Will Your Work Truck Still be Running at 635K Miles?

Van and his truck, a photo worthy of endorsement from the Ford Motor Co.

This odometer doesn't lie

His name is Van, but he may consider changing it to Truck because he has spent a measurable portion of his life driving in one - the same one. Since 1997 when he purchased it new, he has driven his tan F-250 with a standard cab and 8-foot bed. Van E. Komurka, P.E., D.GE, F.ASCE who is a senior engineer at GRL Engineers, is also a longtime PDCA member and technical contributor. Over his many years of involvement in the organization, an oral tradition about his legendary F-250 has emerged. They were talking about it back when it had a mere 400K miles! It has been referenced in PileDriver magazine, become a topic of small talk during South Carolina Chapter and other events, and was even a subject that the late Dale Biggers would regularly bring up what he designated "The Truck" during casual conversations.

We caught up with Van, a Milwaukee, WI resident, at a geotechnical industry event in Charlotte, NC. As expected, he arrived in his trusty F-250, complete with a half-eaten, economy-sized container of animal crackers, "no wrappers, no crumbs," on the floorboard, and some emptied drink containers scattered in the cab. During his drive, his odometer had just ticked up to the 635,000 mile threshold; even so, he reported a safe and problem-free trip through Appalacia. He came to North Carolina to participate as a presenter in the GeoCarolinas 2022 conference. Professional obligations and opportunities are responsible for the majority of the miles Van has driven over the past two-and-a-half decades. Many PDCA members recall the early 2000's when Van's now-adult sons were young and accompanied him to Professor's Driven Pile Institute (PDPI) classes at Utah State University (USU) in Logan, UT. He also noted that he spent several years commuting weekly from his Wisconsin home to his job in Cleveland, OH.

With all his driving, he says the truck runs great. Van is a responsible truck owner and is diligent about general maintenance, the vast majority of which he performs himself. Ask him about the time he was changing his oil in a USU public parking structure during one trip to PDPI! He concedes that the decades of Midwestern weather, lake-effect snowstorms, and salt-based road hazard mitigation have landed a few 'punches' on the body of the trusty pick-up. Some minor areas of rust are visible. But with surviving original parts including all the hoses, the complete exhaust system, and many others and regular TLC from Van, the F-250 is showing no signs of retiring.

You can easily identify Van's truck on the road through a quick glance at the license plate. While he's not the kind of guy you would ever accuse of being vain, he did opt for the vanity plates through the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles - they read 97 F250. And while the vehicle would qualify for a discounted registration, Van won't hear of any suggestion to enter the state's Collector license plate program.
After enthusiastically giving us a visit to the downtown Charlotte parking garage to see his legendary truck, Van E. Komurka proceeded back inside to GeoCarolinas 2022 and delivered his highly-anticipated talk on Incremental Rigidity to a welcoming audience of geotechnical professionals.

We don't need collector plates here
Try to find wrappers or crumbs in this cab
"The Truck" in all her glory
No need to focus on that little bit of 'Wisconsin' 

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