This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue.
July 8, 2019. The day started like any other for Kendall Reed. She drove to work at 5:45 like she did most mornings, except this particular day it was raining. As Kendall picked up speed around a curve that merged onto the highway, her back wheels kicked out as if she had hit black ice. At the speed she was going, it’s easy to overcorrect, and that’s exactly what happened. The truck spun and Kendall found herself going 60 mph while facing backward on a freeway. She hit a curb and braced herself for the inevitable roll.
Kendall (Instagram: @kendiesel_227), 25, lives in Washington and loves being outdoors. As a little girl she was constantly camping, fishing, hunting and rock climbing with her family. When she was just four, Kendall hopped on a dirt bike for the first time and was off to the races. She’s used to wiping out on her dirt bike which prepared her for what she thought was going to happen: she was going to get knocked out. But it didn’t happen. In fact, Kendall walked away with only minor injuries, though she still goes to the chiropractor for a neck issue.
“I should have been smashed and killed by how far it smashed my truck down when it rolled,” Kendall said, “but the rear door hit my shoulder right before it rolled over and whiplashed me toward the middle console for just a split second.”
The paramedics on scene agreed that Kendall shouldn’t have walked away from the crash as well as she did, but the effects were still long lasting. Kendall was left with a fear of driving in the rain or around corners, a fear that persisted for months. Everyday on her way to work she had to drive past the same spot of her accident.
“It was very traumatizing for a long time,” Kendall explained. “Any time I went out wheeling with friends or drifting just messing around I would have flashbacks to that day and would fear for my life. It took me a long time to get over this for the most part. It has made me think of the ‘what ifs’ all the time and made me a safer person.”
Kendall burst into tears upon seeing the state of her truck. She put a considerable amount of time, effort, love and money into it and now it was totaled. Though the outside was crushed, the truck still had quite a few working parts that she could pull from. The transmission and motor both worked fine and it could still go into drive and reverse, and the four-wheel drive was still engaged. Kendall sold most of the salvageable parts and went on the hunt for her next toy.
Finding the right diesel isn’t an easy task and sometimes you have to drive a long way to find it. Kendall and her mom took a road trip to Montana and Idaho while hunting down the right trucks but didn’t have any luck. Even constant Craigslist searches didn’t help Kendall find what she was looking for. While on their way back home, Kendall received a text about a white, second-generation Cummins just 45 minutes from her house. They checked it out that night and although it needed work, it was just the platform Kendall was looking for.
“Obviously everyone knows second gens are old and will need something fixed or replaced on them,” Kendall said. “It needed some new front end and suspension parts right away and some miscellaneous other things.”
Kendall named it [Rome] and got to work on her project, replacing the VP44 that went out and nearly the entire front, minus ball joints and the steering gear box. The alternator and NV4500 then went out and Kendall went with SuperStick Transmissions in Texas for some new parts. She also upgraded to a Valair dual disc.
Making It Hers
Other upgrades on [Rome] include new Thuren springs, Billstein shocks and 22x14 hostile fury wheels on 37’s. To spice things up she put in a spiked brass knuckle shift knob, replaced the inside carpet, put a fourth-generation front bumper on it with the second-generation conversion brackets with LED light pods and a light bar, installed a color-matched sport grille, fourth-generation tow mirrors and tinted windows, of course.
In the early days of owning this white diesel, the crankshaft tone ring decided to come apart and explode inside. For the longest time they couldn’t figure out why, until a friend suggested it might be the tone ring. Sure enough, after checking, Kendall discovered a tone ring in a million pieces and a blown-out oil squirter. Several months later, Kendall had it fixed up and back on the road.
Kendall has ordered some real cowhide with a plan to wrap the carpet door inserts in it and would like to lift it 6 inches one day. She also wants to get a set of 24x14 American Force wheels and eventually plans to P-Pump swap it and go back to twin turbos. She and her brother are currently in the process of fabricating new weld on brackets for the traction bars.
“Some people think it’s awesome that I work on my own truck and know how to do some things. On the other hand I have also gotten people asking me, usually guys, ‘Why do you need a truck?’ Well, sir, I ride dirt bikes and have outdoorsy hobbies for one. For two, who doesn’t love trucks?”
Full Force Diesel
Thuren Fabrication Inc.