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​Airplane Stuntman Turned Owner-Operator

By Bruce Mallinson and Andrew Wilson

November, 2019

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As we travel through life in this trucking industry, we have the opportunity to meet many very interesting people. The weekend of October 4,5,6 Pittsburgh Power had a booth at the “Made In America” trade show in Indianapolis, In. Unfortunately, the show was low in attendance so Pete, Debbie, Jane, and I spent 3 days with our Max Mileage dealer Mike and Beth Thompson from Indianapolis. Many of you will recall about 3 years ago we built a DD4 Detroit engine in the convention center at the CMC sponsored by Kevin and Leesa Rutherford in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Mike Thompson, United Airlines Pilot, purchased the engine and we installed it into a FLD 120 Freightliner. Currently there is 330,000 miles on the engine. The horsepower is set to 581 and Mike has the ability to take the power to 725 hp at the turn of a dial. During the 3 days we learned that Mike was born in Nebraska, was taught to fly airplanes by a crop duster at age 14. At the age of 18 he owned his own double winger bi-plane and was performing stunts while flying. This plane would fly 200 miles per hour, and he would climb straight up into the sky until the plane would stall, then start to spin around the prop and fall backwards towards to ground. He explained how you keep track of where you are, how the plane was falling backwards, what you do with the controls and when the speed picks up how you bring the plane back to flying. Then Mike explained how you pilot the plane through the air doing flips, while traveling at 200 miles per hour, then pull the plane back to its flying altitude. I was fascinated with his stories and if you see him having lunch or dinner at a truck stop, introduce yourself to him and enjoy the conversation. Ask him about flying his plane 6 feet off the ground between him home and his neighbors home. He knows how to fly and make money with a truck. You will then have a new friend. Now for Beth, the one thing I can tell you about her is that she will not allow Mike to cut the grass. When I asked why, she said she likes the lines nice and straight. Here’s what Mike had to say about becoming a distributor for Max Mileage. “My wife Beth and I became a distributor of the Max Mileage about a month ago. I started using it in my 1996 FLD120 Freightliner at that time. I cannot believe how smooth the engine has gotten. Also, the fuel dilution of 3.8% has gone to less than 1% with 300000 miles on the engine.” 

Not all fuel stops are selling you perfect honey colored diesel fuel. Unfortunately, older underground tanks are susceptible to dirt, water, microorganisms, and other contaminants. Our customer, Aaron Lyman, (‘09 Pete 387 with a Cummins ISX) stopped by the shop because he had coolant in his fuel. We fixed the problem and then drained and cleaned the tanks and sent him on his way. He was back a few weeks later with a clogged fuel filter and it was running rough. We pulled the fuel out of the tanks again to find this disgusting looking liquid that contained water, sediment, and fouled diesel fuel (pictured). As it turns out, he always fills up at the same fuel stop and had a history of having to replace fuel filters. We suggested switching to a different fuel stop and voila, the new fuel was clear and pure. He was lucky that no serious damage was caused, but we think it is something every owner-operator should look out for. 

Some of the symptoms of bad fuel are excessive black exhaust smoke, loss of power and RPM, corroded and pitted fuel injectors, fuel pumps, and fuel lines. Some things to check for are sludge on your fuel filter, dark or hazy fuel, floating debris in the tanks, and sludge buildup or foul odor from the tanks. Caterpillar recommends not using diesel that’s been sitting for over 1 year, and only 6 months for biodiesel. If your fuel is unquestionably of bad quality, it’s better to drain and start fresh. If you only have a minor problem with water or bio-film, we have some simple solutions. For water, we have a product called Hydroclean from Diesel Force that actually converts water into combustible hydrocarbons. Our Max Mileage fuel borne catalyst will kill any micro-organisms in addition to the other benefits. It’s important to note that the dead micro-organisms will turn into sludge that will clog your fuel filter and you may want to change your fuel filter after the treatment. 

We have some Max Mileage updates. We’re now selling a more affordable half gallon at $130 for those who want to try it in their car or motorcycle. We’re also selling a 35 milliliter syringe with a case making it easier to measure for your car or motorcycle. Additionally, check the Max Mileage page on our website for an updated dealer map. We’re adding new dealers almost every week all over the US and Canada. 

Written by Bruce Mallinson and Andrew Wilson, Pittsburgh Power Inc., 3600 S. Noah Dr., Saxonburg, PA 16056. Phone 724-360-4080