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Confessions of chrome junkies

BUCKHORN, Ont. - For Tracey Davis, the fact her husband Larry goes to bed dreaming of chrome isn't really a bother - she does too.For the Davis' a lot of time, money, effort and love go into keeping t...


BUCKHORN, Ont. – For Tracey Davis, the fact her husband Larry goes to bed dreaming of chrome isn’t really a bother – she does too.

For the Davis’ a lot of time, money, effort and love go into keeping their ultra-customized 2001 Freightliner Classic looking like the mother of all pearls. With the mountain blue metallic pearl base covered in prismatic (PPG manufactured with prismatic fleck), 10 coats of clear on the body and six on the frame (valued at $27,000) it is no wonder Customs agents have pulled them over to have a look at this rolling wonder.

Their rig has won in many showing categories including best graphical display, paint, lights, overall, people’s and children’s choice awards, with the biggest win being first of show for bobtail at this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

Bitten by the bug

Larry wasn’t always addicted to chrome. “A friend of his showed his own truck at the Notre-Dame-du-Nord (Rodeo du Camion) show and suggested Larry do the same,” says Tracey.

“I’ll tell you the truth, I started off with a couple little wee pieces of chrome, that’s it. All of a sudden it just started,” adds Larry. “I started it in August of 2000 and then progressed and progressed until the whole truck got covered. Everything is covered in stainless now and there is more coming.”

The original purchase cost for the tractor was about $170,000, but with all its intricacies the value has increased by an estimated $90,000.

Davis has two sponsors, one for his LED lights (Maxxima Heavy-Duty Lighting) and another for his chrome (Eastern Truck Accessories out of Fultonville, N.Y.).

“It’s definitely a big help,” says Tracey.

It even works

The most common question the Davis’ answer when at a show is, “Do you really work this truck?”

“It doesn’t just show, it pulls as well,” says Larry.

The accusations of their truck leading a sedentary life used to irritate Tracey, but now she laughs it off.

“They have absolutely no idea how much work it takes to get it that clean,” she jokes.

“You’re talking about a truck that is rolling up and down the highway, you know how dirty your car gets. Crawl underneath it. That frame is painted two colors of paint and you have to make sure there isn’t a spot of grease or dust. Judges have to be able to white glove it.”

Putting on a game face

This is where the biggest amount of work lies in the business of showing – the preparation before hand.

Two or three days are spent cleaning the truck for a smaller show while a larger venue, such as Mid-America, can mean a week or more spent in, on, under and around the truck cleaning every nook and cranny.

“I wax the frame, I wax everything,” says Larry. “You have to.”

Behind a visor, inside, under a seat rail, frame rail … everything.

“You can lick the frame and never taste dust,” he assures.

The Davis’ go as far as independently jacking up every axle to line up the tire lettering.

“You wouldn’t believe the people that ask me how I get my tires like that,” he laughs.

After spending literally days cleaning, waxing, shining, onlookers invariably want to touch the final product. Meanwhile nasty fingerprints spoil their toils. The average person would want some kind of revenge. For this duo, it’s no bother.

“Some guys take it really, really seriously. I don’t. I mean, what are you going to do? There is so much clear-coat on this truck, there isn’t much you can’t sand out of it,” she says.

They have plenty of advice for anyone thinking of showing a truck, and the first thing you’ll need is a whopping big bank account.

“There is US$4,100 worth of LED lights on it,” Larry says. The custom bumper, which sports the rig’s moniker – Just chill’n, was bought for $750.

There are 22 toggle switches on the dash costing $8 each.

“Of all the stainless work inside the truck, I think we have about $5,000 invested,” he says.

But back to giving advice…

Tracey says anyone in the early stages of dressing up their truck should focus on one task at a time.

A good start, Larry suggests is switch covers, toggle switch extenders … then you start working on your stainless,” he says.

A costly mistake a lot of people make is starting out with lights.

“But with lights, you can’t cobble it up. It has to be uniform,” says Larry. Judges can’t stand it when lights are all different types he adds.

The entire process can be costly, but nobody ever said showing was a cheap hobby.

The specs:

C16 CAT 575 Engine

13-speed Eaton Fuller Transmission

244″ wheelbase

373 Gears on 24.5″ tires

219 LED lights by Maxxima

$27,000 custom paint job by Bell’s Truck and Auto, Refinishing painted by Jeff Clark

two color frame

interior custom chrome and stainless from Eastern Truck Accessories

seven-inch pipes

six blue neon light tubes mounted under the frame

Upcoming shows

June 21-23 – the Performance with Pride Truck Show and Shine in Brandon, Man. 800-665-0415.

June 7-9 – The 4th Annual Brigden Pull and Shine Truck Show and Tractor Pull in Brigden, Ont. 519-864-1134.

June 15 – the Minden Kinsman Truck Pull in Minden, Ont. 705-286-2122 or 705-286-1171.

June 27-29 – the International Trucking Show in Las Vegas, Nev. 650-349-4876.

July 13-14 – the 3rd Annual Burl’s Creek Big Rig Show and Shine in Oro, Ont. 705-487-3663.

Aug. 1-4 – the Rodeo du Camion in Notre-Dame-du-Nord, Que. 877-357-6336.

Aug. 17 – the Tow Truck Roundup 2002 in Pictou Country, N.S. 902-485-5605.

Sept. 5-7 – the Performance with Pride Truck Show and Shine in Saskatoon, Sask. 800-665-0415.

Sept. 6-8 – the 4th annual Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Tex. 812-949-9200.

Sept. 26-28 – Truck World 2002 in Toronto. 416-249-7401. n


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