I’ve Already Been Humbled by My 55-Year-Old Ford Dump Truck
"Is that being held up by a block of wood?" is a sentence I had to use recently.
Every now and then you need to be reminded that an old car, no matter how tough—and I think a 1960s Ford dump truck counts as pretty tough—still comes with old car problems.
If you didn't catch the introduction to my 1966 Ford F600 dump truck, then here's the long and short of it: I bought the two-tone beauty, which is more than twice my age, for $3,000 and immediately put it to work hauling gravel. Shortly after discussing the buy with my more urban colleagues, I wrote an article and became The Drive's resident Dump Truck Man. I had already claimed my place on Cloud Nine as the happiest car-driving man in Southwest Missouri, but now it's broken and my feet are back on the ground. It's kind of sad, to tell the truth.
The truck was loaded with an admittedly heavy heap of creek rock when there was a loud POP! Not what you wanna hear when you've got five tons of earth just behind your head. Upon returning the dump bed back to its original position, it started to shimmy from side to side as it came to a rest.
That was the second clue that, hey, somethin' isn't right.
Gathered with the day's motley crew of campground workers, we inspected the bed's steel frame to find a straight-through crack, running the entire four-inch height of said metal piece. As you can imagine, we called it a day and started planning the repair.
Adding insult to injury—literally—a tree had jumped behind me while reversing with a load in tow, putting a whiskey dent in the top of the tailgate.
In my defense, the frame had already been fixed before—and I say that as reluctantly as possible—with a shoddy weld that wouldn't pass a high school shop teacher's lazy eye evaluation. It was more a matter of "when" than "if," and considering that we hauled nearly 40 loads prior to the break, I'd call it a success.
This will be my first real test when it comes to fixing the F-Series, save for a starter replacement that involved three trips to the parts store. Such is life when you play a guessing game of "What year is that motor from?" and "Is that being held up by a block of wood?"
I'm far from being an expert mechanic, and even less of a fabricator. Luckily, when you live in Small Town USA, you know someone who can do just about anything and you're usually related to them. That's the case for me as my brother-in-law and I are going to work on it tonight with a welder, a steel plate, and probably a chain or two. Wish us luck.
I'll post an update on my dump truck adventures sometime soon, maybe tomorrow, with either a good or bad report. Here's to hoping for the former.
Caleb Jacobs is Deputy News Editor at The Drive. He buys weird things, like a '66 Ford Dump Truck and a '65 Chevy school bus. We continue to employ him, though we can't seem to understand why.