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Where's my truck?

Jimway

Well-known member
So recently I've been busy working along. Got a jobsite where we had to run a couple of hundred feet of conduit for an underground service lateral to a new home. We are out on site first thing in the morning. It's cold and frosty. Excavator operator shows up about an hour late (I would have dug the ditch already but he has the key to the excavator). So he starts the machine up and flips the throttle to high idle and begins to move the machine. I quickly offer up some sound advice as to maybe it might be prudent to warm up the machine for a few minutes. Operator looks at me with disdain and states that we're burnin daylight! The end cap promptly blows off of one of the track drive motors and gallons of hydraulic oil sprays all over as he starts to move the machine again. I drop my head so that my chin touches my chest and shake my head back and forth. I quick call up the owner of the machine and give a situation report. He expends approximately half of his swear word vocabulary, tells me he is almost to the site, and hangs up. I make another couple of calls to locate a new drive motor. Owner shows up and he and the operator get into a verbal right off the bat. Operator stomps off to his truck and roars off. Owner comes over and sits down next to me on the tailgate of my truck in complete disgust. I tell him that I located a new wheel motor and if we go get the dump truck and trailer, right now, we can load up the machine before it pumps all of the hydraulic oil out on the ground. We can take it back to his shop, pressure wash it and remove and replace the wheel motor and probably be digging first thing in the am. He tells me that there is something wrong with the dump truck and was gonna ask me to look at it if I would. My chin hits my chest again.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
I inquire as to have the fuel filters been changed when he tells me that the dump truck has no power at all. Fuel filter? he says. "Fuel filter-rs" I say back. "Let's go get my flatbed and pull the equipment trailer with it". "Then we'll get the excavator back to your place and hopefully get everything going today and be right back at it tomorrow". I've been keeping the flatbed truck over at my buddy Eds place. It's a cool old International Loadstar. It used to be a Coke delivery tractor truck. We put a short flatbed that dumps on it. It had a terrible diesel v8 in it that finally died. When it died, we shoehorned a little Detroit Diesel 6v53 into it that we got out of a wrecked boat. We slammed some four valve heads onto it along with a turbocharger to feed the blower and also some larger fuel injectors. It's got dual pipes up each side of the cab. Sounds real sweet and probably makes a little over 400 horse if I remember correctly. She's all painted up and even has polished aluminum alcoa wheels on it with nice radials. Pintal hitch on the back and air is plumbed out back for a trailer also. It's a really nice solid old truck, and been taken care of and it shows. Eds got a few acres out of town where they grow some hay. There's a big barn with lots of room and we park that International out there. So we drive out to Ed's farm. His daughter has been living out there and keeps watch on the place. I bound up the back steps to the door and give a knock. "Well hi Uncle Jim, what brings you out this way" she says? "I've got to grab the flatbed truck to haul an excavator" I tell her. "How you been doin" I add? From inside the house, past the kitchen comes a male voice. "Who the (blank) is that" says the voice?
 

