Ransom PowerDork
5/9/18 12:44 p.m.

A week or so ago my wife and I were still agonizing over what to do about the too-ugly-to-move-to-the-new-neighborhood van. I admit that I kept telling people my wife was too embarrassed by it to let it move, but the reality is that I wasn't far from her viewpoint. Add in spousal not only approval but encouragement for a vehicle change-up, and no amount of reasonable thinking in the "what should I do?" thread could ever have led to another outcome.

So, after a slow Craigslist start, today's the first day I've got trucks lined up to see.

I'd of course be a fool to go truck-hunting without my Ferdinand shirt.

Not that the shirt is a ward against inherent foolishness...

Anyhow, today's first stop will be a very clean looking (in pics) '97 F-250, in the much sought after and rare long bed, regular cab, 2WD format. Well under 100k miles. The only thing that's not The Sensible Choice about it is that it's got the 460, which is more than I need or want to feed, though I'm guessing that since most of the trucks I'm looking at are older, the common carbureted 390s aren't likely to do any better. It's a good thing this isn't a vehicle which is going to rack up a lot of miles, being used pretty much for moving stuff that doesn't fit in the Mini.

The second stop is a '71 GMC 2500, which appears to have been gone through pretty much stem to stern, with recent paint to boot. Truck one is about 60% of our max budget, the GMC is more like 80%. A lot rides on the quality of work on the GMC.

There are a few other trucks I'm coordinating to see; a '69 F-250 whose owner is out of town but which I can at least drive by for an exterior assessment; a '65 F-250 (and here we're in sentimentality central, as I grew up with a '64 and then '66 F-250 as the family trucks), and a wonderfully two-tone '75 super cab, Camper Special F-250 with shades of green both interior and exterior that only '75 could conjure, even if it isn't "avocado".

I should admit for posterity that Jumper K Balls has registered his obviously sound advice that I should be sticking to newer trucks, relative to buget. It will truck better, car better, and basically be improved in every aspect except possibly "cool". If I don't wind up with something like the '97 and am later grousing about my stupid old truck, feel free to let him know he can check in...

Hopefully this thread helps me keep my trucks in order, and maybe provides a chuckle.

Ransom PowerDork
5/10/18 2:26 p.m.

I was hoping to do more of a posting-live-from-the-trucks thing, but I kicked off with an errand that ran late and spent the rest of the afternoon texting apologies and hurrying. Mercifully, traffic cooperated and I wasn't too far behind by the time I actually showed up.

So, the '97 F-250 was in-person pretty much like it was in the ad.

In the bonus provenance category, it's spent some of its time with the current owner pulling a Chumpcar entry! 90k miles, 460 brings it up to freeway speed quickly and lazily, and you can have a conversation once you get there. Exhaust leak and and some wheel bearing noise were all I could see wrong with it. This is totally the sensible truck, even if I'm a little concerned about the joys of what could be an exhaust manifold on an engine that manages to fill the bay of a full size pickup.

The next stop is a very prettily refurbished '71 GMC being sold by a very nice tattoo artist from Stockholm. He reminded me that my one frustration in visiting Gothenburg is that I couldn't find a tunnbrödsrulle (hot dog in flatbread with mashed potatoes and shrimp and other stuff). After talking to him, my hunch was firmed up that I wouldn't have had that problem in Stockholm.

It looks just that good in person, and the interior was quite nice, too, though it needed window seals, the carpet didn't sit very well, and the seat vinyl was in better shape than the foam underneath. The big downsides are that the seller isn't the mechanic, and doesn't know much about the work done. The engine is freshly painted and doesn't leak, but the trans does a bit. There's some weird external proportioning valve thing hung off the master specifically to stop an early-lockup problem, but it still locks up the rears way early (I had cause to do an abrupt but way short of panic stop stop, and it chirped pretty good). The thing that worries me the most is that it has a substantial miss that didn't go away as it warmed up and came off choke; it could easily be in need of a tuneup and some carb tweaks, or it could be a crap rebuild. If this truck survives the next few days of looking, perhaps I'll see whether the owner's okay with me doing a compression test (or to make it more palatable, just have a shop do a cursory pre-purchase so it's not me pulling his truck apart in his driveway).

I really like the smaller size of the early truck, and I was pleased to see that while it's only got lap belts, it looks to have places to install 3-point belts. This thing rides really nicely for an old 3/4-ton truck.

Have a few more to look at, and hopefully this'll all let me home in on the sweet spot.

Ransom PowerDork
5/11/18 2:47 p.m.

Drove an hour round trip to do a preliminary exterior inspection of a '69 F-250; basically a really solid-looking original truck, but with possibly a few too many minor blemishes, spots with the paint rubbed completely away... It's one of those that seemed priced a little high for condition, but if it was as fundamentally sound as I was hoping, it might be worth it. I think this one might need too much freshening, though it is very straight in both body and trim.

