Trucking and trucks can often be a love-hate relationship for those who have been in the game for any length of time. Such is the case for the builders of this month’s truck featured here. The 2023 “Geraldine” Peterbilt 389 gracing these pages was a project finished by two cousins – Austin Duffield and Joe “Skip” Mazzone. The canvas for the truck seen here started as a new 2023 Peterbilt 389 painted in Peterbilt Legendary Black with a Viper Red frame, which is a very striking color combination.
Austin’s father started Duffield Hauling out of Roanoke, Virginia in 1979 with a single dump truck. “We moved to northern VA in the 80s, which is really when the business grew, to over 50 dump trucks,” explained Austin. In the 90s, the business switched gears from dump trucks to tractor trailers, hauling dump trailers, tankers, and heavy-haul trailers. “I grew up in the shop, which led me to start my own business, King George Truck Center, about 12 years ago,” said Austin. He and his sister have since taken over Duffield Hauling and downsized the fleet to 15 trucks, which is much easier and more manageable to operate. Most of the drivers have been with the company for over 15 years. Since they took over the business, they diversified by adding both flatbed and step deck trailers, which has increased their ability to haul different types of freight.
Skip’s parents started Bedrock Hauling, based out of New Jersey, in 1991 after working for Duffield Hauling in 1990. “My parents went after large road construction projects and were eventually awarded multi-million dollar contracts,” explained Skip. Bedrock Hauling operated a fleet of 10 trucks and nearly 50 subcontractors. After the 9/11 attacks, business really slowed down, which resulted in Skip’s parent’s decision to close the business. As Skip put it, driving was in his blood and it came easy, but he did not want to be a truck driver. “I ended up getting my CDL at 21 and started pulling doubles at FedEx. The job became far too easy, so I switched it up and started hauling cars,” Skip said. Over the years, Skip moved on to nicer trucks, eventually doing a stint at Lanita Specialized (known for their nice rigs). In 2022 Skip made the move to join Austin at Duffield Hauling.
Building this 2023 Peterbilt in the Duffield garage, the truck came from the factory with a double frame and a 300-inch wheelbase and is equipped with a 565 Cummins backed by an Eaton 18-speed sending power out to 3.43 rears. “I actually bought the truck from Zach Strayer at the end of 2022,” said Austin. “I had thought about ordering one through Peterbilt, but I saw a post Zach made on social media about having a few trucks for sale, so I wired him the money, and off I went to get the truck.” The truck was spec’d basically bare bones with no lights, factory air ride, and a big sliding fifth wheel.
Once the truck was in Virginia, the tear-down process began. The engine, transmission, cab, and sleeper were left on the truck, but the rest was stripped. The Viper Red frame was repainted at King George Chrome’s shop, as Austin was not satisfied with the factory finish. Starting at the front, a Peterbilt 379 grill and surround were installed, along with shaved double square headlights, that were mounted lower than the factory mounting points. A bumper lift kit by 12 Ga. Customs was installed to assist with keeping the truck together when Skip makes some off-road deliveries. A simple 8-inch visor and bus glass were added to dress up the cab. Rounding out the front end modifications is a custom air ride kit with over-inflate, adjustable ride height, and dump valves.
Moving further down the truck, two strapless air cleaners, which were done in-house, were added in place of the factory Peterbilt air cleaners. At the rear of the truck a custom Merritt deck plate was installed. “This deck plate was Skip’s idea. I was apprehensive at first, but I’m really happy we went this route,” said Austin. This was done instead of the normal stainless deck plate because Skip wanted something durable that would not be ruined by boots walking on it.
The entire truck, from the hood to the cab and sleeper, were all lowered to give the truck a sleek and low profile. All the custom work done to the rear of the frame was done in-house, as well. A Dynaflex 5-inch exhaust was installed to keep the old school look going. All the lights are watermelon style glass lenses mounted on DirtyDiesels billet bases. The cab lights were also redone to match the style Austin and Skip were going for, and that big factory sliding fifth wheel was ditched for a cooler one.
As for the interior, it’s simple and clean. The truck came equipped with the digital dash, but Austin was not a fan of the Smart Steering Wheel. “At the time, no one I knew was swapping them out. I ended up taking it apart and figured out how to make the swap work,” explained Austin. Machining some custom parts and building his own harness, Austin was able to make the new steering wheel work in replacement of the factory one. The interior also has multiple watermelon style lenses, which put out a cool pattern, and make the interior glow really nicely. Randy at Spare Time Fab provided the interior, which was installed by the boys at the King George Chrome shop.
The trailer is nothing crazy – just a nice 2023 Mac 53-foot step deck. The boys swapped some lights out, polished a few things, and added cattle mats on the rear. This truck and trailer combo has turned into a good example to show any potential clients what King George Chrome could build them. All the parts on this truck are either sold at the shop or can be fabricated in-house for anyone to get exactly what they want! Once the finishing touches were completed, the truck went to work. As Skip put it, he “hit the ground running” on the second weekend in February of 2023, with the first trip consisting of a run from Virginia to Florida, and then on to Vermont. Skip says the truck rides like it is on rails.
The goal was to have the truck ready for MATS (the Mid-America Trucking Show) 2023. The timeline was met and, after it worked for a few weeks, it made its way to Virginia to have a full detail and polish done. As soon as this was completed, Skip pointed the truck west and made his way to Louisville, KY. Once the truck arrived at the show, final touch up cleaning and polishing was done to make it the best it could be. “While it was extremely stressful, it was very cool,” said Skip. Chris Badolato, a mutual friend of mine, provided his polishing and detail skills to help Skip and Austin out. The truck was met with a lot of praise at the show, and although Austin and Skip built it for themselves, they were appreciative of the good things people had to say about the truck. The truck ended up placing 3rd in the New Truck Bobtail class. As Skip put it, “I think we did pretty good… for a guy in NJ and a guy in VA building a truck from a basically blank canvas to placing 3rd in our first-ever MATS event.”
I used this location for a previous shoot and feature a few years ago, but I knew it would be a good spot for this combo. After a few days of getting rain, we lucked out and had a great day of weather to shoot. The rail yard provided a cool back drop, with graffiti on the hoppers, as well as unique colors. The stone lot was a nice contrast, too, which helped to extenuate the deep, rich black color of the truck. I have to thank my friend Matt Lewis for allowing me to do a shoot in his rail yard once again.
The truck really caught my eye at a local-to-me show in April. I had all the intentions of making it to MATS, but work got in the way, and I could not make it. Fortunately, Skip and I traded numbers at the local show, so we were able to arrange all this later. Austin and I spoke for a good two hours about the truck, the build, the industry, and life in general. Austin told me as he was typing this information that he was laughing at writing “through the love of everything trucks” because, as stated previously, trucks and trucking sometime become a love-hate relationship when you are in the business for a long time. But once it gets in your blood, there is nothing you can do about it.