Peterbilt 389 Built By Passion For Hauling Livestock

LEAD_Phil_Miller

Phil Miller has been trucking all of his life. He grew up around trucks and started driving as soon as he could. It is no wonder why he’s an owner/operator and handles 11 other trucks. When Miller isn’t on the phone making sure everything is running smoothly, he can be found behind the wheel of his 2010 Peterbilt 389.

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Miller runs about 130,000 miles a year.

Miller normally logs around 130,000 miles hauling livestock out of Nevada, but odds are, you will never see him running down the road. Miller said that he gets stopped so often about his truck and people are always wanting to know more about it, that he ends up running at night to avoid the slow downs.

What is all the fuss over?

The truck started life as a bone stock 389 with a 300-inch wheelbase and a 63-inch flat top sleeper. Over the years he has slowly upgraded and modified it to create this eye-catching beauty. Up front the truck sports a 20-inch Lincoln Chrome bumper. The headlights and grill are classic Peterbilt.

To help give the truck a more aggressive style and to keep the sun out of Miller’s eyes, he opted to install a sun visor from 4 State Trucks. On top of the cab, a set of Grakon 1000 LED cab lights shows a little personality while still keeping Miller legal.

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One big reason that Miller’s rig looks so good, are the number of subtle things. He added 12 Ga. Customs skirts to hide the frame between the sleeper and the fuel tank. Pickett Customs created custom panels between the fuel tanks and in front of the rear axles. He also had them fabricate a custom light bar for the back of the truck. While Pickett was fabricating all of the panels, Miller had them shave the frame to remove any bolts or other parts that stuck through. Then he had deck plates made between the frame rails to create a smooth finished look.

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If you aren’t familiar with Peterbilt trucks, you wouldn’t realize how much work has been done to this Peterbilt. Miller’s attention to detail has paid off.

In keeping with the clean and finished look, a set of 12 Ga. Customs’ air cleaner covers were installed. These mount on the outside of the air cleaner and hide the straps that hold the cleaner on. The covers mount behind the marker lights. Miller also turned to 12 Ga. Customs for their polished stainless steps.

Another subtle modification Miller did was to take the wheel off and have the holes enlarged. Picket Custom Trucks takes the stock 22.5-inch wheels and gives them a custom look, even though they are the original wheel. The wheels are wrapped by 275/80R22.5 Michelin tires.

As work was done to the truck over the years it was painted by two companies, Performance Diesel Inc. (PDI) and Pickett Custom Trucks. Miller turned to air brush and pinstriping artist Jeff Dastrup to do the custom lettering under the doors and the skull under the hood.

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In honor of what pays the bills, Miller had Jeff Dastrup pinstripe the bulls head under the hood.

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A set of PDI compounds ensure that Miller isn’t blowing black smoke as he heads up the mountain ranges in the west.

When you tilt the hood forward, the subtle nature of the truck disappears and the “look at me” engine comes to life. The C15 Caterpillar engine was rebuilt by PDI keeping the displacement stock (15.2-liters), but they tightened up the tolerances and worked their magic a little. With the addition of their Big Boss compound turbos (Big Boss 1 high pressure and Big Boss 3 low pressure) paired up with their custom tuning, the truck is now putting down 765 hp to the rear wheels with 2,350 lb-ft of torque. It took PDI almost a week of dyno tuning to make sure everything was running right, but Miller now has all the power he needs to set the cruise and go.

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While PDI was working on the engine, they went ahead and sent a bunch of the parts out to be chrome-plated. The CAC tubes, steering shaft, fuel filter housing, coolant tubes and miscellaneous parts really pop against the brown on the engine.

IMG_0245With the hook up, the Horse Air Ride system up front is fully exposed. This not only gives Miller a soft ride, but he can dump the bags when he is parked giving his truck that “cool” look. The system has dual Fox Racing shocks to help smooth out any bumps along the way. To control the air bags, there are toggle switches mounted on the dash.

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Be honest, if you saw this in your rear view mirror, you would move over, right?

When the door is opened to get into the cab, the beauty and simplicity once again shows through. Miller opted to have custom wood flooring installed. It goes along well with his desire to keep his rig classy. The factory dash was pulled out and painted just like the exterior and the steering wheel was replaced with a Victor to keep the interior clean and color matched.

The last major item Miller opted to upgrade was the seats. He knew he wanted something that matched the truck, but he also wanted something comfortable. He called in a few favors and had a friend who works at an undisclosed company to manufacture seats with the company Phil Miller Livestock embroidered in the head rest.

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Miller’s truck as a bobtail would look good but it looks great with the Wilson trailer in tow.

Now you can’t have a rig this cool and have a generic trailer behind it. Shortly after Miller picked up the 2015 Wilson livestock trailer, he took it over to Pickett Custom Trucks and had it painted to match his truck. The trailer is hooked up to the tractor via an aluminum fifth wheel hitch by Holland.

All and all it is pretty obvious why Miller drives at night. He would be getting stopped by everyone and their brother with questions on his gorgeous truck. His attention to detail and consistent focus on simplicity, and his desire to keep is classy has yielded a rig to envy.

About the author

Chad Westfall

With diesel running through his veins from childhood, Chad has more than a decade of experience in the automotive industry. From editorial work to wrenching, there isn’t much he hasn't conquered head-on. When he’s not writing and shooting trucks and tech, you’ll find him in the shop working on turning the ideas floating around in his head into reality.
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