Some guys like to do things just right, and Robert Gioletti of Turlock, California, is one of those guys. At seventy-two-years young, Robert still lives a non-stop life, even after retiring from the hectic 24/7 world of dairy farming. These days, Robert spends most of his time doing his favorite thing – tractor pulling. Addicted to this sport for several decades now, Robert travels in style to these events in his custom-built Kenworth RV, which he built not bought!
Growing up on his dad’s dairy, Robert worked every day feeding cows, milking and doing whatever else his dad had for him to do (just like any other dairy farmer’s kid). Nowadays, his two sons, Justin and Devin, run their three-thousand cow dairy and farm about two-thousand acres of almonds, corn and oats. Robert still does some non-crop and pipeline spraying around the dairy, which includes a beautiful $3 million milk barn (seen in the background of the photos). Built by Turlock Dairy Refrigeration, this eight-year-old block building, which still looks brand new, both inside and out, features a seventy-two-cow rotary for milking.
In 1974, Robert starting participating in tractor pulls. Since Robert is a full-blooded Italian, he and his pulling machine became known as “The Godfather” (the movie was popular back then, too). Starting out with a single 327 engine, Robert updated to a 454 with fuel injection the following year. In 1980 he upgraded to a component wedge frame tractor with two exotic aluminum engines. Three years later, he added a third motor to compete in the 7,000-pound weight class. In 1985 he bought a tube chassis, built in Kansas, that held five engines. Robert’s longtime wife Eloise and their two boys went with him to every pull and had lots of fun.
Going to each event was a lot of work, but Robert loved it. Originally towing his machine with a 1975 Chevy pickup, he later bought a 1982 GMC four-door dually with a camper on the back. Participating in up to 25 events a year up and down the state of California, Robert saw the need for a larger hauler and more room for his family. Not wanting to just buy something average, he decided to purchase a new Kenworth glider kit and build the ultimate heavy-haul RV.
Ordering the new 1990 Kenworth T600 from Inland Kenworth in Stockton, California, the truck had no engine or drivetrain – it was just a cab and a really long 40-foot chassis. Robert picked up his new ride once it came in, and then took it to Ed Pennic in Turlock, California, to install a custom 850-hp Cat engine, built by Great Lakes Diesel in New York, in the slope-nosed truck. Then, as a donor truck, Robert bought a 1975 Peterbilt conventional and transplanted its’ 15-speed transmission and R180 rear-end into the KW. Ed built lots of custom stuff for this Kenworth to make it look and run right, which was no easy task (he even built the drivelines for Robert’s RV hauler).
Building most of it himself, Robert’s one-of-a-kind camper wasn’t purchased from a company and then just dropped on the chassis – he built it from scratch in his shop. The RV was built like a horse trailer, with aluminum panels over steel. Robert says, “There is no cheap stuff here – I just made it farmer strong!” This RV sleeps up to six people comfortably, and has a hot water heater, for taking nice warm showers, and a stainless-steel water tank. It took Robert two years to build this awesome-looking RV, and we think he did it just right.