The Week's Features
“If it’s not old, it’s not any good!”
Texas towman assists two troopers, then collapses
There’s something very calming about a crisp uniform
Forks come in three versions: short, medium, tall
Drives off from tow yard in repossessed Hyundai Elantra
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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJanuary 16 - January 22, 2019

Heaviest of the Heavies

0 90465By George L. Nitti

For Doug Estes, owner of Doug's Towing & Recovery of Elizabethtown, Ky., it was a proud moment picking up his newest rotator, a 2009 Peterbilt/Century 1075 rotator three months ago.

This rotator would become the largest in their fleet of 36 trucks across three companies.

"We have a 50- and 60-ton rotator, but there is something about having a 75-ton rotator that doesn't compare," said Estes. "I've always said to move big iron, it takes big iron."

In business since 1978, this acquisition by Estes and his son Kevin was a pinnacle moment for the company and the perfect birthday gift for Doug who has dedicated his life to the business.

"My son Kevin said, 'Come get your birthday present.' This rotator really represents the heaviest of the heavies," said Estes.

Like the size of a full-grown whale, the rotator consists of a five-winch option, including two 60,000-lbs. winches on top, a 55,000-lbs. drag winch and two 22,0000-lbs. winches in the belly. Indeed, this machinery represents some serious iron.

The red-and-black vinyl reflective graphics add to the luster. Most prominent is the company name.

"I worked very closely with Chris Hines, the graphic designer at Uptown Graphics based out of Upton, Kentucky," said Kevin. "One of the things we worked hard on was making sure the company name, Doug's, could be seen from all angles, no matter what position the truck was in. We know it's good advertising."

Another feature is the reflective lettering, which Kevin said makes a huge difference at night, making the truck visible to all. The company logo is on the side door over a silver badge, reminiscent of the Harley-Davidson logo; something his father enjoys riding in his free time.

"After seeing that design," said Kevin, "we've decided to change the design of our logo on all of our trucks."

Brag @ TIW!

Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com. You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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Wheelie Wizardry

0 dd908
By George L. Nitti

There's a long-standing creed at Chelsea Wrecker Service in Chelsea, Oklahoma: "If it's not old, it's not any good!" Roger Melson owned Chelsea for 29 years before retiring; his passion was collecting, restoring and retrofitting antique cars, hot rods and tow trucks.

One of his restorations included a red 1949 International KB7 tow truck with two Ramsey electric winches.

"I was nicknamed 'The Wizard,' " Melson said. "I built racecars and fast cars. You name it. My daddy was chief of police and used to borrow this truck in 1959 to sell watermelons. I was five years old then. I had no idea that I would own it. I traded for it about 20 years ago and fixed it up. It could pull anything out of a lake, and a house if it needed to be moved."

The wrecker is still in working shape. It operates with many of its components like the suspension springs, pedals, steering wheel, dashboard, original headlights and more.

Melson claims to have had the oldest tow trucks in Oklahoma's history.

"I wanted to go to work in an antique truck every day," he said, "and I did not want to spend a whole lot of money on new tow trucks because it's a small town where some days you make money and some days you don't. I didn't want a struggle. I think it helped my business. Nobody ever rode in a '30 or '40 model (truck)."

Part of the retrofitting included shortening the frame, putting a back seat in, adding a swiveling bed and most extraordinarily, a heavy winch box that has enabled it to do wheelies.

"The winch box added about 5,500 pounds of weight," Melson said. "You can put it in different positions and wheelie down the road. It's very forgiving and goes straight."

At that vantage point, the wrecker is clearly eye catching, even drawing the interest of kids.

"I had a mouth that bolts on front with teeth. I put that on the truck for a show. The kids think that it is 'Tow Mater.' I tell them that it is Mater's father," he said, referring to another classic tow truck he owned that resembled "Tow Mater" from the hit "Cars" movie franchise.

On the front, under its right standard headlight, are the words "Cheapers Greapers."

"If people remember the movie, it was an old truck running people off the road," Melson said.

Brag @ TIW!
Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at bdooley@towman.com . You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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