Truck Nuts Book – Chapter One

Chapter 1

Why We Love our Trucks or Why are Trucks more Popular than Cars?

The top five reasons why I drive a tall truck:

  1. Not sure who would choose a car over a truck, but I suppose a Rolls Royce limousine with a trailer hitch could come close. Trucks give you a feeling of power and safety. My wife averages an accident about once a year in her car. I average and accident in my truck about every 10 years. Something to do with visibility.
  2. Cars are vehicles you lay down in and crawl out of. Trucks are like sitting at your kitchen table, easy to climb up into and slide out of.
  3. Dating with a truck, getting close on the bench without a console stuck up your as@@@, who needs a back seat, you can’t reach the radio from the back seat.
  4. Cars aren’t designed to carry tools or really big ass coolers and where does the rifle rack go?
  5. Driving through the mountains or even Kansas and you can see more wildlife from a truck, and you know truckers have an advantage looking down into a little red convertible.

Our Affair with Trucks.

North America is the only place you’re going to find a large pickup truck. (Australia is catching on lately.) We like masses of metal, protecting us, giving us more to see from our tall vehicles, looking down on the car world. Freedom and power in your cab is addictive. Well even the smaller pickups can see more than a car while you tour the country or climb the hills in our backyard called the Rocky Mountains. Think about all the things you can do with your trucks. In the country, everywhere you go there is a string of trucks, side by side with gun racks in the back window. In small towns, pickups are lined up at the bar like the horses were tied up outside the saloon in the old West. When you go to church, there they are, some of those same trucks. If you have the money, you can get all the important toys that fancy cars come with. Of course you have to decorate (accessorize) your truck, mudflaps, headache rack, tonneau cover, bull bumper, running boards and STP stickers. Ever see a car with ladder rack?

Look at all the truck sizes to be enjoyed, that includes mini’s, ½ tons, ¾ tons, 1 ton and more.  You know when you own a truck, everyone wants to borrow it. And why not, can you haul horses, cows, compost, lawn mowers, firewood or furniture in your car?

The pickup I learned to drive first was dad’s 53 Ford ¾ ton. I learned to do those famous “Jack Rabbit starts” as dad would call them. I enjoyed immensely when my boys started to drive. They would help me fix fence with the dually. It took both of them to push in the clutch to start it. I would wave to them from down the fence line to bring up the truck and I would see their little heads bobbing up and down above the steering wheel when they struggled to push in the clutch.

Bright Light in the Boonedocks. Safety hiding in a truck.

Putting up hay at all hours of the day and night meant I lived in my truck a lot of the time. This was back in the seventies and eighties. The hay would have a little too much humidity (dew) on the windrows after midnight so I would sleep a couple of hours in my truck and wait for dryer air to arrive. One of these adventures was north of Akron Colorado. If any of you remember the cattle mutilations that happened back then, there was a lot of nervous sheriffs running around chasing helicopters and space ships or looking for dead cows that were cut up mysteriously. Well anyway I was sleeping in my truck north of Akron and half asleep I started remembering the latest news in the paper, which was a cattle mutilation north of Akron actually across the fence from where I was parked. You know how your mind works, I started worrying about those darn space ships that could be hovering around looking for a cow to cut up and before you know it my head was bobbing up and down peeking out each window in the moonlight trying to spot the invasion from the X-files! Of course my gun rack only had coats and hats on it. So I finally found a ball-pin hammer under the seat. With the doors locked and my trusty hammer I’m ready for those cattle mutilating aliens should they decide to park their spaceship near my baler! But they never came, it was a big hammer. So I jumped on the tractor, it had to be dry enough to bale by now.

I smoked a few cigars in my truck, chased a few coyotes, jumped snow banks, fixed fence, ran over rattlesnakes, and even went on a few dates in my trucks. I remember when they first put those wonderful catalytic converters on trucks, which caused more than one wheat stubble fire. I remember when the “white gas” unleaded gas came to trucks, which started the heavy ½ ton trucks and GM Gentleman Jims and Bo James and the Dodge “Little Red Truck”, Ford had full-size trucks called Rangers and Explorers back then.

