Hello Everyone, My name is David Usherwood and I am 19 years old. Recently, I have become interested in restoring antique tractor trailers. After graduating from high school in 2005 I purchased a 1978 359 Peterbilt tractor. I bought the truck from H.S Edinger Trucking in Otisco NY and It had been sitting in the weeds for a few years. I got the ready to run for an auctioneer to come and look at it that summer. The auctioneer never came to buy the truck and in the end I had to have the truck. Little did I know but I was in for a really exciting project in restoring a truck with quite a history. In later months I researched 359 Peterbilts and talked to my Boss about who he had bought the truck from. The original owner of the truck was the late Kelsey Mimms, the Owner of Sandbear Express. I was interested in hearing about this company and learning about what my truck looked like back in 1978. I emailed Sandbear Express in Michigan and talked to Caroline Mimms and asked if she remembered a 36” bunk Peterbilt. She remembered the truck and claimed it was the only small bunk Pete that they ran during that time. She was very helpful with information and sent me four pictures of the truck when it was fairly new. After seeing what the truck looked like when they owned it I finally decided that was going to do an original restoration.
Information about the truck:
Truck- 1978 359 Peterbilt
Paint over the years:
The original paint scheme was very unique. All of the paint is Dupont Imron. The Frame was a Teal color. The main color was white and the stripes were Green, Yellow and Teal. The stripes were separated with a gold outline. The stripe design is called “Winslow stripes.” The truck was pinstriped with yellow and red and “Billy Carr” was painted on the door and Sandbear Express was on displayed on the Bunk. During this era the truck was “Truck Number 4”
I am unsure if the truck was repainted to the Sandbear’s color scheme of Blue, Black, Gold and White before Edingers purchased the truck. I say this because this truck was the odd duckling Peterbilt of the fleet and none of the Edingers remember the Original paint Scheme on the when they purchased it.
In 1990 the truck was repainted Edinger Blue including the frame and body. The Lettering and pin striping was in Silver on Emerald Green and was painted by the Legendary RB Hazzard. The truck displayed “Old Number 4” on the bug deflector and has had that name ever since.
In 1996 the truck was again repainted Edinger Blue. The Lettering and Pin striping was completed by Color craft in Syracuse NY, and painted by Lenny Smith. The trucks number was 34845.
The Original engine in this truck was a 3406A Caterpillar. It was a Pre cup with glow plugs and was about 375-400hp (factory advertised). The engine was rebuilt many times the Infamous (Doc)Pat Longo, Owner of P&M diesel. The truck now has the same engine block, a Direct Injected head and Jacobs brake. In 2001 on the Caterpillar chassis dyno in Rochester NY this truck put out 510 hp at the Rear wheels, Not to Bad for an old A model.
Condition of the Truck before Disassembly
The truck was in pretty rough shape and had defiantly been used with well over 3 million miles under its belt. Luckily for me both Sandbear Express and Edinger Trucking did an impeccable job in keeping the trucks in well maintained condition. The Truck still drove like new. I drove it about 15 miles before I put it away for the winter. I cant wait to drive it again.
My plans for this Old Peterbilt
I plan to restore this truck to 99.9% original condition, the way Sandbear Express had it in 1978. The engine will remain original, but will go back to original with a Pre cup head to get that Bulldozer sound back. I have already rebuilt the 13 speed transmission. It is ready to install but I think I would like to take a different direction for the transmission. If I can find all of the parts to do it right I would like to put a twin stick 5x4 Spicer setup in this rig. This will be the only unoriginal choice with the truck, but I would enjoy it if it had this setup. The aluminum frame is in decent shape for the age but is in need of some welding under the fifth wheel plate where it has corroded over the years. I plan on rebuilding the frame for the start of the project this summer. When I finish restoring the truck I plan on driving it to Michigan to Sandbear Express. I can’t wait until it is complete. It will be indoors when not used, never driven in the rain and will remain a drivable show truck.
I have completely disassembled this truck at this time. It is in storage in my 1978 Great Dane Stainless Reefer. I bought this trailer from a neighbor’s junk yard where it had been sitting for at least 15 years. It took two large John Deere Tractors to get it out of the swamp where it was resting. Surprisingly the trailer is in great shape. Other than needing rear door work, some wiring, brakes and new tires the trailer is in mint condition for its age. I plan to restore it as well and show it with the truck. I am not sure what direction to go. The trailer I have has a working Super II Thermoking refer. The trailer mimics the trailer in my original pictures of my truck yet that trailer had no refer. I think the whole package will show well together, an original Peterbilt with and Original Great Dane.
I am a college student studying Diesel Technology. I enjoy talking about trucks and learning more about Caterpillar, Peterbilts, Great Dane trailers, Sandbear Express and any information that could aid in making my restoration more accurate.
My Email: Usherw34@morrisville.edu
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