A good save
OOIDA Life Member John Yolda finds that no electronic systems and no payments make his ’85 Freightliner FLC the right choice for him

By Jeff Barker, contributing writer

Anyone who runs an older truck is aware of routine issues like parts availability and the fact that some trucks will need to be dismantled for parts to help keep others on the road.

Thankfully, there’s a growing trend toward saving older trucks that still have a lot of useful life in them.

John Yolda, an OOIDA life member from Danielson, Conn., came across this 1985 Freightliner FLC conventional in 1998 and discovered it was about to be parted out and eventually scrapped.

He saw a lot of potential in this truck and an opportunity to get into something that he could work on himself. After several months of going through the truck’s mechanicals and doing a major in-frame overhaul himself, he put it back on the road.

He eventually made a few changes to it, including the addition of a new paint job – going with a retro 1981 Freightliner custom style he liked – and side windows in the sleeper. Otherwise, the truck is mostly original.

This cool resurrection of love is powered by a Caterpillar 3406B all-mechanical engine and backed by an Eaton-Fuller RTO 13-speed along with Rockwell 3:73 rear ends on the original Freightliner air ride with bellows-style air bags.

“The only electrical engine component is the fuel shutoff, which is nice because if it acts up you can take it off, throw it in the woods, and shut the thing off with a screwdriver,” John said.

He says the only real drawbacks are the low fuel mileage and finding someone who is familiar with these older mechanical engines.

He still loves the fact that there is no sophisticated electronic engine management system, no truck payments, and fewer items that could fail, unlike on newer trucks.

“The big motors blow by me on the hills but the truck payment versus speed ratio is in my favor,” he said.

John and his faithful dog can be seen traveling in this true classic machine from anywhere east of the Mississippi River into Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa hauling dry van freight. While the truck is showing its age on a few cosmetic items, John still has a strong running machine that will likely stay out of the shop, on the road, and away from a scrap yard for many years to come. LL