Jimway

Well-known member
I'll mention right here that some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent. I look at Kelly (Edds daughter whom I'm not directly related to but have known all her life) with furrowed brow and tilt my head toward the sound of the male voice. "My soon to be ex boyfriend" says Kelly. I smile on the inside at this report and have her quickly authenticate her statement. The soon to be ex boyfriend swaggers through the door from the living room into the kitchen and demands "What the blank you want"? He appears to be involved with several brands of steroids as near as I can tell at first glance. "You better shut your mouth and keep packing yer ---- Ronnie" orders Kelly. "Ah, so it has a name" I say under my breath. Now you guys know that my day is not going all that well at this point and I'm feeling a little unsettled about all of it. Ronnie and his enormous attitude has come along at maybe an inopportune moment in time, for him that is. We're standing on the back covered porch. "Look here Ronald" I say. "I'm here to pick up my truck from the barn" I turn and start for the barn which is a short walk from the house. "I aint done talkin to you" snarls Ronnie at me. "Actually, yes you are" I say without looking back. I'm starting to chafe a little at this point as I walk rather briskly out to the barn and through the man door and down the row of assorted tractors, hay equipment, trucks, and trailers to where the flatbed is parked. Except it isn't parked. There is a empty space where it usually sets. Naturally I figure that Edward must have the truck on some errand and quick call him up. "Where's my truck" I ask Edward. I explain to him about the need for the flatbed and Edward suggests that he meet me out at the ranch and pick it up. The other end of the line grows silent as I inform him that I'm standing in the barn and looking at a big open space where the truck should be. For a minute or three, Ed figures I'm pulling his leg. He grows somewhat incredulous when he realizes that I'm serious. I look all over the barn and even around back, no truck. "You must of come and got it and plum forgot where you left it" says Ed. I stand there and think about it for a minute or two and keep thinking that the truck should be there. "Hey, go see if the keys are still hanging on the keyboard in the kitchen" offers Ed. This sounds like a reasonable request and I set off from the barn for the kitchen.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
As I approach the house again, my builder buddy, the owner of the excavator, is coming down the stairs white as a sheet. There is the sound of intense arguing coming from the back door. I look at him and tilt my head in the direction of the house. "You might be interested in watching this". I saunter up the steps and into the kitchen. Ronnie loudly suggests that I leave. "As soon as I figure out where my flatbed truck is, I'll be gone" I tell Ronnie. I make an immediate mental note that Ronnie has a somewhat telling reaction to the term flatbed truck. I walk over to the keyboard hung on the wall and, you guessed it, no keys for the flatbed. I turn around to inquire to Kelly about the keys and there stands an enraged Ronnie. I begin to suspect that old Ronnie may have some pertinent information regarding the possible whereabouts of a certain flatbed truck. Others present will no doubt testify that things 'happened in a flash' but for me, time slowed way down to a crawl. Ronnie powerfully suggested that I vacate the premises and even took his right forefinger and poked me in the chest area rather forcefully. "I will not be pawed at" was my response to Ronald. "I don't give you any permission to touch me" I add as Ronnie pokes me again. "Stop that" I tell him as he pokes me so hard that he pushes me backward. Now, as you might imagine, the forth time he goes to poke me in the chest, I figure that he is three times past the limit, so to speak. I come up under his right fore finger, which is about to poke me again, getting it in between my left thumb and fore finger. I clamp down and readjust Ronnies forefinger so that his forefinger nail contacts just North of his right wrist. There is a resounding pop. Two onlookers gasp in unison. Ronnie, in a higher voice now, now adds even more to the vocal section of the proceedings. Right here, I might take a moment to speak to you about chopping down a tree. If you don't have a chainsaw present, you just use your hands. Don't get in no giant hurry, but pace yourself accordingly. Keep your equipment clean and sharp, seperate your feet for balance, and you just swing away. Now at first just the bark flies off. Before you know it though, your into the heart wood. Some of those swings will be upward and some of the swings will be downward. Just dont stop. Keep digging in the same spot. You'll see tremors as you make contact after contact. Soon that big old tree begins to ever so slightly lean in the direction of fall. When it begins to fall, step back and watch and listen. The bigger the tree, the more noise it makes when it falls and hits the ground.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
