It’s an odd realization when you consider custom vehicle builds and how many of them look so similar to one another. One could almost draw a parallel from the psychological theory of archetypes to the custom car builds of today and make an interesting case study.
But we’re not here to talk about normal minds; we’re here to talk about the exceptional minds, one of which belongs to Walt Moss of Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin. As the creator of several unique builds (including motorcycles), Walt has the distinct pride of having always gone his own way with his projects.
Two of these projects – a long-hooded Kenworth and a bus-meets-Peterbilt called “Madd Moss” – caught our eyes recently as we were browsing Instagram. We reached out to Walt and got a better understanding of how he got into diesels, what made him go the route he did with these builds, and how he’s benefitted from using Amsoil products.
The inspiration for the Kenworth? “I wanted to build something I had never seen before,” said Walt.
As a young man, Walt had gotten into trucking. He purchased a dump truck when he was 22 years old, and made modifications to it as he went along. “Of course, it was an older truck, so I was trying to make it better whenever it broke,” he said.
That motivation – to make something better every time it was worked on – carried on to how Walt built both the Kenworth and the Peterbilt. “Lengthening frames, shortening frames, moving suspension around, this engine to that truck – it was like working on a hot rod car, only with bigger parts,” he commented.
Walt started on the Kenworth with just a cab, a leftover from a swamp wreck. He had tried to make it roadworthy, but its wiring was far too old to recover. After five years of valiant effort, he wound up selling the Kenworth; but he bought it back 20 years later, yearning to give it one more shot.
“I ordered custom frame rails from PG Adams, and then did a drop frame,” said Walt. “The cab sits on the lower part of the frame. I also had the frame rails tapered. They’re nine inches in the back and seven inches in the front.”
In the middle, Walt situated a Caterpillar C15 engine, just like those found in combine harvesters and big rigs. It was heavily modified, and now makes 1,000 horsepower and 2,600 lb-ft of torque, according to him. “There’s more in there with the push of a few buttons,” Walt commented. “The way I have the gearing set up, it does 70 miles an hour at just over 1,200 rpm.”
The Kenworth is powered by a C15 making about 1,000 horsepower and 2,600 lb-ft of torque, with more on demand at the push of a few buttons.
The Kenworth is about to turn two years old, with 16,000 miles on it since its rebirth. Walt has gotten the truck up to 131 miles per hour, and even smoked a couple of Cummins trucks that thought they could keep up.
Another of Walt’s creations is this 1959 bus, which he rescued after it had been sitting for 30 years at a friend’s property.
“After I did the truck, I didn’t want to really do any more builds,” Walt stated. “But I said, ‘If I found the right bus, I would build it up.'”
Almost like a wish fulfilled, along came another beater of a vehicle, aching for new life. “It belonged to an old friend for 30 years, and he’d used it to store concrete supplies, lock it up, and prevent people from stealing them,” explained Walt. “It was galvanized, so it was actually in a lot better shape that I was imagining originally.”
The Madd Moss uses the drivetrain from an early ’90s Freightliner box truck, stuffed under hood of a Peterbilt front end, which is mounted to an old school bus.
Walt began tinkering on the bus in November 2015. He had to cut out the rusty floor in three-foot pieces, and then weld in a crossmember to keep it level. The back part of the bus was raised by eight inches, and a drop frame was done on the front. The rear was also shortened, making this a “shorter bus,” as Walt quipped.
The Peterbilt front end was chopped, and its fenders were given a profile to suit smaller tires. All that was left uncut were the top and grille. An 8.3-liter Cummins from a Freightliner was used to power the vehicle, and it currently makes about 600 horsepower to a custom-made Allison transmission.
One thing that has kept these rigs rolling is Amsoil. Walt had heard of them through a friend who did Snocross (think Supercross, but for snowmobiles). He was invited out to an event sponsored by Amsoil, and got the opportunity to meet some of their people. All it took was seeing a burnout on Walt’s trike, and rest was history.
Nowadays, Walt runs Amsoil everywhere he can on his builds. “Rearend, transmission, engine, no problems at all,” he said. “I’ve used the Amsoil Diesel Cetane Boost, too, to get more out of the fuel.”
It goes without saying that Walt knows a thing or two about building custom vehicles. The mix of originality, ingenuity, and sheer persistence is something every diesel builder out there should strive for. We wish him the best with his future endeavors, even if it’s just taking it easy. And to find out more about Amsoil, be sure to head to the company’s website and Facebook page.