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Author Topic: I Love My Truck  (Read 2954 times)

Joel

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I Love My Truck
« on: October 13, 2005, 09:35:06 pm »

In 2002 I needed new wheels that could go in the woods, as I was spending a lot of time bashing around the Los Padres and my little old Camry just wasn't getting it.

I shopped around, and on a dirty, obscure used-car lot run by an dirty, obscure Mexican guy I saw a saggy, sad looking '86 4Runner.  Something about this old truck said, "I've been sitting here waiting for you.  Take me home, wouldja?" 

Oh, it was rough.  It needed engine work, the driver's window was shot, the leaf springs bent the wrong way, the electrical was kind of kludged together.  It had had a lot of body work, and you could still see the marks where plastic had been duct taped over some broken windows for months at a time.  The registration said it had been wrecked out and salvaged once.  Only a fool would buy this truck. 

But I was that fool.  I figured I was making pretty good money at that moment, and had met a pretty good mechanic.  I'd spend some cash on it and have a cool ride thereafter.  So yeah, I bought it.

For all her achy joints and liver spots, she was game for anything.  We took some rides together into the Los Padres, and even with her wheezy 4-cylinder that truck would go anywhere I had the guts to take her, and bring me back out besides.  With the rear seats folded down, I could just stretch out comfortably in the back with not an inch to spare.   It was clear we were going to get along.  Definitely worth the money to fix her up proper, I thought.  Maybe once I got her obviously worn and broken stuff fixed, I'd even buy her some gingerbread and new paint.

Uh huh.  I promptly got laid off from my job in San Jose, and then followed the longest and hungriest dry spell of my life.  From March '03 to August '04 I made due with occasional temp work and delivering food at night.  I lived on beans and rice when I had a place to cook it, which wasn't always.  I remember damn near weeping one morning, when I found that a half loaf of bread I'd been hoarding had molded up.  Needless to say, I wasn't spending money fixing up old trucks.  But she never let me down, even a little.  Okay, one time I had to clean some battery connections that got so corroded the starter wouldn't work.  And she got a brake rotor leak and I learned to pump the brakes anytime I thought I might need them.  And the neutral switch got fouled up so if I stopped her facing uphill she couldn't start again unless I moved the shift lever just so.  And something went south in the tailgate window mechanism, so it was important not to roll it all the way up.  And the battery got so sulfated and weak that it was vitally important to turn the headlights off before shutting off the engine.  But she never broke down in any way that required serious money, y'know?  That would have sunk me.

Middle of last year I got steady work again, and after paying some incidental debts I could finally give the 4Runner some of the small immediate repairs she needed.  A new battery, belts and hoses, fix that massive oil leak, replace that caliper and that burnt-out headlight; that sort of thing.  Nothing expensive by employed-people standards.  And I began making plans to do the other things that had been put off for so long.

Except the money troubles never quite went away.  First my daughter moved in with me, which due to my peculiar living arrangements meant my rent doubled.  That would have been all right, but then the Franchise Tax Board found out I was employed, and stripped me of 25% of my gross, which came to more than a third of my actual paycheck, and that wasn't all right.  I was making the rent and food, but just barely.  All the time the 4Runner kept wheezing along, not costing me a dime for anything but fuel and fluids and the occasional little thing that, you know, fell off.

Two paychecks ago, the FTB decided they'd taken enough for a while.  I was a little surprised they stopped when they'd dunned me for only the amount they said I "owed."  I kind of expected them to tack on some more fees for laughs, but I guess they'd had their fun.  Anyway, I celebrated the new money by taking daughter to see Serenity twice in one weekend, and I started thinking about getting that cracked exhaust manifold replaced.

And that's when the 4Runner broke down.  Even then she didn't break down in a dramatic, attention-grabbing way.  She didn't strand me anywhere.  She just got a new little noise in the rear end, which over the space of a couple of days became a big noise in the rear end.  I checked the differential fluid to see if she was grinding up gears; it was high and clean.  I checked the brakes; thin but not grinding metal on metal.  Pretty much had to be one or more bearings, so I took her to a good backstreet mechanic I'd spoken to before, who'd talked about Toyota trucks in affectionate if not exactly reverent terms.  And at last she got her turn at the trough.  He told me that both rear wheel bearings had obviously been worn out for quite some time; they were thoroughly trashed.  But only in the past week and a half or so did they make a sound.  It was like she knew, now it's okay to give a little rumble of pain.

The repair cost quite a bit of money; a very sizeable percentage of the 4Runner's market value.  My boss chided me for spending the money.  "Why don't you just buy a better car?" she said.

"No," I replied.  "I like my truck.  She's a good girl."
« Last Edit: October 13, 2005, 09:50:56 pm by John DeWitt »
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Fjolnirsson

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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2005, 09:44:53 pm »

It's been my experience that good trucks are like good friends. Hard to find, and when you do, hold on and don't let 'em go. I've had my '87 Nissan for almost 4 years now. She's got over 220,000 miles, and the only thing I've had to do outside of regular maintenace is a starter that went bad. Even then, she held on for three weeks while I scraped together cash for the repair. It really is like having an old friend.
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velojym

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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2005, 09:58:02 pm »

Geez, thanks for reminding me of my old '74 Chevy.
Had it from '87 until 2000, great old 4x4 truck, rust holes and all.
I "upgraded" to a van which is now sitting, while the buyer of my truck is still
truckin'.
*sigh*
That was a great old truck.
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Roy J. Tellason

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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2005, 01:56:28 am »

I had one old '77 Ford rustbucket that I never did get along with all that well,  fixed some things on it but the stuff that broke was _weird_,  things like the shift collar?!  That one's gone and I'm not all that upset about it.

