Spending time seeing more of my new home state of Georgia is always a treat for me. Normally, I travel to shoot a truck and spend some time prior scouting locations by myself or with the owners in a four-wheeled vehicle, but this time, in Augusta, GA, it was a little different. I followed Ben Cadle of Cadle Trucking LLC in my car as he was driving his Freightliner cabover, hooked to his trailer, driving through a little bit of rural area and a whole lot of city, which proved to be more than a joy ride.
I briefly met Ben at the 2019 Shine in the Pines Truck Show at the beginning of March last year in Dublin, GA and knew in the back of my mind that I would eventually get the opportunity to shoot this truck. Fast forward to me now residing in Georgia, I attended the 2020 Shine in the Pines Truck Show at the end of February (technically the first and at this point only truck show of the year as everything else has been cancelled so far), and I had the chance to speak to Ben and his wife Mandy about shooting their truck in the near future. Plans were set for doing it on the first Saturday in April.
At 47 years old, Ben has no siblings and is a third-generation trucker in his family, with his grandfather Fred being the first, followed by his father, Ed. There was never a doubt he would get into trucking as he was pretty much raised in a truck. Ben was already driving in the state of Georgia in his early teens and, turning 18 in June of 1992, he just missed the cut-off by six months to be grandfathered in for his CDL.
As many know, you can’t drive out of state until you’re 21, so Ben waited, driving locally in a Kenworth cabover, and counting the days until he could spread his wings and leave his home state. The night before his 21st birthday, he was in his 1987 Freightliner cabover, and just as soon as midnight hit, leaving an angry and worried mom in his wake, he started westbound on his first solo, out-of-state trip to California. He laughed when he recalled how long of a trip that was and how furious his mother, Florence, was with him for driving all the way to California by himself.
Ed always had cabovers, and Ben wanted to find one similar to what his dad used to have. They had talked about having a cabover with a “fat cab” sleeper, but it wasn’t affordable at that time. In April of 2016, a friend of his from Alabama posted a blue and black cabover for sale, and Ben told Mandy they had to go get it. That cabover, the one featured here and on our cover and centerfold this month, would come to be known as “Joy Ride 3” and quickly became part of the Cadle Trucking family.
The COE truck is a 1982 Freightliner FLA 10464T and, for those who don’t know, the 10464T represents the cab size and style, with that “fat cab” sleeper. This cabover boasts a 400-hp 3406A CAT, a 13-speed transmission, 2:79 rears and a 280” wheelbase. There are plenty of bells and whistles on the exterior which were already on the truck when Ben purchased it, including the custom-made exhaust. The previous owner had hit a deer, which damaged the bumper and front corner of the truck, so Ben repaired that and then stripped the paint off of the motor to make sure it was factory painted white, as some had told him, or if it was CAT yellow. It was originally yellow and was repainted as such, along with repainting the frame.
In addition to completely polishing out the truck, Ben also added aluminum Alcoa wheels on the drives. Plenty of items were replaced on the truck to get it into top-notch working condition including air bags, shocks and a new air intake bonnet, which proved difficult to find in a 7-inch size. The interior is almost all original, and this will be the next phase of restoration Ben will eventually work on. Ben pulls whatever kind of trailer behind his truck necessary to fit the freight that needs to be hauled.
Since the purchase of the cabover, Ben has been on a search for a period correct trailer to complete the look of the cabover. He said anyone can have an old truck and a brand-new trailer, but there is something pretty special about having a combination from the same time period. Patiently waiting for that right trailer, in the spring of 2019, while on Facebook, Ben saw a trailer for sale – a flatbed with a side kit. This particular trailer had been purchased brand-new by the seller’s grandfather, and when the bridge law changed in Michigan, the trailer was parked. This trailer, pictured in some of the photographs within this article, is a 1984 Ravens trailer and, as you can see from the blue side kit, it was a perfect trailer to put behind the FLA.