I’ve been in several blizzards in trucks, hail storms, and watched tornadoes there. I miss my one-ton dually, which had a flatbed, vise, fuel tanks, welder, torch, generator, toolboxes and more. I’ve changed my share of flat tires in the dark and rain on trucks; of course the easy spare tire mounts came this decade when I rarely have a flat any more with radials.

It’s hard to imagine we used to use big block gas engines to pull stock trailers getting 4 MPG and a quart of oil every 1000 miles.  My “77” dually was like riding a basketball without a load. I pulled 20,000#’s plus trailers with my 3/4 tons and 1 ton, of course way above the GVWR.  Kind of like a lot of diesel pickup’s do today. My trucks had to pay for themselves and produce just like the cattle and wheat fields.  I was surprised when I moved straight from the farm to the city in the early nineties selling trucks in Denver, where they had used trucks that were 3 years old and not a scratch in the bed. On the farm, I was just glad to see a used truck with camper mirrors still attached. And now we have power pedals to move the brake pedal closer to your foot and air conditioned seats. It’s hard to buy a truck without power door locks and windows today. But I’ve grateful for today’s quiet diesels, tight cabs without air leaks and road noise, one-handed tailgates, voice activated phones, and lumbar seats.

I’m from Colorado where we have diesel dragsters. It’s “test country”, we have these hills that truck manufactures like to test on. In the middle of the week in the middle of the night you can see camouflaged trucks pulling trailers up Floyd Hill and if you follow them around you’ll see them end up at a dyno shop in Denver in the middle of the night and then back into their enclosed trailers. Then if you are fast, you’ll notice a guy with a Stetson moving in the shadows with night goggles and the flash of a camera. He may even light up a cigar, but don’t approach him, I hear though he’s getting old that, he’s still fast and dangerous. And if you chase him, you may be the one that has to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when he falls down. And that’s not a pretty picture. Maybe that’s why he’s never been caught. Well maybe a few dogs have cornered him, but he shows no fear. But that’s just a campfire legend passed around the mountains during a full moon.

If you go to an auto show and see feet sticking out from underneath a truck, don’t step on me.

Bragging rights, I say Competition, created American Free Enterprise.

For 3 of the 10 years I sold trucks, I was an auto broker. Most of the time working for AAA Auto Club, buying vehicles for the membership, I’ve sold all the major makes and models. Most people become loyal to one brand. But it’s good to compare. Competition is what improves things. The Japanese taught us valuable lessons in the 80’s on how to build cars. We as humans are such emotional buyers. We seldom do what’s best for us. And of course marketing rules the earth. That’s why the best diet in the world is shutting off the TV during commercials! Back to trucks, competition helps us in so many ways. The top brands usually alternate leadership with each new model. But there is a difference in areas like diesels and transmissions.

I remember my dad having a Massey Ferguson model 92 combine. He thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and of course so did I. Then one summer I ran my uncle’s model 95 John Deere. I couldn’t believe it. The engine wasn’t buried in the middle of the combine, it was on top where you could actually check the oil and change spark plugs. And another thing, the main belts weren’t buried in the middle either; they were on the outside of the combine, so you could actually change them without learning the latest cuss words! I saw combines evolve for the better and I’ve seen trucks evolve. Driving an empty 4×4 three-quarter ton in the 70’s meant seeing the local chiropractor and dentist after being bounced like a basketball!  And now they drive like cars.

“The Right Truck.”

I learned how to buy the right truck by, you guessed it, by buying the wrong one a few times!  Since my first trucks were used, I had no idea of what the manufactures gross vehicle weight rating or warranty requirements where all about.  I hauled 3000 pounds in my ½ ton, 5000 pounds in my ¾ ton, and 10,000 pounds in my tonner. OOP’s, that was probably a little too much. That could explain why so many u-joints, clutches and brakes.

It’s hard to recommend which truck without knowing what you are going to use it for. Half ton’s are generally used for the light work, loaded occasionally. Three quarter ton’s and one ton’s can be loaded all the time just like their cousins the 18-wheeler. The heavy duty ¾ and 1 ton’s use to only ride nice when they were loaded. They have come a long way baby. Now they all ride like cars. In the big cites people use them as cars. When I first came to Denver I was amazed to see 5 year old pickups with no scratches in the beds. My pickups didn’t last the first day without a scratch. After you drop the first salt block and the first big round bale, the bed just doesn’t look the same.





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