Speedco Mini-Rig Makes Debut At Shell Rotella SuperRigs®
John Swineford and Jeremy Nelson, owner of Nelson Custom Paint,
have many hours of work building the Speedco Mini. – Photo by Steve Pollock -
The Speedco Mini has functioning air bags and air brakes – all that is
needed is a trailer to complete the Mini-Rig. – Photo by Steve Pollock –
By Steve Pollock
TOMAH, WI… It began as an idea at last year’s Guilty By Association Truck Show in Joplin, MO and culminated in a mini-rig after 7 months and over 500 hours of work. John Swineford, Regional Fleet Sales Manager for Speedco had never built a mini-rig before but told us, “You just have to be crazy enough to try.”
The project was a collaboration between John and Jeremy Nelson, owner of Nelson Custom Paint of Sidney, Illinois. John built the frame and powertrain using a gas-powered belt driven golf cart. Since they wanted to build the mini-rig to scale and as close to a functional semi-tractor as possible, a 3-cylinder Kubota diesel with Garrett Turbo was substituted for the gas engine. A fully functional air system was added, including air bag suspension, air seats, air horn and an air brake system. The Speedco Mini uses the same air horn, air seats and brake chambers used on semi tractors. Because of space limitations, the air system was mounted under the hood and the engine was mounted in the rear. A tag axle was added and the drive axle is operated by a belt driven centrifugal clutch with one forward and one reverse gear. As the mini is throttled up, the clutch increases speed. (Top road speed and fuel economy haven’t been determined yet.) The Speedco mini-rig has a fully functional 5th wheel, lights and dual 5-gallon diesel fuel tanks.
There was much trial and error involved with building Speedco’s mini-rig and a lot of collaboration between John and Jeremy. Jeremy Nelson and his crew built the custom cab by cutting down a fiberglass pulling truck cab, modeling it after a Peterbilt. The fenders had to be hand molded from fiberglass using a custom built mold and required a lot of time to fabricate. Jeremy has built a number of pulling trucks, including his own Speedco sponsored “Midnight Gambler” as well as customizing semi tractors. As Jeremy worked on the mini rig’s body in his Illinois shop, friends, neighbors and his UPS driver (who was making frequent parts deliveries for the mini rig) became very interested in the mini’s progress. John and Jeremy want to send a special thank-you to the Chrome Shop Mafia’s Bryan Martin and David Burkey for building the custom chrome grille and chrome deck plating under some close time restraints. The mini rig was completed just a couple of hours before the Speedco crew left for the 2013 Shell Rotella SuperRigs® event in Tomah, Wisconsin. Jeremy added a custom “Speedco” dash and drop visor and put 9-10 applications of clear coat to bring the finish to an amazing luster. John and Jeremy have a lot of hours of work involved in the mini rig and since it was done in their spare time, it involved many evenings and weekends to complete.
Speedco is proud to sponsor the building of the Speedco mini rig as a tribute to the American Truck Drivers who take so much pride in their trucks. It is also a tribute to the many “gear heads” that work at Speedco. Look for Speedco’s mini rig at the 2013 Rotella Cup presented by Shell and Speedco and the Guilty By Association Truck Show in Joplin. Speedco plans to have a custom trailer to be built in the future so they can have a fully functional mini 18-wheeler.