Sweet, sweet, lemmons

In November 2023, American Connection6 MinutesBy Rod SimmondsDecember 24, 2023

Lemmons Trucking is known for its activity in Pacific North West forestry, for its dedication to the Peterbilt and Caterpillar brands, and for its immaculate restoration and preservation of models from

Lemmons Trucking Inc is based in Longview, Washington State, right in the heart of Pacific North West forestry. Larry Lemmons now runs it with his family. They are renowned for presenting clean, sharp gear in their local area, and more frequently at classic-truck shows nationally.

The company might have been around for a long time, but things took a big turn when Mt St Helens erupted in 1980 and put this moderately-sized trucking outfit on a new and exciting trajectory.

One of the big timber operations near Mt St Helens lost thousands of trees in the eruption. A proposal was made to Larry’s dad, John, to buy a mobile chip trailer and keep the operations busy. So, Lemmons Trucking bought a chipper, took it up the mountain to one of the sites being cleared, and began chipping the downed trees.

From there, the wood chips were hauled down the mountain in Lemmons trucks to Longview, where much of it was burned as fuel in the nearby wood and paper mills.

In 1982, Larry and his dad decided it would be better to create a separate business for the wood-chipping operation and Pacific Fibre Products (PFP) was born. Lemmons Trucking is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Fibre Products.

Combined, the companies have about 200 employees. They remain fiercely family-owned and operated. Their motto – ‘Nothing beats reliability in products or people’ – was created by John several decades ago, and the company still stands behind it today.

Initially International was the favoured fleet truck, and Cat power was the preferred choice in the trucks and forestry equipment. In the past 20 years or so, Peterbilt became the dominant brand – old and new variants alike – with as many as possible powered by Caterpillar.

Lemmons Trucking runs a diverse fleet of chip trailers, walking floors, dry vans, dump trucks, and other equipment, with custom-built equipment designed to handle various wood product cargo, including wood chips and their landscaping bark products. The operating area remains close to customers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Many specially developed rail wagons form part of its innovation for longer distance hauls as well.

The company’s unwavering passion extends to the fully equipped onsite restoration and servicing workshop, with lead mechanic Wes Kurtis having been part of the team for more than 45 years.

The dedication to restore and maintain the older trucks shows in Lemmons running its own truck show every year in June, where visitors can wander around the many workshops and buildings jam-packed with rare, unique or just plain awesome trucks accumulated throughout the company’s history.

We caught up with Lemmons at the Reno Truck Show this year.

The team travelled in force, covering the 1000km to show off its latest and well-regarded working show trucks. Included in the strong Peterbilt presence was a rare, fully rebuilt 525 Cummins-powered Transtar 4300-KTA factory long hood.

To prove without doubt the admiration of the early cabovers (now virtually extinct in the United States), fleet No.352, a Peterbilt 352 ‘Pacemaker’, rolled into Reno ahead of the pack. The twin stacks crackled as it approached the car park. Cool old school!

This unit was built in 1979 and is one of the early 352 H models. H indicated a higher cab to create extra room and cooling for the higher-powered engine options becoming available at the time (KTA Cummins, 12V71 GMs, and 1693 and 3408 Cats).

For such a legendary model it has only covered 60,000 miles (96,000km). After having been in storage for more than 30 years, it was given a full end-to-end Lemmon restoration.

While it is used just for truck shows, it is still fully capable of interstate work – only without the modern-day refinement.

Powered by an early model Cat 3408 V8 and towing a restored, period shiny semi, it was the hot-rod of the show trucks.

No auto, no air con, no cruise control, no DPF, no load – just haulin’ ass with class!

Little to split the company’s superbly restored Internationals and current fleet Peterbilts.