Jul 012007

I’m getting ready to start construction on my 5 acre property near Riverside, CA soon. At least that’s the plan, assuming that the nice, friendly folks at the county who need to approve my permits don’t drive me insane first!

I have trucks and trailers parked all over the area where the grading will be done, and they all need to move. Unfortunately, a lot of them need some work done before they’ll be moving again!

My project for today was to begin working on my M35A2C 2.5-ton 6×6 truck, whose brake pedal presently goes to the floor with no resistance. It’s been parked there for many months with no attention, ever since I hauled my larger commo shelter over to the ranch from the house I’m renting. The commo shelter is still on its dolly set, hitched up to the truck.

I noticed fluid leaking out of the front right hub, and thought I might have a leaking brake cylinder in there. So, I started pulling everything apart to see what’s going on in there. That’s my neighbor’s house in the background of the first picture. I took the pictures after I was done working on the truck for the day, and I’ve wrapped pallet wrap around the brake assembly to keep dirt out.


thumbnail thumbnail thumbnail thumbnail
Now, I hate working inside those deuce hubs. I mean, I really hate it. I can barely lift the drums and hubs, and I often hurt myself trying. I can’t lift the wheels at all. Doing this sort of job is bad enough inside a building on a concrete floor, and it’s even worse in a hot field under the dusty sun, away from home so I need to pack all of my tools in and out, with no shade, no water, and no power. Well, at least the deuce started easily so I had compressed air to run an impact wrench. Hmm, I hear an air leak under the dash somewhere… that’s a job for another day!

Once I got in there, I found that I have a leaky axle seal which has allowed gear oil to get into the brake drum, but I don’t see any signs of brake fluid leaking out of the cylinder. The brake will need service at the very least to get that oil off the drum and shoes, and I’ll need to continue looking for the source of my brake problem. I haven’t seen any signs of brake fluid leaking elsewhere yet… I wonder where it’s all going?

Replacing the inner axle seal is a pain in the ass. The brake backing plate will still need to come off, and I will also need to do the same thing on the other side of the truck. I’ve had to replace an inner axle seal like this before, and I found that the only way I could get the old seal out was to pound it out from the opposite side of the truck with a long bar through the axle housing. In other words, there’s really no avoiding doing both sides of the axle at once. I am seriously considering just cleaning everything up, re-packing the bearings and putting it all back together to get the truck moving (somewhat) safely again, and then taking care to park it in a more level spot. The truck won’t be straying any more than 500 yards from where it now sits for a good, long time, and I just need the brakes working well enough to drag stuff around on my ranch Real Soon Now.

By the time I got the heavy brake drum into my pickup so I can bring it home and clean it up (along with the bearings and so forth), I was done for the day. Maybe I ought to hire some young kid with a strong back to do this stuff for me while I sit and drink a cold beer? This is only the beginning of a bunch of work to get stuff moved around before my construction. I’m fortunate that the helpful folks at the county are giving me some extra time to get this stuff done by dragging their feet on approving my grading permit. Grrr.

As long as I was out there and still had a few more minutes of consciousness before collapsing, I decided to take a few more pictures. My house is going to go right about where the three sea containers are, with the front porch near where the orange one is. I’ll have a nice view to the north from my porch. That smaller commo shelter goes on my HMMWV, but I have it dismounted for now to Do Some Things to that truck.

thumbnail thumbnail
I really want to get rid of these four extra 1.5-ton trailers. Two are cargo trailers, two are generator trailers, and one still has a pair of 10kW gasoline generators on it. I only seem to get inquiries from folks who want to use them with their 4×4 pickup trucks, and then I need to explain stuff like “air brakes”, “jackknife” and “roll-over” to them.

My 10kW diesel genset (which I do plan to keep) is presently on my 3/4-ton trailer. I’ll probably keep the 1.5-ton trailer that it came off from for now in case I need it later.

thumbnail thumbnail
My Bobcat comes in handy for pushing weeds around. I put a new set of tires on it a couple of weeks ago… another hot, sweaty, expensive job! I have a set of pallet forks for it, too.

Here’s another project I need to take care of soon… my wrecker has a flat tire. And it also has a brake leak somewhere. And there’s a bee hive inside the body/frame right above the axle I need to work on (if you look closely, you can see bees loitering around the hole that a body mounting bolt passes through… they have survived a few poisonings so far!). Meh.

thumbnail thumbnail
While my wrecker has bald tires all the way around, I have a bunch of 11.00-20 tires which look much better (?) on my M1022 shelter dolly carcasses. I had bought these three dolly sets in a GL auction with the intention of getting at least one fixed up so I could use it to move around my sea containers. I found out that I really should have inspected them in person because there weren’t enough parts to make one complete dolly set between them. All three are missing their drawbars, they are all missing the pins which connect them to a sea container, one doesn’t have the bolts to hold the two halves together, and it turns out that they’re all for sea containers which are 6 inches shorter than mine, anyway. Only one has enough pieces to make all four tires point in the same direction, but it has a frozen brake drum, anyway. So, I plan to just pull off their wheels, put the wheels on my wrecker, and drag them out of the way with a big chain. There’s another job that I probably should pay some kid with a strong back to do! Maybe I’ll cut them up with a hot wrench and bury the pieces someday.

thumbnail thumbnail thumbnail thumbnail thumbnail
Yet another project… my scissor lift. It worked when I got it, but it has decomposed a bit over the years since then. It has one flat tire, a hydraulic fluid leak, and the engine is now dead (I have a brand new replacement that I haven’t gotten around to installing yet). The control box will probably also need an overhaul or replacement. I won’t do any of this before my house is done, though… I’ll just tow it out of the way with my wrecker. Once it’s driving around again, that is!


  2 Responses to “A (Hot, Sweaty) Day at Mark’s Green Truck Ranch”

  1. Good site! I’m just going to assume you still live in Riverside Co. I currently reside in the Hi Desert (San Berdoo co) and they (the city) hate me, too. More power to your 5 acres tho. Got me beat by a few acres….

    Know anyone looking or thinking about looking for a M944 Shop 5ton truck? I’m going to be pretty desperate to sell her SOON as my overseas job starts next year (’14).

    Just wanted to give kudos about your site, love a guy that has almost as many projects as i do.


    • Thanks for the kudos! I don’t know of anybody looking for a shop truck right now. Is yours one of those “bat wing” trucks? I think those look neat, but I don’t have truck-buying money right now. Anyway, the Steel Soldiers web site is probably the best place I can think of to advertise it.