Greg Parks knows his way around a diesel engine. This is evidenced in all his work, but perhaps none more than in his very own 2015 Western Star day cab that serves as his principal hauler of houseboats. The story of how Parks acquired this particular rig is rather unique.
While the truck was only two months old when he bought it, the circumstances that brought it into his possession aren’t quite the norm.
“I bought it salvage,” he said of the rig. Turns out the original operator, who used it to haul logs, went around flood warning barricades and proceeded to get the rig stuck in high water, not far from the two-man diesel shop Parks has owned and operated in Camden, Arkansas since the 1990s. The truck had been almost entirely underwater.
“The water came up to as high as the sun visor,” Parks remarked.
By the next morning, the river had fallen and the owner brought the water logged truck to Parks’ shop.
“We drained all the water and oil and diesel out of it — oil had come up to the valve cover,” said Parks. “Their insurance company said it’s totaled. I bought it back a month later,” installed three new batteries and fired it back up, figuring it wasn’t in the water long enough to “hurt everything.” While he changed the “gauges, switches and electronic stuff in the dash, the wiring is all original.”
And the rest is history. The truck has been running strong ever since working about 6-10 extra-complicated jobs a year that Parks squeezes in around his more regular mechanic work.
How Parks got into the houseboat hauling business is a tale of its own. It all started back in 2010, and as with many things, was born of necessity. He and his wife, Rhonda, needed to move their own boat and couldn’t find anyone to help, so Greg borrowed his dad’s truck, leased a trailer with a company out of Louisiana, and set about doing it himself.
Houseboat hauls require a lot of time and effort, and while Parks doesn’t feel there’s enough of this work to keep him busy year-round, he’s found it quite lucrative, with some of the biggest boats brining in $50K in revenue. The fee is high for good reason. The entire process can take a week or two to complete and involves a lot of disassembling and reassembling, so you need not just time, but skills and patience as well.
The Western Star is still going strong, though the truck doesn’t always see loads of use. Word of mouth advertising has garnered him jobs close to home as well as in neighboring states, mostly in Texas and Missouri.
“It’ll last me from now on, forever,” he said. “I can’t have more than 25,000 miles on the truck — my tires dry rot no more than I use it.”
Parks works on houseboats at his shop as well, performing routine maintenance on gas engines and other parts of the boats for owners, although his specialty remains diesel, primarily, “working on the big trucks.”