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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingAugust 23 - August 29, 2017

Custom-Painted Flags

0-100 3072 dee35By GEORGE L. NITTI

Todd Kurschinski, owner of Spectrum Truck Painting of Lewisville, Texas, has painted the American Flag on several tow trucks; he recently explained his process.

"Just as it's difficult to teach somebody how to sculpt a human body, it's also difficult to teach someone how to do custom paint work. You learn through trial and error," he said.

Kurschinski specializes in custom work for a variety of big trucks, RVs and the like.

"The fun stuff is the wrecker stuff," he said. "Although I love the things that can be done with computer technology, vinyl is not appealing to me. We do 100-percent custom paint," he said.

Admittedly a more expensive process with its fortune dependent on the strength of the economy, Kurschinski points out that custom paint lasts a lot longer than the three- to five-year time frame of a typical wrap. He said that with custom work you get more depth, whereas vinyl tends to pixelate and get blurrier as you get closer to it.

"With paint, the closer you get, the more detail you are able to see," Kurschinski said.

It was through trial and error that Kurschinski developed his knack for painting the American Flag, especially the banner-like red wavy stripes that run across the wreckers owned by Independence Towing and ABC Wrecker, for whom he's been contracted to do work.

"At first, you just start a line and establish a border," he explained, "but you have to see ahead of the game and you always have to know where you are. That's where the trial and error comes in. Then you create the folds and recreate them as you go along, using a lot of fine line tape. That's the science part of it."

Kurschinski said that the black shadowing on the red border is a key part of the process because it provides the perspective, helping to define each of the folds and accentuating the wavy pattern.

"Otherwise the red lines would just merge together," he said. "As for the stars, those are digitally constructed. We don't paint them on; we just place them over."

Complicated? Well, what looks complicated in many respects is simpler than it seems, as you are really just putting down red and blue paint over a white background.

Yet simple is often more complicated to execute in the hands of an unskilled craftsman.

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Sporting a Fleet of Vintage Iron

0 09874By George L. Nitti

Wayne Plunske, founder of Plunske's Garage in Wallingford, Conn., purchased this red and black 1941 Dodge Power Wagon/Holmes 440 in 1959.

Plunske, who passed away in 2015, started the business in 1949, leaving his two sons Dan and Jim to carry on his legacy of collecting and maintaining a fleet of vintage tow trucks that continue to be used.

"My father started the towing business to bring cars into the garage for repair," Jim said. "As the towing business grew, he saw that it had a life of its own and kept adding to the fleet. He was one of the first to own a flatbed in '73."

Regarding the '41 Dodge, he said, "In the days before power lifts, hand cranks were used to lift the vehicles onto the trucks. By '65, the cranks were replaced by an early Holmes unit, and then again replaced in 1990 with the 440 where an electric front winch was added.

"It's a show piece," he said. "We had it in a vintage truck show in Bethlehem, Connecticut, this weekend. We loaded it on the bed of another one of our vintage trucks from 1987 and drove it there. You don't see a lot of 76-year-old trucks running around anymore."

With a fleet of 42 trucks, more than 20 of them are classics, enhancing their image and setting them apart from their competition.

"People think it's cool," Jim said of their vintage trucks. "Anybody can buy a new truck. These trucks are well taken care of, like kids."

His father's favorite was a 1955 Ford F-250.

"It was a wreck-chaser because it had a 390 Thunderbird engine," Jim said. "Back in the day, the first tow truck on scene got the work."

A couple of other classic units in their fleet includes a WWII-vintage 1941 Diamond T used for hauling tractors, which has two axles on the back, and a 1958 International with a 40-ton Weld-Built Boom.

The company takes pride in keeping their fleet in tiptop shape.

"My father was a Navy man," Jim said. "If it didn't move, he painted it. He always liked things painted and clean."

Brag @ TIW! Should your truck be featured here? Send a few pics and your contact information to the editor at You might even be selected to go in print, too, in American Towman magazine!
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