Some people truck because it’s a good job, some people do it because they like to travel, and some end up driving merely by accident. But, for Josh Sanaski (44) of Chehalis, WA, he does it because he loves it! He knows he will never become a millionaire from trucking, and he doesn’t even care, saying, “It’s not even a fantasy I have.” But he truly loves climbing into his truck in the morning, firing it up and hitting the road – there is nothing he would rather do. Seriously, this guy is the real deal, and he is completely ate up with trucks and trucking!
Driving for Bridgewater Logging, based in Raymond, WA, the “long logger” truck featured here, which Josh built, is one of his two daily drivers (he also has a dedicated “short logger” truck, which he built for the company, as well).
Born in Phoenix, Arizona in December of 1974, Josh’s parents split-up a year later, and the year after that, they moved to Raymond, WA to be with Donald W. Crawford, who later became Josh’s step-dad and mentor. Not long after that, Josh’s biological father, Raymond Sanaski, who Josh did not see very often after the move, was killed in a parachuting accident. Later, after spending time with one of his father’s brothers, Josh realized that he got a lot of his gear-head traits and mechanical talents from his father, as his uncle said he was just like him. But, for most of his life, Josh has considered Donald (Donnie) to be his dad and trucking mentor.
Raised in a trucking family, Josh’s grandpa, dad, uncles and cousins were owner operators. When Josh and his mom first moved up north to Washington in 1976, Donnie had a maroon 1969 Peterbilt log truck. After that, he had an orange 1979 W900A Kenworth log truck, a silver 1984 B-model Kenworth log truck with blue stripes, and then in 1989 he custom-ordered a new light blue Peterbilt 379 log truck with dark blue stripes. In 1997, tired of all the responsibilities of being an owner operator, he took a driving job at Bridgewater Logging in Raymond, WA.
When Josh was a kid, all he ever did was read trucking magazines (like 10-4), draw truck pictures, and dream about driving. Josh and his cousin Robert started driving around the yard at 13 years old, when they could comfortably reach the pedals. They would also drive the empty log trucks down to the log yard to get loaded after they washed them. Anytime Josh could go out as a passenger in his dad’s truck, he took it. Having to share that seat with his little brother, he would often hitch rides with his uncle Sam or uncle Gary to ensure he had no days off from riding.
Growing up in a small logging town, Josh always made sure to sit by the window in school, so he could watch (and hear) the cool log trucks rolling through town. His first solo run came at 17 years old. His dad was out of town, so Josh cleaned up his truck and drove it to the next town over and entered it into their Labor Day parade. The truck won 1st place, and when his dad got home, the trophy was waiting for him on top of the TV. His dad was proud and mad at the same time, but Josh was glad he did it (it’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission).
In high school, you would never find Josh at a party – he was either in the shop working late on trucks or at the track racing his car. Back then, he owned a 1977 Trans Am, and got a few too many speeding tickets. So many, in fact, after graduation, he had to get a job as a mechanic at a local construction company for several years, because it would have been impossible for him to get insured to drive a truck. But the whole time he was working as a mechanic, waiting for his driving record to clear up, he was dreaming of having his own truck and being out there on the open road, driving every day.
Finally, in 1997, at 22 years old, Josh got his CDL and started driving for his dad, who had just taken the job at Bridgewater Logging. Driving his dad’s blue 1989 Peterbilt, a year later he sold the truck to Josh. Two years later, in 1999, Josh rebuilt and customized the truck to be his own. Painted light blue with dark blue fenders, roof and frame, the truck was powered by a 425 B-model Cat and had an 18-speed transmission with 2-speed Eaton rears. After someone told Josh he couldn’t do it, he installed a hardwood floor in the truck himself. Mind you, this was before Rockwood made it easy – Josh bought tongue and groove strips of solid oak and completely fabricated the floor by himself. Driving this truck for many years, Josh also took it to a lot of local shows, as well.
In 2005, at just 56 years old, Josh’s dad Donnie died of a heart attack. At the time, he was still driving for Bridgewater Logging, and they had just given him a cool 2002 Peterbilt 379 to drive. After Donnie’s death, George Bridgewater personally offered Donnie’s truck and job to Josh. With small children at home and little or no health insurance, it was a no-brainer for Josh. Selling his 1989 Peterbilt, he began working at Bridgewater in August of 2005 – and he still works there today.
Bridgewater Logging was started in 1957 by Jack Bridgewater. As a logging outfit first, the company did not buy their first truck until 1982, which was a 1977 Peterbilt 359 with an 8V92. That truck is still in the fleet today, but it has since been retired. Jack’s son George joined his dad in 1985, and then took over the company when Jack retired in 1992. Today, Bridgewater’s log truck fleet consists of (1) Peterbilt 359, (7) Peterbilt 379s, (1) Peterbilt 389 and (1) B-model Kenworth. They have a few other trucks, as well, like dump trucks and other construction and logging related stuff.
When Josh joined the company and took over his dad’s truck, it was a Viper Red 2002 Peterbilt with a Cummins Signature 600 engine. Fitted with big pipes and a big drop visor, it was more “showy” and “new school cool” than old school (which is what Josh likes). Nonetheless, he drove that truck for the next 13 years, working on it here and there, to make it more his style. Over the years, in addition to driving, Josh also became the specialty mechanic at Bridgewater, and has since customized most of their rigs.
In February of 2018, with well over a million miles on the odometer, Bridgewater gave Josh permission to shut his “long logger” down and rebuild it. Spending three months on the project, in his spare time, while still driving another truck full-time, Josh designed the truck with a 1970s vibe as a tribute to his dad and his family’s history in log hauling. If you haven’t figured it out already, this newly-built and completely redesigned truck is the one featured here and on our cover and centerfold, this month.
