Doomed voyage, part one

2010 February 23
by Hedon

Hopes high, we trotted off to Oklahoma City on the great truck quest. We arrived armored with our typical skeptical concerns about the prospective Hags chariot. Dyno results? 13 speed? 10 speed? autoshift? 455 hp? 515? Overdrive? No overdrive? BlowBy? 24.5LP tires? All of those questions had turned Fernando into a whirling dervish.

The guy had told us before we even left the house that the truck was DOT inspected and ready to roll off the lot. For those of you who aren’t drivers, a DOT inspection is a list of parts on a truck that must meet minimum requirements to be considered safe on the road. It includes things like no fluid leaks, all lights must work, drive tires must have a minimum tread depth of 2/32nds, horn must work, etc. Keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements for a truck to legally be on the road. If a truck can’t pass a DOT test it doesn’t move.

Another test that’s important when you’re buying a truck is the Dyno test. What is a Dyno test you ask? Well… let me tell you… mostly it’s a secret mystical ritual in which all the mechanics of a shop dress up in purple and black robes, with bone and feather headdresses and RedWing work boots. Then they light candles, beat on hubcap drums and chant magical words. They butcher a rooster and look at it’s innards. Then they charge you $250 and tell you what kind of shape the engine is in. This includes the horsepower that the truck is putting to the ground and another measurement of engine fitness called the “Blowby.” The blowby number is this mystical measurement of the amount of oil getting by the rings. Clearly, a large blowby number indicates that the rooster innards were not in alignment for you on that particular day.

Now… I am reaching a point in my life where I’m starting to know myself a little so I decided to have the Dyno done first. I’ll tell you why. See here is what I was thinking. The sales guy said the truck was DOT-inspected and ready to roll. And the pictures looked really good as you all saw in a previous post. So… I was afraid we would get down there and I would fall in love with the truck. Then I would take it to be Dyno’ed and the test would go badly cause the stupid rooster would escape out the back of the shop and the numbers would say don’t buy the truck. Then I would have an awesome seriously cool truck that I would have to resist buying because of some stupid BlowBy number. You all know I’m not good at resisting things. So I thought I would head that whole unfortunate situation off at the pass and have the Dyno done first so I would know the state of the engine before I fell in love with the truck. Tres mature, huh? I thought so, too.

The sales-guy was nice enough to offer to have the truck delivered over to the Detroit shop for the Dyno so when we showed up the results were right there ready for us to examine. It showed 376 horsepower to the ground. So I asked the guy, “Seriously? That seems awful low for a truck that only has 100k on a complete inline.” Then the head shop guy started mumbling about how that wasn’t all that bad. But I was figuring in my head and figured out that the engine was running at roughly 70% which wasn’t exactly floating my boat as they say. I wasn’t impressed.

Then the shop guy started talking about how they had done the Dyno the night before and they always get higher numbers when they do it during a full moon so that probably explained the low numbers. I guess I looked pretty skeptical because he then tried a new approach. He started out telling us the trouble they’ve been having getting decent roosters, but when I started rolling my eyes he quickly said that he thought the engine was actually set up as a 430/475 horsepower engine so the 376 number wasn’t that bad after all.

Bullshit. No salesman is going to advertise an engine at 515 horsepower when it’s actually a 430/475 engine. I was pretty much done with the shop at this point. So we walked out to where the truck was parked to check it out in person. Good lord there was no way to really be prepared for what we saw then. I’ll continue that in the next post.

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