Monday, September 14, 2009

Truck Tales

We always had a pick up truck on our old ranch in Manitoba. First was the 'Brown Beast', a remnant of my logging days, a true three quarter ton Ford, passing everything on the road except a gas station. After many years of trusty, and towards the end, not so trusty service, we sold her to some local lads to play with on the sand dunes in the hills to north of us, after they put on a set of swather wheels and tires for traction. They wanted to pay $250, I wanted $500. As she had sat in the same spot for two Prairie winters, I made them a bet. If she started on the first long crank of the key, it was $500. They figured I was a fool and took the bet.
Doing my best to hide my smile I went to the shop for a battery and some gas. After hooking up the battery I took off the air cleaner pan and poured some gas into the carburetter. I then scratched around in the dirt until I found a pebble that was just the right size. I jammed it in the butterfly valve at the top of the carb so she would get lots of fresh air. Then sitting in the drivers seat I pumped the gas peddle three times, turned on the ignition and started to crank her over. in less than two seconds she exploded into life and sat there purring like a cat by the wood stove. The boys admitted defeat and handed over the $500. I said I couldn't guarantee that she would win for them, but so long as there was gas in the tank she would cross the finish line. Just don't expect her to pass a government safety inspection!

Next we had a nice tame grey half ton Ford that had been a grain farmers run about. Well we hauled every farm critter imaginable along with all other forms of vegetable and mineral connected to ranching. She did make it to our new place in British Columbia but we knew it would be throwing good money after bad to get her through the vehicle safety so we took her off the road. She was sold after three years in our barn to a fellow who put a snow plow on the front and used it to clean his yard. Old Fords never die, they just keep causing fuel shortages.

I have spent the last four years without a pick up truck. It's been tough but as we are only five miles from town I could use the farm tractor and trailer cheaper than I could buy and insure a truck. Lately though we have needed to go further afield and a truck seemed like a good idea. Trouble is North American models and for that matter imports are expensive and hard on fuel. They seem to be in league with the oil companies, even when they have fuel efficient diesels in other countries they will not sell them to us here. But there is a way to beat them and send them a message. We bought a 'Grey Market' Toyota Dyna at an auction in Japan and imported it, had it safetied and now we drive it here. It's a one and quarter ton truck with four doors and it does 30 miles to the gallon, more if you drive carefully. Although it is a 1992 model it only has 50,000 kms on the clock. We bought it from a reputable dealer who has running parts in stock and wait time for engines and clutches is a week. GM and Ford are no better on parts and a whole lot worse on price and fuel consumption.

The only down side is it is right hand drive. Having learnt to drive in England this is not a problem for me, and isn't for any one else so long as I am five feet from the curb in my drivers seat. The back is a cargo cage with the tarp over the top and with the smaller back tires (duals) there is no wheel wells to get in the way, just a nice big flat bed. My children's only comment was they expected to see men jump out the back dressed in para military uniforms with AK47s chanting, "power to the people"! They might well come in handy in the long line ups at the gas pumps with all the North American motors using up our fuel. Thankfully though, I only spend a third of the time there that I used to, a third less money too.

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