So I look down there at Ronnie and figure it is time for two things. First I'll pop that finger back into alignment and then I'll run a small but intense psychological test on old Ronald. As any clinical scientist will attest to, any clinical research should be done in such a way as to produce verifiable results. I suspected that my little test would produce verifiable results. I asked my homebuilder buddy and Kelly if they were interested in a little subterfuge? They looked at me funny. "Let's play a little trick on old Ronnie here" I clarify. "Just play along but pay attention so that when you tell this story in the future, you'll remember all of the good stuff. While I'm dabbing at a bloody nose, I quick step outside to my truck and come back with a piece of plastic and some big cable ties. I have my cohorts in crime move the dining table over to the wall while I spread out some plastic on the floor and place a chair into the middle of the plastic. We then place Ronnie on the chair and cable tie his legs to the chair legs and his arms to the arms of the chair. The chair is one of those steel framed rigs and pretty stout. Ronnie is kind of in and out but actually gets on the chair with a little encouragement. As the cobwebbs begin to clear for Ronnie, I take another chair and turn it around backward and place it in front of Ronnie. I sit down and fold my arms across the top back of the chair and rest my chin on my hands. "Wh wh what happened" stammers Ronnie. "You got knocked the blank out" I proudly proclaim. My cohorts are standing behind Ronnie stifling smirks. "Now Ronald. we have to have a very serious discussion" I tell him. "Now all you got to do is tell the truth" "You just sit there for a moment and I'll be right back". I go out to the truck and get some drill bits, a hammer, a cordless drill and a skilsaw. I bring them into the kitchen and set them on the table. Ronnie looks pretty unnerved at this point as he looks at the plastic on the floor and then to the tools upon the table and then to me. I take off my coat and put on some gloves. I have Kelly close the window blinds. "Ronald" I say, "Do you, by any chance, know anything about the whereabouts of my flatbed truck that used to be in the barn out there"? With no more encouragement needed the truth now spews out like a geyser (I just knew this guy was guilty). Old Ronnie owes a bunch of money to an associate of his and he gave my truck to him to settle the debt. "How much do you owe this guy" I ask Ronnie? I'm thinking that if he says $500 bucks, I'm really going to be furious. I feel better when he says $7500 bucks. "This is serious" I say! "When you sell stolen stuff, they call that CONVERSION and they send you to prison for an uncomfortable length of time" Ronald now has the look of a man who has been deposited in the middle of the Sahara with no food, no water and just a pair of shorts.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
So I obtain the address of the trucks custodial supervisor and eventually turn Ronnie loose whereby he vanishes like a puff of smoke in a gale. My two cohorts have thoroughly enjoyed themselves and now have a good story to tell. I get a hold of the whereabouts of the truck and am somewhat dismayed to find it a couple of hours up the road. We end up replacing fuel filters on the dump truck which returns it to it's former glory. We recover the excavator, haul it back to the shop and get it cleaned up and chase down the parts and get it repaired. I get home way after dark. I play catch up the following day. The next day after that, several of us (6 in fact, no one under 6 feet tall, by the way) jump into my builder buddy's truck and head up the freeway to get my truck back. Over two hours later and worrying against the possibility of being on a wild goose chase, we find the address and there sits the truck and it's filthy. So we roll into the driveway and I get out and pound on the door of the domicile. Getting no answer, I go to the truck and open the door and climb up into the cab. You might imagine the sinking feeling from the pit of my stomach when I spot the engine oil pan sitting on the passenger side floor board as I'm inserting the ignition key into the switch. I rather reluctantly get down out of the cab and look under the front of the truck and sure as blank, there is no oil pan on the bottom of the engine. Meantime, while were all conferencing about what to do, the occupants of the house have called the police. When the county deputy sherriff drives up, the occupants of the house pile out and do their best impression of 'Mr Get Bad'. I quickly extinguish that fire when I produce the vehicle title and registration. The deputy himself notices that the license plates on my flatbed truck belong to some other truck. I spend a few minutes explaining how we all came to be at that place in time. I think that the deputy may have been a little self conscious when my guys piled out of the truck. When the license plates come back as belonging to some other stolen truck, the deputy asks for some other buddies to come over. They quickly become acutely interested in the occupants and contents of the home there. I actually uncover the trucks license plates under the passenger seat and surrupticiously replace them. I figure it might be time for a tow truck and call up a friend of mine who runs a tow company and tell him of my plight. We charge up the air tanks on the flatbed (it has air brakes) and tow it out onto the street so that it is off of the property. While waiting for the recovery truck, we hit up the local fast food establishment. I crawl under the truck and my day gets even worse when I find that they spun the main bearings and have ruined the engine block itself. By the time we eat and get the truck loaded on the flatbed, there are three different police departments going in and out of that house. We discuss various ways of having Ronnie pay for a new engine on the way home. I hold out for giving him a transfusion to keep him alive while I'm killing him. "I'll visit you while your in prison for murder" interupts my son. "I wont" says my builder buddy. "Traitor" I say to him.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
