brandon had a friend whose family owned a farm and a small trucking operation, which is how Brandon would be introduced to trucking. After working on his friend’s tobacco and soybean farm for a while, Brandon earned his CDL while in college, at the age of 19. After college, Brandon started pulling a dump trailer and hauling sand and gravel locally. A year later, an opportunity arose that would enable him to buy his own truck and get into hauling with a steady company. At the time, his neighbor, a trucker of 35 years, had a 1996 CH613 Mack with a flattop sleeper for sale, which became Brandon’s first truck.
Over the next five years, Brandon hauled crushed recycled glass around North Carolina. In 2004, Brandon purchased a light blue and white ‘78 Freightliner FLB cabover with a 300-inch wheelbase from Randy Kerns, along with a dry van, for a different taste of trucking. After doing over-the-road work for over four years, he went back to hauling recycled crushed glass locally. Still running the cabover, after a month of doing short-haul dump trailer work, constantly jumping in and out of the cab and trying to get around with no power steering, Brandon was ready to make a change. Selling the cabover to 10-4’s own Trevor Hardwick (our Poetry in Motion author from Washington), Brandon bought a purple 1996 Peterbilt 379 daycab with a 3406 Caterpillar, out of Virginia, to be a more practical everyday work truck. That plain truck would eventually become the beauty you see here on these pages now.
Before the ‘96 Pete began working, it was sent to Ohio for a full makeover, including a new blue and white paint job. In 2011, the truck suffered a frame break, so since they had to replace the rails anyway, Brandon decided to go ahead and stretch the 210-inch wheelbase to 234 inches. Then, in June of 2013, the decision was made to do a full rebuild of the truck. Everything was sandblasted down to bare aluminum, the chassis was painted inside and out, and new 3:55 rear-ends were installed. Wanting to give the truck an old-school vibe, a custom two-piece windshield was also made and then fitted onto the truck.
When it came time for the new paint, Brandon was inspired by the original blue with white striping that his old Freightliner cabover had worn, so he decided to go with that scheme again. The paint was done by Andy Cliffton of Central Heavy Duty Paint and Body in Benson, NC. Since falling debris can be hard on the rear of a truck doing dump trailer work, Brandon took the truck to Line-X in Raleigh, NC to have their protective coating put on the rear fenders, deck plate and rear light bars. After the work was completed at Line-X, it was taken back to Andy to have matching blue paint blended with the Line-X so the truck could keep its simple, clean look.
For the interior, things were kept just as clean as the exterior, but with a cool old-school twist – a Kenworth-style white and blue button-tuck upholstery graces the ceiling and door panels, and twin sticks, hooked up to the 13-speed transmission, were topped-off with Peterbilt glitter knobs. Rockwood built dash panels that were set and painted to match the exterior, two chrome dash fans were hung overhead to give the rig a more 359 vibe, and a jammin’ Alpine stereo system was installed.
Today, the truck has over 1.2 million miles behind her. Still hauling crushed glass from Durham, NC to Apex, NC in a 2009 MAC aluminum dump trailer, Brandon’s everyday haul is only about 26 miles each way on a smooth day. On some days the dump trailer gets a break while Brandon pulls a bulk tanker, hauling the dust from the recycled glass he hauls in, which will eventually be made into insulation.
When Brandon isn’t driving his “Left Lane Glass Train” he likes to spend time with his wife of 10 years, Meredith, who is a pharmacist, and their three children – Emma (7), Grace (4) and Tyler, who is just 17 months old. You can also find him chilling out on one of North Carolina’s coastlines or hanging out with friends, messing around with his 1967 Chevy rat-rod pickup.
Brandon would like to thank Andy Cliffton for doing such a great job on the truck. He would also like to thank all of his family and friends for being there for him and giving him so much needed support while he built the truck. He also wanted to thank 12 Ga. Customs for the many parts they provided and the work they did, too. We at 10-4 would like to thank Brandon for giving us the chance to shoot his “part new school, part old school” ride!
Whether he was born with diesel in his veins or it just got there somehow on its own, we are glad that Brandon Smith and his “Left Lane Glass Train” are part of our industry. In the end, it doesn’t matter if he chose this industry or it chose him – either way, the end result is a dedicated young trucker with an awesome rig, setting a good example for others to follow.