As stewards of the industry, we often look back at why we started in trucking or what fond memories we had early on that made us who we are today. Riding in the truck with my dad as a kid, and later working with him side-by-side, are memories that I will never forget. This story is about a one-in-a-million opportunity that both father and son were recently made a part of.
Rusty Bradeen of Edgewood, WA began his trucking career in 1982 as a company driver. In 1986 he purchased his first truck – a 1973 KW W900A – and became an owner operator. For the most part, from 1986 until now, Rusty has been self-employed and currently runs a fleet of trucks that pull flatbeds between Washington and Oregon hauling primarily steel products.
Throughout his trucking career, Rusty has owned several Kenworths that have always stood out in a crowd. Most of these trucks have been ordered with oversize rebar in mind, so they have long wheelbases, not just for show, but for allowing overhang at the front of the 4-axle flatbeds he pulls. His latest truck, seen here, had a little different job in mind and became the most memorable of all his trucks.
This 2019 Kenworth W900L was ordered with a 565 Cummins, an 18-speed and 46,000 lb. rears on 8-bag air-ride. The wheelbase came in at 282 inches to make it versatile for pulling flatbeds, lowboys and other types of equipment trailers. The three-color paint job was done at the factory to match two other W900s Rusty owns, along with one W900L with a 62” sleeper, one W900B day cab and, most recently, a T680 with the same paint scheme.
Once the truck was delivered, the process of customizing it began. First, we shortened the battery box on the driver’s side to match the one on the passenger side, then painted the lids, along with the DEF and fuel tanks. This new KW also received a custom painted cab guard, as well. The rear cross-member was also recessed for the air and electrical lines, along with the custom deck plate, hydraulic tank and cab guard. No matter the task, this truck will look good doing it! Clean, sanitary and not over-done has been a Bradeen theme for many years, and this truck is no exception. All these details aside, let’s get down to the meaningful part of this story.
Rusty Bradeen Trucking has been a family affair for many years. Rusty’s wife Cindy, daughter Amanda and son Hunter have all been involved one way or another with the business, but one of the most memorable moments happened in front of me last year when this truck went down the assembly line. Rusty had ordered the new truck from me while Hunter was attending college at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, for Mechanical Engineering. While the order was in process, Hunter had the opportunity to do his internship at the Kenworth Truck Company plant in Renton, WA, where his dad’s next truck (the Kenworth seen here) would later be built.
We all knew that the timing of Hunter doing his internship and the truck heading down the assembly line at the same time would be very unlikely, but with a twist of fate, the truck rolled down the line on the last day of his internship. I had been working closely with my DSM to try to make this an extra special build by having Hunter make his mark on the cab before he went back to school, but never would have imagined that he would actually get to be a part of the building process of his dad’s newest Kenworth.
Usually, timing the truck’s whereabouts on the line is hard enough, but to get to watch Rusty start the truck for the first time, along with watching his son install the tires on the truck, was something I will never forget. The warm reception everyone gave Rusty and Cindy as we viewed his truck was unlike any other plant tour I have been involved with. It was so cool to see how the staff at Kenworth truly appreciated Hunter’s time there, along with being a part of something so special.
Since the assembly of Rusty’s W900L, Hunter has become part of the Kenworth Truck Company family as an Engineer. His passion for trucks (like his dad) and experience with the product has given Hunter an exciting opportunity. My special thanks to the staff at Kenworth who went above and beyond the day-to-day protocol during this tour. It is so neat to see that people still take pride in their work and can see that these trucks are not just another tool. It made this day, and truck build, one that we will never forget, and a reminder of why we do what we do, in whatever capacity that might be.