Wayne Wagner stands beside a truck he's rebuilding for a client in Aspen. Wagner, who learned how to rebuild trucks through a process of trial and error, estimates he's already spent 450 hours on the project.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Wayne Wagner stands beside a truck he's rebuilding for a client in Aspen. Wagner, who learned how to rebuild trucks through a process of trial and error, estimates he's already spent 450 hours on the project.

Those who can

Craig resident builds truck from ground up using trial, error

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— Wayne Wagner, 25, didn't receive what some might call a traditional education.

He prefers it that way.

"If you go for college, you go for one thing," Wagner said.

"I got to learn so many things here," he said, looking around the dimly lit shop on the corner of Ranney and First streets.

The shop houses Wagner Construction, a company owned by his brother, Jay. It's been his school since he was 14 years old.

There, he learned to weld and fix trucks, and in it, he eventually began his own business, Accurate Machine and Fabrication.

The shop's sheet-metal walls now shelter a rebuilt Kenworth semitrailer, Wagner's most recent project.

He divides his time between rebuilding the truck, working with his brother and running his business, creating custom steel projects including truck grills.

Wagner's education started out the way many of his friends' did: In public school.

In sixth grade, his parents pulled him out and began home schooling him, he said.

And that's where his path diverged from the well-beaten track.

A different path

While his counterparts were attending high school classes and preparing for prom, he was repairing trucks for his brother's company between study sessions.

And while they attended college and vocational schools, he learned a handful of trades. He's fashioned the semi through trial and error.

"No books, no nothing," he said, standing beside the nearly completed truck. "Take wrenches, tear it apart : get it all figured out.

"If it doesn't work, try it again."

He's put in about 450 hours building the truck from the ground up, using new and used 1969 Kenworth parts on a 1974 Kenworth frame.

"There's not a piece of this truck I haven't touched yet," he said.

He gutted the cab down to a shell and refurnished it, using help from his mother, who owns Rough & Tuft Upholstery. He drew out the cab's purple-and-black interior using a set of crayons and a notepad.

Trial and error has worked so far. The semi, which he's building for a client in Aspen, is nearing completion.

Still, the project came with a price.

To keep up with his business, he leaves his house by 5:30 a.m. and doesn't come home until 9 or 10 p.m.

"I put in a lot of hours," he said. "It kind of stinks because I don't take a vacation."

Riding bulls professionally used to be his vacation, but a rodeo injury in December put a limit on that activity.

"That gives me more time to work," he said.

Work is more than a means of income for him, he said. It's a way of life.

Like his education, Wagner's business practices may seem unconventional.

He doesn't take out advertisements.

"Word of mouth - it's my advertisement," he said. "I figure if you put out a product, do good work, people will be knocking down your door."

"So far, it's worked."

He's not in the habits of drawing plans, either.

He points to the screening plant he's building for his brother's gravel pit, explaining that he's built the piece of machinery simply by looking at it and deciding what steps to take next.

"No written planning," he said.

He's still riding bulls when his knee allows him to. Until then, he'll keep working.

"I don't have any plans," he said. "I just do what I do."

Comments

bullriderwife 6 years, 6 months ago

Just a quick comment...he's not building the truck with trial and error...that's how he learned his trades! If he was building this with t&e...it would be another 2 years! Great article -- nice to see something positive for once.

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