May 2007 On The Floor - Breaking The Rules
I hear a lot of clichs used to describe people who are addicted to building their trucks. You've probably heard them before, too. Most often the will to customize your truck is regarded as a disease. This is because people often hook up their trucks without regard for the financial or personal implications that may arise afterward. It's as if you can't help yourself. I've got the same problem. I just deal with it a little bit differently than some of you.
A few days before Christmas, I was standing in front of the counter of a local parts supplier called Kartek Off-Road. You might be wondering what I was doing at an off-road shop. The answer is simple. This place sells everything you need to build a sport truck for on- or off-road adventures. Anything needed to fabricate chassis and suspension components is right at your fingertips when you walk into the showroom. I go there a lot to buy mounting tabs, gussets, and things like that. Anyway, I was standing there about to break a rule my wife and I have about not buying ourselves stuff before the holidays. The guy helping me empty the old wallet was very nice. He offered peanut brittle while entering my order into his computer. I declined his offer of crunchy, peanutty goodness, because if I was going to break the rules, I should at least try to stay fit when I gave the bad news to my wife that I just had to buy shocks for the '67 three days before Christmas.
These weren't any ordinary shocks, mind you, and I really did need to buy them right then and there. Really. I had not worked on my truck in more than a month, because I had gotten lazy, and when I realized that I was going to have a few days off from work over the holidays, I suddenly felt the urge to make some much-needed progress on my shop ornament. I suppose I should have waited to purchase those shiny new Fox reservoir dampers until after the holiday, or at the very least, I could have bought them after I finished shopping for my wife. Yeah, I could have and should have done that. But, I just happened to leave my office and drive 20 miles eastward on my lunch break to a taco stand I'd never tried, and it just so happened to be 3 miles from Kartek, so it made perfect sense to buy some new shocks that day. I mean why should I waste more expensive fuel to go back there after the holidays? That would be crazy.
Back to the extraordinary shocks and why I needed them. I've owned a lot of trucks with air suspensions, and none of them rode very well. Sure, they motivated my trucks up off the pavement when rolling, and back onto Mother Earth when parked, and I'm fully aware that is the point of such things, but these suspensions never handled high-speed turns or rough stretches of road very well. Watching one of my 'bagged trucks drive down the freeway with no sway bars and shocks that I got from Auto Zone was akin to watching one of the Fat Boys (For those of you who are too young to know who they are, I'll tell you-they were a hip-hop group from the '80s. They even had their own movie, called Disorderlies. Go buy it for a few bucks on Amazon.com)-doing the Cabbage Patch dance. Every bump in the road sent my trucks into an unruly up, down, and side-to-side movement, as the inferior shocks struggled to damp the movement of the airbags. It was a situation I settled for in my youth because looking cool was more important than having a safe truck to pilot, but these days I ask a little more of my vehicles.
When I finally make the '67 road-worthy again, I want it to sit flat on the ground and then handle like a slot car when I hit the switches to rise up to roll. I want to have my cake and eat it, too. I know that buying off-the-shelf shocks that don't offer adjustable compression and rebound rates won't cut the proverbial mustard, so I went to Kartek to purchase shocks that I could re-valve, if necessary, and rebuild later on when I wore them out.
I was just going to run in, buy those slick, satin-bodied dampers of all things rough and get back to work, so I could earn more money to buy my wife stuff she wanted. Really. While Mr. Salesman was typing away at his keyboard, he threw a wrench into my plans. He slyly asked me if I wanted the optional chrome shock bodies for my shiny new Fox shocks. I pondered this for a millisecond, while another customer nibbled on peanut brittle. I never realized I could turn my utilitarian shocks into customized showpieces that might score a few more points at a truck show, so I screamed out, "Yes, my man!" without really thinking that the other manly men in the vicinity would look strangely upon me. They did look strangely upon me. And with that, Mr. Salesman produced four long, white boxes containing my prize.
He opened the boxes to make sure I was happy with the merchandise the way a fake Rolex watch dealer would open his jacket pocket to perspective buyers on Canal Street in New York City. The shocks glistened brightly beneath the fluorescent lighting, striking a glow onto the plastic container of peanut brittle nearby. I could picture the shocks already bolted into the tubular control arms and custom mounts I had yet to create for my truck. Mr. Salesman shut the boxes and handed me a receipt for my purchase and even offered to help carry my treasure outside. I declined and proudly hoisted the boxes onto my shoulder, glancing at the receipt as I walked toward the entrance of the store.
As I got to the door, the realization of what I was doing set in. The boxes suddenly became really heavy as my brain processed the fact that I had just spent $864 on shocks for my truck three days before Christmas. I stopped, set the boxes down, and calmly walked back to the counter. I didn't say anything to Mr. Salesman. I didn't punk out and try to return my new shocks out of fear of the wrath that might await me at home that night. My wife is Italian, which means she's spunky, but I'm not afraid of her. I wouldn't lie to her either, so she would definitely know what I did when I came home. No, I didn't crumble under the weight of my actions. I simply grabbed two handfuls of peanut brittle, turned, and left with my shocks. I was going to need all the energy I could get. As I drove back to work, I thought to myself: My truck is going to be sick! I'm also going to have to visit the mall one more time for Wifey before Christmas day. See you next month.