Why is the truck named “Joy Ride 3”? As most know, when you buy an older truck, you want to know as much history as possible, for the sake of maintenance, and just the history, in general. Ben’s friend in Alabama said the truck was stretched and painted by a man in Canada, so Ben looked up his phone number to try to contact him. Ben tried for three weeks to contact this man, and then finally made one last attempt, which proved successful. They talked about the truck and what history the man knew about it, including how it was purchased from Freightliner in 1982, where it took up its first residence in Long Beach, CA.
The main purpose for the call was really to get the paint code for the blue on the truck, as Ben wanted to have it for when he decided to repaint the truck, because he could not find the code anywhere. When he asked the man about the paint code, he just laughed and said he went to a local Napa store and asked for a blue paint that no one else had. So, the guy behind the counter slid a gallon across the counter, he looked at it, liked it, asked what the color was, and the guy behind the counter just shrugged and said he didn’t know. It was mixed in error for a customer, so there was no way of knowing what was mixed in it to re-create the color.
The phone call was a dead-end for getting the color code, but the man from Canada did mention that the truck was rented by some kids for a week for a movie. He was directed to drop the truck off at a warehouse, and then they would contact him when it was ready to be picked up. Ben asked what movie, but the man didn’t know – all he said was that it was done in Manitoba. So, Ben, Mandy and their secretary went on a wild goose chase searching for this movie online, and finally found it – it was a horror flick called Joy Ride 3. For a total of about ten seconds, the truck is seen with some kids hiding behind it about three quarters of the way through the movie. Considering that Ben takes the truck “joyriding” to shows and it is a “joy ride” to drive, it just seemed to be a fitting name.
Arriving in Augusta in the late morning of the Saturday we had scheduled the shoot, the sky wasn’t perfect – in fact, it was pretty gloomy. Thankfully, I wasn’t worried, because the truck I was shooting didn’t need to have a magnificent sky to make it look good. Ben and I were set to meet up across the road from Barnhart’s Feed and Seed outside of Hephzibah, GA in a field they own, which would be our final location to shoot the truck. I received a text at 10:06 a.m. from Ben saying, “Get ready!” As I stepped out of my car by the side of the road, I smiled as he went roaring by. Finally, after over a year, I was getting my chance to shoot this truck.
Instead of just scouting locations for some other day, we were shooting the truck all along the way, including rolling shots and spots where he unhooked the trailer. I had been through the outskirts of Augusta, GA on a couple previous trips, but hadn’t ever stopped. This city is rich with history and old buildings for days, and we definitely weaseled our way through areas not exactly fit for a truck and trailer, but like all good things that have a little risk, it was worth it.
The ideal choice for the rolling shots was a nice stretch of 4-lane on US-25 heading south out of Augusta. Ben had some other ideas in mind but figured we would just drive around and see what we could find. Another location we found was kind of a fluke, as many parks had been closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. But, nevertheless, we stopped by the Augusta Lock and Dam Park, which is now called the New Savannah Lock and Dam Park, that borders the Savannah River on the Georgia/South Carolina state line, to take a closer look.
The lock and dam were completed in 1937, and the last commercial ship to use it was in 1979, at which point use of the lock ceased. Now, an inactive lock, it was set on the site of a dead town known as New Savannah, which was settled by a body of the Chickasaw Indians who wanted to be close to their English allies and their trading posts. There was a pull-off area where Ben parked, and I drove into the park to check it out. The park was open, and not too many cars we there to worry about, but there were a couple low-hanging branches and a low overhead wire to be careful of. As I approached the inside of the park, I saw a bridge, drove over it, turned around, and knew I had found the perfect spot for a photo (see centerfold).
Communication was easy since I have a CB radio in my car, which made location scouting considerably simpler, too. We drove past some pretty cool brick buildings, but, unfortunately, they were either chained-off or there was not enough room for the truck to get into. The old Augusta Coca-Cola Bottling Plant was an easy roadside photo opportunity, and a cool building to see. This is the old facility that was abandoned when the company moved to its new location in Augusta. One place Ben had mentioned was an old building, but he wasn’t sure if the gate would be open or not. When we got there, the building looked like a castle! The architecture of this place was amazing and made for an awesome backdrop. The building? The old Confederate Powder Works remains and the Sibley Mill.
