As we roll into the 2020 Trucker Appreciation Week we wanted to bring light to a touching story about the bond professional drivers have with the trucks that they drive daily. Times and technology have changed over the years but a bond between a driver and his truck is still very special.
Many professional drivers build a special bond with their trucks. This is especially true for Leon “Butch” Mueller who drove a 1971 Peterbilt 358 for more than 45 years. Mueller drove the truck for Tom Gullickson, Inc. until he retired. Tom Gullickson, Inc. purchased the brand new Peterbilt truck from JX in 1970 as one of JX’s very first customers!
About the Driver
Leon “Butch” Mueller was a true, professional driver. He hauled milk and cream for Gullickson and received the new 1971 Peterbilt 358, also known as #19. When Butch was given the truck, it was instant love. Butch was overjoyed and said “I can die happy now, I’m driving a Peterbilt.” It was a dream come true for Butch.
Butch knew he had a special truck and took really great care of it. He was on top of all the required maintenance for 40 years. He also kept the truck shielded from the rough Midwest weather when possible. To keep the truck in pristine condition he used a soft brush with warm water and no soap. As a professional driver, Butch knew exactly how to care for the truck to make it last a while.
About the Truck
The 1971 Peterbilt 358 is a classic, narrow nose Peterbilt truck. It was built with a CAT 1674 engine with 270 HP, Fuller RTO9513 transmission, Reyco 101 s-spring suspension, 20” spoke wheels (front & rear), no power steering, no AC and single centerline mounted horn.
Once #19 hit the 2 million mile mark, it received a new engine, new transmission and new rear ends. The condition of the truck along with the upgrades allowed it to run for another 2 million miles!
As a surprise to Butch, Gullickson installed AC in the truck while Butch was on vacation. The addition made longer trips a little more comfortable.
After Butch retired, the Gullickson family decided that the truck needed a full restoration. But they also wanted to honor Butch due to his bond with #19.
The plan for the restoration is to feature many of the truck’s original components. This includes the original seat, with a new upholstery, since it was in good condition and working orders.
The restoration aims to be complete by the middle of September 2020. To learn more about the restoration click here.
On top of the truck restoration, the Gullickson family also created a small scale replica of the truck which is used in community events such as parades. Which turns heads in itself!
Once the restoration is complete, we look forward to seeing that special bond between a driver and his truck come back to life! Be sure to follow JX on Facebook for future updates!