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From old truck to show truck

Bob Komlofske has won awards with his show truck, a 1953 Chevy pick-up

by: JASON CHANEY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - RK Restorations owner Bob Komlofske, and his staff pose with the award-winning 1953 Chevy pickup they restored during the past four years. The vehicle, which is owned by Komlofske, has won multiple accolades in car shows throughout the United States. Pictured left to right are Scott Hughes, Dusty Brock, Komlofske, and Brent Rockwood.

Prineville resident Bob Komlofske first encountered the inspiration for his award-winning show truck at a local car show about four years ago.
   He saw a black 1953 Chevy pick-up and made up his mind right then.
   “I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to make mine look like that,’” he said.
   Recently, the fruits of that inspiration resulted in a Great 8 finalist slot for the prestigious Ridler Award, at the Detroit Autorama, the world’s premier car show, held in Detroit, Mich.
   The immaculate, “RK green” truck graces the cover of Custom Classic Trucks magazine, one of the leading publications for custom classic trucks, this December.
   “It’s a big deal for us,” Komlofske said of the exposure, “because we get to show what we have done with the truck.”
   Komlofske spent his career running local grocery stores. When he retired, he found himself in need of a hobby to fill the hours.
   “I didn’t have anything to do.”
   So, he converted his old grocery warehouse, an unassuming, grayish building, into RK Restorations, which specializes in transforming old cars to show cars. Within those walls, he and employees Scott Hughes and Dusty Brock transformed his 1953 Chevy pick-up into a showroom winner.
   Hughes has been restoring vehicles for eight years, and will readily acknowledge that the task takes a lot of work, and Komlofske’s Chevy was no different.
   “Basically, when we get the vehicle in, we inspect it all, find out the major issues, and then we start taking it apart all the way down to the frame,” he said.
   “You never know what you have until you get it stripped down,” Brock noted.
   After that, the crew begins the restoration process.
   “Lots of detail,” Hughes said. “All the little dents — you got to pull the dents, hammer them all out. After you do that, you have to do all of the body work — make sure it’s nice and straight and flat.”
   It also means Hughes will sand, sand, sand.
   “Every square inch of this thing, you go over a lot,” he said. “When you are sanding it, you go from 40-grit all the way up to 3,000-(grit). So, there is a lot of sanding — definitely a lot of work.”
   While Hughes performs the bulk of the body work, Brock handles most of the mechanical stuff, including all of the plumbing, wiring, suspension, and more. Sometimes that work can get as tedious as the sanding he said — and sometimes more.
   When it comes to the restoration work, Komlofske pitches in when he can, but usually defers to Hughes and Brock who have more expertise. However, he participates generously in the creative process where the three of them come up with custom designs.
   “I don’t care for the old style,” Komlofske said. “A lot of them (show cars) I like to change.” To that end, they get together and pitch different ideas. “It’s just a lot of experimenting.”
   With the 1953 Chevy, for example, they altered the hood to allow for an 1,100 horsepower motor.
   While the Detroit show prompted the most attention, Komlofske has shown his pick-up in several other prominent car shows throughout the United States, earning more accolades along the way. He took First in Class at the Kansas City Goodguys Show, which featured more than 2,500 cars. He also took First in Class honors at shows in Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Ore.
   “It has been a good show truck,” Komlofske concluded.