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Toto's first long run in decades

By Ed "Da Oz Tinman" Hoover
Bolter #18331
Wamego, Kansas

Taking the farm truck off the farm

        Those of you who made the 2008 Stovebolt Reunion in Kansas City, Missouri know of TOTO's trip and ... Ouch. I was asked to relate this story to the rest of the Bolters. So ... here 'tis.

        TOTO is my 1952 GMC 303-24 tilt bed hauler. It's been a working truck all of its life and looks like it. The truck has seldom gone more than 20-30 miles from home.

        So after some problem fixing -- new tires, radiator, miscellaneous maintenance items, I was ready to go to KC.

        Dawn faded into existence (foggy as pea soup) as I loaded my pickup with all the stuff I was taking. It was not looking like a fun start to my drive. I took the PU so I could drive it - not TOTO - around KC.

        I fired up TOTO and loaded my PU onto her back. I chained everything down, turned on my battery-powered magnetic base caution flashers and put them on the rear deck so that I could be seen in the fog -- seemed like something from The Outer Limits. I was off like a herd of turtles.

        I start out on Highway 24, a two lane highway, mostly flat with a few gentle hills (until you hit KC). I checked the chains at the first town. Everything with them and TOTO was OK - so far so good. After about another 25 miles of bumpy rutty highway, TOTO turned into a mad dog. It seemed like I had super power steering (it IS the Outer Limits!). It was difficult to keep running straight down the road. I slowly pulled off the road to ponder what the heck was the problem.

        Due to the "silky smooth" ride up to this point, the front of the bed had bounced enough and the old hydraulics lost some of it's umph letting the front of the bed to rise about six to nine inches. With the PU on top, it changed its driving characteristics in a BAD way!

        I lowered the bed, and was off to the turtle races again (top end loaded is not more then 55-60 mph).

        After another 20 or so miles, the same thing reared it's ugly head almost causing TOTO to make a pit stop in a ditch! I'll fix that @#!$%* from happening again said I, not knowing that it would come to bite me on the backside later.

        CHAIN the front of the bed to the frame so that there is no more bounce! Ha! Cured that problem for the rest of the drive.

        The next 65 miles or so were rather uneventful. The usual finger gesture and colorful well wishings from fellow travelers -- always a treat. There were some smiles and waves from those who like the old trucks. One 1950's vintage International 2-ton flashed its lights and had waving hands out every window (nice looking working truck she was) as it passed me heading the other way.

        Oh boy I'm there -- it's the west side of KC !!! Ugh - now the real work began. TOTO and I learned to HATE the next eight or so miles of up the hill - down the hill city driving. You would see a two block up hill run and D@#$ it if you wouldn't hit a red light at the bottom. Up the hill with not so friendly city drivers wondering when you would get that rolling wreck out of park (max speed usually was about 20-25 mph by the time the top of the hill was reached).

        I should inform the readers that TOTO does not have a working speedometer or gas gauge. Only the important water temp and ammeter work.

        On with the saga.

        After several miles of this type of city driving, TOTO was on another up hill crawl when the engine started to cough and sputter (well, I guess a gas gauge is also important). Yet, the Old Truck gods smiled on me and we stumbled into the next parking lot and were safe.

        I discovered then that I had a few drops left in the tank but because of the angle of the hill, the gas pickup could not get it. No problem. I had a five gallon gas can in the bed of the PU.

        Hummmm ... it's on top of TOTO's bed. Imagine a 275 pound bearded monkey climbing around on top of a 1990 PU on top of a 1952 1 1/2 ton truck -- a Kodak moment if there ever was one!

        Don't tell anyone buuuuut TOTO went thru a couple of slightly not green lights at the bottom of a couple of very long up hill grades. Baaad TOTO !!!

        Finally, I see the Muddy Missouri River and as I crossed, I could see where the truck show was setting up. When I pulled in, I was greeted by two of the very friendly Kansas City truck club staffer who were happy to see that I had made it. Then they pointed me to where I could off load my PU from TOTO's back. TOTO was tired of giving a free ride to a (spit) Ford PU.

        Now as a word of warning to all who drive a good distance to a event and have to unload. DON'T !!! Give yourself some time to wind down and relax. Get some people to stand around and bother you. This is where my being the impatient cuss and my earlier "Cure" came around to bite me in the back side.

        I took off all the chains from the PU and tried to release the binder from the chain holding down the bed. The bed had enough pressure on it that I couldn't do it. I fired up the hydraulics and lowered the bed to release the pressure on the chain. I went around to the passenger side where the bed was chained down and released the chain. Here is the mistake -- instead of removing the chain from the truck like all the others, I just threw the loose end up onto the steel bed of the truck -- a no no.

        Back to the other side and the controls. Up goes the back plate -- I take the bed up just enough to take the slack out of the winch cable -- when the PU took up the slack, it jared the bed a very little -- but enough to let the new chain slide on the steel deck. Off it went and just my bad luck, snagged on the other end.

        Not knowing this at the time, I started the bed on up. As it went up, I was also letting the PU down the bed.Then all sorts of H#@$ broke loose. I thought that I was ripping up my PU ! By the time I found out what was really wrong, it was too late -- TOTO had a bent bed.

        As they say, "Oh S##t !" - Oh Well ! What's been done is done.

The little person talking to the man in the background is my niece getting a hug from my youngest brother Lee, while looking at the truck . He was not happy to see what I had done to the truck -- he wants to get away from me.

        For having gone around 120+ miles (one way) for the first time in decades, TOTO did rather well. Less the bent bed, I only had a small rear engine seal leak, a small transmission seal leak, a small hydraulic lift leak and a small rear brake cylinder leak. Not too bad for the Old Rolling Wreck.

NOTICE - Do not try this at home

        TOTO's trip just goes to show that most problems are NOT the fault of the truck but the Loose Nut behind the wheel. Even though I have a GMC and a Chevy Big Bolt, my day to day drive is a FoundOnRoadDead (but it got better)! I love trucks no matter the maker. Also the best mileage of the ferds life was on this trip to and from KC . You can thank Stovebolt HQ for this story -- I hate to write but they were firm that TOTO's story had some merit and needed to be told.

        A fun weekend, then a rather uneventful trip back home not counting the friendly fellow drivers. Now to fix all those little leaks and bent bed.

        BUT TOTO did it ! Now that I have a Camel back truck - just call me " Ahab the Arab " !

Ed H


       For a minute there I thought you were going to say that the loose chain let the Ferd roll off in the muddy Missouri River. Blame it on the Ferd ..... that may not have been a bad thing. ;\) BUT your tireless effort was much much appreciated by all in attendance at the Reunion. Thanks -- Alvin "AChipmunk" Parris

       Be sure to read more of Toto's adventures on her Gallery page, and how Ed just straightened her right out. (Oh, yeah) And the best news of all ... TOTO is back to work! ~ Editor

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