You never know who you’ll run into at the Shell Rotella SuperRigs show. I’m always scouring the lot for Canadian trucks, and I got especially excited today when I spotted the Sharp Transportation Peterbilt with the telltale oversized bunk. It was Ron and Dawn Marie Pickles!
I first met Ron and Dawn Marie several years ago when they were running a Pete 379 for Sharp. I was impressed with their business savvy. They knew their costs down to the decimal point, they knew their mpg, and they understood how to maximize their revenue. They ran hard from May through November. Then, they parked their truck and headed down to Mexico to wait out the winter. It’s a ritual they still employ today.
When it came time to replace the 379 a couple years ago, Ron and Dawn Marie set out to build the biggest custom bunk possible, while still complying with Canadian length and wheelbase restrictions. They typically haul lightweight, but time-sensitive loads, and they figured they could better meet customer requirements by reducing stops along their routes. At the same time, they also realized they could earn even more revenue if they had a larger, more comfortable bunk, complete with hot water, shower, kitchen and toilet. The result of that goal is a 108-inch sleeper, with all of the above amenities – and then some.
Ron and Dawn Marie invited me inside their home away from home and I was blown away by the level of comfort and convenience they have achieved with this bunk design. The spacious sleeper cab feels more like an RV interior than a truck bunk. Now, they can easily run 1,000 miles a day, stopping only for fuel. They don’t waste time waiting at truck stops for showers to become available. Ron handles the day driving and Dawn Marie takes over at night. They’re averaging about 7.2 US miles per gallon, just a tick under what they got with the 379, which was a 2006 model, not saddled with DPF or SCR. The truck is a Peterbilt Model 384 with a Paccar MX engine rated at 485 hp, 1,650 lb.-ft. of torque.
The sleeper cab added about 1,000 lbs, but Ron told me he took as much weight out of the truck elsewhere as was possible. They’ve spec’d wide-base, fuel-efficient drive tires, an aluminum fifth wheel and aluminum cross-members on the sleeper cab, which sits atop its own independent suspension system.
Two years in, Ron and Dawn Marie say they wouldn’t have designed the bunk any differently today, if they had a redo, though there are some newer technologies they’d employ next time. For instance, Ron says he’d be interested in trying a 6×2 axle configuration since they haul light loads. That would claw back another 400 lbs or so. The truck is legal in Canada and is a great example of trucking ingenuity. I’ll have a more detailed write-up in the August issues of Truck News and Truck West.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies