Friday Night I Left My House at 11 p.m. In a '75 blazer (my brother's) to drive up to Central California for a photo shoot and tire test. I had my brother's blazer because he'd dropped his truck off with me months ago to get an efi kit installed on it. Luckily the tuning was done well (not by me) on the efi kit, and I actually made it the whole way without a problem (an amazing feat - seriously). I arrived in the early morning hours at my brother's house, coincidentally near where my blazer was stuck (previous trip, bent frame, couldn't drive it home) for the last few months, and near where I was testing and shooting photos the next day. My blazer had just been given a sort of renewal session by my friend and fabber, hank Van gaale. The frame had been restraightened by a shop in town, hank had built an engine cage for it, and he'd given the K5 a quick onceover to make sure everything was buttoned up before I went tire testing and then, hopefully, drove it home.
Saturday morning we left to go pick up my blazer from hank. We got the new wheels and tires finished up at his shop, and we were ready to head out. The blazer made sort of a little cough that I hadn't heard before, and I should've taken that as a bad omen. But no, we had a job to do today: tire testing and scouting for tomorrow's photo shoot.
Everything so far had gone right. The tires were performing flawlessly, and the new engine cage really stiffened the heck out of the chassis. We toured some highway roads and hit a little dirt to see how the tires handled. Then we ended up in Oceano sand dunes, a place notorious for putting the hurt on more than one of my trucks.
We deflated, looked around to see how much traffic was out, and proceeded to rip up and down a few bowls.
Twenty minutes later, smoke was pouring out, there was a terrible grinding sound, the engine had shut down, and I was quickly realizing why my parents and friends don't let me drive their cars.
It was innocent enough. We were trying to get some good shots for the magazine. I just needed to bring the tires off the ground a little bit. But a bad hop really left me in a bad spot. A bumpstop bent so far out that it tweaked the frame (again), allowing the front axle's driveshaft to shoot up, crushing an exhaust pipe closed, and pushing it against the torque converter. And there was one of my headlights sitting OR next to a tire in the sand. Great. And we hadn't even gotten breakfast yet.
With some prybars and some loosening of collector bolts, we managed to move the exhaust pipe far enough away that it wouldn't rub anymore and we could limp it home. With the motor barely able to breathe from one bank and constantly backfiring, we were on our way back to town to see if we could find an open muffler shop. Then everything in the world began to shake. Or maybe it was just us. Yep, it was definitely us. A quick inspection alongside the freeway showed nothing, and we certainly weren't in a spot to take the truck apart.
We hobbled home at a few miles per hour, parked it, and waited until after the photo shoot the next day to figure out what to do. The photo shoot, of course, took an entire day, leaving us with only a few hours the next morning to figure out what to do before I had to leave. After some checking, we found all the front u-bolts loose - very loose. We knew this had to be the shaking. We tightened the u-bolts, reinflated a tire (oh yeah, and we lost a tire overnight, too - sand in the valve core), and set out to take a quick testdrive. But that danged shaking was still there.
We were just far enough away to make walking back to the house a real hassle when a yoke exploded and the rear driveshaft dropped. Lovely. OK, now we definitely knew what the shaking was. The driveshaft was pulled, hubs were locked, and I was ready to leave on my front-wheel-drive road trip back home. But the engine was running like crap, and we hadn't found an exhaust guy the day before. It had come time to pull the collector bolts and let the header hang open, so I could keep the engine running.
Now I was ready. Open header, no top, no heater, frontwheel drive, one tire constantly going flat, and one wasted leaf spring letting the truck roll to one side. This was going to be a great drive home. And I was going to have the soundordinance tickets to prove it.
Four miles from my exit, I couldn't believe that I was actually going to make it. That's when the top gear on myth400 tranny disappeared. But I wasn't about to be stopped. Not now; not while I was so close.
Foot down, engine backfiring, and rpms screaming, I roared down the freeway at a cool 45 mph knowing that nothing could stop me now. My blazer crawled into my driveway with one front driveshaft, two tranny gears, three full tires, four cylinders, one missing headlight, one blownout bumpstop, and one bent leaf spring.
And that's why I was late to work this morning!
Now go figure out your own excuse why you won't be at work on monday and get yourself off-road. I'm sure your boss will understand.