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12-19-02: Ready to turn over, but not in the junkyard
The Daily Standard
    FORT RECOVERY - Tom Olding of rural Fort Recovery has gone a million miles in his Dodge pickup during the past eight years, and he's still truckin'.
    "It's the original engine - no rebuild, no adjustments, never had the head removed. And I only had one fender bender, in Montana, in all that time, and that wasn't my fault," Olding told The Daily Standard recently at his farm home, which has been in his family for generations.
    Olding, a cross-country driver with KBT Trucking in Sidney, delivers Air Stream vehicles from Jackson Center to dealers all over the nation, a job that has taken him to all contiguous states except Maine.
    When the newspaper talked with Olding, his 1995 Dodge Ram diesel, three-quarter ton pick-up showed 999,900 on the odometer. His trip the next day to St. Louis would put him over a million miles.
    "An old friend (89-year-old John Reichert) I've played pinochle with for years was with me when I turned over the 999,900. He said in all his years he's never heard of a truck with that many miles. He was real tickled to see the numbers turn," said Olding, 66.
    Another person tickled with the truck's mileage is Tom Huelsman of Huelsman Automotive in Chickasaw where Olding has all his major mechanic maintenance on the truck performed.
    "Huelsman does fine work and he's saved me a lot of time and money when I'm on the road. There have been several times when I've had a problem on the road and called him for help," Olding said.
    Once in Los Banos, Calif., the truck's fifth gear went out and Olding called Huelsman for advice.
    Huelsman told him, "No problem, you have four more gears. Bring it on home." Olding did just that, although he said it took him a little longer than usual.
    There were a couple other incidents when Olding called the Chickasaw mechanic to get the real scoop on the nature of a mechanical problem.
    "These things always seem to happen when I'm farthest away. But I've always been able to limp home after I talked to Tom," the truck driver said.
    Olding never knows where he might be going until he gets the call from KBT, which is often just a 24-hour notice, sometimes less.
    "I don't much care where I go, although I like to go south in the winter. And, I'd rather not have to drive through Chi-cago at all, but then nobody wants to drive in Chicago," he said.
    During his trips across the country, he often stops at Chrysler dealers to show off his million-mile truck. So far, no one's been able to top his mileage on a regular street truck.
    "Diesel engines are built for high mileage and 300,000 to 500,000 miles is fairly routine, but (Olding's) million miles is pretty good," said David Ring, a local Chrysler sales representative.
    Last year, when Olding hit 900,000 miles Daimler-Chrysler officials in Dayton asked Olding to appear at car and truck shows with his pick-up. They also indicated they wanted to be informed when he hit a million miles.
    The Fort Recovery man has made several attempts to reach Daimler-Chrysler officials in Detroit, but thus far there's been no response from the Motor City. The Daily Standard's call to a district representative at the car company's district office in Cincinnati was also not returned.
    Likewise the BP officials Olding contacted expressed little interest in the fact that he has used approximately 250 gallons of BP oil in his truck.
    Other stats Olding has compiled include: use of about 67,000 gallons of fuel, 40 tires and two ball hitches. The truck has original injectors, original turbo, drive axle, bearings, seals, gears and tie rods.
    "I had the water pump replaced at 700,000 miles and the transmission repaired at 940,000 miles. The interior's original and still looks good," he said.
    The key to getting good mileage in any vehicle is regular oil changes, Olding claimed.
    "If you don't do anything else, get the oil changed. I do mine myself after every 8,000 miles, or before and after every trip to California which is 9,000 miles," Olding said leaning against his dark blue/green pickup.
    Although he said he'd like for Daimler-Chrysler to at least "take the engine and see how it was able to get all these miles," Olding appeared the happy wanderer to be driving cross country several times a year.
    "I figure I've averaged 120,000 miles a year over the last eight years. I tried listening to (audio books), but they didn't enthuse me much. I'm a happy guy just driving along listening to old 1950s music tapes and talking on my CB," he said.


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