It's interesting pondering the tradeoffs of the original-but-needs-cleanup-and-tires/brake lines/misc rubber vs something like the GMC above which appears to have really had a lot of the old bits replaced, but has some questionable workmanship. Both need time, one needs more money than the other but... how do you gauge which new bits on the GMC just need some twiddling, and which have been permanently bunged up by either rebuilder or tuner...

Just got a text about looking at a '66 this afternoon, right about rush hour in a suburb. But I've told the friend who's buying the van I'd be through with it by Monday, so I guess I'd better do whatever I can to keep this rolling... ("Rolling" reminds me of this aside: The last family '66 F-250's name was "Rolling Thunder". The '64 F-250 it replaced was originally named "White House" -I have no idea why- but was renamed "Rumpletruckskin" after a forklift came off the back of its tow rig in San Francisco and found White House at the bottom of the hill outside our apartment)

Ransom PowerDork
5/11/18 3:46 p.m.

The '66 in the suburbs is out... Got some pics in advance, and it looks like a really nice truck generally, but its paint down the sides is fading away to surface rust, and a basic lack of reasonable-looking paint is what got me here. I can deal with faded old paint that needs buffing, or looks evenly faded, but it's got to be mostly present...

There's another '66 with a fresh paint job up, and I've emailed. I'm concerned that it'll be a similar story to the '71 GMC; but we'll see how it runs. It's hard to say from pictures, but it looks like a two-tone, and the upper surfaces might be a metallic burgundy. Burgundy with the soft white below I would be happy with, for some reason I'm worried metallic's going to look funny on an old truck. It's also odd that it's stopped just-short-of-done with trim apparently present but not reinstalled post-paint, and the CL pics show it with the wheels rattle-canned white right over the lugs and hubs. There isn't a smiley for the sort of dubious/concerned/suspicious that gives me.

Ransom PowerDork
5/18/18 6:33 p.m.

Okay, brace for the anticlimax. I bought the '97. I had a bizarre moment of clarity, and the knowledge of the sanity of JKB's advice in general.

In a slightly odd twist, I found myself asking my wife for permission not to buy the crazy old classic truck; she was as on board as I was with how cool it would be to have an older truck, and I was a little concerned that if I didn't talk to her, she might be offended that the ONE time my eyes weren't bigger than my stomach on the project front was when she was particularly interested. Predictably, she was not ruffled in the least.

Basically, it's a clean, 80k-mile pickup with an isolated area of paint damage and about 50% more displacement than I need or want. But the only attention it needs is a front wheel bearing and chasing down an exhaust leak. So that puts it miles ahead of everything I was looking at in terms of being able to use it and have time to get on with the current double-helpings of house and yard work and wanting to actually get out to the shop.

Oh yeah; the running boards are going away, stat.

Burrito Dork
5/18/18 6:59 p.m.

In reply to Ransom :

...and there was much rejoicing.


Congrats on new-to-you truck ownership.  Good luck on all new fronts, but especially the exhaust leak.  Here's to hoping it doesn't devolve into a larger than expected task!

Ransom PowerDork
5/18/18 7:44 p.m.

In reply to Burrito :

Thanks! I've got so many fingers crossed I can't hold a wrench... I'm hoping it's just the donut between manifold and pipe, but am mentally and spiritually reconciled that it may involve manifold removal, stud breakage, and surface grinding.

Cooter HalfDork
5/19/18 3:48 p.m.

I don't even care what my neighbors like anymore. They hated my 73 Imperial, so as long as I like what I am driving, they can grit their teeth and bear it for all I care. 



Ransom PowerDork
5/19/18 4:38 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

Generally speaking, a reasonable approach. I'd confess that this was at least as at least as much about my wife as the neighbors. Moreover, besides the paint, with the windowless exterior and cargo cage, the van really straddled the line between "eyesore" and "deeply creepy".

Also, the neighbors are totally stoked that we're not developers putting in three narrow houses. I want to make sure they still feel great about us when we put in the giant garage...

Cooter Dork
5/19/18 5:33 p.m.



I like the way you think.  

Cotton PowerDork
5/20/18 1:52 p.m.

In reply to Cooter :

That Imperial is sweet.

Ransom PowerDork
5/30/18 4:15 p.m.

Damn but this thing looks better with the running boards removed.

Had the local Napa paint place mix up matching paint so I can have a stab at making the scorchy bit less bad.

The noisy wheel bearing is sorted, but if I'd known it was in integral disc/hub arrangement I'd have done the front brakes at the same time... Still need to sort the exhaust leak, but it's not very bad. Just picked up the Motive bleeder adapter for this thing's master.

Floating Doc
Floating Doc HalfDork
5/30/18 4:56 p.m.

Just joined the discussion, relieved to see you picked the newer truck. 

If you're going to pull the manifolds, I would look at whether a set of headers would help with the gas milage.

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