This month’s creation was built for Chuck Stoneking (61) of Stoneking Structural Steel in Holbrook, PA. Chuck’s father was a true outlaw trucker, with so many stories, but he built a great business that Chuck has ran for many years. Wanting to finally upgrade to a really cool ride, Chuck recently ordered this cool vintage-themed Peterbilt, dubbing it his last ride, but nobody really knows for sure if that is true.
Chuck’s parents were Doug and Minnie Stoneking. Doug passed away in 1998 and Minnie in 2001. Minnie was a full-blooded Italian whose parents moved to West Virginia when she was a kid to work in the coal mines. Doug and Minnie had two children – Chuck and Bill. Two years ago, Chuck was contacted by a lady named Tracey from Indiana. She said, “I think I might be related to you!” When this woman sent a picture of herself to Chuck, he said, “Look lady, there’s no need to do a DNA test – you are our sister!” Apparently, her mom worked at the Blue & White Truck Stop in Indianapolis, which was a regular stop for Doug in his trucking days. Doug never knew she even existed. Since everyone met one another, they have all kept in touch.
Working at the mines for about three days, Doug quickly realized that was not the job for him, so he began driving a truck, hauling livestock, for a guy in Pennsylvania. A couple years later, Doug and some partners went into business together and opened a Sale Barn (they bought and sold livestock) near Topton, PA. Things were going great until a couple of the partners got busted for a deal that went bad and went to jail. Chuck said, “All I know is that dad didn’t go to jail, so he must not have been involved in that deal.” After that, they moved to Canton, Ohio. Chuck remembers going to Prairie College Elementary School for 3rd and 4th grades. Today, anytime someone asks if he went to college, he says, “Yes, I did. Prairie College for two years.”
When they moved to Ohio, Chuck’s dad Doug bought a new 1966 Ford COE with a Slant 250 and started pulling a reefer, hauling meat and other refrigerated items, along with Chef Boyardee products. Many talk these days about being an outlaw, but Doug really was. At the house in Ohio there was a big tree, next to their driveway, that had a huge branch. Doug hung a chain hoist from that branch, and any time dad parked his truck under that tree, they knew they were going to be eating good. Doug would use the hoist to pull the reefer unit off the front of the trailer, and then hop inside to help himself to a few frozen pizzas, or whatever else he might be hauling that day. Some days, the whole town ate great! I guess when he showed up at the delivery location, the seals on the rear doors were never broken, so all was good.
They lived in Ohio until 1971 then moved to Pennsylvania, where Doug started hauling hogs from Illinois to Philly. Doug would often grab his boys and take them to Philly with him, where they would unload the hogs while he slept.
One day in 1975, Doug just happened to run across some new pipe at a scrap dealer in PA. The mill had some surplus pipe they were just going to scrap, so Doug went to the bank and borrowed $4,000, then went back to the scrap yard and bought the pipe. He had no idea what he was going to do with it, but he figured someone in Kansas might need it, so he headed west with no plan. Going to the town coffee shop and talking to some random people there, he met someone that needed the pipe, and Stoneking Structural Steel began! To this day, that first customer still buys metal from Chuck.
After having trouble finding a driver for a second truck Doug bought, Chuck offered to drive it. Doug agreed, but mom wasn’t happy, because Chuck was supposed to be in school. Chuck followed his dad out to Kansas to deliver metal and never went back to school. Back then, Chuck would deliver metal, and just get a check from the customer – made out to him. Chuck would then go to the bank, cash the check, and give the money to his dad. Well, being a smart guy, Chuck started marking the price up two cents a pound and then pocketing the extra money. Things were going great until Chuck’s brother Bill ratted him out to their dad. But Doug was not mad. In fact, he told Bill, “Pay attention to your brother, he’s got it figured out!”
