Building a truck can sometimes lead to perks and benefits one never expected. Such is the case for Mike and Grant Hays of Medford, Oregon. When this father and son duo decided to build a truck and start a company together, they had no idea how much they would enjoy working together – it truly became a bonding experience for both of them. And now, several years later, they are still excited about building their business and keeping the truck looking good – together. Their unique Peterbilt cabover “short logger” works in the worst of conditions every day, but it still turns heads everywhere it goes.
At only 26 years of age, Grant Hays is just getting started, but his trucking roots run deep. As a fourth generation trucker, Grant’s great-grandfather, Carrol, started Hays Oil way back in 1950, and it is still going strong today. Later, Grant’s grandfather, Bob Hays, took the reins, and then in 2010, his dad Mike and his uncle Steven took over. Mike (55) has worked at Hays Oil since he was 14 years old – it’s all he’s ever done. Hays Oil, which specializes in hauling various types of oil and fuel to service stations, trucking companies, logging areas and construction sites, currently has nine big trucks and trailers, which primarily run up and down I-5 in Oregon, and eleven local bobtail trucks.
While growing up, Grant always loved the tanker trucks, but he never really wanted to just run up and down the highway. Going out with his dad on deliveries to logging and construction sites whenever he could, Grant fell in love with vocational trucking. On one of these deliveries, Grant met the folks at Ledford Construction, and at just 17 years old, they hired him.
In the beginning, Grant did a little bit of everything, and then when he turned 18, he got his CDL. By the time he was 19, he was doing everything – running heavy equipment, driving fuel and water trucks, and whatever else needed to be done. Around the time Grant turned 21, the construction projects had slowed, so they put Grant in a truck and had him pull belly dumps and lowboys, as well as drive transfers. He did this for about a year, and learned a lot about driving off-road and in adverse conditions.
One day, at a logging site, a customer mentioned how they could use a short logger (also known as a Mule Train). Unlike a normal log truck, which is more like a semi-truck that hauls a single load of logs up to 42-feet or longer, a short logger carriers two separate loads of logs that are usually only around 20-feet long – one on the truck and one on the pull trailer. Since Grant and Mike have both always loved log trucks, they decided to find an old cabover and build a short logger, together, for Grant to drive. And, after finding an old bread truck that had been well-taken care of, the project began in February of 2011.
Working on the truck in their driveway, the 1999 Peterbilt 362, with about 1.1 million miles on it, had a factory 270-inch wheelbase, a Detroit Series 60 and a 10-speed transmission, which all worked great (the engine had been completely overhauled at 900,000 miles, so it was still pretty fresh). Mike and Grant decided to swap out the rears with “lockers” because they work better for loggers. Log trucks have to go into the woods on dirt roads, so they have to be tough. Back then, the truck was white with a black frame, and it had a single exhaust stack, which was recessed into the back corner of the cab.
One of the first things they did was have Gary at Leonardo’s in Medford add two feet of rail to the back end of the frame and a hitch to accommodate the trailer, which is an old 1969 Reliance. After that, they installed new bunks (which hold the logs) and on-board scales on both the truck and trailer, and then sent both units out to a local painter named Rick Cartwright to be sandblasted and painted Rally yellow. The original plan was to paint everything yellow, including the cab, but to save time and money, they decided to keep the cab white for a while.
After the chassis, trailer and fuel tank were painted, they added a Pro-Tech cab guard, along with a storage tray between the frame rails to hold all of the chains and binders, custom light bars and extra lights, and new quarter fenders. To ensure that there would be no problems, they re-did most of the air, hydraulic and electrical lines from the cab back. Buying used aluminum wheels to save money, Grant worked very hard to get them looking like new.
Since a log truck is paid by the weight, everything was done to keep the truck as light as possible. Most short loggers weigh about 27,000 to 29,000 pounds, but Grant’s weighs in at only 25,000. Being a fairly simple design, the truck and trailer did not require too much work to complete. In April of 2011, it hauled its first load of logs, and Hays Hauling was born. Being a unique setup with bright colors, the rig attracted a lot of attention – and a lot of jobs!
