We're Into Diesel Hot Rods

Business owner and custom diesel builder Walt Moss, in his own words. “I have a trucking business I started in...

September 30, 2020

Business owner and custom diesel builder Walt Moss, in his own words.

“I have a trucking business I started in 1978. I was 22 years old. I played around with go-karts, engines, cars, trucks and stuff when I was younger, even before I had a license. Eventually I figured out that I could make these different things and make them work basically from scratch.

“One of my favorites is this trike right here. This is qualified as a motorcycle trike. I was just trying to build something that had never been done. It’s got a twin-turbo 3208 CAT diesel and a six-speed Allison transmission. It’s got a Dana 80 rear-end. The radiator is in the rear behind the passenger seats. It’s got seating for two people in the back, and the canopy is off of a semi-truck, so it’s actually a hood.

“I drive it quite a bit. If you pass somebody because they’re going slow, all of a sudden now they’re driving 10 miles an hour faster than you to come and see what the heck that was that just went by.”

It all starts with a vision

“I do have help with some of the parts that obviously are machined or the paint. I don’t do it all. But it’s my vision of what I see in the end, and that’s what keeps me through the project as I can see it done in the end.

“This vehicle started out with the cab and the sleeper that was put together on a custom frame and lowered. It’s got air ride in the rear and the front. It’s got a 13-speed transmission, 280 gear ratio in it, so 70 miles an hour is about 1200 rpms. It has a 1,000-horsepower C15 Cat that makes 2,600 foot-pounds of torque.

“I just wanted to try it out one time. And, on GPS, not the speedometer, I had it up to 131 miles an hour on a private track, of course.

“I’ve driven the truck to Clearwater Beach, Fla. The bike has been to Sturgis. Drove it there and back more than once. The school bus has been to Denton, Texas. So I drive them. I took my daughter and 13 of her friends to the prom in this. This originally was a 1959 school bus. It came from, like, two miles away from here, and I never knew it existed. It sat there for 30-some years. I drug it out of the field with a front-end loader and took the original front end off and added the Peterbilt clip to it and put a 600 horse, 8.3 Cummins diesel in it, so it moves right along.”

Minimum planning, maximum awesomeness

“When I am building these projects, I don’t do much for drawings. So, there’s really not a plan, just a general idea of what it should do or be capable of or look like when I’m finished. This vehicle was built out of an 81-year-old road grader that I owned for over 30 years. We took it apart and used the radiator, the hood and the cab off the road grader to build this vehicle.

“It’s got a 3208 Cat diesel engine that came out of a commercial snow blower. The rear end and suspension are from another truck. I had the custom build in the front of it because that’s where all the hydraulic controls were for the grader. We have a blade underneath there. It isn’t very wide, so it would take some doing to get a road graded with it.”

Just builds “pretty cool” vehicles

“A lot of it, I just call it my therapy. So, it’s good therapy to not think about something else and have something you have to set a goal to and get it finished. My inspiration for this was going to bike rallies and seeing some of the custom-built bikes. I saw the back tires were getting bigger, so we put this tire on it. It’s off a semi-truck. And, as far as we’re concerned, it stops here with the tire with something that you can actually ride. It’s a handful to push around, but I ride it.

“I think I’m more of a craftsman than an artisan. I don’t consider myself a high-end vehicle builder. I just build some stuff that I think is pretty cool and needs to be built.”