From 1977 to 1981, the business grew to 15 trucks (Freightliners) and trailers. During that time, in 1978, Chuck told his dad he didn’t want a Freightliner, so dad bought him a new 1979 Kenworth W900A Extended Hood with a KTA600 Cummins. Chuck drove it and, eventually, his dad gave it to him. In 1982, one of the trucks was in a bad accident, and because Doug always ran with the bare minimum amount of insurance coverage, they were forced to sell almost all the equipment to pay the claims. Eventually, it wound up being just dad and the two boys.
Chuck drove his A-model until he found a slick used 1985 Pete 359 long hood flattop. Coming from Blunt Trucking in Marshalltown, Iowa, it was a cool brown and gold truck with a Cat engine. Chuck ran that truck until he ordered a new 1994 KW W900L from MHC in Kansas City. He used that truck to haul cattle for his dad. He ran it until he traded it for a 1998 KW W900L. In the late 1990s, Chuck had a friend named Craig Riffle that wanted to buy a used 1987 Pete 359 from me. Back then, I worked at Shelby’s in Kansas City. Chuck let his friend ride with him and brought him to the dealership to get it, which is when I met Chuck for the first time.
Over the years, Chuck bought a few trucks from my co-worker, Mike Carothers, here at KC Pete, and every time he was at the dealership, he would jokingly call me Shelby. Later, I sold him a used 2005 Peterbilt for his son and, over the years, he became a great customer – and I ended up being one of his, too. Since I build a lot of my own parts, I started buying all my tubing from Chuck. It’s American made and he brings it to me with a cool truck, so I was in!
Not long ago, Chuck decided he wanted me to order and build him one last ride – a nice unit. I was super excited to help him with the new truck, and he was open for ideas, it just needed to be cool. The new truck is a 2019 Peterbilt 389 with a 78” HR sleeper, a 294” wheelbase, a 2,050-torque X15 Cummins hooked to an 18-speed, and Low AirLeaf suspension with an air-ride front axle. I suggested that the truck have an old paint scheme, in vintage colors, from a 1976 calendar I have had hanging on my office wall forever. He was like, “Okay.” So, we ordered the truck in cream with an orange frame.
When the truck showed up, not everyone was digging the orange color. But, after Pat the painter mixed up the colors and laid the stripes, it came together nicely. While it was in the shop, the guys also hid the DEF tank and then painted the fuel and air tanks, along with the step box plates. Next, they installed a stainless drop visor, extra grill bars, a Texas-style bumper, front dump vales, nine cab lights and breather lights. They also added painted aluminum cab and sleeper drop panels and painted Fisher half-fenders, mounted on some of my hidden brackets, made with metal tubing I got from Chuck.
When Chuck came to pick up the truck, he brought me a special “thank you” gift – an old Shelby Elliot emblem. Back when I worked there, I hated those emblems, because we were forced to drill holes and bolt them to the side of every hood. I hate emblems, in general, but I really hated that we had to drill holes. We also had to mount Shelby Elliot mud flaps on every truck we sold and wear purple shirts. I did not like either of these things. To this day, purple is not my favorite color, and rarely do I ever build a purple truck (although I currently have a few fancy ones on the schedule coming in soon). I found Chuck’s gesture kind and funny, and the emblem now sits on top of my desk with my other collectibles.
Married to his wife Jackie since 1984, they have three children – Charlie (41), Clarissa (32) and Travis (26). Currently, Charlie works for dad and is married to Alice. They live next door and have four kids. Clarissa is married to Ryan Tharp and they live about 10 miles away and have three kids. Travis is not married, but he does have a girlfriend that has a child. They live in town, and Travis drives and helps his dad with the business, along with Charlie.
Pulling flatbeds and hauling steel from Pennsylvania to the Midwest, the Stoneking Structural Steel operation currently consists of Chuck and his new truck, along with his two boys and their two trucks. Chuck loves his “last ride” and looks forward to driving the wheels off it. His boys are pretty jealous, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they don’t come in and order something cool for themselves soon, too! And to that, I say, “Let’s do it – bring it on! I’m ready!!”