Turin got it because he needed a dualie. “I have the welder, air compressor, hydraulic system is almost 3,000 pounds, with my train, I’m hauling another 5,000 pounds, and I also wanted four-wheel drive because where I go, the roads are terrible,” he says. “I put a big winch on it so in case I get myself in trouble, I can get myself out of trouble.”
The one drawback is that the work truck isn’t as comfortable as the F-350. “I still put some highway miles on it, but it doesn’t have the leather seats, adjustable seats, it doesn’t have as nice of a stereo system,” he says.
The F-550 is more of an everyday work truck, and his mechanic will get in and drive it. “It’s just not as comfortable, but as hard as I work, I don’t always expect a service truck to be all really nice and fancy because we’re going to tear it up when we go to work.”
This custom-built truck is also famous—it was featured at the 2016 SEMA show. Ed Golden helped him with the concept. “I wanted something that looked good because all the service trucks out there looked the same. They look like a refrigerator going down the road,” he says.
Turin said the whole back end is custom. “I’ve got drawers for my tools, I’ve got a workbench on the back. I wanted this thing to be completely functional. I didn’t want something that’s jacked up and you have to get a stepladder to get in it. So we made it fairly low. We still kept plenty of ground clearance, and it’s very functional. It’s easy to get the tools; I don’t have to reach real high.”
He also loves that he has a crane on it. “The crane is really cool. I’m 60 years old, and I’ve beat up my body over the years doing this kind of business. It’s rough on your body,” he says. “So I designed it so that it would be easier for me to work out of.”
It was important for Turin that everything is below eye level, so he doesn’t have to reach high and use his back.
“Those are the things I really enjoy about it, is the crane, it’s got an amazing Lincoln Electric, which has the air compressor, a welder, and a hydraulic system all in one,” he says. “It’s diesel operated, and we built the truck around it, because it’s the biggest piece of the truck. I just love it. It makes it so much easier and so much nicer to work with.”
Turin also sometimes drives his wife’s Lexus GX. “We live in Oregon. We like to ski, we like to go to the mountains, so we need our four-wheel drives. We rely on them quite a bit.”
Car he learned to drive in
Although Turin can’t recall the model year, he learned to drive in a Toyota Corona he bought with his older brother, in Welches, Oregon, a remote part of the Cascade mountain range.
“I grew up in a family of six—we didn’t have any money, we worked hard for our money, and we had to buy our first car,” he says. “My brother and I didn’t have enough to buy decent cars separately, so we decided we’d buy the car together.”
Turin learned how to drive when I was 13, when his family started a paving company. “Dad would tell us, ‘Hey, go get that pickup, bring it over here, and get the equipment or the tools out of it.’ So by 12, 13, 14 years old, I was already driving around the job sites.”
His dad and older brothers taught him to drive. “Dad was a better teacher than the older brothers. I got in trouble with the older brothers. My brother crashed that car. One of the best things my dad taught me was how to drive. We lived in the mountains, and we would have to deal with a lot of snow, so dad knew we would have to drive ourselves to school.”
To teach him to drive in the snow, his dad took Turin to a large open parking lot. “He’d say, ‘Have some fun.’ I would say, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘Learn how to drive. I want you to do donuts, I want you to spin out, I want you to slam on the brakes, I want you to feel what it’s like to have your car in control and out of control. And how to turn into the slide and things like that.’ It was one of the coolest things Dad ever taught us, was how to drive and maneuver our vehicles in the snow. And dad always taught us that it was important to learn how to handle our vehicles.”
First car bought
In the 1970s, after his brother crashed the Toyota, he bought what he thought was the coolest van ever—a 1969 GMC van his dad used as a crew vehicle. He bought it from his dad for $500 and fixed it up.
“It had Daytona 60s on the back, it had those Baby Moon chrome wheels,” he recalls. “It was a piece of junk, but I thought it was the coolest piece of junk in the world.”
He learned to drive more in this van than in the Toyota. “I did so much work to this van, and I did all the work myself—painted it, rebuilt the engine, rebuilt the transmission, did all the brakes, fixed it up,” he says. “And on the inside, I put wood paneling, I had tuck-and-roll leather—this is straight out of the ’70s—custom seats, I did some custom upholstery, had a shag carpet.”
A funny story about his old beloved van was when he showed up in the van to pick up his date, who is now his wife. “My future father-in-law didn’t like a 16-year-old showing up to date his daughter in an old, beat-up van, that I thought was pretty cool,” he says with a laugh. “I had to win his trust because when I showed up in his van, he was looking at it like, ‘Who is this guy?'”
