This is going to be a long read so get yourself a comfy spot and snuggle in.
We took advantage of presidents day weekend and traveled from Grants Pass Oregon to Lancaster California to pick up our parts vehicle, a 2008 F450 4wd. Obviously I needed axles but we needed wheels because they're a different pattern than what the HD has and I was contemplating the possibility of using the entire F450 suspension and I really wanted that 40 gallon rear fuel tank.
About now you're probably wondering why and the heck didn't he just buy axles and parts locally? Well that is because of parts cost. I can find a set of axles for right around $2000 here but I can't find the rest of the parts and pieces without spending quite a bit more and everybody seems to want around a $100 a wheel, He was initially asking $4000 for the truck and there was no way that I was going to pay that plus have to drive down there. I got him down to half the cost which made it appealing to us.
A running truck in this kind of shape that has a flat bed Is somewhere in the neighborhood of $15000 to start. I searched and searched for a 4 wheel drive parts truck here and I couldn't find it. This one has the exact gear ratio that I was looking for, 4.30, and was a factory limited slip. A very rare combination from everything that I've seen. The 4.88 is much more common but the future plans include an Allison A1000 6 speed and a Cummins and the Cummins really prefers taller gears to get mpg. This combination with a 245 tire will be just over 1800 rpm at 70 mph.
So now that we've got the WTF were they thinking out of the way, its time to take a little trip, well make that a 1464 mile trip. Google says that Lancaster is 703 miles and about 11 hours. Google obviously wasn't along on this trip!
We left our house around 5:30 in the morning and headed to Central Point, OR because fuel was about 40 cents a gallon cheaper there. This was actually the cheapest fuel of the trip at $4.29 a gallon. We also took 6 fuel cans with us that we filled up while we were there. We rolled out of there about 6:30 in the morning with spirits high! We started cruising up the Siskiyou mountains and it was a gorgeous start to the day. The truck was running good as we came over the top of the hills with the exception of a minor little miss that made me suspicious of the PMD. The PMD is essentially the electronic Ignition control module for the Standyne injection pump on a 6.5. The PMD is one of the things that is recommended to always carry as a spare with this lovely engine platform. Guess what? I didn't have a spare and it came back to bite me in the butt.
We stopped in Yreka California at our favorite crackhead market to get out and stretch. By now it was close to 8 o'clock and part stores were starting to open. Autozone was right on the other side of the crackhead market so we walked on over there and asked about a PMD. No luck whatsoever. No biggie we just wanted one as a spare anyway but O'reilly's was right up the street so we tried them as well. They had one available in their hub store, which was in Stockton. Stockton was only a couple 100 miles away but hey I wanted one as a spare so no big deal. We tried calling Nampa and they had the same issue except there's was in Sacramento. Sacramento one was a little bit closer but it was also about a $100 more expensive. We called O'Reilly's in Stockton and ordered up a PMD. Back on the road again and spirits are still high.
Write about the time that we got to Redding California we started having more engine missing issues. Still suspecting the PM decided to try something. I had several towels and I took one of them and wrapped it around the PMD and soaked it in cold water. Sure enough the experiment had merit because after that it quit missing for a while. We would drive until it would start to miss and we would pull out our "laundry" from under the hood and soak it down again.
We stopped for a first planned diesel stop in Corning California at the Indian casino. We certainly could have gone much longer of a distance but this was a good time for us to get out and stretch and it was also a good time to get the 1st initial fill up to have an idea of what kind of fuel mileage we were getting. A whopping 9.2 mpg. Um, yea? Um, no. We did the laundry again and took off. Spirits still high!
Then problems. Massive shut down while passing a semi truck. Oh crap. We had only gone 10 minutes down the road. Changing plans! We hit the next exit that had a convenience store and we bought a bag of ice. We then stacked multiple wet towels with ice all of the way around the PMD. This allowed us to go half an hour at a time without having misfires. We also called Sacramento and ordered up the PMD from Napa.
We limped into Napa excited to have the parts that we needed to take care of the truck. Unfortunately Napa's parking lot doesn't allow for turning around with a trailer. That meant that we had no choice but to back out when the time came, yea. We walked inside to find out that they hadn't even bothered to go over to the distribution center to get the PMD yet. Wonderful, just freaking wonderful. Well, it was lunchtime so we wandered on over to a teriyaki chicken place and had some good lunch while we waited on parts. The guy finally comes Back from the distribution center with my parts! But wait, on the outside of the box is clearly written Napa new return… ominous? Yep.
