Trucker 1020 West 5

Meet 'The Beast'

Dec. 16, 2016
The 2016 Readers' Rigs Grand Champions, Eric & Sondra West

When you haul some serious military equipment like Howitzer artillery pieces and Bradley armored vehicles, you need a serious truck. So Eric and Sondra West, owner-operators leased on to Mercer Transportation, spec’d their 2015 Western Star 4900SB just the way they wanted: a 600-hp. Cummins ISX15, a raised heavy-duty radiator configuration, two transmissions, a 46,000-lb. rear axle, and a 15,000 Btu rooftop air unit.

Additionally, the tractor has a Western Canada-spec 244-in. wheelbase, along with a 20,000-lb. extra lift axle. The rig boasts a 55-deg. turning radius to the right and 52 deg. to the left—important for pulling a three-axle, 35-ton Trail King stretch RGN trailer.

See the gallery: 'The Beast'

The sleeper features two large side windows as well as an unusual rear window around which the headache rack supports a 7500 Onan generator and a massive set of storage boxes. “It’s totally custom to us,” Eric West says. “Sondra and I did it ourselves.”

Unofficially dubbed “The Beast” by Sondra, the GVWR is some 84,000 lbs. for the tractor alone. “She’s a monster,” Eric concedes. “A brute.”
The paint is a metallic PPG Aztec Silver, selected to make the cab easier to cool in desert summers.

Since hauling their first load in March 2015, the couple have put about 170,000 mi. on the truck and don’t plan  to replace it anytime soon.

“We would order another one, probably identical, but as long as it’s running good,we’ll hang on to it,” Eric West says. “It’ll last a long time.”

Send us a photo for judging in our monthly Readers’ Rigs showcase. Each month’s winner gets entered into the championship round, with the Grand Champion Reader Rig selected and profiled in American Trucker’s December issue.

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor

Kevin has served as editor-in-chief of Trailer/Body Builders magazine since 2017—just the third editor in the magazine’s 60 years. He is also editorial director for Endeavor Business Media’s Commercial Vehicle group, which includes FleetOwner, Bulk Transporter, Refrigerated Transporter, American Trucker, and Fleet Maintenance magazines and websites.

Working from Little Rock, Kevin has covered trucking and manufacturing for 15 years. His writing and commentary about the trucking industry and, previously, business and government, has been recognized with numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards.

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