These original and historic buildings were constructed to supply the confederate armies with much needed gunpowder supplies, as there was an insufficient amount at the beginning of the Civil War. Originally, the powder works lined two miles of the bank of the canal in Augusta. Operations started in 1862 and continued until April 1865. Plans to widen the canal caused the demolition of most of the buildings after 1972, with the exception of the smokestack tower, which was left as a memorial to those who fought for the Confederacy. Some 10 years later, Sibley Manufacturing Company procured the site of the Confederate Powder Works and, utilizing the bricks of the demolished buildings, they made a castle-like replica of the original structure to be the home of their new mill, which became one of the largest cotton mills in the region. No longer in operation, the mill’s water-driven turbines still generate electricity for Georgia Power.
Rounding out the day of shooting the truck in a beautiful (and very tall) golden hay field owned by Mr. McElmurray and then ending in the field where we started that morning, which was full of lush, green grass, which made for an amazing backdrop and color contrast to the truck’s blue and black colors (see cover).
Recalling many great adventures since he started driving, including the thousands of miles he drove in his dad’s company yard and the road that the yard has been connected to since he was nine years old, Ben had a good time reminiscing. His father purchased the yard in 1978 and it has remained in the family since. It seemed perfect for Ben, when he started his company, Cadle Trucking LLC in June 2007, that his yard, shop and office be part of the same property. He also recalled, in his late 20s, hauling a 16-foot wide and 16-foot tall tank to Boston, MA, which took two weeks to haul two loads back to back.
Some other stories Ben shared included a time when he was hauling 140-foot long beams with a 30-foot rear overhang from Augusta, GA to Greenville, SC with no steerable dollies (steering addition to allow for a tighter turning radius often used on oversized loads), and traveling at least 100 miles out of route to get there. A favorite memory Ben has about his trucking career is when he, his grandfather and his dad hauled a dismantled tower on three trailers to El Paso, TX. The tower was destined for Mexico, so they had to wait in El Paso for the trailers to be taken across the border, unloaded and brought back. It was a rare moment, not experienced by many, for three generations to be trucking together.
Today, Ben and Mandy have two sons, Thomas and Andrew, and Cadle Trucking LLC runs 14 trucks. They haul products such as empty cryogenic tanks, underground gas tanks, steel plates and girders, air recovery units and a variety of oversized loads. The company is diversified with trucks running local, regional and the continental 48 states.
Since the purchase of the cabover, Ben has become an American Truck Historical Society national member, as well as a member of the Palmetto Upstate and Palmetto Classic Iron Chapters. He went on to explain that the best part of going to the chapter shows (and truck shows in general) is the camaraderie with his friends. Being able to visit, talk trucks and check out the different options on different trucks is what it is all about. A small group of guys, including Ben, will all say the same thing and laugh about it – when they all convoy together to a show, the Freightliner FLCs and A-Model KWs go unnoticed when Ben’s cabover is there, and he is the one that most of the other guys on the road yell out for on the CB radio.
During our conversation on the phone while putting this article together, I could hear Ben’s voice trail off with memories of his dad as he stated that he and his dad were best friends and did everything together. Although there was quite a height difference (Ben’s dad was 6’-3” and Ben is shorter), Ben is the spitting image of his father from the photo he sent me. Ben bought this truck to drive and to show, knowing this is what he wanted to be able to do for a hobby, but it wasn’t until recently that he realized he actually did it as a tribute to his father, Ed.
Special thanks to Ben and Mandy Cadle for their time in making this all happen and their hospitality during my time in Augusta. I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to tell their story. Talking about all the times he rode with his dad in Ed’s blue cabover, Ben told me how they would see a Peterbilt coming up behind them in the mirrors and would both wonder together if the truck had an air-ride suspension and shiny wheels. You see, with their truck being a spring ride, which was not smooth, they dreamed of driving a truck equipped with air-ride.
Ed always talked about the two of them having a show truck with shiny wheels and all the bells and whistles. With Ed’s passing in 2004, his memory still lives on in everything Ben does, including driving a blue cabover to commemorate the memories they shared in Ed’s cabover and the dreams they had together, which means a lot more to Ben than any joy ride in some cool old truck – even this one. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.