I had brought many tools just in case but it never fails that the tool that you need is not the one that you brought and guess what, I needed Allen wrenches. I was willing to buy a set from Napa but the guy at the counter couldn't figure out where they were at. They were however nice enough to loan me a set that they had so that that way I could swap the PMD in the parking lot. I noted that the size that I needed was 7/64.
My wonderful beautiful wife did a great job of stopping traffic so I could go ahead and back out into the street with the trailer. Now appointed South spirits were high? Concerns over Napa new return...
The truck was finally running good and we wanted to check out a little store in Coalinga California, We went inside and had a good time but when we came back out the truck didn't want to start. Still suspicious of Napa new return I know I decided to unplug the PMD and plug it back in. It started. Hmmm. We stopped again in Kettleman City at Bravo Farms to show my wife this cool little store. We had a blast at the shooting gallery. All of the delays made us behind, it was now 8pm and we'd planned on being in a hot tub in Lancaster about now. The truck started beautifully. Spirits up!
Just North of the Grapevine mountains it started acting like there was a fuel issue. The roads had recently gone to crap and I thought that maybe a bunch of crap had gotten picked up from the bottom of the fuel tank and plugged the filter. It was time for dinner anyway so we pulled over and grabbed some dinner and check out the fuel filter. Admittedly I hadn't checked the fuel filter since we owned the truck so this was my bad. The fuel filter was a bit dirty but not horrible so I hosed it out with some break clean and put it back in. To get it out you unscrew it from the fuel filter manager. I didn't have large enough channel locks but I did have a long pry bar and a hammer. A few whacks and she started to rotate. I'd tried to find one at Napa but they didn't have one in in stock or in the distribution center. The truck seemed to run good there in the parking lot so we felt confident about hitting the grade going up the Grapevine mountains.
We got about a 1/3 of the way up and it acted like fuel again. Just a loss of power, not missing and then dies. Pull over, wait for a minute and it will refire. At this point I'm thinking that there is crud floating around in the tank plugging up the sock on the pickup. Then it dies and won't restart. The truck is right on the white line BARELY off of the freeway. I cleaned the filter again but it was clean. I unplugged the PMD and plugged it back in. No luck. I tried shaking the truck to potentially slosh whatever was on the pickup off of it. Can you imagine driving up a mountain pass seeing some lunatic pushing on the side of a truck? Yep, I'm that lunatic. I told my sweetie that if we could get it started that we were going to the closest fuel station so we could dilute the fuel as much as possible. We had just over 3/4 of a tank as it was so I didn't have high hopes. Miraculously after shaking the baby it started!
We are now driving 20 mph trying to keep the rpm down to keep the sock from plugging while sawing the wheel back and forth hoping to clear the sock. The truck was also surging. We finally got to a fuel station and rejoiced! We topped off, used the pooper, grabbed some water and headed towards the desert. The surging was gone. Spirits are fair considering.
About half way between I5 and Lancaster our old friend Mr. Dead on the road was back. Same symptoms, no power and dies. It died right in front of a crusty closed store and I whipped in at speed so we wouldn't be on the side of the road. We did the usual waiting period and it started so I turned on the headlights and noticed no dash lights, look in the mirror and no lights on the trailer. Wonderful. I played with the headlight switch with no luck. Yea. I kicked on the flashers and hit the road. Surging is back. Wonderful. Wait a second! Flashers off, no surging! Flashers on anndddd, surging. Really? My freaking trailer brakes are activating with the flashers! So now no tail lights, dash lights or flashers.
About 12 miles from our hotel (with the hot tub now closed) the truck dies hard. Like John McClane hard. It won't restart. 20 minutes goes by. Nothing. As a last ditch Hail Mary I plug in the bad PMD and she lights right off! Now I have a problem though, it is supposed to be mounted to a heat sink and my Napa new return is mounted there securely held in place with those Allen head screws that I don't have the tools for. I also know that heat kills PMDs (like Hans Gruber) so I break out the towels and water again and soak the beast down. I decide to drive 3 minutes and check my laundry. Dang, almost dry where the PMD is touching the towel. Rinse and repeat, quite literally, all of the way to the hotel.
