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  • Detonation - Diesel Jealousy - Diesel Power Editorial

Detonation - Diesel Jealousy - Diesel Power Editorial

John Lehenbauer
May 25, 2016
Photographers: John Lehenbauer
While I have owned many different tow rigs over the years, none of them were diesel powered. Working with diesel engines definitely showed me what their benefits are, but I ignored those plusses (for reasons that are not quite clear to me today) and stayed with the gasoline sector, whenever I purchased a vehicle that would be used for pulling my trailers.
Sometimes it takes a while to realize change is needed. That revelation hit me like a hard slap in the face about 10 years ago,, while I was cruising down the highway in my old motorhome--trailer loaded with my four-wheel-drive truck, gas cans and firewood in tow--headed to one of my favorite spots in the high desert. The motorhome itself was weighed down with gas, water, food and gear.
As I was driving the road began to get steeper, so I put the throttle down to get a good head of steam for making a strong assault on the approaching hill. The old motorhome was running good as it hit the grade, but she started to slow as the hill continued. Then, as I’m creeping along, I see it in my mirror; a crew cab pickup truck with a huge enclosed trailer, coming up fast. The truck was pulling on me so quickly, I felt like I was parked on the side of the road. As the diesel-powered (I could tell by the smoke and engine noise) rig blew past me, I felt like the locomotive in the children’s book The Little Engine That Could. In the back of my head I could hear: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” while chugging up the hill.
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A new truck like this is what I’d like to have. It would be nice and comfortable, with good looks and lots of power. But, the price tag is way out of my range.
Feeling like a snail while pulling hills just would not cut it any more. I was done plodding along in the slow lane. So I finally started looking more closely at oil burners for towing. Diesel offers more power, longevity, and better fuel economy (compared to a big block gas engine), which are very appealing qualities. Another benefit to consider was that diesel fuel was cheaper than gas was back then. A diesel pickup or motorhome. It did not matter, I wanted something. And with that, the hunt to find it was on.
Keep in mind at this point; I was not looking at one particular type of vehicle or brand. The Ford, Chevrolet, GMC or Dodge nameplates did not matter to me as much as what the truck could offer. Prices also were all over the place, with a good pickup going for $10,000, and the cost of a solid motorhome starting at $100,000. I couldn’t afford a brand new pickup, and I definitely wasn’t going to be able to come up with $100,000, so I turned my attention to used pickup trucks.
I did extensive research (talked to owners, read reviews, and took rides whenever the opportunity presented itself), and I wanted to make the most informed decision that I could, when it came time to purchase the truck. I needed to know if one type of pickup or engine had better factory and aftermarket support than the others. Maybe there was something I would like better about one over another. There’s a lot that goes into making the right choice.
I did enough research to know what would work for me and what I would like. It had to be a diesel (of course), crew cab, automatic transmission, with four-wheel drive. The truck would also need to be clean, with low mileage. Of course, every one of the items added to the price tag of the truck. And, I also had to keep in mind the fact that whatever I bought would have a stock engine that I wouldn’t be able to leave alone. It would need a boost in power, right? So a cold-air intake, turbo-back exhaust and a programmer loaded with tunes would be must-have parts. Well, with the combined cost of the vehicle and parts , it didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to save some money. Selling the old motorhome would help, but not enough for me to buy the truck I wanted.
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This older diesel-powered truck is more like the type of rig I can probably afford to buy. But, I’ll have to do a bunch of work on it to make it a pickup that satisfies my wants and needs. I’m not feeling it. I guess I’ll keep looking.
Today, I don’t think I have any more money than I did 10 years ago, and I still don’t have a truck. The motorhome is also long gone. It’s funny how life can sometimes get in the way of obtaining the things we want. I haven’t given up on getting a diesel truck, though. Working here at Diesel Power has provided me with the opportunity to see so many amazing pickups that I’m really fired up to get something. I totally dig the new rigs with all the power and comfort they have. I also have opportunities to drive them now, which makes me want one even more. But, I don’t see that happening. An older truck is probably more realistic for me. It wouldn’t be too bad starting with an earlier platform and focus on doing budget-minded upgrades. Maybe I’ll get the bug to build a custom, one-off diesel-powered truck or SUV. Who knows?
Well, I guess all I can do right now is keep moving forward and working towards my goal: adding something diesel powered to my stable.
John
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