Living out “in the woods” as we do, there is nothing so important as a good, reliable pick-up truck.
And, among pick-up trucks, the ONLY ones that have ever made sense to me are full-size, half or three quarter ton trucks. Something you can lay a sheet of plywood in and have it supported its whole 96-inch length.
The reason is simple: Seems like we are always going into town (Lowes or McCoys) and picking up something that won’t fit in Elaine’s car. Whether it’s treated “peeler poles” for landscaping, a hundred T-posts, or several sheets of plywood, finished MDF, or sheetrock, there is nothing so useful as a pickup bed that is at least 4 feet 1-inches wide – even with the bed liner in.
People who don’t do much construction wonder about that extra inch. You’d think with sheet rock being precisely 4-feet wide, that would be all you need. Wrong.
What you’ve missing by living on the (house-broke/girlie-girl) end of construction is that a lot of construction sheet goods are designed for a quarter to half of an inch of overlap. A good example is exterior siding panels. The exposure “to the weather” is 8 feet. Which means about 3/8th’s to 1/2” of overlap.
And that means a wider bed than 4’ – with the liner in.
All of which gets me to Thursday afternoon’s mental exercise during the half hour of work-out time on the treadmill..
“Should I get myself a new Pick-up Truck for Christmas?”
Since I am planning to sell the airplane this coming spring, thus ending one part of the Big Adventure in Life, I am already thinking and scheming about what my next “big thing” will be.
Ignore the ham radio collection. Ignore the recording studio. Ignore that with just another 55-gallon drum of diesel I will be turning 28.82 acres into something that will do a State Park proud.
The lawn is another story. One seed, weed and feed is it. I discovered long ago that once you have a putting-green caliber front yard, every dog in tarnation is drawn to crap guess where?
But a new pick-up truck…now that MIGHT be the thing.
So I went over to Edmunds.com and decided to price out a new Dodge Ram 1500 with V-6, automatic, cruise, air, and a so-so radio.
My first discovery is that Dodge Trucks now seem to be listed as Ram Trucks…for marketing reasons that escape me but likely have something to do with idiotic market segmentation theory. I can see how they would not want to confuse the room temperature IQ market who might otherwise mistake a Charger for a Truck. Like it matters?
I put in 2015 for a model year search because I figured the 2015 would be cheaper than a 2016…and I’m just window-shopping at this point. Since I wasn’t sure what the hell an HFE model was, I opted for the Tradesman which was about $5,000 cheaper.
Still, it was a further eye-opener when I discovered that the Tradesman model only came in two colors. Well, hell…here we go again, descending into American Marketing Madness. I WANT rubber floor mats, I want a basic truck. But I happen to like silver as a color. That was going to cost me.
Apparently, dear friend, this year’s marketing lunacy involves a $5-thousand dollar upcharge to drive anything other than black or white Ram. FMTT. It’s only paint!
Things improved after I threw a few things at the computer. I discovered there’s an Express model which comes in (oh boy, can you believe this?) three colors. White, black AND Silver.
And that’s for ONLY $38,050 versus the $34,950 for the white or black choice.
There was even one of the beauties which (for $38,050) could give me a blue pearl steak paint job. I’ll pass, but this was beginning to look worthwhile.
Then I dug down into the features. Gastric juices began to well-up in the back of my throat…my mouth went dry…my vision was pulsing. Surely this couldn’t be right? 17/25 MPG!
Holy Mary and jumping Jehoshaphat! That’s what my “old technology” from 2001 has on it…and that’s after 15-freaking years of fleet economy improvement bullshit. Who are they trying to kid, here?
Then I scrolled down a bit: I noticed the truck I was eyeing came with a satellite radio installed. This is another all-time scam in the auto industry: Get you looked on the high quality of audiophile sound in your car that’s commercial free. Then, after enough (stupid, ignorant) consumers sign up for it…they start putting the commercials back in.
Pretty soon, AM radio has been reinvented except you will PAY to hear commercials. We won’t go there. At least till the next uptick in fluoride injection levels…
OK…not everyone has the mental acuity to “tune-out” when commercials come on (a few of us have the brains to get married so as to perfect our tune-out skills) but who in the name of (insert your religious figure here) would be so STUPID as to PAY several hundred dollars for the honor of having another monthly ding come out of your wallet?
Try as I did, though, I’ll be damned if I could see where it had a cruise control. 8-speed automatic? Oh peachy. My 2001 is a three speed, but with electric overdrive I’ll delude myself into believing that I already have 6-speeds. Close enough.
My engine does NOT have 24 valves. BUT what it does have is a metal timing chain, so unless something blows up internally, I won’t have to walk through THAT 100,000 mile rip off. Has it occurred to anyone but me that it is possible to build a 500,000 mile engine? Get yourself a Kenworth of Freightliner and they’re just getting broken-in at 750,000 miles. Challenge the dipsh*t at the valet stand not to grind gears when he parks it, lol.