Over the next couple of years, Grant did a little here and a little there to the truck, but most of the work was just to maintain everything and keep it working and looking good. Hauling logs is dirty work, and keeping this truck clean is like a second full-time job. At some point, he switched out the driver’s seat (which was the original seat) and added a wood steering wheel, but the rest of the old “buckskin” interior was kept stock – and why not, it was in near-perfect condition. Even the roof-mounted fans are original, complete with the Peterbilt logo – and they work, too.
In 2013, during winter, when everything shuts down for a few months, Mike and Grant decided that it was time to do the cab. Finding a donor cab, Mike and Grant removed the recessed corner and replaced it with the regular corner from the donor. Then, they took it Bill Abernethy at Commercial Collision & Paint in Medford for the final body work, prep and paint.
Liking the white and yellow combination, instead of everything being just yellow, they decided to have Bill repaint the cab white and then add the yellow stripes. They also installed a seven-inch dual exhaust system from Lincoln Chrome, added extra cab lights, painted the stock visor yellow (just to be different), and installed a new Valley Chrome front bumper. Now, it was really starting to look like a show truck!
Since the truck looked so good, Grant and Mike began taking it to some shows. Over the years, in addition to a few local events, they took the cabover to the ATHS show in Brooks, Oregon a couple of times. In 2014, they took it to the Peterbilt 75th Anniversary show in Stockton, California, and then in May 2015, they took it to the Pride & Polish show in Willows, California. Although the truck has not earned much “heavy iron” at these events, it has earned a lot of respect and admiration from those who know where it runs and how hard it works – she ain’t a show truck, she’s a work truck!
And, speaking of work, Grant Hays has hauled some memorable loads with this flashy combination. One in particular that he fondly remembers is a large tree that he hauled away for one of his neighbors. The tree had fallen, and it was so big, it required two full loads to remove it – the stump was almost five feet across, and that first bottom log alone weighed about 23,000 pounds (see one of the photos). Grant always likes the challenging loads and locations, which is why he chose to drive a log truck. On one recent logging job, Grant and his cabover were the only ones that could drive themselves out of the hole where they were loading – all of the other trucks had to get help from a loader.
On average, Grant runs about 300-400 miles a day, and upwards of 50-60 of those miles are in the dirt. But, when he’s not driving or taking care of the rig, he enjoys spending time with his wife Mallory. After being together since 2011, the two got married in July of 2014, so they are still practically newlyweds. On the flip side of that, Mike and Grant’s mom, Patty, have been married for over 30 years. Both of these ladies grew up around trucks and hot rods, and both of them enjoy going to the truck shows, which is good for Mike and Grant.
Something else Grant likes to do besides driving a truck is motorcycle racing. Grant began racing motocross when he was 12 on a Honda XR100, and eventually worked his way up to the professional level on a Yamaha 250. Racing all over the west, with some of the biggest names in the sport, Grant gave it up when he started driving the log truck full-time. He still likes to get out and kick up some dirt from time to time, but his days of professional racing are over.
We met Mike and Grant (and Patty) at the truck show in Brooks, Oregon last August (2015). Before that show, Grant had painted the dash panels white and spruced up his bezels, gauges and toggle switches, so the truck was looking really good. We decided to take him just a few miles down the road from the show to Maud Williamson State Park, where there was a huge stand of really tall pine trees, so it was the perfect place to take pictures. Unfortunately, Grant couldn’t stick around for the photo shoot, so Mike hung out an extra day and helped us to get it done. And, aside from all of the smoke from some nearby fires, it was a great day.
One way Grant keeps the truck looking so good is by only working with competent loaders who don’t mess his stuff up. With this in mind, he would like to thank Dennis and Donnie at Hanscom & King, as well as their dad Ed, for taking such good care of his equipment. As Grant put it, “These guys are a blessing to work with!” Mike and Grant also wanted to thank Papé Kenworth in Medford for helping them out with some of their mechanical work, and Timber Products (TP) in Central Point for keeping the paint on their rig looking good, year after year.
Hauling short logs in and out of Southern Oregon and Northern California is what Grant Hays and Hays Hauling does on a daily basis. The company has always been just one truck and this father and son duo, and that is just the way Mike and Grant like it. But this has become more than just a business to them – it has become a bonding experience that has allowed them to spend a lot of time together, doing something they both love, and not every father and son get that opportunity. That is definitely an unexpected perk that both of these men got from simply building a truck, and that’s pretty cool.