These days, being Eco-friendly is all the rage. But, there is more than one way to “go green” and make your tree-hugging friends happy – and Brian “Rudy” Rudisell of Kuhnle Bros. figured it out (sort of). His company-owned working show truck called “Gone Green” is not even close to being CARB-compliant. In fact, all of the emissions equipment has been removed… but it is painted green. I guess those “friends” won’t be so happy, after all. And with over one million miles on her already, Rudy uses this truck on a daily basis, and it still looks good enough to not only grace our cover this month, but to recently compete in the Pride & Polish National Championships last August in Dallas, as well.
Rudy Rudisell of Wooster, Ohio has been with Kuhnle Bros. of Newbury, Ohio for just over two years. Celebrating their 50th anniversary in business, Kuhnle began in 1966 with two brothers. Today, they have about 130 trucks and three or four thousand trailers, many of which they rent or leave at job sites, power plants or water treatment facilities. Hauling tanker loads of everything from flammable liquids to drinking water, they operate in all of the lower 48 states and Canada – but Rudy likes to stay a little closer to home, keeping to a three or four state area around Ohio. All of the Kuhnle trucks are painted green (which owner Kim Kuhnle calls “the color of money” for obvious reasons), but they do allow each driver to personalize their rig with the accents and accessories of their choosing.
Based on his last name (Rudisell), Brian’s “Rudy” nickname was given to him way back when in kindergarten. Today, everyone calls him Rudy. Born and raised in Wooster, Ohio, Rudy (46) still lives there today. His father was a farmer and his mother worked at the local Rubbermaid plant, making those big heavy plastic trash cans, for most of her life, until the facility closed down. While still in high school, at 18 years of age, Rudy got his Chauffeur’s license in 1988, just two or three years before it became a CDL, like it still is called today. After graduating from high school, he went to work in the oil fields, driving a truck, and working on a cement crew.
Always a hard worker, Rudy slaved away in the oil fields for 80-100 hours per week. His philosophy has always been, if the sun is up, you should be working. After about five or six years, he switched over to fracking, and worked in that segment of the industry for a while. After getting tired of wading through the mud, he switched over to asphalt hauling, but that did not last long at all (it was too sporadic and too dependent on the weather). Around 1997, he decided to start his own lawn care service business and headed back to school to study the subject – if he was going to do it, he was going to do it right!
Ohio State University’s ATI (Agricultural Technical Institute) campus extension was right there in Wooster, and was world-renown in the landscaping field. While taking care of over 100 commercial accounts and managing a crew of seven people, he attended school at night. After two years, he earned his degree in Landscape Design / Turf Management. Things were going great until the Rubbermaid plant in Wooster, where his mom worked, was closed. In addition to his mom, that put a lot of other people out of work, too, and many of them bought lawnmowers and started competing with Rudy (and cutting the rates). Seeing the writing on the wall, Rudy found a buyer for his company and sold out in 2002.
Heading back into a truck, this time hauling aggregates with an end dump, Rudy took a job at a local company driving a nice Peterbilt. He took great care of that truck and really loved it. One day in 2005, while coming back from Kentucky in the truck, a guy in a car crossed the center line and quite possibly committed suicide by hitting Rudy’s truck head-on. Although Rudy never actually confirmed that accusation, it was the general assumption of everyone involved. Swerving to try to avoid the car coming straight at him, Rudy laid the truck on its side. The engine and transmission ended up in the cab with him, and his left ankle was literally wrapped around the clutch pedal. But, as traumatic as that injury to his ankle was, it could have been a lot worse.
Spending the next two years having many surgeries and doing physical therapy to recover, as soon as he could stand, Rudy began doing some electrician work with a friend to help pay the bills. Once he was finally medically released to work and/or drive in 2007, he took a driving job at a big manufacturing outfit nearby – Wayne Dalton Garage Doors in Mt. Hope, Ohio. Driving a terrible Freightliner Cascadia, Rudy was content. He figured that he would retire from this place – it was a great job. Unfortunately, the business was eventually bought out by a foreign company, and it quickly went downhill from there.
Having met Kim Kuhnle, one of the owners of Kuhnle Bros., at a local truck show, Rudy decided to go check out their tanker operation, which consists of Pneumatic, Dry Vacuum, Coded Stainless, Rubber Lined, Composite and Food Grade trailers. He was impressed. He went to work there just after Labor Day weekend in 2014, and has been there ever since. Starting out in a 1999 Kenworth W900 that was “butt ugly” (as Rudy put it), before long they moved him into the 2005 Kenworth W900L you see here today – but it didn’t look like this. It was green, but the paint was heavily oxidized and covered with chemical burns, it was bone stock, and it only had one stack… but Rudy could see its potential.
Following the lead of his friend Bob Harley, who’s purple 1972 Peterbilt 358A “Bad Attitude” was featured on our January 2015 cover, Rudy wanted to start getting into the truck shows, so he went to work on his ride – but it has been a long and slow journey. Over the next two years, Rudy and his mechanics, painters and helpers in the Kuhnle shop, have built a very cover-worthy ride – but he’s just getting started.
