You gotta love an old A-model Kenworth! Pete 359s are great, too, but this article is about a very special 1982 A-model Kenworth owned and built by Lavern Cross of Middlebury, Indiana. The Cross family goes way back in trucking, back to the days of the Big Cam Cummins engines. In fact, they ran our parts in those great old trucks, way back in the day.
One day I was heading east on I-80 in Pennsylvania, driving my 1995 Cummins-powered Dodge, and I passed a really good-looking extended A-model Kenworth, painted teal and purple. I called to the driver on the CB radio to give him a compliment on his truck and, to my surprise, he said, “Thank you, Bruce.” I was shocked he knew who I was! This was before I was doing the radio show with Kevin Rutherford, but I had been writing articles for the trucking industry since 1989, so I figured he knew me from those. But, he then told me that his family had done business with me for years.
I assumed there was a Big Cam Cummins in his 1982 Kenworth, but he informed me the engine was a DD2 Detroit Series 60. We had just started working with the 60 Series engines at that time, so I told him about some of the parts we had to improve the performance, efficiency and longevity of his engine.
In 2006, Lavern stopped by to see us at the Walcott Truckers Jamboree and discuss building a new engine for the 1982 Kenworth. We suggested a DD3 for their performance, reliability and efficiency. Superior Diesel in New Paris, Indiana had a few cores, so Lavern purchased one. Pittsburgh Power supplied all the parts and Brent Roberts of Superior Diesel built the engine. The engine puts 610 horsepower to the ground, which is 717 flywheel horsepower. His KW is also equipped with a Pittsburgh Power computer, which has nine power settings, and can add a total of 225 horsepower. This little 12.7 Detroit has the potential of producing 942 galloping horsepower!
Fast forward to the Louisville truck show, around 2009, where there were three owner operators with single turbo Caterpillars, asking us about the Pittsburgh Power CAT computer. They were interested but needed some extra convincing. I asked Lavern if he would take them for a ride in his KW, as everyone was parked in the Cardinal Stadium parking lot. Well, those three Cat-powered owner operators were amazed at how strong that 12.7 Detroit could run. Lavern was on power level nine and bobtailing, and that old A-model ran like a scalded dog! The five of us sure did have a lot of fun talking about those test rides that day and, needless to say, each of those three Caterpillar owners purchased a Pittsburgh Power computer.
Lavern parked his A-model in 2011 to begin a full restoration. During the extensive rebuilding process, he purchased a cabover, painted it, then drove it. Soon after, someone else wanted it, so he sold it and purchased a W900L. He had that one sold before he was ready to put the A-model back on the road, as well, so he told the new owner he would have to wait for the truck. Lavern is a perfectionist, and the trucks that he builds and drives are wanted by many.
Lavern just finished the A-model this last May (2018), having done most of the work himself. During the frame-off restoration, he installed a Pittsburgh Power exhaust manifold, our high-capacity radiator, a FASS fuel system and a Spinner oil centrifuge. The truck has a 13-speed transmission, 3:36 gears, a 285” wheelbase, and the cab and sleeper are mounted on a sub-frame, which is all on air-ride. It has an 84” Aerostar sleeper with a custom interior, a refrigerator and microwave, a sink and porta-potty, a bed that folds-up for a table, a central vacuum system, and a 3,000-watt inverter and APU. His very talented wife hand-stitched the Kenworth logo into the sleeper cab wall and made a matching quilt for the bunk. The cab interior is all new, and it has new steel frame rails, wiring, airlines and brakes.
As you can see in the pictures, Lavern Cross does great work! He is a first-class owner operator and does about 90% of his own work. I am proud to call Lavern a friend, and it has been a pleasure doing business with he and his family over the years. If you see him out on the road, working this truck, which he does every day, give him a wave and say hello. If you would like us to help you with your next big truck rebuild project, give us call us at (724) 360-4080 or visit us online at www.pittsburghpower.com today. You won’t be disappointed!