Another Year, Another Truck

With today’s welcome swing into the 30s I was able to take advantage of the comfortable weather to start tearing into our new old delivery van.  This one is a 17 foot Uhaul truck, a 2006 Ford with 130k miles.  Mechanically it is OK, neither great nor terrible.  It obviously spent a some of its life in warmer climates, so the rust isn’t as advanced as I would have expected.  The truck is about two feet shorter than the bus it replaces, but I think the boxier layout will yield a small increase in usable space.  If I can arrange things so our delivery freezers are easily removed, it will also be a good general-purpose farm vehicle, with nearly 3 tons of payload capacity.

E450 Cargo
The cargo area is dry and well-proportioned. I’m glad there are no wheel wells protruding into the box.

I changed the oil and transmission fluid, replaced a windshield wiper arm and sprayer (with parts from the old van), repaired the cargo door, replaced the battery (again stealing from the old van), replaced the coolant, lubed the zerks, and sprayed down a bunch of vulnerable electrical and mechanical spots with Fluid Film.  The front brakes look surprisingly good despite sitting for a few years.  I haven’t yet looked at the rear brakes.

Things I need to watch or to complete:

  1. The oil cap has some coolant residue in it.  The previous truck had a similar gasket problem.  I added a bottle of the copper Barr’s Leak and I’ll monitor the coolant level and the oil cap to see if I’ve bought myself a reprieve.  I’d rather not pull the intake and/or the head to fix it.
  2. The starter wouldn’t engage the first morning after I drove it home.  A few hammer blows set it right, and it has behaved well subsequently.  I’m going to chalk that up to a starter that was out of the habit of starting, but I’m carrying a hammer with me just in case.
  3. One of the front tires has a severe bald patch on the outside.  When I take the truck to get inspected, I’ll hire the garage to adjust the toe alignment on this wheel.  Hopefully they’ll let me swap this tire with one of the duals on the back and they won’t make a big deal about it.  I have a set of nearly new tires on the old delivery van, but I’d like to get the last 20k miles out of is set before swapping them out for the new ones.
  4. While I’ve still got momentum on this project, I probably should replace the rear differential fluid too.  The rear diff is one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind items.
  5. I think the fuel pump’s check valve is worn, because it takes longer to crank than it should.  My 1995 Ford has had the same problem for the last 100,000 miles so I might just leave it well enough alone.

Once all the known mechanical items are resolved, it will be time to kit out the truck box for all our freezers and delivery paraphernalia.  I’ve got to keep my nose to the grindstone, because spring is coming and March and April will be exceedingly busy times as we race to prepare for the arrival of a thousand new chickens.

When the kids saw me scrounging parts from one truck to install in the other, they said I was the “One Piece at a Time” guy about whom Johnny Cash sang.  I’ve always felt that song is a metaphor for a lot of what we do to run this farm, so I’ll leave you with that classic.

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