Got me a '78 Dodge 3/4T,  and it was a mess.  *Nothing* from the firewall to the front bumper,  and all of the sheet metal that was supposed to be there was back in the bed.  I had it towed to a friend's place,  where it sat for a while.  Drove my old '75 Dart over there and parked it next to it,  that car would never again be properly aligned after having had not one but two collisions that involved the front end and in spite of parts replacement.  That motor was running pretty good,  though,  especially since I'd worked it over after the timing gear blew out on me.

Some time went by.  Several years,  in fact.  Mostly because I didn't have a whole lot of funds to put into it.  Then I did...

Good thing my buddy whose place this stuff was sitting on had a full-sized tractor,  as that's what it took to pull that truck out of there.  That was after cutting out the stuff that was growing up through the frame,  some of which was as big as 2 inches thick.  Then it was friday nights,  saturdays,  sundays,  from sometime early in the summer,  over and over,  driving out there each weekend,  and working on it.  The oil pan that worked in the car wouldn't work in the truck,  the frame cross-member was in a different place,  so that had to be changed off that motor,  as well as the pickup tube,  and all sorts of other stuff had to be done to put it together.  The sheet metal I'd worked on separately,  sanded off the crappy paint job that somebody had done,  and primed it,  put it back up there only under the cap that I'd gotten with the other truck,  and over time it finally came together.  I ended up changing a lot more stuff than I thought I'd have to,  the steering box when the power steering didn't work (it had some connections that'd been open to the weather anyhow),  the master cylinder,  then the vacuum booster (it'd have been cheaper for me to buy both at once.   Oh well).  Eventually I drove it down the road to the nearest "State Inspection" garage,  who passed it but stuck a set of wiper blades on it,  which I wish he hadn't because I was changing the wiper arms anyhow.  Then on to get it aligned,  at a place that specialized in that,  since I'd had to change the upper control arm bushings,  and then home.

It passed the next one,  too.

One after that,  the guy said I'd need to replace the exhaust,  because it was leakiing.  Guy ran a muffler shop,  big surprise there!  Took it elsewhere,  and that guy failed it because of the rot over the rear wheels.  So at this point it's sitting out in the yard,  needs to get to a body shop for that one problem (already had a cab mount put in there),  needs to get the rust on the various primed bits of sheet metal sanded off and re-primed,  and get the damn thing painted.  There's a set of shocks and a transmission cooler sitting in the cab,  waiting for me to get around to putting them on,  but it's been raining way too much lately,  and it seriously needs a bigger radiator anyhow.

So for about 2 grand,  spread out over a bunch of time,  I've got me a truck.  Just needs a bit more work is all...

Not 4WD,  I didn't want the additional mechanical complexity to deal with in all the rest of what I had to do,  nor the extra weight of the transfer case and such,  but there aren't too many places it won't go.

Ground clearance?  Well,  when I went to check the hoses going from the fuel filler into the tank I slid under there and could sit upright without bumping my head on the underside of the bed.

Yeah,  I like my truck,  too.  :-)

And not to sidetrack too far or anything,  but speaking of Los Padres,  do you know Salmon Creek?  :-)
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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2005, 02:01:57 am »

 :laugh:
« Last Edit: September 17, 2007, 07:28:52 pm by bucctoo »
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penguinsscareme

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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2005, 02:54:27 pm »

JDW, I still have my '89 4Runner that I've had for a few years now.  I just took it off the road last month, and I've been waffling over what I should do with it.  Oh, it still runs just fine, but part of the frame has been afflicted with rot, and it will no longer pass for a state inspection sticker.  Two hundred and seven thousand miles it's got on it now, and still running like a champ.  Wife doesn't like it just sitting in the back yard because it does send the signal, Here be Rednecks, but I just don't know if I can bring myself to get rid of it...at least not yet.
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velojym

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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2005, 02:58:17 pm »

I'm thinkin' those sticker things are hilarious.
We took our Jetta to have it inspected while we lived in TX, and it failed. Everything empirical checked out fine, but a sensor was out, and it was going to cost hundreds of bucks to replace it. (I wasn't there, didn't know which sensor it was) We traded it in for a new Saturn Vue, which works very well, but we also kinda miss the little Jetta. Oh, the exhaust was fine, too, and there were lots of smokey clunkers driving around with current stickers. Hmmmm...?
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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2005, 03:58:40 pm »

:laugh:
« Last Edit: September 17, 2007, 07:36:44 pm by bucctoo »
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spider_boris

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Re: I Love My Truck
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2005, 02:39:43 pm »

I miss my 94 Dodge Dakota.  That thing had 417000 km on it (about 260000 miles) when I sold it back in 02.  Ol' Betsy ran like a champ, but then things just started falling off after a while.  Stupid stuff, like the catch for the rear window, the plastic cover for the seat belt, the gas line.  Some punk kids tried to steal it, and they thrashed the steering column trying to get at the wiring, but Ol' Betsy, she just wouldn't start for those little pricks.  I finally had to get rid of it after getting a massive traffic fine (no, I wasn't doing anything crazy, had it in good repair, and didn't get into an accident.  Just missing a little sticker on the license plate), but I still miss that truck.
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