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Monday, July 20, 2009

HOM: Transport

Jerry bought a good used Ford Econoline van, white, with a six cylinder engine and manual (three-on-the-tree) transmission for his show trips. It gave him plenty of room for books and a place to camp if he wanted or needed to. After he died, Huz Jensen bought it for Books West. Since I had a few problems with my Datsun pickup, I eventually spent a little money on fixing it up. I bought a used 2000cc engine and an attached 5-speed transmission in Missoula and had Dave McCoy swap out the original 1600cc/4-speed the truck came with. This combo gave me a lot more power without costing me much in mileage, giving me 22mpg whether I was doing 65mph down the highway or 10mph up in the boonies. I pulled out the bench seat and put in a pair of comfy bucket seats I found in a small car at Wisher's wrecking yard. I had Dave build a spare tire carrier that mounted on the rear bumper and installed an extra gas tank on the frame under the truck bed where the spare had been. The factory tank held twelve gallons and this one held eighteen, so that gave me a range that exceeded 600 miles. I mounted the cross-over valve in the cab and put an electric fuel pump and pressure regulator under the hood. This setup made transferring gas to a can easy -- attach a long rubber tube to the outlet of the pump, stick the far end into whatever you needed gas in, and turn the key on. And wait: sometimes it took a while. I installed air shocks to level the truck -- I was tired of illuminated tree tops and dark roads when I had a load of books aboard. The shocks simplified things -- check the rear bumper height, load the books, put air into the valve on the bumper until it was back up to its original level, and start driving. I bought a scanner from Dan Kraut, MHP 151, and mounted it under the dash. Combined with the CB, it was quite helpful in avoiding tickets and furnishing entertainment. We bought a trailer that had been made from a Datsun pickup of the same color and vintage as my truck. We put a used S&S topper on it that nearly matched the one on the truck and it made for a cute and handy combo. Putting a lot of the books in the trailer let me carry more and have room to sleep in the truck. This was quite handy at the shows where we had three tables and room for a big display. It was parked next to my Datsun at the farm when a friend's young son saw it and asked how I broke my truck in half. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)