On Valentine’s Day one year, Turin asked his girlfriend to drive the van home and pick him up, and he’ll take her out to dinner. She was driving down the road, and a drunk driver kept inching toward her as if he was going to merge into her lane. To avoid the car, she swerved to the right into a parked car she didn’t see was there.
“The drunk driver didn’t even get a scratch because Shelly was paying more attention to him and didn’t see the parked car on the right side of the road. I was devastated. I got $500 back from the insurance. I had $2,500 in all the work that I’d done to it. But it was still a 1969 GMC piece of junk van,” he says, laughing.
Favorite road trip
One his favorite drives was the time he got a chance to cruise around in luxury cars in Las Vegas. “We drove out toward Lake Mead,” he said. “I think it was the Jaguar, and my wife was with me. We’re just driving along and doing corners, and I look down and said, ‘Do you realize we’re going 120 miles an hour?’ She was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ So that was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”
He was doing an engagement for Lincoln Electric because of the show, and one of the customers of Lincoln Electric invited him and someone else on the show to drive in his cars.
“We drove some of his fancy cars, so we drove a Ferrari, Audi, Jaguar, and a Maserati,” he says. “We went from Las Vegas out toward Lake Mead, and we were out there and drove 150 miles in those nice cars.”
For those who missed Turin and are interested in rocks, minerals, and mines, Turin’s Gold Rush spinoff has hit the spot.
“I love it,” he says of his job. “The neat part about the show is that I go and visit these mines, and I get to determine—is there still value now? In the 1920s and 1930s, when a lot of these were shut down and abandoned, gold was selling for $20 an ounce. Today’s price is about $1,350. But we have better equipment, better technology.”
“Just before 1940, the gold mines were abandoned,” he says, “because they felt it wasn’t critical to the war effort. A lot of these guys thought they would come back, so what they did was hydrated it, they took a lot of the high value, put it out at the beginning of the mine, thinking that they’re going to come back, which would then give them a jump-start to their life after the war. So much happened and changed after World War II that a lot of the guys didn’t come back. But if you can go and find it, there’s good values in some of these abandoned mines.”
That’s what the show is about—whether he can get the value out of them now. “We talk about the history, we talk about the old mines, and we bring in real people and real stories, the people who relied on these mines,” he says.
He admits the show has been an amazing ride, to places like Yukon Territory, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, and even Peru and Chile. “The minerals that I’ve found along the way, it’s not just the gold,” he says.
Often people reach out to Turin because of Gold Rush. “The whole idea is to make money. You can have claims that are owned by private people on [the Bureau of Land Management], on Forest Service, on national lands,” he says. “Because what happened is, these lands were staked and claimed way before we had land use laws, so they supersede everything that comes back after. There can be claims in a national forest, and they’re still valid claims. For instance, this one in Idaho is on public land, but the claims are owned by individuals, and the government cannot keep us from mining those because it goes so far back in history.”
The show features technology to assist him. “There’s so much technology. We have ground-penetrating radar, we have drones—it’s just amazing how you can utilize these things,” he says.
Talking to Turin, you can hear how much fun he has with his day job. “I enjoy the heck out of it. It’s so much fun. There’s a couple things that keep me going and that I really thrive on,” he says. “I worked at a rock quarry for 30 years, the family business. At the end of the day, we work really hard at the jobs. It’s physical, it’s stressful. I’d look at that pile of rock and go, ‘Wow, there’s a pile of rock. ‘”
But with this job, that tired feeling is so fulfilling now. “You’re dog tired and you’ve busted your butt and you walk up to a sluice box and you see it lit up with gold. You’re like, ‘Yes, that’s why I do this,'” he says. “And there’s no other feeling. I’ve never had such a feeling as when you walk up and you see the gold in the box that you worked so hard for. The other thing I enjoy doing is teaching what I know and mentoring and teaching younger people about life. And that’s one of the good things you see in the show.”
In the show, Turin didn’t choose his team based on previous mining experience: “In fact, only one of them had experience mining, but they were good people and they were good to hang out with, and then I taught them how to mine and run equipment,” he says. “They were my guys, they were my people, and I brought them along and taught them some of the things that I know.”
Although so much of the Gold Rush is known to have happened in California, Turin doesn’t visit those old places for work. “I visited them, I love the history, [but] I’ve always avoided California when it comes to mining because it is such a difficult place to mine, with the regulations and the environment and the atmosphere in California,” he says. “I’d rather go to a more miner-friendly state. Nevada is very miner friendly. In fact, Nevada has more gold and silver than most the rest of the United States put together. Nevada has a chance.”