Sunday, June 08, 2008

My "New" Truck

I am to be driving a 2007 International 9900i Eagle we just got in. It has 132k miles, a 475hp Cat ACERT motor, thirteen speed, and 3.90 rears on tall rubber. The boss bought it over the internet, and actually isn't very happy with it. It was really sold to us as a slick truck, but when it got here, it's obvious it had been rode hard and put away wet. It was more than likely a repo where the delinquent owners ran the tar out of it without much maintenance.

Mostly the problems are appearance related - it came from Pennsylvania and already has a lot of tin worm damage. Most things are minor, but show that the truck was rarely washed to remove the road salt. Since we run in Colorado a lot, we wash our trucks as soon as possible after running in the corrosive slop. This one - not really. But, we'll clean it up. This picture is not my truck - it's just one I found on the internet. It is an Eagle, which mine is, and it has dual stainless air cleaners like mine. My bumper is stainless rather than chrome. It's also called "red," but it's one of those colors that changes when the light falls on it - it has hints of orange and a bit of a burned look.

The pictured truck would not work for us - we require the fuel tanks to be mounted under the cab. Steps are nice, and it's nice to have the tank out in the open, but a crane cannot be mounted over the tanks. There is no place for the outriggers, for instance. Even with the tanks mounted forward, there is a laundry list of preparation for this truck. The battery box had to be moved forward on the frame. The stacks were removed so the support brackets could be sandblasted and repainted. The aluminized exhaust under the stacks has been cut out and will be replaced because of rust damage. The stacks themselves are too tall and have to be cut down. Sometimes you have to swing the boom over the top of the stacks when setting a tank, so having a cool looking tall stack in the way limits the flexibility of the truck. The crane we are mounting is the one I've had on two other trucks. It is lighter and not as stout as our other cranes. Our heavier cranes generally require we order the truck, because they need a double frame to handle the stress. This crane isn't that heavy, so a regular single frame will work. Plus, they have over sixty grand in this one, and would like to continue to utilize it. Another incentive is the prices have exploded due to steel costs and delivery from Italy. I'm sure this crane is blowing past the eighty grand mark now, and the price will only go up.

I mentioned the truck was on tall rubber. It wasn't originally. We told them we needed tall gripper rubber on the drivers. They obviously took them off another truck and put them on this one. The aluminum wheels look like crap. The salesman who was so positive about the truck suddenly stopped taking my boss's calls, so he contacted the owner. It turns out they have a fifty thousand dollar machine that automatically polishes wheels, and it wasn't used here. He was not happy with his salesman. Actually, we are of the opinion the pictures on the internet were of a different truck because the one they saw was definitely fire engine red. This one is not. They may be shipping us some freshly polished wheels and we'd send them the crummy ones back. We'll see. No one in our area has a wheel polishing machine.

We also have to take it to a Cat shop - it's gonna get an overhead run and get turned up to 550hp. If they didn't change the speedometer settings for the different wheel sizes, we'll have that done as well. We're gonna add some goodies, too.

It has to have chicken lights. It already has a strip under the cab, but not any on the air cleaner. This is what I hope we will be getting - the lights match what is under the cab.

This is the alternative. I think they look better, but they don't match. "My" truck also has the stainless fairing shown that hides the air intake hose.
The "office." No one has "messed with" the dash on this truck. I am not a fan of dash customization at all. All the chrome gewgaws are lost on me. It's like the kids who want to "stand out from the crowd" by wearing their pants around their ankles, showing their underwear. They now look like gang wannabes, just like all the other gang wannabes. Nothing new under the sun.

Most of you have no idea what I'm talking about as far as chrome goodies go, so I'll try to illustrate.

This is an example of park brake knobs. There is a more ball shaped knob available as well. The sticker can be color coordinated to the truck - there are several colors available, so a red truck can have a red sticker. Notice the font. I have no idea what it is, but most truck goodies use that font - the "classy cursive" for gearheads, I guess.

This is an example of a gauge appliqué. This one would obviously be for an amperage gauge. There are appliqués for just about any gauge function and size of the face. There are chrome rings with eyelids available. The screws holding the dash panels can be covered with snap on chrome buttons. HVAC vents, normally black plastic, can be replaced with chrome plastic units. Then there are switch covers and extensions. Most trucks use toggle switches that are short throw and have a relatively short shaft. Extensions that have color coordinated ends can be installed. I actually like them on the jake brake switches, because since they are longer, they hang out further and can be found in the dark a lot easier. But every switch? Not so much. The corn binders (Internationals) use paddle switches, and there are extensions available for them as well. If you look at the picture closely, you can see the paddle switches and their bezels as well. Of course, there are snap on chrome bezel covers available.

