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The Driver’s Seat: Project Truck Parking

The “Wasteland”

May 30, 2017
If you’ve paid attention at all to this column over the past few years, you’ve probably put together the fact that I have owned quite the variety of pickups, among other things. At any given time, I have between five and seven vehicles on my property. To many, this number may not sound like a lot. However, given the fact that Truck Trend, as well as myself, is headquartered in sunny Southern California makes it all the more impressive. You see, land is at a premium out here and it’s certainly not getting any less congested. So when my wife and I, being of the same mindset, set out in search of our latest property, one of the conditions was that it had to have ample parking. This was truly no small task.
Once we found and bought our house, we set to work situating the backyard. We built a fence down the middle that separated our traditional backyard from the other half, which we still affectionately call the “wasteland” to this day. You see, while one side is a perfectly manicured, grassy children’s play area and entertainment space, the other is essentially a dirt lot. Surprisingly to most, this is exactly what we were looking for. While dirt might not be ideal, cement is expensive and dirt doesn’t stain when you drip automotive fluids on it. And before you go off calling the EPA, no, I’m not disposing of oil in the yard, so just get that thought out of your head right now. But, as anyone who has worked on trucks before knows, stuff spills when even the most care is given to prevent it.
Photo 2/3   |   It took two winches and a decent amount of elbow grease to get the dead ¾-ton Chevy off of the trailer and into its current resting spot in the wasteland.
Anyway, our wasteland is awesome given the fact that it provides an oasis for all the dead projects I tend to drag home. Over the years, it has housed the ’98 Mercury Mountaineer I bought for $800 from which to harvest the 5.0L V-8 engine and 4R70W transmission for another project. That engine eventually got built into a 331ci stroker with a SCAT forged rotating assembly, Mahle forged pistons, and AFR heads, among other things. The 4R70W transmission was rebuilt by TCI to handle the added power, and the whole setup was dropped into my desert prerunner. Speaking of, that same off-road truck, a ’99 Ford Ranger, spent a bit of time in the wasteland when it was dragged home from the desert dead on our trailer.
Back in 2012, I was dumb enough to buy an ’85 Ford Ranger with the factory 2.3L diesel engine sight unseen from a person in southern Kansas. It was a good, little truck and made it 1,700 miles back to California with minor drama. One of its biggest issues was a transfer case that would leak all of its fluid out in about three days. Needless to say, it was also relegated to the wasteland when it wasn’t serving commuter duty.
Photo 3/3   |   We pulled the Duramax engine shortly after landing the $3,800 Silverado. By the time you read this, it should be back from the machine shop, complete with Mahle pistons, a Fleece Performance turbo, PPE exhaust manifolds, Freedom Racing Engines heads, an Industrial Injection high-pressure fuel pump, a whole host of ARP fasteners, and much more. Stay tuned.
Currently, the wasteland is playing home to our two Chevy pickups: my wife’s air-bagged, single-cab ’99 S-10 and our ’02 Silverado 2500. There’s actually nothing wrong with the S-10, it just got booted out of the garage in favor of the Ranger. The Silverado, however, was also trailered into the yard dead. We’re halfway through building a fun, but reliable, 600hp Duramax engine for it. Stay tuned for more on this project.
Really, everybody needs a wasteland of his or her own. Without a place to safely work on projects that’s out of sight of the neighbors and neighborhood snitches and doesn’t impede on my sanity, life would be just that much more boring. I really do love my wasteland oasis.
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