The '46 moved under its own power for the first time at Sunday noon and we were out wheeling alongside Wade's '53 M38A1 an hour later. It was up to the local dirt road of Hobble Creek where the flatfender's three-out-of-four vintage Tru-Tracs made way through the mud and falling snow, the L-head happily puttering on all four as we snatched the T-90 trans through all three gears. The brakes worked fine after just two pumps of the pedal, and the steering slop was manageable. Lack of wipers in the storm forced us to the logical conclusion: flop down the windshield. When you're adventuring with a window-down flattie, all is right with the world. Never mind that it would take two days for our knees and cheeks to thaw; we were home free. Wet, but home free.
A day late, but with no shortage of fun, we were on the highway home by Monday, wrapped in our OD gear and ready to pound 900-plus miles in the face of the freeze. After three days and nights in Springville, where you can't buy a full-strength Corona to save your life, this was how it was supposed to be! Beating a hasty escape from the main roads, we aimed for the byways, both of us ignoring the growing death knock from under the hood. Just a rattle? Exhaust loose against the frame? No. It was clear. Rod bearings were letting go, and the oil-pressure gauge wouldn't let us overlook it any longer. The Go Devil was hurt.
Our flattie limped back to town on the little access roads, ashamed of its failure but still motoring. It knew not to seize until we got right in front of the hotel. Time to regroup. We could get bearings shipped overnight, rebuild the engine, and never get home in time to ever be allowed to play again. We could ship the Jeep home and fly back, but that would be lame. So we made the only real choice: buy a beater and flat-tow the sucker home. The Springville/Mapleton area was thick with clapped-out trucks for sale, most of 'em way cheaper than the price of a last-minute airline ticket. So Wade loaned us his Cherokee to hunt for a deal. We had four hours to buy a running truck or risk another day in town. A local used-car lot had our prize hiding in the back. It hadn't run in half a year, but all we had to do was borrow a flashlight from the pawnshop across the street and change a fuel pump in the dark to take it home. My fly-and-buy scenario had been realized the hard way, and with just a few more trips to the parts store.
But let me tell ya, we scored one fine piece of equipment. It's not every day you can pay $500 for a truck and get not only a gun rack, but also a Vanilla-Rama air freshener, "Keep on Truckin'" floor mats, and a crocheted cowboy hat on the rearview. It was all hangin' on a '78 F-100 shortbed with a 302 and a T-18 four-speed. And check out those swanky stripes! The brakes were less than marginal, but with a manual trans and a functional horn, we figured two out of three wasn't bad. The steering wheel was little more than an implement of suggestion (what radius-arm bushings?). We were disappointed that the pickup was two-wheel drive, but once all the rust falls off it'll make a primo prerunner, and don't you think we're not already scheming in that direction.