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The Saga of a Ford Guy ending up with a Chevy pickup

  I’ll have to apologize at the start of this column. To devote an entire page to a Chevy pickup may be more than some people can stand, including myself, but sometimes “ya gotta do what ya gotta do”.

     One other thing. A gearhead, say, someone like myself, can never give a wholesale endorsement of the “other brand”. The best endorsement you’ll ever get when a vehicle meets or exceeds expectations is, “it’s OK. I don’t mind it.”

  aerostar pulling chev   As regular readers know, I purchased a Chevy pickup from Horseman Clayton Skoien shortly after the it died on him at the intersection going into the Blue Star parking lot. I'd worked on the pickup for him last winter, it is a white K-1500 extended cab, 6.5 turbo diesel 4X4 with  210,000+  miles on the  odometer. The original paint scheme is somehwat attractive but it has some rusted out rocker panels. He was a bit upset at it so the price was attractive even to a Ford guy. I won't mention the price, but I will say it cost me less than Dick's Buick (check the Lexicon to see what that set me back).  I loaded it up and hauled it home with the Aerostar van, thinking that I could get it running without spending a fortune on it. I did get it running soon, but it died again and a long diagnostic process started.

Over the next month or so, I replaced the PMD, brain box, and crankshaft position sensor but didn’t cure the problem. I did figure that I was closer to the solution since I’d managed to narrow the list of error codes coming from the on-board computer. Using a diagnostic guide I found on one of the more helpful web pages available, I unplugged the optic sensor on the injector pump and the diesel fired up, running in “limp mode”. The sensor was bad. Eventually I drove out to the local junkyard and purchased an old injector pump, pirated out the optic sensor and installed it in the Chevy. It did the trick. I did end up spending about $300 on parts, but figure it was worth it. A rebuilt pump starts at $800, which is the solution recommended by many with the problem I was having.

receiver hitchI did have a couple of other things to repair on the little truck. One of the spring-shocks had a leaf spring like curve in it, a leaf on the right rear leaf spring was broken, the tailpipe wasn’t attached and the rear bumper was in pretty tough shape. Since the budget is tight, I installed a new set of low priced, non-spring shocks. The rusted out rocker panel recieved a can or so of builder's foam to keep it from deteriorating further. I removed, welded up and re-installed the broken leaf spring using new u-bolts. Next, I welded a new front end on the tailpipe and welded it into the muffler. I worked a couple of days on the bumper, fabricating a receiver tube, welding in a new license holder and welding up some broken welds. 

It was time time to really try it out since I had to deliver something to my son Travis and pour a concrete driveway in Elk River for daughter Heidi and her husband Robbie. 

I hooked the Chevy to the trailer and loaded up the freight I needed to haul south– Travis' F-150. The Chevy's bumper assumed a definite tilt down, but seemed solid. I had a 300+mile trip to Elk River but the roads were fairly smooth. My Fords would do the trip OK, time to test the Chevy.

I loaded up the three Little Girls at 11:00 pm after we got home from the 4-H Performing Arts and Dress Review. Alyssa had earned a trip to the State Fair at the event; I was pleased to say the least.

chev pulling fordI pointed the Chevy south east and we motored out. Remembering the humiliation of having the Chevy's starter bolt break in the Dairy Queen parking lot, I didn’t shut the diesel down until I pulled into Heidi’s yard in Elk River at 6:00 am. Stops were for fuel at Kelliher, relieve the bladder and dump water from the fuel system outside Northome, 10 minute nap in Grand Rapids and fuel again north of Milaca. The diesel ran well, 11 mpg, power was good in 3rd gear pulling the loaded trailer. It steered well even though it does pull to the right.

The crusty old Norsk, Orlin Ostby, says Chevys steer themselves down the road, and Trapper concurs, but their infatuation for Chevys makes them a bit less than honest. Following that advice would have put me well out into the big swamp north of Washkish. I kept my hands on the wheel.

I took time to re-bolt the bumper at a more respectable angle in Elk River. One of the neighbors, another Blue Star employee, lent me the use of his little stick welder to finish the job.

I hauled a load of surplus Class 5 from the driveway job back to Hill City. The load was a bit  tongue heavy, well, a lot tongue heavy so it was a slow trip on the rougher stretches of Hwy 169. The hitch held great.f-150

 The load to haul home was my first 4x4, a ‘78 F-150. Lying abed the morning before I had to load, I realized the trailer ramps were still in Elk River. Management, who had met us at Hill City for the weekend, headed me again south in the Chevy. I made the roundtrip in good time, fortunately I was going north in the Sunday afternoon on the July 4th weekend so the delays didn't bother me. I did stop to look over a nice '99 Ford Super Duty with a Powerstroke in Zimmerman, but was careful not to leave any drool on the bright red paint. Maybe some day. I met Travis at the Onamia Dairy Queen for lunch on the way.19mpg on this leg, but better keep the windows down on rougher roads so the noise from the loose front shock doesn’t annoy.

