Tom McArdle has been a HHG van operator since 1973, and today as an owner-operator for Atlas, he drives an 11-foot sleeper cab he custom-ordered in 2007 from True Custom, Inc. "I was looking around online for what my options would be, and True Custom had this great-looking model," he told American Mover recently during a stop at Paxton Van Lines in Springfield, Va. The cab's streamlined appearance without a lot of clutter on the roof was what appealed to him.
"A lot of these cabs have the A/C unit and a lot of antennas mounted up there and it looks to junky to me," he explains. True Customs is a small company that only produces one or two cabs a year, which are built using Peterbilt components. Tom's DirectTV antenna, for example, is hidden in a matching white housing just behind the cab. That's just one part of his entertainment package, which also includes SurroundSound components. The seats, by Elite, turned out to be the same as those seen in many cabs on Ice Road Truckers.
Besides a shower, sink, lavatory and microwave, Tom also has a toaster-oven. "I've gotta have my toasted bagel in the morning," he says, adding that it also lets him prepare toasty sandwiches for lunch.
When it's time for bed, his bunk slowly and silently folds down from the cab's rear wall with the push of a button as the shelf holding his flat-screen TV moves out of the way in concert. If he doesn't need the A/C or heater while stopped, he can operate the rest of his devices for more than six hours using only the separate "house battery." If a little HVAC is needed, Tom simply starts up his small 17-hp generator with no need to run the Cummins 535-hp diesel engine.
His cab also has twin single wide tires on each side, a relatively recent change that saves fuel and is cheaper come replacement time. On the other hand, he admits it also means just one flat tire can temporarily put him out of commission.
He has about 270,000 miles on the cab so far, adding about 60-70,000 miles annually.