Monday, May 18, 2009

Big Rig Chronicles: The Western Star

While researching the history of the Western Star, it was clear that this truck was designed first and foremost with the driver in mind. Although I’m sure that they mean it was designed for the driver of the actual truck, the Western Star is quite the eye candy for the ones of us who share the road with the Western Star. Unfortunately I don’t see nearly enough Western Stars on the road, at least not in my part of the country, but boy do they ever stand out when they do roll down the highway. Huge & majestic, usually equipped with a massive sleeper cab, this is the type of truck that’ll run you off the road, not because the truck can’t stay between the lines but because it’s so eye catching, a poor truck-smitten commuter may forget what they are doing and veer off the road.

The Western Star is quite young compared to the other trucks I’ve written about so far. It was born in 1967 in Cleveland, Ohio, although the production of the truck mainly took place in Canada. It was founded on the belief that the most valuable asset in trucking is the truck driver, which is probably why the sleeper cabs on these trucks stand out so much. While developing and manufacturing trucks for all sorts of fields, such as mining, logging and military usage, they never lost sight of who the truck ought to accommodate the most: The trucker.

During the 1980s, the Western Star trucks continued to grow and demand their share of the market as the Western Star gained reputation as a durable and reliable truck. They started advancing the cabs by increasing head room and improving the visibility for the driver.

Although young, Western Stars have been busy playing catch-up, which is evident by the timeline I’m about to list in this article. Rather than trying to incorporate these dates into a story, I found it easier and more organized to line them up, something which usually isn’t my style because I like to write articles, but there’s always an exception somewhere and this is it.

Anyway, here is a list of the major developments of the Western Star:

1986: Supertilt hood was introduced, one of the earliest versions of the sloped hood for trucks
1987: Cornerstone chassis was introduced, this platform reduced cost as well as weight and complexity.
1990: 6900XD entered production
1992: Significant contracts were won with the Canadian military, PT Freeport mining in Indonesia and for highway maintenance trucks in British Columbia. (Military Western Star displayed below)
1996: Western Star introduced and launched the Constellation cab & sleeper, a large-sized and comfortable cab of welded steel.
1998: the Star Light Sleeper was introduced, featuring a major weight-reduction solution for Western Star and the industry as a whole by their design and also by cradling a polypropylene honeycomb core between two aluminum sheets.
2002: Western Star moved to Portland Oregon and they also introduced the LowMax package, which came with a lot of options for customized stainless steel accessories. (LowMax pictured below...) 2003: The 82 and the 68 Stratosphere sleeper cabs were introduced. The 82 inch was a walk-through sleeper with roof-mounted air horns and marker lights…the only one of its kind. The 68-inch cab was longer and designed for Canadian customers where they require a shorter wheelbase than in the US.
Also in 2003, the 6900XD became available with Twin-Steer. (I’ve never seen this and had to look it up…. Doesn’t it look wicked!)
2006: The Stratosphere sleeper line becomes the broadest line of walk-through sleepers in the industry. The largest cab in the industry if a Stratosphere 82 inch Ultra-High.

Below is a Western Star sporting a Stratosphere sleeper cab.

So the driver’s comfort seems to always have been a major factor whenever Western Star introduced new lines and technologies for their trucks, which makes it a natural development that their sleeper cabs are some of the best in the industry. (Although I wouldn’t be one to judge this as my experience with sleeper cabs is limited… :) ) The driver’s comfort seems to be an underlying theme to most of the changes that have taken place since the Western Star’s beginning in 1967.

Although most of the manufacturing of the Western Star took place in Canada, it has now all been moved over to American plants and the Western Star is an all-American truck.
Although the Kenworth is my favorite truck, there's no denying that when a Western Star comes rolling down the freeway, it certainly outshines the rest of the trucks. It's comfy, it's powerful and it's looks are stellar.... what is not to like? :)
(Really...since I don't see too many Western Stars on the road, it leads me to believe that the price may be high.... I guess I ought to do a blog post about big rigs and pricing to get a better overview.... frankly, I have no idea how much a truck costs.... :))

I want to point out that every single one of these photos were borrowed from .... obviously they have the best photos of their own trucks, but also, during my brief time as a big rig photographer in training, I have yet to get a photo op with a Western Star.... )

Friday, May 15, 2009

Life 8 Feet Up - great blog!

