When I started my small business all I had was an entirely gutless 4 cylinder Acura, with zero storage ability and even less towing capacity. Knowing that I needed the ability to tow and haul a plethora of wood and metal, the search for a truck began.
Being extremely frugal (read: broke) and wary of taking on $35,000 in new truck debt, I had to search for other options. The used truck market was and is pretty abysmal: 15 year old trucks with 200,000+ miles for $7,000 seemed to be the norm. I had a few problems with this option as well:
1: How reliable will a 200k mile truck be?
2. I don’t have $7,000
3. I don’t want someone else’s head ache
The only option I had left was to lift myself up by my boot straps, gather my knowledge as the grandson of a Ford engineer, and search for a headache of my own!
The first order of business was to setup a Craigslist alert for Ford F150 Trucks under $1000(did I mention I was from a Ford family?). Within a few days I received a hit that looked like a solid foundation for my build: a “totaled” 1997 F150 XLT. It had 125,000 miles, with a V8 and towing package for $500. Slight problem: the truck was essentially destroyed after colliding with a fire hydrant, a telephone pole, and apparently a tree, in that order. The front driver’s side wheel was torn off in the crash, taking with it the entire hub, brakes, and suspension. BUT the truck would run and drive with the front side on a wheeled dolly. Easy, right?
Getting the full-sized 3-wheeler back to my house proved difficult in and of itself. Using some handy jack work, (three jacks if we’re being honest) we were able to drive the truck onto a flatbed trailer in a physics defying 4,000 pound balancing act.
With the drivetrain taken care of, I had to search for the other half of the project: a non-running F150 with the body parts I needed. I found what I needed after a few short days: 1998 Standard Cab F150 with a bad engine for $600. SCORE!
Using the same borrowed flat bed trailer I finally had both of my trucks in one spot, with Parker doing the over-watch.
Total Invested: $1100
The doors, fenders, bumper, grille, sub-frame, suspension, and brakes all had to be swapped from the white truck to the black one and, viola, I had a running work truck!
Living up to it's parts donor destiny, the white truck's excess parts were sold to a tune of $1400. Woot, woot, our truck budget is at a surplus!
Total Invested: Profit of $300
Well the truck runs great and all, but we can't leave well enough alone! Bertha, the cow, needs a paint job, and something else to give her that special something: a little more practicality and a lot more uniqueness.
We had to jump in with both feet; personal projects such as this tend to get pushed to the side until they fall off the face of the Earth. Not this time! Drastic times call for drastic measures, so we drove to the scrap yard, unbolted the bed and had the crane yank it off and destroy it in front of our eyes.
When designing the truck bed, Atlanta parking had to be taken into account. After some brain storming, a rounded short bed was the solution to parallel parking. Now that Bertha doesn't look like a dairy cow, she was dubbed "The City 150".
Test fitting of the flat bed posed an engineering hurdle. Using an engine hoist and a few ratchet straps, I rigged a system to suspend the bed frame while the truck was backed under it. With all of the dimensions dialed in, the rough cut white oak had to be laid in and coated. The oak and metal for the bed was mostly scrap and it cost us right at $200 in paint, metal and finished wood.
Total Invested: Surplus of $100
The truck was shortened by almost a foot, and the harsh angles at the edges of the bed were gone; parking became a breeze. The shortness did however pose an issue with inattentive drivers (texters and tailgaters!!) while materials were over hanging the bed.
The solution to carrying long materials? Scrap metal roof rack. With the remaining $100 in our truck budget we framed off the truck bed and cab. This gave us a sturdy, out of the way solution to transporting materials.
Despite a nonexistent budget, Parker and I needed a work truck to pal around in. Be sure to wave if you see us cruising around the A, and stay tuned for next week's blog where we build a ukulele from scratch for my lovely lady's birthday present!