Anyone that has ever taken on the challenge of a truck build knows it takes time and money. These projects don’t usually go as planned, whether it is the paint being done on time or pieces that were ordered to put the final touches on the truck. For Nick Warner, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome for his 379, and both time and money ended up being more than expected.
Growing up, Nick always knew that he would be a farmer or a trucker, as he had been around both all his life. He is technically the third generation of truckers in his family, although not in the way you would expect. His great uncle Chris Samikos was the first generation in trucking, who didn’t start a career in it until the late 70s. Chris actually owned a body shop and one day was approached by a truck owner with a proposition to take a 1968 Kenworth W900A in lieu of payment for repainting a semi. Chris was at the point in his life that he wanted a change, so he figured why not.
Nick’s first ride in a truck was with Chris at around four or five years old. While Nick was growing up, his mom, Kathy Parker, started working for her uncle Chris, doing the bookkeeping, while her brother Jim also drove for the company. Nick would ride along with Chris whenever he could and, early on, Chris started teaching him how to drive. Chris kept his truck parked by a local trucking company, and in that outfit’s gravel lot, is where he started teaching Nick how to drive. Eventually, Nick was driving to where they loaded, in the concrete plant to dump in the hopper or on the stockpile, and even driving the truck back to where Chris parked.
In 2001, Nick’s great uncle passed away from cancer and left the company to Nick’s mom, since she knew how to run the business. At 17, Nick continued with what Chris taught him and became the driver-trainer for his mom, even though he couldn’t drive yet. Nick said it was cool to have that responsibility, but even cooler because he was able to miss school! Working with his mom, he got to know John Walter, an owner operator who helped his mom by sending loads of grain, ag lime and salt her way, as he had more loads than he could cover. The two also became acquainted because they hauled out of the same facility and fueled at the same location.
At 18, Nick started driving part time, and once he turned 21, he was driving full time. On May 9, 2009, Nick and his now wife Nicole, got married. He was still driving at this time, but the economy was down, so he decided to leave trucking in the fall of 2011 to go farming. In the back of Nick’s mind, he always figured he would get back into trucking, but didn’t know when. One thing he knew, he would no longer be a driver, but an owner operator. And it couldn’t just be any truck he would buy, it had to be one of the few in the area that he really liked. One of those trucks was a 1995 Peterbilt 379 daycab, owned by the previously mentioned John Walter.
The dairy farm Nick had been working for began to struggle, so Nick left before it went out of business. At this point, he and his wife were looking at buying a house, and John Walter had also offered the daycab for Nick to buy. Nick knew he couldn’t swing buying a house and a truck, so John offered for him to come and drive the truck for him for a year, then buy it. In 2016, Nick bought the truck and started his company, NRW Transport Ltd., then leased on with John for a couple years. The NRW of his company name is Nick’s initials and, coincidentally, his wife’s too!
Bill Troyer, whose son and brother you’ll learn were the masterminds in helping Nick restore his truck, has been an important later-in-life influence on Nick. Bill is an owner operator and has coached Nick along the way. One thing Bill said when Nick was buying the truck was to get at least $10,000, put it aside, and then forget about it. Nick listened and sold his pickup truck in September of 2016. He is very glad he did, because in February of 2017, the transmission went out, and had he not listened and put that money aside, this breakdown would have put him out of business.
Nick talked about restoring the truck since buying it, so when he paid it off in 2019, he started buying parts and preparing for the restore. Nobody’z Garage, who were good friends of Nick’s, had figured from a previous restoration, it would take around three months to complete. Nick dropped the truck off in March 2020 and, a week later, everything shut down due to COVID. Nick rented a truck to run while his was getting redone, but with everything closed, the work slowed way down. This did, however, give Nick a chance to be more hands-on with the restoration.
Sadly, everything that could have gone wrong, did, and Nick also quickly realized this was the worst year possible to take on this project. From mismatched parts (377 and 379 parts that were on the truck when he bought it), to botched wiring, corroded wires, and air lines spliced too many times, Nick saw that the solid foundation he thought he had, was definitely not the case.
When the build was finally done in February of 2021, Nick ran the truck for about 20,000 miles. Feeling a vibration that concerned him, that concern was set aside when the motor blew a head gasket. The motor never showed any signs of wear, but they weren’t sure of the actual miles on it. They could have replaced just the head gasket, but for peace of mind, they did a complete in-frame rebuild of the engine.
Nick worried all the time about where the money was going to come from for the repairs, but the Troyers always assured him that they would all figure it out. That vibration from earlier? Something wasn’t quite right with the front differential, and when they pulled it apart, a tooth was missing off the pinion gear, so that got repaired, as well.
The truck you see today is a 1995 Peterbilt 379 with a Cummins N14 under the hood, a 10-speed transmission, 3.90 gear ratio and a 230” wheelbase. The truck sports plenty of custom parts including a Valley Chrome bumper, WTI fenders, a visor from The Weld Shop, built by Bub out of Leavenworth, KS, and 8-inch Dynaflex stacks. The deck plate was built by Geddy Fry of Buckeye Ag Services of Wooster, OH and was the first one of its kind made by them. The shock box, panel extensions, bumper lift, the filler panels between fuel tanks and saddle covers for the fuel tanks are from 12 Ga. Customs. The cab skin and floor pieces are by Scott McCune of McCune Welding in Creston, OH. All the United Pacific and Trux Accessories pieces were purchased from Little John’s Light Barn in Apple Creek, OH. Nick went for a very clean look, with remote controlled doors and hidden hood latches.