The very nice service manager at the local Dodge emporium tells me with my metal timing chain and an easy 88,000 miles on my truck (regular oil changes, aircraft lubricant additive [AvBlend or CamGuard, both of which rock]) I should make it to 250,000 miles OK.
Do I particularly care that the new truck has P275/60R20 Outline White Lettering All Season Tires on it as a $175 option or that it comes with an engine block heater?
No. First, no one can read a tire going faster than 10 miles an hour, or so. And anyone who is reading tires really ought to be locked up for crimes against humanity.
And the engine heating crap? If I’m dumb enough to leave my truck outside in sub-zero weather, instead of spending $38,050 on a truck, I should use that money to move to a warmer climate. I’m thinking Florida, know what I mean, Bubba?
I was also fuzzy on what the hell a “RamBox Cargo Management System” was. Except that it was a $1,295 option it sounds suspiciously like a bed-liner with some tie-down point cutouts. Again, with my old truck, I don’t need to worry about “cargo management.” I put things in, tie them down, and if they jump out on the hardly-used road going home, well, I will stop and put whatever it is back in. Some times it breaks, but most times not.
I know that may seem like a made-up statement. But a few years back, Elaine and I picked-up a black plastic 500 gallon water tank at Tractor Supply for a project. Just as soon as I rocketed up to 55 miles per hour on the farm-to-market road, the tank leaped out of the back of the truck; making a run for it. It rolled a good 1,000 feet before failing to jump a fence. (We we doing down a small hill which helped the tank’s cause a bit.)
All we did was roll it back to the pick-up, lift it back in and drive off. The rest of the way home, Elaine was my “Cargo Management System” screaming “Slow down…it’s going to blow off again!” every half mile, or so. I’ll grant you she costs more than $1,295, but she isn’t attached to the truck, either. Ram doesn’t make a Cargo Management System that fixes a good breakfast, so I come out ahead on that one.
Presently, the number of dollar signs began to bother me, so I got out a “Mr. UreWrench” clipboard and went outside.
I sized-up my old truck which is currently being used maybe 4,000 miles per year.
It’s in good roadable shape. But RAM trucks of this early vintage have two problems. One is the sun tends to damage and crack the dash. A bead of epoxy stops the tear and you put a dash mat on.
The other is the air conditioning is out. Not a simple compressor fix…condenser – and that means the dash comes out – so that’s an $800 bill if I don’t do the work. Being aware enough to have a solar-powered office, I figured that letting the pros do the work on the A/C would be the right thing to do. Don’t want Al Gore picketing the place.
After studying this truck situation, as good reformed, semi-retired overweight corporate suck-up would here’s what I came up with…
Besides the spreadsheet, I also built a perfect 39-slide PowerPoint, but I’d have to charge you extra for that.
The only other biggies with the truck is that the Ram Trucks have sunlight-sensitive dashboards (who knew?) and it also has a decent hood dent that I dutifully sand once a year and put silver primer on and it works fine.
Early Ram trucks wander more than a solider on a weekend pass (or tomcat during a full moon).
I should add a steering dampener that can be had that reduces “wandering” of the truck while driving. It wander to jump out of it’s own lane so much its sometimes like it’s afraid of itself. Solving this isn’t terribly straight-forward.
There seem to be two issues which plague the earlier Ram trucks. One is a problem with the steering column itself (you can buy a kit to fix that over here. A spring and a new bushing. Since it is less than half the price of the steering box reinforcing, I’m trying that ($60) first.The other is that the steering box needs additional support and
I didn’t put these figures into the work order above because what I have works, but in order to get the old truck back to “current, new and tight” feeling, this will add another $300, or so, to the total cost comparison.
All this said there, are a number of compelling reasons to get the old truck dialed in and back to new, but the biggest one that comes to mind is $42,000.
Why in God’s name would someone (like me) spend our entire annual Social Security for a year on something as perishable as a truck? Granted, the heirs might like it…but this is about me, dammit.
The old truck – since I bought it from my late neighbor back in 2005 or 2006 when it had 62,500 on it has only made it to 88,000 in just about 10-years.
I would have to be a complete idiot to spend $46,000 to let it sit out in the carport and depreciate at the rate just so I can drive what has been (on average) 2,700 miles per year. – or about 100 round-trips to town per year.
I am NOT a complete idiot. (I only voted for Obama once.)
So there you have it.
It you are a strict environmentalist, I am again walking the talk more than most with my re-uses, re-purposes, repaired, and recycled truck approach.
However, if you are a fan of mass consumption economics, I am your worst nightmare – not the solution – because people like me keeping their heads out of their butts don’t buy shit we don’t need. And we’re willing to pay extra for something that will last more than 15-years.
So if my “New Christmas Truck” seems like it’s going to collapse the house of cards built on rotten trade and soaring prices, I guess that’s gonna be how we roll, eh?
Besides, I already have done the EMP protection diodes on the old truck. How knows where they would have to go on the new one?
Write when you break-even,