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Riding High

by Hank Suderman

As odd as it may seem to some veterans, many of our readers have never seen the inside of a COE [cab-over-engine] tractor before. Terry Novak’s 1999 Kenworth K100 is a fine example of the breed, and worth this bit of attention.

Novak has 30 years of driving under his trim belt, and he’s been running his own trucks for 25 years. This one became his in 2001, having begun its working life hauling wood chips for DCT Chambers in Vernon, B.C. Running mostly east out of Vernon, it never saw water ‘til Novak put it on with Kingsley Trucking in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.

These days, Novak leaves on the first ferry from Nanaimo, B.C. at 5:15 a.m. to the Mainland, probably headed for Chilliwack with a load of wood products. Among the more obvious attributes of his 180-in. wheelbase power unit is a 10 ft savings in lane space on the ferry. And crossing as often as he does, that bit adds up in a hurry.
Calling it a comfortable truck, Novak says he hasn’t spent much on cosmetics, but has treated himself to a few of the necessities of life, like a good stereo, and TV/VCR and a few other goodies. It’s not too often that Terry spends the night in the sleeper, but every so often he does and these comforts make the time away from home more comfortable.

The truck stayed its original colour for about a year after he bought it, but it was painted Kingsley Trucking’s colours in March 2002. It’s a perfect match for the custom-built Magnum “Chinaliner” curtainside Super-Bs he pulls, and together, the combo always draws looks.

When asked if Novak spends a lot of time keeping the truck looking good, he said it gets its share of attention, but not much more.
“It’s a work truck. Just like all my other trucks; just plain work trucks,” Novak says. “If there is time, I’ll wash it up and keep it looking good, but my family always comes first.”

In contrast, Novak has spent a good chunk of change – mechanically – on this truck in the four years he’s owned it. When he first bought the truck, the engine needed some warranty work, so he had the engine completely rebuilt. Since then he’s pumped about $88,000 into it. Right now he’s running an almost new truck. Still, he plans to repaint the front of the cab, and to chrome the bumper before he sells it.

After 30 years on the road, Novak is talking about retiring in about a year or so. He’s not putting in the hours he used to – slowing down a little to ease into his idle days. As for the truck, at about 1.2 million km, it’s still got lots of life in it yet, and the lucky person who buys it will be getting more than he or she bargained for.

 

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