It is now after 1am and I sent my wife to check it while I check the headlight switch. The miracle fix of unplug and replug gets me my lights back. Figures. They wouldn't let my wife check in because I was the one who made the reservations. Grrrr. When writing down the description of the vehicle I wrote "busted a$$ truck". Finally crawled into bed at 1:30am and tried to find another PMD while laying in bed. No luck.
The next day was planned to be loading the F450 at 8am but I had truck issues to deal with so I was up at 5:30 got ready and headed to Wally World to finally buy some Allen wrenches. Trying to find an employee who has the keys to unlock the case to get them was a chore in itself. I swapped the PMD in the parking lot.
After Wally World I went and picked up my sweetie and she'd had the hotel make us breakfast burritos with turkey sausage because we don't do pork. We had a few bites and suddenly both of us felt like crap. Yep, pork sausage. This haunted us for hours.
Napa was supposed to open at 7:30. They didn't. We finally headed out to where the F450 was at. Apparently California can't figure out that 85th street should actually be a street instead of someone's gated driveway. We only found that out by spotting the truck.
The previous owner was cool. I had told him my plan on how to load a 83" wide truck between 81" wide fenders and he had a better idea. A pair of forklifts and a tractor made life much easier.
The tractor was placed behind the truck and a forklift picked up each front tire while I backed the trailer up underneath. Once we cleared the fenders we set the truck down and lifted the back up and backed the trailer up the rest of the way. Done. Easy.
Then I needed some more air in the tires because we weren't at an empty/light load. We hit a gas station and instead of adding air it was removing it. Grrr!
I made some calls during all of this and I spoke to a young lady at Advance Auto Parts in Lancaster who actually had a PMD on the shelf! She pulled it, confirmed the part number and description. Online they showed that it wasn't available. I didn't get her name but if by chance the lady with the long black hair ever sees this, THANK YOU!!! As it turned out, right next door was Pep Boys tire center that was able to air up the tires.
Finally ready to leave Lancaster at 11:30. The original plan was to go through Yosemite because my wife has never been there but with getting out so late and reliability questions with the truck we didn't want to take a chance.
The truck ran really well under about Modesto when the boost solenoid stuck. Half a can of brake clean and a bunch of PB Blaster freed up the solenoid for awhile.
Not long afterwards there was a big wreck right in front of us and although I haven't been happy with the brake pedal feel, it does stop. It is amazing just how hard and fast 21,000 pounds can stop when needed. Thank you Tekonsha P3 brake controller!
We finally stopped for the night in Woodland, CA and had some great Mexican food. Mmmmm. We also got to test our brakes again at every freaking stoplight in town. It took 5 minutes from the hotel to dinner and 23 back. We finally got our hot tub experience and it felt soooooo good. They didn't have towels downstairs so we dripped all of the way through the hotel and elevator back to our room.
The next morning was great. We had some good sleep, I peanut butter chocolate waffles. Great start. We hit the road and almost immediately started having a high speed miss and the boost solenoid stuck again. I cleaned the solenoid and added another ground to the injection pump and the high speed miss went away.
All was good until just North Redding. All of a sudden we were dealing with 22 mph uphill, lots of black smoke , check engine light and no boost. Scanner showed a boost sensor out of range. Cleared the code and all was well until the next hill when it happened again. Scanner data showed 26 psi which I knew dang well that wasn't the case. It was defueling and killing the boost.
We cleared the code and took off again, this time with the scanner plugged in. At the top of each hill my wife would just clear the pending code. We had to laugh about that because Pearl, out 2000 K3500 that we purchased in Florida had torque converter slip starting in Texas and we forced it into overdrive without lockup using the scanner. Our 2000 Denali lost one of the shift solenoids going through Wyoming and we had to force transmission shifts with the scanner. What is it with model year 2000 GMT400 trucks and scanner addiction???
Things were actually going perfect after Mt Shasta. No more code clearing, boost sensor reading properly, boost solenoid functional. Spirits high and close to home!
We stopped once again at our favorite crackhead market in Yreka and got our traditional celebratory ice cream!
The truck had other ideas thoughts though because when I hit the key the starter just spun. The starter had been replaced and someone didn't put the support bracket on that keeps the starter from torquing and it sheared off one of the bolts. When it was obvious that I needed a drill I lightly snugged the bolt down and hammered a wedge shaped 2x4 between the starter and the block and cranked down the starter bolt. This got us home.
I can't wait until we can move forward with this!