Mike and Steve Troyer (nephew and uncle) of Nobody’z Garage went all out to help Nick’s vision come to life as the master builders and painters for this project. Jeff at 330 Dustless Blasting went above and beyond with an amazing job of sandblasting. The paint colors are actually GM colors, and Nick wanted to have a nice balance of painted and shiny parts on the truck when completed.
The Troyers were adamant on the white color, which is a Diamond White Pearl you’d find on Cadillacs. Originally, Nick wanted the same red that John Walter used, but they couldn’t match the color. It wasn’t until Nick saw his wife Nicole’s GMC Acadia in the sun, that he knew that was the alternate color, which is Limited Addiction Red. Nick thought he wanted button tuck for the interior until Steve Troyer came up with the idea of the diamond pattern. Steve installed this same upholstery in his 1937 Chevy he uses for drag racing, so he was able to show Nick exactly what it looked like.
Something interesting about this truck is that it wasn’t built as a 379. I know, crazy, right? It was manufactured as a Peterbilt 377 sleeper truck and set up as a car hauler. The truck, believed to have been an Allied Systems car hauler, had been wrecked and ended up at Hoover’s Truck & Equipment in Dover, OH in the late 90s. Hoover’s, a total loss restoration company, rebuilt it into a Peterbilt 379 extended hood daycab. Mike Hofer purchased the truck from Hoover’s with a Cummins N14 and a super 10-speed transmission. Mike had drivers in the truck pulling a belly dump trailer, but said it was one of the worst trucks he owned because it sat too low, causing nearly seasonal bumper replacements, along with the hardship of finding parts. The truck is clean titled as a 379, but the VIN comes back as a 377 model, which makes it very difficult to get the correct parts when needed.
Mike Hofer eventually sold the truck to someone who only had it for about a year, and then it was sold to Randy Lemoyes out of LaGrange, OH, who owned it for quite a while. During his ownership, Randy changed out the transmission and then bought a factory reman Cummins N14 to replace the engine in it that had locked up. In 2014, John Walter purchased this daycab and ended up repainting it from the faded Viper Red it was to almost the same colors Nick has on it today.
In the days during his great uncle trucking, he pulled a dump trailer with the previously mentioned A-Model and, at one point, unfortunately rolled it over. Nick, along with Mike and Steve Troyer, are all A-Model buffs, and they had been discussing them. Yes, Nick is an A-Model fan, even though he has a Peterbilt (it happens). Nick talked about his great uncle Chris and even produced a picture of the A-Model he had. It is a small world, because after Nick’s great uncle rolled the truck, the hood ended up in Steve’s father’s junkyard (not really a junkyard for public sale, just all parts Don Troyer had for and from his trucks), and after he passed away, his grandson Mike came across the hood and cut out the hood badges and emblems. The old Kenworth badges had been cut out with some of the hood showing part of the stripe, which they still have. Nick thought it was pretty awesome that part of the truck, so many years later, still existed and had been preserved.
Nick said his biggest influence in the industry was first and foremost his great uncle Chris, who guided him and was willing to teach him whatever he knew. I would like to think he would be very proud of not only the driver, but the person Nick has become. Nick was always fascinated by trucks, including those owned by Coy Smith, with his farming and trucking operation, as well as the moving company, located across the street from where Nick lived.
Today, 36-year-old Nick and his wife Nicole live in Seville, OH on the outskirts of town with a nice piece of property fitting for their home and shop. They have two children, Aubrey (7) and Braden (5). Nick is leased on with Dan Ratta of Ratta Trucking in Marshallville, OH, and he pulls their 2018 MAC LTT (Liquid Tank Trailer), with the freedom of modifying the trailer to match his truck. He has been with Ratta for about three years, running local, hauling liquid asphalt, and running regional during the winter months, doing mostly terminal transfers from the refineries to one of the customer’s tank farms, or to the barges out on the river.
Special thanks from Nick to his wife for putting up with him becoming an owner operator, for always supporting him in his endeavors, always sticking with him and believing in him. To the Troyers from Nobody’z Garage, because if it weren’t for them, the truck wouldn’t be what it is today. They believed in this vision and worked with Nick on every level. Nick was concerned that this build might lessen the friendship they had, but instead it brought them even closer.
I headed to Ohio to photograph this truck, which was in conjunction with a long overdue visit with my great friends, Tony and Beth Hylton, owners of a 1977 Kenworth W900A that was featured on the cover of the September 2017 issue. Rain happened the day I photographed, but that didn’t stop us from getting done what we needed to do.
Thank you, Nick, for your time when I went to Ohio, for the conversations over the phone to gather the information needed, and the privilege to tell your story. I would also like to thank Melway Paving in Holmesville, OH for allowing us to move the truck around on their property to take photos, and to Ruppdale Farms for being able to park in front of their cool barn. This 379 started as a plan with a vision but ended up being more than expected – on every level! As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.