The Truck


Just to recap: we sold the house, said goodbye to a lot of our stuff, moved into a two bedroom, one bath condo, and purchased a truck. All this began as an exercise in preparing to haul a fifth wheel around the country as “full timers” also known as “homeless people with big trucks”. It's a really sweet 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 with the 5.9L Cummins diesel and dual rear wheels. It's a beast. You can tell because it sort of growls when it idles. This was the last year Dodge made the 5.9L diesel. By January of 2007, Dodge was putting their new bigger/better/cleaner diesel in their trucks to meet the federal standards for 2010. I figured they had worked out all the problems with 5.9L by then, plus the previous owner had installed an extended tank, added a trailer brake controller, step-up bars (it's a very big step up into the cab without them), bed liner and stuff I would have added to a new truck. And it was cheaper than the new 2009 version without all the added stuff.But the amazing thing was the Dodge dealer had both a brand new 2009 and this 2007 3500, both with dual rear wheels, sitting in their inventory. We were unable to find any new Ford, Chevy or GMC trucks in this class in our area and the only other used truck we found was a well used 2004 Ford F350. Test driving the F350 was an education. It was the first diesel I ever drove, and the first thing I wanted to do was merge with the busy traffic next to the used car lot. No problem, just wait until I had an opening in the traffic (both ways) and away we went – at what felt like a snails pace. What looked like plenty of room was not near enough room to merge with the traffic. I'm glad everybody's horn worked. But we survived, which I later took to be an omen that I should own a big truck. When I pointed out to the dealer what a pooch their big F350 was, I learned the engine controller will limit the throttle response of a cold diesel engine to prevent damage from over-reving the engine. Good to know. Anyway, no harm done and we didn't find another truck until Janie saw the two trucks sitting on the Dodge lot when she was shopping for running shoes at a nearby store. We test drove both of those but I told the dealer I wasn't ready to buy a truck just yet. That was fine. Three weeks later Dodge told them they would no longer be a Dodge dealer so they gave me a call and asked if I was ready yet. I guess I was. I still don't what it is I'll be hauling with it, but I know it'll be big enough. It's like that scene in Dirty Harry when he pulls out his 44 magnum and starts his classic speech about it being the most powerful handgun in the world. If you don't know what it is you want to shoot, you might as well carry the biggest hand gun you can, just in case you want to kill a car or something. This truck is just loafing hauling Janie and I around town and on some short camping trips. It's not a work truck (too pretty) but you can tell it was bred to haul some serious weight. Later maybe. Right now, we're just getting used to how big it is and how much room it needs to turn around and how much wider it is. So far I've dinged it twice, and crunched one traffic cone. Janie has yet to score. My first ding was within days of buying it when I backed into a parking place and nudged a sign back a little further from the curb. The second ding I need to tell you about. You feel like a real working man driving this thing. You even get to fill up at the diesel pump just like the big guys do. But any pretense at being cool came to an end on our last camping trip when I pulled into a small gas station to fill up. Since this truck can burn any diesel (not just the ultra low sulfur the new engines require), I tend to go for the lowest price I can find. It didn't start out well: the pump's credit card scanner immediately rejected my card. No problem, I figured they could scan it inside and get it to work. Wrong. The pump was still locked up from a previous credit card and I would have to change pumps since the attendant wasn't able to clear it. Still no problem. Except I forgot the hose was still in the tank from my first try when I pulled away from the pump. What happens, for those of you who haven't done this before, is the hose disconnects from the pump at a joint designed to do just that without starting a big fuel spill with towering flames and the like. I also broke the pump handle and the latch to the truck's gas cap cover. I did manage to fill it up without further incident, but by then I knew it wasn't going to be as cheap as I first thought. $368 to fix the pump (I'm still waiting for the bill, but they called to tell me the total). Not sure about the gas cap latch, but the truck definitely won. I'm thinking of adding a little pump hose symbol on the side of the truck so diesel pumps know who they're messing with in the future.

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