Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bye bye, Blue Banger!

So, this is Blue Banger, our 1988 Ford Ranger pickup, complete with an extended cab, seatbelts for five and a fire-breathing 90-horsepower four-cylinder engine. We bought the truck about a month before we were married, in July 2005, and Jordan has been driving it for work, play, etc. since then. It helped us move into our first apartment in Ogden and helped us move to our current home, a townhouse in downtown Ogden in February 2006.

We bought the truck from some portly fellow who runs a used car dealership in South Salt Lake for $750. The truck's name came from the yellow plastic tag on the keys the dealer had. It said "1988 Blue Ranger," but the "R" looked like a "B," hence the Blue Banger. The truck came with a tape player (which was just sitting in the dashboard not hooked to anything ... it is still like that) and the air conditioner blew air, but not cold air.

When we bought it, he said it passed inspection, but when we actually took ownership, absolutely none of the electrical system worked, like headlights, turn signals, etc. This was a problem for us, and a confusion, because we had no idea how it passed inspection. We decided Mr. CarSalesman must like shady business as much as he liked cream-filled doughnuts. I guess you can't fault him for the latter, but the former meant that we had to put a few hundred dollars into the truck to get the lights going.

A few months later, the heater stopped working right in the middle of a mid-January cold snap. Jordan drove to Salt Lake City a couple mornings for work and did not enjoy the 40-degree temperatures inside the cab. We learned that the problem was the water pump, so we got that fixed. In July 2006, we went camping in the mountains, and on our way home, the blower stopped working, which was fine in the summer, but we had to get that replaced in November so that the defroster would work.

The truck handled well, could get to 60 mph in under a minute and never had a flat tire. In the past couple months, we were especially proud of the Banger, because it was doing some very truck-like things; Jordan picked up a tractor load of compost to help a neighbor work on their yard, and (as pictured above) we used it to carry two pallets of No. 10 cans (946 in all) to Heber for a food storage project for Crytal's dad. We were also going to spend some time with Crystal's sister, Rachael, her husband, John, and their four boys.

The Banger has a manual transmission, and every now and then it would act up for a little while. It began acting up on the way to Heber, but Jordan just kept going, figuring that the transmission would settle down once we arrived and gave the truck a rest. We got to Heber and unloaded the cans (see Crystal with her dad's tractor in the picture).

The unloading went without a hitch, and we left the truck to rest for the night. The next morning, we worked on the food storage for an hour or so, then had to drive out of Heber, past Deer Creek Reservoir and down Provo Canyon to Provo for the baby shower for our soon-to-be niece or nephew being born to Jordan's brother, David, and his wife, Megan.

As we drove out of Heber, second gear began giving Jordan problems as he shifted coming out of stop signs and stop lights. The higher gears, however, did not offer any problems, so, as we drove past the Heber Airport and hit about 60 mph in fifth gear, we thought we were in the clear.

It was not the case.

We were rounding a curve just above the east end of the reservoir when the car made a decisive THUNK and the rear tires both locked up. They could turn a little bit, but we were skidding pretty bad. Luckily, the steering was not affected, and Jordan was able to skid us to the shoulder of the highway. Also, there was no traffic in either direction, which was another huge blessing. We thought it was a blown tire at first, but a blown tire doesn't skid, so that made us worry about the transmission. (Before we talk about that, enjoy a picture of our gnarly skid mark!)

Jordan tried to push the truck, but couldn't get it to go more than couple feet before the tires would lock up again. We called Rachael and John and they packed their boys into their minivan and brought us their Honda Accord sedan so we could get to the baby shower. Crystal was supposed to help with the food, but thankfully other people were able to help out because we got there late, obviously.

After the baby shower, Jordan's mom drove him back up the canyon in her Chevy Suburban and they hooked a tow rope to the Banger and forced its wheels to move; nothing could make the tires roll smoothly, not even putting in the clutch, moving the stick out of gear, etc. After a jerky tow, the Banger arrived back at Crystal's parents' house in Heber, where it is sitting to this day.

More later on our exciting car hunting experience.