A couple of months back, when I was laid up, I got word that Bennett’s mother had passed. I met her once during a workday, and she was a real nice lady–she was even kind enough to make us all lunch. Now that her estate is being settled, he’s got to clear out the stuff he’d stored at her place. So he’s divesting himself of all but the essentials: a ’57 Studebaker Golden Hawk has been sold, a ’63 Valiant is still awaiting a buyer, and he’s sorting through the rest of his fleet. Most importantly, he wanted to move his ’53 IH R-110, named Phantom, out of the barn at the farm to his home garage. I’d offered to help months ago, and was looking forward to spending a day getting dirty moving trucks with friends.
First we had to make room, so I met he and Brian at his house to help move stuff from one bay of the garage to the other. I had to be careful not to pick up anything heavy so that I wouldn’t mess up my stomach, which is still healing, but tried to be as helpful as I could. When we had enough space cleared to fit a full-size pickup, we hopped in his brother’s Ford and headed up to the farm.
Upon arrival, we were faced with about 20 years worth of parts storage and cleanout. Actually, he’d already gone through a LOT of the stuff up there and moved, junked or sold it, but there’s still a bunch left. In front of the garage sat a spare R-series frame and bed loaded with parts he’s selling in bulk, so we continued piling stuff into that bed for disposal. Next, we reorganized a spare bed that was sitting on Phantom’s existing bed, spinning it 180 degrees so that it would fit neatly into the raised platform in his garage with the tailgate open.
We strapped that down to the bed and continued moving parts to the back of the Ford when we realized how many spare R-series parts he still had in the garage. I suggested we throw those in the back of Heavy D, which had been parked the farm, and I’d drive that home behind them. Quickly, we filled the beds of the Ford and the IH pickups with priceless 70-year-old sheet metal until there was no more room.
When we finished that, Bennett re-oriented the trailer and we started winching Phantom up onto the bed. This took some time and skill, but Bennett is a pro at this stuff and soon we had the whole thing strapped down and ready to go. Among the stuff he was getting rid of were two clean reclaimed Scout tailcaps and a full-size steel rim, which I grabbed, and he offered me a 25-gallon compressor and a heavy-duty toolchest, all for a price I couldn’t refuse.
When it was time to saddle up, I followed them down the hill and onto 40 in Heavy D, marveling at how different the driving experience in his truck feels. It’s got an identical engine/transmission combo as Peer Pressure, but the engine was built with a hotter cam so the idle is completely different and the transmission feels much smoother. It reminds me a lot of driving my Dad’s old Ford wrecker from our repossession days in terms of ride and steering: the suspension is softer than Peer Pressure (Conestoga wagons are softer than Peer Pressure, to be fair) and the oversized tires made steering something that had to be planned minutes in advance. Still, I loved it. I can’t remember the last time I drove a full-size pickup with butterfly windows, a bench seat, and a CB radio, but it’s been too long.
Returning to his house, we scratched our heads until we came up with a solution for how to get a heavily loaded trailer up the embankment of his driveway without cracking the concrete: we shoved some 2×4’s under the trailer tires to lessen the angle. Once we’d done that, and with a little scraping, Bennett was able to center a 22′ trailer with a longbed Ford in front of his narrow garage door with only two minor adjustments before shutting it down. For reference, this would be as easy as parking the Queen Mary in a phonebooth backwards with an outboard motor.
We used a snatch block around a concrete support pillar to winch the truck backwards off the trailer and got the second bed within inches of the raised platform it would be stored on; then it was a matter of backwoods engineering to jack it high enough to get the edge of the bed onto the lip of the platform. Once we had that done, it was a simple matter of using some 2×4’s to gain leverage and some pushing to get it in place. At this point I had to leave to meet the girls for an appointment up in Pikesville, so I said my goodbyes and cranked the Scout up to meet them there.
After the meeting, when I got in and turned the key to start it, I heard a POP from under the hood, and found that she wouldn’t catch. I added some gas to the carb, filled the tank with the remainder from my rotopax (remember, the gauge is still inoperable) and tried again: no luck. On further inspection, I realized the distributor cap was loose, and realized that the POP had been from gas vapor sneaking back into the distributor from a bad vacuum control diaphragm: when I turned it over, the vapor sparked and lit, popping the cap off and sending the rotor someplace I couldn’t find.
I fooled with it for a while, but was exhausted from the day, and the girls were waiting for me and for dinner. We returned home to eat, and did some investigation online before calling USAA to arrange for a tow back to our local garage. I’d added towing to our coverage a couple of years ago with this very thought in mind. Then I drove back up and waited for the truck to arrive. The guy driving the flatbed was a pro and we quickly got it loaded. I followed him to our neighborhood garage and we dropped it out front with an apologetic note to Jeff, the owner, describing the problem.
This afternoon I talked to Jeff and he’d already found the problem and ordered the part; hopefully it will be fixed sometime tomorrow and I can pick her up on Wednesday morning.