Truck is back home, cleaned up and disinfected. I guess I'm lucky to get it back. The lack of availability of a 6v53 engine locally gets me to thinking about many years ago. We have to step back through the mists of time to the Pacific Coast area minus a few decades. I was running a relatively new Skidder. Now a skidder is a piece of logging equipment that is used to drag a tree from where it has been felled (cut down) to where it is loaded onto the truck. You can run them on pretty flat ground if they have wheels. Tracked ones or a dozer on sloped terrain. Machine looks kind of like a wheel loader. It is articulated in the middle so that it can be steered. It has a blade on front. It has a winch on back to grab up trees. Some skidders have grapples on the back and can grab the end of the log versus others with just a cable and hook that must be handled manually. Four tires about six feet tall and three feet wide. Chains on them for traction. A pretty rudimentary machine, no suspension, cramped cab, loud. This one has four speeds and a torque converter so it acts like an automatic. It will crawl in low and actually run along about 20 mph in high. As usual, on the day in question, it has been raining for three days. Prior to that it had been cold for a week and had snowed about a foot before it warmed up and poured like a fire hose. There is water everywhere accompanied by lots of wind, so much so that the rain is going sideways instead of vertically. We call it a three change of clothes day. I'm dragging trees down through a small wash from a meadow above to a meadow below where we have a loader situated and that we can get a log truck into. On one side of the wash is a kind of a four foot berm and then a cliff. On the other side the ground slopes up. Water is cascading down through the wash and with every trip it is getting softer and softer. Eventually I contact the supervisor on the two way and suggest that we quit driving through the wash as it is becoming a river and I'm pretty concerned about the whole hillside washing out. The supervisor, true to his nature, is sitting in a truck with the heater blowing on high, tuned into a country and western station on the fm radio, yells back at us that were behind schedule and need to quit pussy footing around and get some work done.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
So I was on my third trip back up into the meadow when the hillside gave way. The skidder probably weighs in at around 40000 lbs. The rear end went to the left first so that the machine went over the rim backwards. It was a funny feeling to throttle up and see the wheels rotating forward but the machine was going backwards. I figured it out pretty quickly. I tried to drop the blade but it happened so fast. Turns out it is about a quarter of a mile down into the ravine. Tore up the machine something fierce, not to mention the operator to boot. Tore the machine in two at the articulated joint. Removed the blade. Ripped the tires from the bead and deflated three of them. Crushed the cab down flat to the body. Once the crew found their way down the cliff and peered into the cab they turned pale. They cheered up when I warned them that "I aint dead yet". "It was a candy run boys" I exclaimed. "I figured she'd land on her feet". "I had to throttle her up a couple of times though and a big cedar stump durn near ruined my calculations" I added. "I sure would appreciate it if you all would quit gawking and cut me the blank out of here before I bleed to death" I say. "We couldn't be that lucky" comes one comment. "I think you are gonna make it but you killed the skidder" comes another. "Gettin you outta this might be easier said than done" adds another. They ended up having to climb up the cliff and return with a gas powered cut off saw to cut the cab open. Took a couple of hours. Thing of it is though, the machine, or what is left of it is still laying down there to this day. We returned on a couple of different occasions and salvaged the back portion of the machine for the differential and winch. Removed the wheels and blade too. What's left is the power plant and transmission and front end. I'm thinking about heading up there and winching it out. We filled the engine full of oil thinking that we would be back for it and buttoned it up tight. Engine has no hours on it, it was new, and it is a 6v53 Detroit. I could use the engine and probably sell the transmission. Might even pay the fuel bill to go get it. I'm going to have to coerce a couple of victims to help out though....
 