This is the first time I'm advertising another blog on my website.... I do this rarely because I don't want to be an advertising blog .... :) How much weight would my word carry if I advertised another blog every day ...

This blog however, is awesome and I can't help but posting his link on my blog!
This guy is a truck driver, he has a camera with him and takes photos of cars making stupid moves in traffic (and that's putting it mildly...).

If you have some extra time, I highly suggest you take a look at this blog:

Not only will it be an entertaining read for you, but it may also be enlightning & give you something to think about the next time you're sharing the road with a big rig.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Big Rig of the Week - "Wind Spirit"

Ok so my big rig of the week...has become more like "big rig when I have time to post it".... so sorry about that. I carry my camera with me so I can capture big rigs when I see them, so I do have a lot of nice ones lined up for my big rig "of the week" series.... maybe someday, it'll actually be a weekly posting once again.

This beautiful Kenworth was parked a few blocks away from my house. We were driving home one night after dinner, when I spotted the rig and had my husband turn around and go back so I could photograph it. The photos are a bit dark, I'm still working on my photography skills as well... but you can clearly see the beautiful airbrushings on the side of this Kenworth.
It was sooo gorgeous, I know my camera and I can't possibly capture the real thing the way it deserves to be captured, but we did our best.

I love it when truckers put so much heart & soul into their big rigs... this rig is obviously very personal to someone, the drawings and the names associated with them has to mean something special to the person who is roaming the freeways in this beautiful truck.

Here is the front, showing the gorgeous Kenworth grill.... gotta love it:
Showing off the entire side of the rig. The airbrushings are on the front, above the Kenworth logo and on the sleeper cab, to the right of the smoke stack.

Here's a closer shot of the front of the truck, showing the airbrushing a bit better:
Here is a closeup of the airbrushing on the front. I know it's hard to see from this photo, but the writing underneath the painting reads "Wind Spirit"

Here's a picture of the second air brushing.

Below is a photo of the airbrushing which I tried to lighten a little bit in photoshop, just so you can see the actual picture better.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Seeking photos of worn out trucks!

Got a big rig with peeling paint and a bumper that’s not quite hanging on, or maybe there’s a gaping hole in the grill? If so, I would love a photo of it!

Up till now, I mostly have photos of perfect, new and polished rigs on my blog.

I want to put up some worn out big rigs that show marks of a long life on the road. These trucks deserve as much dedication as those new ones that just rolled out from the manufacturer, just because their feathers are a bit ruffled doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their time in the spotlight.

Anyway, I would love photos of old & worn out big rigs, feel free to message me here or you can email photos & big rig stats & anything else you want to share about the truck to the email listed below. If you have a website, I’d be happy to display the link when I post the photo of your truck.

My email address is

Thank you very much & Stay safe out there!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Famous Trucks - Snowman's Truck ("Smokey & the Bandit")

There wasn’t much info to gather about the trucks that were used in the movie “Smokey and the Bandit”. I guess Convoy was a better truck movie, judging by the amount of material I was able to gather about Rubberduck’s truck as opposed to the minimal info I found about Snowman’s truck.
There is quite a lot of speculation is flying around on message boards and such regarding which trucks were used in this movie, but I finally found enough evidence to list the following about the “Smokey and the Bandit” truck, with 99% confidence that these are the true facts:

* Three Kenworth W900s were used in the movie (yay!) (Although some websites suggests that more than 3 trucks were used….)
* Two of the three trucks were 1974 models, which can be confirmed by looking at the grill, where the standard silver Kenworth emblems are displayed.
* The last Kenworth was a 1973 model. It sports a gold plated Kenworth emblem on its grill, something which signifies Kenworth 50th anniversary, as the business was established in 1923.
* All trucks were painted brown with golden edges and equipped with 38” sleeper cabs.
* The mural trailer was 48 feet long & manufactured by Hobbs Trailers in Texas.

If anyone has more info on these trucks used in Smokey & THe Bandit, feel free to leave it here :-)