The first thing Josh did to the Peterbilt was replace all the wiring and plumbing, and then the frame bolts and cross-members. New “double locker” 46,000-pound rear-ends were installed, and then the chassis was sent to Mark’s Truck Painting in Chehalis, WA to be sandblasted and painted. This was the only thing Josh did not do. Knowing his dad’s favorite color was blue, Josh decided to paint the truck Daytona Blue and give it Ice Silver 1970’s-style stripes, outlined with Viper Red. Completely self-taught, Josh did all the painting himself – even the silver-leaf logos on the doors.
In addition to the paint, the truck’s five round cab lights and two horns, along with dual round headlights on Double JJ brackets, help give it that “old school” look. Josh also painted two diamonds on the grille, added a swing plate and chrome tow hook to the front, and swapped-out the 7-inch exhaust for 6-inch pipes with heat shields. Other accessories include fiberglass front fenders from Jones Performance, nine KW grille bars, half-round Pro-Tech stainless steel rear fenders on custom brackets (so Josh could roll them forward when he mounted them), and a custom visor and window chops. Starting with a painted visor from 12 Ga. Customs, Josh fabricated stainless covers and riveted them to the front of the visor for a “tough” look. He basically did the same thing on the window chops, but they were completely fabricated by Josh in the shop. The finishing touch to the exterior was a chrome “flying goddess” hood ornament, like one his grandfather had on his truck.
Moving into the cab, which features a red and black marbled linoleum floor, custom red and black seats from Sears Seating, a custom shifter that gets a lot of attention and plenty of skulls and spikes, Josh obviously did not go for an “old school” look on the inside of this truck. The extra tall shifter, which has chrome brass knuckles on the top and almost hits the ceiling, is actually two shifters welded together with a chrome sleeve to cover all the air lines. He gets a lot of grief about this 4’-8” long shifter, but Josh doesn’t care – in fact, he gets a kick out of it. The truck also has a Pioneer stereo/DVD player that goes out through two Alpine amplifiers, eight speakers, and a self-amplified Kicker 10” sub-woofer.
As soon as Josh completed the rebuild of his work truck, he immediately began another project – a rat rod inspired 1966 Peterbilt – just for fun. Acquiring an old retired Weyerhaeuser water truck, Josh wanted to build a toy to take to shows and haul his motorcycle (a custom 2013 Harley-Davidson Softail). Working on the truck from May 2018 until August 2018, he had hoped to debut it at the Brooks Truck Show in Oregon, but just seven miles from his house, on his way to the show, the truck’s original 220 Cummins dropped a valve and blew up.
Starting out as a faded red tanker truck with steel wheels and one stack, Josh modified the original rear factory Pete air-ride suspension to lower it, built a custom front air-ride system, added fiberglass front fenders, powder-coated the modified step boxes, and gave it a unique “hot rod flat” charcoal and black, along with gloss black, paint job, featuring an old Kenworth factory paint scheme with an arrow, and Viper Red accents. He also built a custom visor, a custom rear bumper out of welded chain, added a new front bumper and dual 7-inch stacks (the ones he took off the 2002 Peterbilt). Thanks go to Dave Barr of Alloy Polishing for doing a phenomenal job on the shiny parts!
In the summer, for the past three years, Josh has been a driver in the Rolling Thunder Big Rig Racing series. Piloting the #88 “Macksimus Prime” race truck, a highly-modified 1969 Mack RL with a Silver 6V92 engine and a 9-speed transmission, Josh painted the truck to look a bit like the Transformer, Optimus Prime (with red and blue flames). This is just an exhibition racing series, that runs in the Pacific Northwest, for fun – there are no points or trophies. Operated by Mike Gibbons, who owns all the trucks (about 10 of them), the series features about six races a season that run on various circle tracks, both dirt and pavement. Josh is also the official painter of the series and has used his talents to beautify many of the race trucks.
When Josh isn’t driving, or working on trucks or racing, the rest of his time is spent with his family. Josh got married when he was 20 years old and had his first child a year later, eventually having three kids – Meagan (22), Trevin (20) and Bryce (18). None of them live at home anymore. Josh and his wife divorced shortly after Bryce was born. Today, Meagan is married and a college graduate, Trevin (AKA Bub) is training to be a union electrician in Seattle, and Bryce is attending a diesel tech school. In 2009, Josh met Heidi, and the two were married in 2016. Heidi has two kids from a previous marriage, as well – Major (18) and Macy (14). Major lives with his dad and Macy, still in high school, lives at home with Josh and Heidi. We had a lot of fun with Heidi and Macy at the photo shoot!
Wanting to give thanks where thanks are due, Josh thanked his mom and dad for teaching him that work always comes before play, and his wife, Heidi, for supporting his endless hours in the shop and on the road. He also wanted to give special thanks to George Bridgewater for taking a chance on him and never giving up, and to the entire Bridgewater crew – the best logging company around! Thanks to Mike Gibbons and the Rolling Thunder team, and a shout-out to his UMF brothers (a social club he rides with).
With 1.3 million miles and counting, Josh’s “long logger” is driven daily, except on the days he drives his “short logger” – a blue 2004 Peterbilt 379 powered by a 550 Cat and an 18-speed transmission. And of those 1.3 million miles, Josh figures at least 10% of them were ran on dirt and gravel roads in the woods (that’s over 100,000 miles ran off-road)! So, why does Josh Sanaski do it? Because he loves it! When asked to be more specific, he told me to listen to the 1993 Charley Pride song called “Just For The Love Of It” for a good explanation. Give it a listen – it’s a nice old song – but the title really says it all!