BEAVERTON, Ont. - Of any commercial motor vehicle, the gravel truck has the most grueling work environment, with regular exposure to grit, dirt and grease, not only from the material it's carrying but...
MOST WORK IN SHOW?: Polishing a dump truck for a show’n’shine competition is a daunting task, as Glen Watts, owner of these trucks, can attest.
THE INSIDE, TOO?: Lots of chrome in the cab means even more work for show truck owners.
BEAVERTON, Ont. –Of any commercial motor vehicle, the gravel truck has the most grueling work environment, with regular exposure to grit, dirt and grease, not only from the material it’s carrying but also from the road itself.
Those harsh environmental challenges are even more extreme during a Canadian winter, when sand and salt are regularly applied to icy roads. Yet those hazards don’t stop some owners from taking pride in their dump trucks, especially at truck shows.
Glen Watts, of Watts Haulage located in Beaverton, Ont., has always had a neat-and-tidy nature, and that also goes for his 2006 Peterbilt and the other trucks in his fleet.
He shows the trucks any chance that he can get, most recently winning at the Burl’s Creek Truck Show, located just northeast of Barrie, Ont.
“We won Best Gravel Truck, and we won Best-in-Show,” he says of a vehicle that hauls 43 tonnes, and works 12-15 hours a day, mainly on a gravel roads.
For the main truck body, Watts and his professional polisher, Jamie Seabrook, have a preference for Meguiare’s paint cleaner and Meguiare’s wax. Watts is an exclusive client of Seabrook’s, who used to have his own polishing company that he now runs as a hobby. Seabrook developed an affinity for the polishing business after working on some company trucks that were looking dull, and were transformed by his touch.
“It kind of snowballed from there,” he says.
Even the dump box is dressed up for the show, which takes about 100 hours to polish, according to Watts, who credits Seabrook with guiding him to his show’n’shine success.
“He taught me a lot,” he says.
The polishing treatment begins with an electric buffer, before the more laborious and time-consuming hand-polishing, which is the key to show’n’shine success, according to Watts.
“Time is the big thing. The more time you put into it, the better the results.”
For winter protection, Watts says he covers his truck’s exposed metal in grease.
It’s rather unsightly, he admits, particularly when the grit sticks to the coating.
But that sticky covering protects the truck’s aluminum, stainless steel and chrome throughout the harshest season.
“It looks terrible,” he says. “But when I clean it off in the spring, it looks really good. It saves the chrome. It saves sandblasting, (because) they use lots of sand on the roads here in the winter.”
In the spring, the truck is treated with a pressure wash to remove the grease, before application of “Jeweler’s Rouge” a polishing paste for metals like chrome, aluminum and stainless steel, which comes in various strengths.
Watts and Seabrook follow a two-step process, first with the Jeweler’s Rouge “brown” bar which cuts the oxidation that occurs during the winter months, and then they apply a “green” bar. The bar is placed on an electric polishing buffer, which eventually imbeds itself into the wheel and spreads for greater coverage.
Finally, they apply California Custom “Purple” metal polish for optimum shine. Another polishing and cleaning product that Watts favours is “Autosol,” a German import. He also uses fine sand paper, 600-or 800-grit, to smooth out the nicks in the aluminum, which are unavoidable in his line of business. It’s an aggressive metal treatment that Watts was initially skeptical of.
“I was pretty scared when I first used it, but it looks great when it’s done,” he says.
In preparation for a show, Watts and Seabrook step up the polishing process about a month ahead of the event.
They put a great deal of effort into cleaning and polishing until they apply the finishing touches, about 24 hours before show day.
It’s a team operation that also involves Watts’ company driver, Brent Speedie, who works on the company’s 2007 Peterbilt tractor.
“It usually takes a full day to pretty much go over everything,” says Watts, noting that the last show’n’shine resulted in a sleep-deprived schedule. “I started at 5 a. m. and finished at 2 a. m. the day of the show.” •