Back in Hill City, neighbor Wayne helped me load up the classic Ford. I met Management and the Little Girls at the MacDonalds in Grand Rapids and we convoyed north to Roseau. Everything worked well, back home to Roseen’s Corner safe and sound.

As for the Chevy, it’s OK, I don’t mind it.


brik house

We live in an  old brick house at Roseen's Corner, seven miles south of Salol on County 13 in Roseau County.  This is where all the stories are written, usually in the wee hours of the morning just before the deadline. Trapper lives in a log house a few feet away. Trapper starts having coffee guests before 6 AM, usually Ms Toyota is the first and the rest straggle in throughout the morning. This reporter is usually the last, partially excused by the fact that I usually have worked the afternoon shift at the Blue Star the night before. 
          Southwest Angle Lexicon

          Abby the dog - a pudgy, 4 year old yellow lab - terrier cross that spends every minute possible with the columnist.Abby

Big Kids - Travis, Heidi and Erin, columnist's oldest kids, grown up and moved out of the nest.

Blue Star - Where the Publisher spends his afternoons melting pieces of steel together. More commonly called Polaris, this company builds toys. Guy's toys. 4-wheelers of divers sorts and snowmobiles. One of the founders, David Johnson, took the columnist and  Trapper on a memorable snowmobile trip to his log cabin on the Angle.

Dick's Buick - An early '90's Park Avenue that Trapper's buddy Dick had in the shed. Pawned it off on the columnist for the extravagant sum of $300. Came with a 5/50 Warranty - 5 seconds or 50 ft, whichever comes first.

Hard Driving Editor - The former editor at the Warroad Pioneer. Had a Pontiac GTO, thus the hard driving moniker.

The Marksman - Layton Oslund, a Wannaska area deer hunter who bagged a Taurus with 2 shots one year.

Little Girls - Alyssa, Katelyn and Valeri, the three youngest of the columnist's family.

managementManagement - No explanation necessary

Missus - the woman that more or less keeps Trapper in line, pretty much a full time job.

Ms Toyota - Trapper's oldest daughter. Also a trapper, she has become a rabid Toyota afficianado even though she was raised to be a devoted Chevy lover. She is well on her way to destroying her second Toyota pickup.

 Old Rocket - Chuck Lindner, Warroad entrepreneur, named the Old Rocket for his high placing in the 2007 Yellow rose 5-K run. Also does winter ultra-marathons on his bike.

Orlin Ostby - A Crusty old Norwegian who works at the Blue Star. You never know quite what he is saying because much of his speech is in the old country tongue. He took his huge ox Pum and a Red River oxcart to Pembina, ND, then down much of the old Pembina Trail in the summer of '08. What started out as Walking the Trail ended up being Trailering the Trail when the incompatibilities of an ox traveling at 2 mph and retired suburbanites aiming massive RV's down the road at 70+mph overcame the mission of the expedition. He made it past Little Falls, exhibited the ox and cart at several big functions, trailered to the St. Paul and walked the last several blocks into the '08 State Fair, then was a participant in the Fair Parade and called it a success, which it was.

 Pronunciations: There are some unique names in Roseau county. This bit of verse will help you remember the pronunciations of a couple of them.

         After moving up the rung in Malung,

        I had to lay low in Salol, to avoid the fallen women of Falun. 

Rolling Playhouse - RP for short, it is the old, rusty Econoline conversion van the little girls used for a playhouse before Management totaled two vehicles, pressed into use as the primary vehicle for the family.. Now retired, its components to be  used for one of the columnist's endelss projects.

SOTY - Slob of the Year, one entry this year is the individual that cut down the "Hanging Tree" near Bemis Hill. Another is whoever cut the top out of  a spruce tree at the Point.

Southwest Angle - Imaginary location off the southwest corner of the Lake of the Woods. Lots of things happen here, mostly in the mind of the columnist.

 Trapper - Tough as nails Landlord/Philosopher. He farms, traps and holds court at the breakfast table at Roseen's Corner for whoever stops in for morning coffee. Normally pretty clear thinking except that he adores Chevrolets. His most regular customer is the free-loading newspaper columnist.

Yellow Rose - where Management works. Company makes windows; on the company logo is a big yellow rose.