All the Problems I've Faced Daily Driving My 1966 Ford Dump Truck So Far
A wiser man would never even try, but here I am.
I've joked that ever since I bought my Ford F600, I'd daily drive it in a heartbeat. Back then, it was just a novel idea—taking a 55-year-old dump truck to town for milk and bread sounds like a blast, at least in my mind. I actually didn't set out to do it. About three weeks ago, though, that joke became a reality. And I've found it's about as inconvenient as you'd expect.
See, I had been trying to sell my 2015 F-250 daily driver for the better part of a year. I had an instant case of buyer's remorse seeing as I decided on a three-quarter-ton diesel truck for my commuter. A handful of people showed interest in it, but most were tire-kickers and lowballers—until one of them wasn't. I'd all but given up on selling it, and then a family friend gave me a ring saying he was two miles from my house. He looked it over, drove it, and we shook hands after 20 minutes. The next day, it was gone.
I didn't have anything to replace it, so the dump truck was tapped for daily duty.
For the first week, everything was hunky-dory. I hardly drive anywhere this time of year aside from our family's campground, which is a little less than nine miles from my humble abode. It's as simple as jumping in, making a five-point turn to face the highway, and hitting the asphalt. As a bonus, I can jam out to four or five tunes from The Drive's Official Trucker Song Playlist™ on the way.
The problems started during week two when I made my second-ever trip to the rock quarry for a load of gravel. I was surprised to find I was the only truck there, so I got loaded up and took a few photos (away from the hustling and bustling machinery, of course). There it was, sitting pretty with a hefty load, in its element.
Just moments after I snapped these pictures, I hopped behind the wheel and made it about 50 feet before breaking down. "Whaaaaaaat the hellllll," I think I shouted.
Sure enough, my electric fuel pump "upgrade" had petered out. I turned the key and couldn't hear it priming—it's loud, you'd definitely hear it—so I knew that was the issue. I called the first person I could think of who'd been in this situation once or a hundred times, AKA my dad, who was kind enough to save my stranded would-be gravel-hauler. After 45 minutes and a snarky FaceTime call my with my editor and pal Jerry Perez, my chariot had arrived.
We fixed the truck then and there with nothing more than a screwdriver, wire snips, and electrical tape. I was pleased to find two pieces of grass in the fuel line that fed the pump. Always a good sign.
It started up almost immediately and I went about my day, hauling all five and a half tons 21 miles to the delivery site. Dumping the load was an adventure in and of itself as I was parked downhill in a steep yard, fighting gravity with everything the '66 had. I chocked my wheels and pointed toward the nearest tree to avoid any major damage should a mishap come to be.
With my truck empty and my knuckles still white, I called it a day. Phew.
The next four or five days were drama-free as I put 40-ish more miles on the dump truck. It didn't last long as I was heading back home from the campground after dark when I found the next issue and yet again, it was fuel-related. As luck would have it, it started cutting power on the biggest hill around. I had to baby it up at half-throttle, pushing in on the clutch every so often to make sure it didn't die and send me rolling backward in the pitch-black night. To make matters worse, without the engine supplying juice to my under-cab-mounted brake booster, I have virtually zero stopping power.
This led me to park the truck and, for the better part of a week, my wife and I have been sharing her car. I did take it for a 15-minute test drive on Friday, flogging it up hills at full throttle without issue, so hopefully whatever was stuck in the lines has been purged out. Or, it might be something else entirely. Who's to say. All I know is the problem is intermittent and I can't replicate it unless I'm driving under load, and only sometimes does it pop back up.
As a result, I spent my weekend nights hunting for a cheap daily that'll get me around without issue. Air conditioning would be nice too. Not to worry, though, as I'll still be taking the truck when I can. I just got the two-speed rear-end fixed so now I feel even more like a trucker when bumbling down the road.
Cheers to old trucks, man. This thing still rocks.
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. Send him a note: firstname.lastname@example.org