Famous folks and their extraordinary loads don’t faze Jeff Crane. The owner-operator has hauled the lifetime work of Nobel Prize winners, the San Francisco symphony’s instruments and a Hubble Space Telescope lens. And Crane, who is leased to the California-based VIP Transport, became famous himself after his 1999 Freightliner Classic was transformed on the Country Music Television series Trick My Truck.
“Eventually, I see everything,” the Gardiner, Maine, resident says. Still, he was given pause when he arrived for a Chicago load without knowing the content. Or that the previous trucker had abandoned hope of loading after an eight-hour effort.
Crane was met by two 800-pound, 9-foot dancing cows, covered in rhinestones. The cows were fiberglass and set on steel bases. “And here’s these two monster cows dancing in fishnets,” he recalls. “The artist had started on them in the studio without thinking about getting them out.”
The bovines were headed to New York City’s 2000 Cow Parade, which featured 500 artist-created cows exhibited citywide. Loading took all day, and the cows had to be padded carefully to not damage the artist’s two years of work. Crane used various equipment, including a machinery dolly.
“I have more equipment than you can imagine,” he says.
Moving giant cows may have been a first for him, but transporting entire labs of cancer and other scientific research is old hat. VIP is a Mayflower Transit agent which designed the Lab Transporter Vehicle equipped with a generator that allows huge research freezers to operate at the required temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius within a climatically controlled van interior.
Before this, scientists sometimes lost research material because of improper temperatures. Once, Crane moved 11 research freezers at once, configuring the power to adapt for different voltages.
He loads with a crew but is prepared with knowledge of the delicate machinery, knowing where it can be pushed without damage.
Sometimes the loads are not as sensitive but highly valuable. Once, off-duty police officers accompanied him from Los Angeles to New Jersey to protect his load of a major recording studio’s master cuts.
Crane is often requested by customers. The San Francisco Symphony asked him to move their equipment for a tour of prestigious performing centers like New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Crane has also moved “everything from solar panels to satellites” for NASA, including the Hubble Space Telescope lens. Some of NASA’s equipment has to be isolated in the center of the trailer because of the machinery’s delicacy.
The most well-known person Crane has met was a writer of books, television shows and movies that he declined to name. The entire contents of the writer’s load was a $20 million painting crated and kept at 64 degrees.
But it’s Crane’s own truck – christened the Ice Breaker by the Trick My Truck crew – that now draws attention on the road. One of Crane’s five sons had submitted his father’s truck to the show for a makeover because Crane’s wife Jackie wanted to ride with her husband but was uncomfortable in the small bunk.
The crew added a huge sleeper with numerous amenities, including queen-size air-adjustable bed, electric fireplace and a barbecue pit that extends out from the exterior. The exterior design is blue with icebergs, and Crane and Jackie love traveling in it now.
The truck was featured on the show’s February debut episode, which everyone on the road seems to have seen, Crane says. “A cop pulled me over in Texas to get his picture taken with my truck,” he says.