KIRKLAND, Wash. — As Kenworth celebrates its 90th anniversary, the truck maker took time recently to recognize the truck restorations completed by a couple of its biggest Canadian fans.
Highlighted in a recent release were Gord Cooper of Calgary, Alta., who restored a 1935 Kenworth Model 89 and Pierre Aubin of Ste.-Catherine, Que., who brought a 1986 K100 back to life.
Cooper came across his Model 89 at the 1992 American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) Antique Truck Show in Vancouver, Wash. He noticed the three-ton single drive axle flatbed truck still ran with its original 65-hp gas engine, four-speed manual transmission, two-speed Brown-Lipe auxiliary transmission and Timken two-speed rear axle. However, the wood frame cab and exterior were in poor shape.
“It had been repainted an ugly utility orange colour, but I still fell in love with it,” Cooper said. He bought the truck from Pat Stump of Yakima, Wash., who found it sitting abandoned in the corner of a field near Yakima with a layer of Mount St. Helens ash still covering its dashboard and much of its interior. With help of his friends in the Pioneer Chapter of the American Truck Historical Society, Cooper finished the restoration, complete with a rebuilt stakebed.
Since then, Cooper has restored a number of Kenworth trucks, including a 1957 Kenworth 923 conventional, which was featured in the Kenworth Truck Company’s 75th Anniversary in 1998. The Kenworth 923 also served as the bridal carriage in three weddings, including his own wedding and the wedding of his daughter. He’s currently restoring a 1926 Kenworth Model OL.
“I have been a die-hard Kenworth fan for most of my life,” said Cooper, who owns and operates O.C.E.A.N. Hauling and Hotshot, a light oilfield hauling company based in Calgary. His company runs several Kenworths including a 2003 tri-drive Kenworth T800 with a 15-ton hydraulic picker.
Equally passionate is Aubin, who has owned five Kenworth K100s throughout the 80s and 90s.
“Over the last two years, I searched for one and with the help of one of my drivers, Luc Lemieux, I found the one I wanted,” Aubin said. “Luc found it in Land-O-Lakes, Fla. The 1986 Kenworth K100 belonged to two brothers, Rick and Ron Judd, who hauled horses to special fairs in the southern states. After I flew to Tampa to take delivery of the truck, Ron told me that there were other people who wanted to buy it, but when he and his brother learned more about my company, they were sure their truck was going to go to a good family.”
Aubin drove it back to Montreal, where he had it refurbished by Francis Thouin, the owner of a local truck body repair shop.
“Francis’s body shop professionals – Alain, Erick and Daniel, worked on that truck,” he said. “They lengthened the frame from 192 inches to 224 inches; took out the 340-hp engine and 13-speed transmission, then repainted and reinstalled them; sandblasted and repainted the cab; and installed new wiring and airlines, among other things. They came up with a truck that looks and feels as good as a brand new one.”
Aubin occasionally takes his refurbished 1986 Kenworth K100 out for short two- or three-day trips.