St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Keep on Truckin'

Brother Byron bought some decals like this for his Case tractor used in tractor pulling (CC or maybe DC -- he had both).  Robert Crumb, a quite wonderful artist, first drew and had this published in 1968 in Zap Comix.  This picture and other of Crumb's paintings became icons of the hippie era.  Robert Crumb
 Last year, my 1987 Ford truck was in need of its second clutch, the rear main seal of the straight 6 leaking oil onto it.  It was pretty rusty, and although the engine was fine, Chuck, my farmer neighbor and mechanic, persuaded me that it really wasn't worth re-clutching.  "The box is ready to fall off too," he said, something I was already worried about.  I had foamed the rusted out door and put sheet metal on the driverside floor to keep from falling out.  

"Well, I don't really need a truck," I thought.  "Got a trailer and car with a trailer hitch and that should be fine."

With Margo spending April and probably May in West Bend helping get her dad rehabbed from a stroke, and taking the trailer hitched car as the most likely to get there and back, I was both truckless and trailerless.   The tiny 99 Hyundai barely pulls itself, and adding a trailer hitch and trailer would surely push the occasionally slipping transmission down the slippery slope to the junk yard.  

So, with Scott as moral support, we began looking for an older, low mileage, used truck--with 5 years or so left on it.  Figured about a 2000 would be OK.   

Back in 1987, with Margo and me both working, we bought the 87 Ford brand new.  I was the Scoutmaster at troop 42, Byron MN and was gone for one weekend per month on camping trips.  I already had a 79 Chev truck, but it was rusting badly and not dependable on long runs.  I passed it to Dad who had passed his older Chev truck to Byron, and bought the new one.  

I had thought about buying a van, as a scout leader must either haul kids (van) or gear (truck) to campouts as far away as Philmont CO or the Florida Keys, as well as the boundary waters and so on.  My scouter friend told me "lots of parents have vans to haul kids, but trucks are harder to come by, and would you rather share the vehicle with 2 scouts and lots of gear or 7 scouts."  

So, after 25 years, the truck was dead, and as gentilly impoverished retired folks, a new one was not on the horizon.  Riverside Auto run by my neighbor Chuck had lots of choices, but the ones in my price range were high mile and or pretty rusty.  

Buying from dealers usually is more expensive than buying directly from an owner, so we looked at the want ads in the newspapers (very few low priced trucks), and then on  

I do craigslist by picking the northern wisconsin area and then searching on "grantsburg"  to see what is there, "Frederic" and so on through the local towns.  Found a 99 Dakota near Grantsburg with 67k miles and in "excellent" shape with a price not too far above my range.  The vin number included. 

Searched on the vin number and found it had sold at a dealer 10,000 miles earlier with the price slightly lower than the current asking price.  Made an appointment to view and Scott and I crawled under it, around it and test drove it.   Pretty sound, not rusty underneath, and drove tightly like a newer car.  

"So why are you selling it?", I asked the owner.
"Living back in the woods on a dead end road, I was stuck in here way too often this winter.  I need an all-wheel drive vehicle.  This is great unless you are trying to get through snow."   Brother Ev has a Ford Ranger with rear wheel drive, and he often tells about how easy it is to get stuck in winter without a lot of extra weight in the back.    As I am looking for a hauling vehicle, not a winter one, this should be fine for those trips to the lumberyard and hauling things back and forth from the farm to the Pine Island place.    

 Offered 1200 under the asking price and said "I like the vehicle, but really can't afford it.  If you don't get any better offers, you have my phone number,"  and we walked off to get into the car.  

The seller and her neighbor who was giving advice (probably both in their 50s or so) mulled it over, and as we reached the car, called out an offer that we couldn't refuse--about the Edmunds, Blue Book, price for selling from a private owner (I had printed it out and given it to them when we first started inspecting the truck).  

A run to the bank and withdrawing a pile of brand new holographic $100 dollar bills, signing the title and we were back and signing over the title.  

So, we drove it to Pine Island  paid the fees to license it, stuck on the new plates and added it to the insurance. The license in WI was $243.  In MN, for over 10 year old vehicles it runs closer to $50.   
Ir eode good on the drive down, handled nicely and looks like it should be good for 5 years or more.  No frills, but certainly adequate for our needs. 

It is important for those of us trying to pass as farmers to have a truck to drive up to the cafe in town and be listened to when we talk about the price of beef, corn, beans or even maple syrup.  Now, if I could just find a seed-corn cap....