Driver Appreciation

Driver Appreciation

My name Is Michael Teague. I'm 59 years old. As of Dec of 2022, my wife Sharon and I will mark 42 years that we've been together. We have 2 children. Michael and Chelsea, and 5 wonderful grandchildren. I'm so very proud of my kids and what they have grown up to be. They have always been there day or night for anything we've asked of them. I'm Proud of my Grandkids and love each one dearly. Sharon has a saying. "If I could have been a grandma first, I could have been a better mom."

I guess my love for trucks began as a young boy. About 9 yrs old in elementary school. I remember daydreaming and looking out the windows of my classroom. My classroom windows faced the road. I knew my Dad, brothers, uncle's and cousins would leave or come in from a trip to Florida with fruit headed to Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh, PA. I watched, and I waited eagerly each day. Even then, I could hear the truck motors before I could even see the truck.

I can remember times my brother Terry and I would each get in a truck, back up the very end of the lot behind the coal yard, and take off, running through the gears until we had to come to a sliding stop to keep from sliding into the highway. Sometimes we'd catch Dad going to deliver coal, and we'd get on the road and take a spin around the block. That's the only time we could get into the high side changing gears.

I learned at an early age about the love for working on engines and trucks. It mainly started as a flashlight holder when my cousin Ronnie was working engines; I was right there watching everything he did. Didn't matter if it was Running the overhead, changing tires, switching transmissions. I wasn't even a teenager yet, and I soaked up everything like a sponge.

My first truck driven over the road was my Dad's cabover 68 Peter built with a 335 Cummins and a 13-speed transmission.
The first motor I ever built by myself from the bottom up was an out-of-frame 335 Cummins, except for doing the jig timing, of course. I built this motor after the crankshaft broke on a run with my brother Jerry in Florida. For you old-schoolers, I bet you know that those tapered nose crankshafts were tough to do. Hey, if we had Bruce and all his knowledge back then, we'd have learned to change the "torsional vibration dampers."

After Dad took me out of school my freshman year, I drove everything I could. Trucks, loaders, tractors. If I didn't know-how just give me a minute, I'd figure it out. Pretty soon, Dad saw how good I was and had no choice but to turn me loose. I drove trucks for Dad for several years. I didn't realize it then; he must have had a lot of faith that I could do it. I can't imagine trusting some 16 or 18-year-olds these days to run a truck by themselves. Although I'm sure there are some that could.

While my brother and I were in Hanes City, Florida, waiting to load out, we noticed everyone getting up and going outside. We couldn't resist seeing what was going on. A new shiny 1979 KW aerodyne, sitting at the fuel pumps, with a crowd around it. At first sight, I fell in love with this truck. It was the most fantastic thing I'd ever seen as a 16 yr Old boy. I could only dream of ever owning a truck like that. I thought to myself, I'm going to own that truck one day. I thought about that truck many times. Then, low and behold, it came to my hometown. I watched it for years. Still wish someday I could buy it. It was owned by Robbie Holman. Now Robbie wasn't a fan of Detroit. So approximately 70 thousand miles, he purchased the 1693 425 CAT, loaded it up in his trailer, and took it to Arizona, to the Cat House Diesel Shop, and installed it. When I finally got the chance to ask, are you ready to let me buy that truck yet?, he said yes, and I nearly had a heart attack.

We brought the truck home and found out very soon the 1693 had seen its better days. We learned a lot over the next few years and a few rebuilds. I knew I would break if I had to keep doing this, but it did make us good mechanics. In 1991 A good friend, Billy Gunn, bought a new 91 Peter-built hood. So I bought his 84 cabover aerodyne. It had a 425 Cat 7FB in it. So I switched that over to my truck. Which is the best thing I could have done.
At 600,000 miles, It began to have some issues. Blew a head gasket due to #2 and 6 liner dropping. We got a man to do the counterbore. Thought that would fix it. Drove it for 30 thousand miles, and it blew another head gasket. So we figured out the counterbore wasn't done correctly. Took the engine out took it down completely to the bare block. We had to have the block decked and the new counterbore done. Well, they totally messed that up also. This big dealership, which should have known better, made a mess. Looked like an old washboard from one end to the other. So I had to find another 7FB block and start over.
By this time, we learned a lot about balance and blueprints. We took the pistons, rods, crankshaft, and flywheel to Terry Walters Racing Shop in VA. We Teflon coated the piston skirts, and we ceramic coated the piston tops. We Teflon coated the bearings. We even ported and polished the head.
We purchased a set of extruded, hoaned, oversized fuel nozzles from Pittsburgh Power. By doing this, We hoped to make a more efficient engine. We Ended up with about 600 horsepower and broke the frame rail at the motor mounts. Had to replace those aluminum rails with the steel ones. At about 800,000 miles, we had liner O-ring failure, which put water in the oil. Did another inframe rebuild, so I had to have all the balancing and coating done on all the new parts again. When we pulled the head off, all the liners still looked brand new. Still had the crosshatch pattern. Piston tops only had very minimal heat cracks. Everything looked exceptional, except the one-liner cat O-ring failure. Bearings still were exceptional.
Had not even worn any of the coatings off. There would be no telling how many miles this engine would have gone if it hadn't been for one bad set of O-rings. But I must say I was a Lucas Oil man in those days. Used only Lucas oil and Stabilizer. It helped that I was also a warehouse distributor for Lucas. I guess most people would have just replaced the one cylinder and put it back together. But not me. I didn't know how to do anything the easy way.

1.3 million miles later, it put the no 6 piston and rod thru the side of the engine. Again if we'd known about the torsional vibration damper and all Bruce's knowledge, we could have been in a better place.
So that was the end of that 7FB CAT Engine.
Now I have the 4MG engine. We installed it in March of 2018. We found this engine already mostly built. So we looked at a few things that we could recheck and give us peace of mind. We didn't have much choice. It happened in the middle of our busiest season. So far, so good. You've heard the saying, "I wish I'd known then, what I know now."

Thank you to everyone who believed in me when it was hard for me to believe in myself, and thanks to Bruce for giving me the
opportunity to share a small glimpse into my life. May God Bless and keep y'all safe.

1979 Kenworth W900-A with an aerodyne sleeper. VIP interior. All the bells and whistles you could get. Now with a 4MG 3406-B 425 CAT engine. Now it has an RTLO-16713. A 13-speed double-over transmission. Has SQHP 370 rear ends.


Written by:

Michael Teague


Pittsburgh Power

3600 S. Noah Dr

Saxonburg, PA, 16056

(724) 360-4080