Jimway

Well-known member
Maybe 6000 lbs. Figure the engine at 1700, trans about the same, 2000 lbs for the front end of machine. Should be not too much of a pull. If you take a Doug-fir log at 36 inches at the base and say 18 inches at the skinny end and say 28 feet in length and your somewhere in the neighborhood of 11000 lbs. Thinking about borrowing a friends rollback truck and what we call the triple spool winch. Last weekend I relocated the wreckage in under two days. Trouble is that the wreck lies on someone else's property although they probably don't even know it's there. I'm figuring on going up during the next bout of really bad weather. Should be gone before anybody even knows we're there. It's been laying there for over 30 years know that I think about. I've got a strike crew assembled as we speak. Might even be an adventure. I've already noted that the engine must have somehow slid further down the ravine because it seems twice as far to climb down to now. The air is markedly thinner nowdays too because I had to breathe pretty fast to get enough of it into my lungs. The ground has become much harder also.
 

1954bmw

Active member
Jimway, what happened, get stuck in all the overgrowth, that quarter mile's a lot longer 30 years later????
 

Jimway

Well-known member
Naw, it's right where we left it years ago, it just seems a lot further down there now. The trees have grown up some since then but I found it. It is up on the coast in the Olympics but on Tribal land so you aren't just going to waltz on in there these days. Next big storm that we have out this way we're going to jerk that thing up the hill, drag it onto the roll back truck and hopefully be gone before anybody knows were even there. I'm pretty sure that no one will be out there in a big blow or rain storm. I've already got cables strung from some nearby trees to hold back the winch. I even have a small cable running down to the engine/front end of the wreck, through a big snatch block, and back up the hill and will use it as a 'mule' to rig the recovery cable down and back to the triple drum winch. The triple drum winch is good for 40000 lbs plus. It is on it's own trailer and has it's own engine/fuel system/hydro system and is even wireless controlled. We'll pull it up behind a big dump truck, anchor it to some trees, fire it up and rig the cable and start pulling. If we average 40 feet a minute you're looking at what, 30 minutes or so on the actual pull. Once its up we'll drag it onto the roll back and send it on it's way. Shouldn't take too long to pick up the anchor cables and chains and get the winch and dump truck back out of there and down the hill. Engine looks good so far. I pulled a valve cover while I was down there trying to catch my breath and there is some light rust in there from condensation over the years but nothing crazy. Even the rack is still loose. It's all covered in green slime after all those years but that will wash right off. I really need the block itself. The other engine block is destroyed from the main bearing being spun. You can't just put an over size main bearing into a Detroit. I don't think they even make them. With a serviceable block, I've got the good liners/pistons, heads, cams, injectors, blower, turbo setup, and all of the other stuff. Now that I want it to rain, we'll probably have nice weather for weeks.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
Pulled the trigger for the recovery on Thursday for early Friday morning. The guys have been sitting around idle for awhile (remember that we didn't run the streamliner last year) and the mere thought of an adventure of any sort had grown to fever pitch. I was getting phone calls all day long and couldn't stand it any longer. Early Friday was rainy and blowy up on the coast, dark too. We weren't able to steal a dump truck from a friends logging and trucking outfit to pull the triple spool winch. I would have liked to throw a shout out of thanks to him but he strangely wishes to remain anonymous. Instead we were given use of a company service truck that was idle. Really nice truck, full sized Peterbuilt, with a fire breathing Caterpiller 3406 in it. It's the kind of truck with a service body on the back that is full of doors and tools, has a welder and air compressor, and a crane on the side. It pulled the triple spool winch like it wasn't even back there. It's making so much power that it will spin it's dual rear wheels on rain slicked roads. It's like driving a Cadillac and takes any grade in stride. We had the use of a really nice roll back wrecker too. The rest of the crew stole a crummy and drove up in it. We met up early Friday in Southwestern Washington at a restaurant so I could feed everybody, go over the plan one final time, and then we were off to the races.
 

Jimway

Well-known member
We actually started in late Thursday evening so we could be on the road around 1:00 AM. It's about a 3 hour trip up into the coast mountains (Olympics). We rolled on site close to 4 AM and proceeded to anchor down the triple spool winch and fire it up for warmup. We did have to put the service truck into all wheel drive to get it and the winch up into the meadow. Unfortunately, that was about the only excitement encountered. The only other exciting part was that some of the crew, as bad luck would have it, took the owners new F350 by mistake. He called up around the time we were just arriving at the recovery site looking for his truck. He was relieved to hear that we had it but relayed that if it came back with even the minutest amount of damage that it would be probably best to not come back at all. Other than that we didn't see any one else up there. The actual recovery was anti climactic. The triple spool winch is super first class and brought the remains up the hill so fast that I thought it might become airborne. The turbo on the winch never even sounded like it spooled up. We used the mule cable to pull the recovery cable down thru the pulley attached to the front of whats left of the skidder and back up to attach to the winch. No one even had to go down there. The front end of the skidder is all plate steel and has a big skid plate on the bottom of it. The front end stayed up right all the way up. As the remains were coming up over the edge, we backed the roll back up and winched the remains right onto the deck of the roll back. We brought up a steam pressure washer behind the F350 and blew all of the dirt and grime off of the remains and then secured it and off went the roll back. We removed all of the cables and chains securing the winch, loaded up everything and were back in Aberdeen around 9:00 AM. Engine is now out and in great shape. It was full of oil. Very little water came out in the oil, when drained, from condensation over the years. After we removed all of the oil from the cylinders and replaced the injectors she fired right up. We will now pull the heads and replace them with the four valve heads and cams from the damaged engine. The bell housing has to be changed along with the front mount and oil cooler. The blower and turbo set up is bolt on stuff and then into the truck it goes. We should be driving it this weekend. The flat bed has a fiberglass flip front end that comes right off so the engine removal is pretty quick. You can sit right on the front wheels and wrench on it.
 
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