Anywhere you want to slather chrome, someone has if for sale. It all more or less matches. So, someone wants to "customize" their truck and loads up (at about four to six bucks each for all these little goodies, unless you get a "package" deal) on the goodies has a truck that looks just like all the other truck stop junky's interiors. The degree of add ons may be different, but the look is still the same - all the same font, all the same style, and all the same functional difference - which is none. I don't care for a load of chrome reflecting back to the ol' eyeballs during the day. Most trucks these days come with chrome bezels on their gauges, and I don't even care for that. I'd prefer flat black bezels, thank you very much. Dust is harder to clean off gauge faces with appliqués. It's harder to clean around the screw button covers. Invariably, one of the snap on covers disappears, and you have to buy a whole "kit" to replace one cover.

So, to be "different," you have to be just like everyone else who wants to be "different." True custom interiors are handmade and don't come out of little bags from truckstop pegboards. I'm not real sure I'd like some of the custom interiors I've seen on the pimping my truck shows, either. Wooden floors,neon, and wild colors aren't going to be very handy out in bad weather, or even just day to day wear. Most trucks have has a bit of study in the science of ergonomics and have fairly comfortable and usable interiors. I'm just not in favor of things that don't help functionality.

One of the things I'll probably take off this truck is some bumper guides. They are long chrome sticks that are mounted on the outside edge of the front bumper. The idea is the corner of the truck is more easily located because it does make it easier to judge distances with a stick right there to compare to whatever you are trying to maneuver around. But, they vibrate going down the road, which I find distracting and annoying. Salt attacks the wiring (they all have little lights at the top), and the bulbs are usually difficult to find and burn out fairly regularly (re: vibration). It's just one more thing to keep up and running. Some DOT inspector types are pretty rigid on lighting - if you put it on, it had better work, even if it isn't stock or required. If you have a bunch of add ons, and half of the stuff is missing or doesn't work, it really draws the attention of someone looking to find things that aren't working on your truck. They see that the chicken lights aren't working, or you are missing chrome hubcaps or nut covers, and they wonder what else you have let slide by - like maybe brakes, tires or other essential equipment. Trucks that have the clean, kept up look aren't bothered as much. Which is why, when this happened, I was johnny on the spot replacing the chrome nut covers that were destroyed.

I'm not totally against some mods. There are several truckstop goodies I've found I really like over the years. One I can't live without is a denim seat "cover" that slips over the top of the passenger seat, and has a front flap that is full of pockets. I keep my logbook, paperwork, side safety shields for glasses, motel books, extra pens - well, you get the idea. Most day cab trucks just don't have handy storage areas for all the items I just listed. Glove boxes are small and hard to reach while driving. Trucks with big sleepers have a lot of storage - but it isn't accessible while on the move.

One of the trucks I drove had a roll up sunscreen for the driver's side. Most visors are woefully inadequate for unlatching and using on the side window. This little puppy mounts above the window and is similar to a home rollup window shade, albeit with a perforated surface so it can bee seen through. I may have to rip off that little goodie - that truck is going to be sold.

Of course I have to put in my "big" CB radio and my XM unit. I'll be putting in the little DC cooler I carry as well.

One more thing that has to be done is the truck has to go to Wichita to Nadine. I've looked all over the web for any info about her, but there is nothing available. It isn't surprising. She is an old school commercial pinstriping artist. I doubt the internet attracts her interest. Our new trucks are handed over to her for the company lettering and a fairly conservative striping job. We chose the font, but we let her do what she pleases as far as colors and striping ideas. It is always tastefully done. She has been around for years, and many trucks in KS, NE, OK and MO have seen her tender ministrations. I met her back in the nineties at a truck dealership in Hutchinson. She was a bit of a biker chick - the clue was the fairly ratty early sixties Chevy pickup adorned with a ton of HD stickers. At any rate, she is an artiste, and we like her work.

So, when all this work is done, I'll have to break out the real camera and take some pics.


Bob's Blog said...

I'll be loooking for you on I-70. I usually drive a 98 Chevy Metro, with a baby or some toddlers in the back, so please don't run over me.

Jeffro said...

Snork! I'll do my best!

Anonymous said...

all this hoopla about a truck and you dont even post a picture of the actual truck? Have you even really seen it??