"Stealth" is now at the cage builder. My son and I delivered the car yesterday noon-ish and it will hopefully be coming home December 20th.
But rewind a week and a day and I had no truck, no trailer, a car that wasn't ready for the cage builder and a busy three day work week.
Last Saturday morning I was truck shopping. I had been going back and forth between buying a combo tow vehicle / family vehicle or buying a cheaper, junky truck that would solely be for towing. I was looking mostly at 2008-2010 Chevy Suburbans and GMC Yukons for the combo deal. The 1/2 Suburbans have a tow rating of 7100 or 8100 lbs depending on the rear end ratio, but most are rated at 7100 lbs.
I'd been looking for Suburbans for almost a month and wasn't having much lucking finding one that was <100,000 miles, <$20,000 and had a clean carfax. Also, the Suburban was always going to be a compromise, a not very good tow vehicle (only 7100 lbs, integrated bumper/hitch, not enough torque, bad mpgs) and a not very good family vehicle (higher miles, no sliding doors, bad mpgs) compared to our minivan. So last Saturday I started looking for a cheap ($7000 and under) 3/4 ton+ truck that would be strictly for towing.
So here's how the story goes:
Saturday - Nov. 22nd
Find a 2003 F-250 Powerstroke on Craigslist. Uhhh....this one actually 2003 Ford F-250 Diesel 130k
A friend who is a Dodge fan thought I could find a cummins for the same price but I hadn't seen one of any sort under $10,000 on CL for some time. Anyway, found this truck (dodge 2500 ram cummins QUAD CAB
) which seemed like a decent deal and had been for sale for a couple weeks.
So I drove 130 miles round trip to see the 2000 Dodge Cummins. It was in decent shape, but it didn't run especially well until warmed up and the guy didn't have paperwork for the injection pump or the transmission. Those are two things on the 1998.5-2002 Cummins that would have had to have been changed at least one time in a truck with ~240k miles.
I offered the guy $5900, one thousand dollars per liter. He scoffed, said his bottom dollar was $6500. I upped my offer to $6200. He didn't accept so we went our separate ways.
I went home, took my kids to a church free day care thing, and took my wife to a movie (something we almost never do).
That night I continued preparing the car for the cage builder, I needed to pull the dash out, remove some other interior stuffs, take the a/c out, etc. etc. Meanwhile one of my buddies in Ohio who is also a Cummins fan started surfing NC craigslists for other trucks.
He found a brown turd of a 1998.5 Dodge Ram 2500 that was listed for $6000 that had 40k less miles than the one I had just looked at, had a rebuilt transmission, and had some nice aftermarket parts. It had been listed for 18 days so I didn't think it would still be available, but I texted the guy, he still had the truck, and I tentatively set up a time to see it on Sunday.
Sunday - Nov. 23rd
Went to breakfast with my Cousin and her fiancee, who were in town from Kansas City. After breakfast I confirmed the guy was available to see the brown turd truck and set up a time. The truck was ~2+ hours away (230 mile round trip). Killed most of a day seeing the truck, it was in decent shape and the guys seemed reasonably honest. It ran better than the 2000 I'd driven the day before, but the interior and body were in worse condition. I asked the guy what is bottom line was and he said $5500. I told him I was pretty interested at that price, but I would sleep on it.
Went back home and continued working on the car.
Monday - Nov. 24th
Work a full day, and consult with my Cummins friends. They both think it's an alright deal so I text the guy telling him I wanted to buy it, and we set up a time Tuesday morning for me to pick up the truck.
Monday night I continue working on the car and start to try to figure out a trailer for the weekend.
Tuesday - Nov. 25th
Took 1/2 day of vacation in the morning, drove to pick up the truck with my wife and kids, another 230 mile round trip. Get to his credit union to pay off his lien and find out the title isn't actually there but at their main office in Raleigh. Leave with the truck and no title. Drive back home with the truck, and work the rest of the day. Spend Tuesday night working on the car some more.
Wednesday - Nov. 26th
Work most of a full day. The guy's bank sends the title to the branch office for him to sign and mail to me. They won't notarize the title because I'm not there. I call the head NC DMV office and confirm only the sellers signature needs to be notarized. Their stupid notary still won't sign the title. So we agree to meet halfway between in Rockingham to do the title work. I leave work a little early and drive 90 miles round trip to get the stupid title, and am happy to find out I am able to get the truck tagged and title all at once.
So Wednesday night I have a tagged, and titled truck and it's looking like I might have a chance of actually getting the car to the cage builder in Akron, OH by Sunday.
Wednesday night = more work on prepping the car.
Thursday - Nov. 27th
Spend most of the day drinking wine and helping my wife make Thanksgiving. Also get some time to work on the car.
Friday - Nov. 28th
My wife has a couple photo shoots scheduled Friday morning so I have to daddy-day-care it while picking up towing supplies. I still don't have a trailer lined up but finally my neighbor across the street is available to ask about borrowing his trailer. Find out his trailer is too narrow for a car and hasn't had much if any maintenance in the last 10 years. Run to the UHaul down the street and rent a car hauler. After rounding up a trailer, we drive 70 miles round trip (in the new truck) to get a Christmas tree. We kill a couple of hours at the Christmas tree farm. I get home and start freaking out because I still have 6+ hours of work to do on the car and we needed to leave at like 9AM Saturday morning.
I do as much as I can getting the car ready and finally get to bed at like 1AM.
Saturday - Nov. 29th
Wake up Saturday, my wife has some more photo sessions and I still have a few last minute things to do on the car and need to load it up. Check the oil in the truck, that was the extent of my preparation for a ~1100+ mile tow.
Load the car, some clothes, and my 3.5 year old son in the truck and head towards Ohio. We leave about 10AM.
Drive from Waxhaw, NC to Raymond, OH.
It looked like this:
Get to my friends house in Raymond, OH (about 1000 yards from where I used to work) about 7PM and have Thanksgiving with his family.
Averaged 17.5mpg towing the car and trailer through the mountains of VA and WV. Truck does mostly perfect. It's loud on the highway because it lacks a muffler, but other than that it tows really, really well. Did 500 miles on Saturday, truck never complained, my son never complained, etc. etc.
Sunday - Nov. 30th
Sunday morning check out my buddies recently LS-swapped Chevy S10 and his ~7 year old daughter bombs around his place with my son in her new 150cc SxS.
Hop back in the truck and drive 2.5 hours from Raymond, OH to the cage shop in Akron, OH. Drop the car off, tell the cage builder all of the extras I want him to do, and then hop back in the truck towing an empty trailer.
We get some lunch
and start back towards North Carolina.
505 miles down I-77. Truck never complained once, my son never complained once. He was a road-tripping machine. 18 hours in the truck over a 36 hour period. He never whined, complained, got bored, anything the entire way. Truck gets 19.0 mpg towing the empty UHaul trailer back through the mountains.
Hit lots of traffic on I-77. I think there were four accidents in a 20 mile span just south of the WV border. Finally get home about 11pm last night. Dump the trailer back at the UHaul place down the street.
So in one week I:
Bought a truck
Did 20+ hours of prep work on the Prelude
Drove something like 1875 miles between truck shopping, getting a Christmas tree, and getting the car to the cage builder.