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|12-19-02: Ready to turn over, but not
in the junkyard
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
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
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,
"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
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