This month’s creation was ordered for Kevin Graf (50) of Graf Transportation in Sommerfield, Kansas, but this isn’t a “Clint Moore build” – this is a homebuilt honey! After Kevin’s favorite truck fell victim to a fire last year, he decided to recreate it, as close as possible, with a new truck. For this, he turned to Clint and Kansas City Peterbilt to get the replacement rig ordered and get the project underway, which was fitting, since the original truck that burned was ordered by Mike Carothers at the dealership in 2003.
Kevin grew up in a large family – he was one of six kids. His grandpa hauled sand and gravel, along with logs, and his dad, Kenny, trucked until Kevin was 13. After that, he became a full-time farmer. At just 14, Kevin started driving a silage truck in the fall during harvest. Sadly, when Kevin was 17, his dad was killed in a farming accident. His mom, Mary, passed away five years later from cancer. Kevin graduated high school in 1983 and then worked on the family farm (and others) until he turned 21 – then he went trucking.
Hauling seed and bagged salt in a straight truck, Kevin did this for six years. At 28 he switched gears and started pulling a cattle pot for S & B – he worked there off-and-on for five years before landing a job with Dave Beyers at Smart Truck Lines. He worked for Dave for seven years, then bought his first truck – a used 2001 Pete 379 long hood with a 63-inch standup.
Through his travels, Kevin became friends with a family that had a truck he really liked. When the dad, Mike Liebel, passed away in 2005, the family decided to sell his pride and joy – a 2003 Pete 379 flattop with a factory Seminole paint scheme done in Sable Black, gray and gold. Knowing he would take good care of it, the family sold the truck to Kevin (see “old” photo).
Over the years, Kevin did a few things to the truck, but pretty much kept it the same as it was when he bought it. During the next few years, Kevin added a nice cabover to his fleet, a cool 1999 long nose Pete (for his son), and a sweet 359 with a 36-inch sleeper. On Valentine’s Day 2014, after having dinner, he returned home to find that the truck he loved so much had caught fire while sitting in his driveway. Luckily, someone noticed and called the fire department, which was able to put the fire out before it burned all the way to the ground. The truck was a total loss, but the drivetrain was still good, so Kevin decided to buy the salvage from the insurance company.
After the insurance company settled, Kevin called Clint and asked him about ordering a glider kit 389. Wanting to use everything that he could from the original truck, he started the process of rebuilding and recreating his favorite old truck with a new one. Wanting to put it all together himself, at his own pace, Kevin just had Clint order the non-rolling glider in Sable Black.
Once the truck came in, Kevin’s friend Eric Holthaus hauled it home for him. Then, with lots of help from his son-in-law Roger, his son Dustin, his girlfriend Terry, and one of his drivers, the project was slowly accomplished. The old truck’s engine (a good Cat 6NZ) and 18-speed transmission were installed by Kevin’s friend Bill Metzger from Valley Falls, KS, and then the old Low-Air suspension and rear-ends were bolted-on by Kevin and Roger.
Once the truck was running, Kevin had Jeremy and the crew at Jeremy’s Paint & Body in Sterling, KS paint the stripes – and these stripes are amazing – you cannot feel them at all! When Kevin brought the truck back to Clint to clean up a few minor details, Tyler and Briar in the shop got his ABS brakes working properly and Clint’s dad chopped the air cleaners. Lalo detailed her up, and then they took the truck to the park for some pictures. Although Clint did not have much to do with the build of this rig, he was still proud to be a part of the project (see “new” photo).
Living with his longtime girlfriend Terry Gee, Kevin has two grown kids – a daughter named Danae (30), who is married to Roger, and a son named Dustin (26), who is married to Stephanie. Kevin also has four grandchildren, two from each of his kids – Miley (6), Kegan (4), Lawsyn (2) and Karcyn (2). Dustin, who trucks with his dad, and Stephanie also have another on the way.
Having his “old girl” back, with a few nice upgrades (an air-ride front end and a longer wheelbase), has Kevin Graf smiling from ear to ear. This truck is very special to him – it is a new Peterbilt 389 with an old soul – and that is just the way Kevin likes it!