After buying the tractor, our next step was to find a pickup truck. It has also been a good exercise in learning the ins and outs of human nature, human kindness, and inhumane taxes ;).
I'm not sure how I came by the knowledge that in spite of a childhood of mocking Ford products, their trucks were worth a chance - but I certainly had that impression. While an F150 may be popular, I was looking for the smallest thing I could find. A Ranger definitely fit the bill - and a bit of internet research only served to reinforce that idea.
I also knew that the Mazda B-series of trucks have been rebranded Rangers (or is it the other way around?) for a few decades now - so I was willing to consider them as well.
My brother favours the Toyota line of trucks, and with good reason. Our little Echo has performed a champ since we purchased it, and I have no complaints whatsoever about it! But even with what I considered fairly generous price criteria, no Toyota's ever came up in my searches within my price point...
There still were daily groupings of one or two Ford Rangers/Mazda B's available, so it didn't take long for me to get a feel for pricing and what I should be looking at.
It's a really interesting study in just how differently two people can view the same situation. The first truck I went to look at seemed in really, really good shape. It was owned by a young fellow who clearly loved the truck at one time. It was very clean, had some nice aftermarket touches, and was in the right price range for the kilometres on it. But then he pointed out that it was missing the entire exhaust system - He said someone had stolen it. Unwilling to even consider driving a vehicle without an exhaust to a mechanic to have it inspected, I decided to pass.
The next one, a Mazda with very high kilometres, again owned by a young guy (come to think of it, four out of five trucks that I looked at were owned by guys under 30!) seemed like a good deal, but talking to a friend who was giving out an AMAZING amount of free advice and help, I asked after getting the vehicle certified. Although the fellow said it only required a $40 brake cable to safety, he was unwilling to have it done himself, and I was counselled to avoid buying a vehicle that *I* had to safety myself.
On to a nice, low-kilometre Ranger with a supercab and a snappy paint job. In this case my mechanically inclined friend even took it upon himself to inspect the vehicle! I can't believe he did that for me without any prompting - it really impressed me greatly. Unfortunately, neither the vehicle, nor the seller, were really suitable material. My friend wasn't impressed with the condition of the body, nor the fact that the parking brake needed replacing for a safety. (Again, four out of five trucks needed the parking brake replaced to make safety - I believe that *IS* a known issue with Rangers...) Myself, I instantly put this vehicle in the "no-go" category when the seller pointed out the broken bumper where he had been "showing off and got stuck on a fence - I had to get a buddy come with HIS truck to pull me off"... If that's how someone freely admits to treating their vehicle, I'm afraid I have to say no thank-you.
Next up, another young man (obviously at this point) was trying to reboot his life by selling off most of his possessions and moving to another city. His truck was in better condition than the others so far, and he graciously allowed me to take it to my friend to have him look it over. He seemed to think it was okay, although there seemed to be an issue with the wheel bearing - and the front tires didn't match. The seller couldn't explain the tires, and said that he would safety the vehicle, so I kept it under careful consideration.
That same day though, a new ad appeared at the highest end of my cut off price. Actually, it was AT my limit, and advertised as having to be sold by Monday (this was Friday), otherwise, it was just going to be traded in at the dealer. My mechanic had some time off in the afternoon, so I drove him to take a look at this new vehicle. It had the lowest kilometres thus far (and was four years newer than anything else I had seen) - and was in really good shape. A few little dents and scrapes, but no rust! Both of us thought it looked like the best candidate yet - my friend said that the difference in price was worth getting a vehicle so much newer. I called the lady later in the afternoon, and after my tiny bit of price haggling (mostly to feel like I DID get a special deal), we agreed on $200 less than the asking price, paid in cash the next day. I rushed to the credit union, apologized for having such short notice on such a large cash withdrawl, but was still sent off with what I believe is the largest sum of cash I've ever carried (breaking my old record set a month earlier by the purchase of the tractor ;)) - this homesteading thing isn't for the faint of fiscal heart!
The next morning, she delivered the truck to a nearby Canadian Tire, where they pronounced it fit for safety - AFTER a parking brake cable - which I had already resigned myself to expecting. We signed the papers, but by this point, the MTO office was closed, and I left the truck with Canadian Tire for the weekend.
Monday afternoon my father and I headed back to Canadian Tire, picked up the safety and etest certificates, returned to the MTO office (on the other side of town) and waited in line for my turn. I clearly demonstrated my vehicular ignorance when I had to confirm that I was going to pay HST on a used vehicle - ouch! Another $1000 I wasn't expecting!
We returned to Canadian Tire to put on the plates, and started her up! It had been snowing the wet, heavy stuff that afternoon, and as soon as I turned on the wipers, the driver's side wiper fell off - ha ha. Luckily we were at Canadian Tire! I ran in and bought a new one, and with that in place, we headed for home.
Gosh, driving a rear-wheel drive pickup truck in wet snow was an experience I had quite forgotten about. Especially a manual transmission! Slight fishtails at every stop, and me having palpitations thinking of the hills I was going to have to climb to get home... I luckily managed to time the lights at the bottom of the worst hill, so that I was able to get up it, and take the back roads for home. I don't like driving on the 401 at the best of times, and with this weather and unfamiliar vehicle, I took the road less travelled!
Getting over to my buddy's place, who was generously allowing me to park my tractor in his garage, we realized that there wasn't really room to get the truck in beside the tractor... Perhaps if we moved the tractor to the opposite side of the garage, and tucked it way in the back...
I don't know if you've ever tried to start a cold diesel tractor inside a garage, but let me assure you, you'll soon get a lifetime's supply of exhaust intake! It took me a good five minutes just to get her started. Warming the glow plugs, then trying to turn her over, then back to the plugs, then back to turning her over, all the while with black smoke blowing - ugh! Of course, once she started, it took forever again to get the hydraulic fluid warmed up. Probably another five minutes of sitting in the garage with smoke all around, until we could lift the cultivator and loader enough to move. Add to this mix, the fact that the shift pattern is a total mystery, and we have a few more moments before I got the tractor tucked in - but I did!
The truck fit in with about three or four inches to spare on either side :).
Dad and I headed over to Morty's Pub, where we rounded out our eventful evening by polishing off thirty outstanding and varied flavours of chicken wings - it sure was nice to have that settled!