The green KW, which has a 72-inch sleeper and sits on a 267-inch wheelbase, also features off-white (cream) accent stripes on the tops of the fenders. Some of the rig’s exterior options include Trux “Projector” headlights, a 20-inch Valley Chrome bumper fitted with billet lights in the lower corners from Lifetime, an air-ride kit from Dickerson Custom Trucks, full fiberglass fenders from Bad Ass Customs, and a smooth painted deck-plate. It also has painted 12 Ga. mirror brackets, visor, window chops and cab and sleeper drop panels, as well as 8-inch Dynaflex Monster Stacks with Pickett elbows.
Some of the smaller exterior details include green KW emblems (made by Thunder Grafix), a Kenworth keyhole logo punched grill with seven painted grill bars, painted breather intake covers (Rudy called them elephant ears), custom billet nameplates, from JR at Lifetime, on the sides of the sleeper, and laser-cut and painted step plates that say “Kuhnle Trucking” (made by a local shop). Since this is a working truck, it is also equipped with a product pump and air compressor that is mounted to the frame on the passenger side, just behind the fuel tank, which has three straps. The pump and compressor is painted green to match, and has polished stainless steel caps.
Under the hood, the 550 Cat engine is a work of art. After taking everything off the motor, they sandblasted it clean and then painted the block and head cream, as well as the air-to-air and the radiator shroud, while all of the accessories, fan blades, radiator and valve covers were painted green. Fitted with polished stainless steel air tubes, the power-plant has a high-performance manifold and turbo from Diesel Freak, who also did the engine tuning. The shocks were also painted cream, and a “Gone Green” sticker was applied to them. Knowing that the judges at most of the bigger shows out there don’t like stickers, they clear-coated over them for a nice, smooth look and feel. As a final touch, Rudy ground all of the heads of the bolts on the engine smooth and then polished them to a mirror finish.
Moving inside the cab, the KW’s interior is done in black button-tuck. Black leather Bostrom low-rider seats were installed, as well as a black leather VIP steering wheel and a chrome steering column cover from Lifetime. All of the bezels and switches are from Lifetime, in addition to the billet foot pedals. The floor is covered in vinyl, and was made to look like green marble with a cream stripe down the middle, to match the exterior. The dash panels were vinyl-wrapped in cream by Thunder Grafix, and the Kenworth logos and switch nameplates were all redone in green.
With about a million miles on this rig, Rudy set out to compete at a few truck shows in 2015 and did okay. In 2016, he got at it a little harder, going to the Pride & Polish show in Wildwood, Florida (where he got a 3rd), and then to the Crossville, Tennessee show (where he got a 2nd). A few weeks later, just two weeks before the Pride & Polish National Championships were to be held at the GATS show in Dallas, Rudy found out that one of the qualified contenders was not going to be able to make it, and that he was the one who was going to fill that spot. Pulling the truck off the road and doing his best to get it championship ready in a very short amount of time, Rudy was happy to get 3rd place.
Rudy is a very meticulous guy. He keeps all of his past score sheets in a binder and takes it with him to every show. Just before “rags down” is called, he gets out the binder and goes over everything he has missed in the past, to ensure that he does not miss that item again. And, as good as his truck looks right now, he has big plans for more improvements to be done in the coming winter for next year (I could tell you what he has planned, but then I’d have to kill you)!
With his roots in building and showing 4×4 vehicles, Rudy has had a lot of cool rides throughout his life – most notably, an immaculate 1997 Chevy Tahoe, which he claims you could eat off the frame. He currently drives a lifted and blacked-out 2005 Chevy pickup truck with a Duramax diesel, which he likes to drag race and show. Not wanting to leave his wife Carmen out of the mix (they got married in 2005), he recently bought her a new Chevy Camaro as her daily driver. Carmen is a hair dresser, and she cuts many of the local driver’s hair (she even got a subscription to 10-4 so she can have it in her shop for the drivers to read while they wait). Having that degree in Landscape Design has also helped Rudy to win several awards for his yard at home, which he is very proud of.
Taking a million-mile work truck and making it show-worthy is no easy task, and Rudy is quick to acknowledge everyone who has helped him along the way. Murl Nolder has been the main mechanic and customizer throughout the project; Bill Woodall is the body and paint guy; and Derek Stivers and Tom Yearian painted the frame and drivetrain. No “thank you” paragraph would be complete without mentioning Kim Kuhnle, the owner of the company, and Rudy’s wife, Carmen, who not only supports him every step of the way, but also helps him get the interior cleaned up before each and every show.
Being a very humble person, Rudy wanted to express his heartfelt thanks to everyone in the Kuhnle shop who has helped, in one way or another, with the truck. Thanks go out to the folks at Diesel Freak for giving him a truck that not only looks good, but is fun to drive, as well. He also wanted to give a big thank you and shout-out to the folks at Renegade Products for recently sponsoring him and his truck by providing all the “Rebel Red” polish he needs to keep it looking great and winning trophies (and making magazine covers, too)!
Bringing this older truck back to life was not easy, but Rudy always loves a challenge. When we saw it, we knew there was something special about it and him – and we knew we had to shoot it for our cover. Rudy is our kind of people, and if you spend any amount of time with him, he will be your kind of people, too. And although his truck might not pass a CARB inspection anytime soon, we don’t think he cares. Rudy Rudisell is happy to have “Gone Green” – and he didn’t even need to use a recycle bin to do it!