Sunday, February 05, 2006

Speaking of that old Ford….

Writing my last post has had me thinking about that truck, off and on, for the past several days. It really was a great truck, fun to drive, loud enough to let you know it was coming, quiet enough to slip through the neighborhood if you were ‘light-footed’.

Fast enough to get some respect, not fast enough to get you ‘stupid-hurt’ if you lost your focus for a minute or two. It always drew attention though, sometimes in a good way, at others it drew attention that I really didn’t want. I loved it when folks would pull up alongside it at a stop light, roll down their windows and shout things like “Radical ride”, “Man that truck is stout!”, or, simply ask to take a closer look at it in the mall/convenience store parking lot.

At other times though the kind of attention it got, was not exactly the opposite kind, but could be fairly annoying.

That old truck was a bit tough to drive at 35MPH. In 3rd gear it was spinning the engine about 3,500 RPM and was a tad on the ‘loud’ side, yet in 4th, the motor would be at about 1,200, maybe 1,400 RPM’s just on the ‘rough’ side of the camshaft.

For those of you who don’t know, as you increase the lift and duration (valve opening and closing events) of a camshaft, you’ll allow the engine to more fully fill the cylinders with the air/fuel mix, but you also move the operating range of the engine up in RPM’s as well.

This truck had an Iskendarian 270 Supercam in it, just about all the cam you could really utilize in a daily driven vehicle. However, all that cam lift and duration meant the engine would barely idle below 1200 RPM and really only smoothed out above 2,000 rpm.

As a result, in 4th gear, at 35mph, the engine was doing what’s referred to as ‘loping’, which means it almost feels like the truck will stall, before coming back up on the powerband once again. While all of us horsepower enthusiasts love the sound of a healthy, loping engine, in motion it has the effect, on the people in the car, of alternately ‘blipping’ the gas and tapping the brakes… essentially rocking you back and forth, forward to rear in your seat. Trust me, it’s fairly annoying!!

Why am I explaining all of this? To set up this story of course…

I’m on my way home from work in Syracuse (I was still at Omnifax Computer Stores at the time I think), and had stopped at “Richal’s” in Sylvan Beach to get a pizza for dinner.

As I’m pulling out of the parking lot of the pizza joint, I notice a State police car turning in behind me from the intersection.

Normally I’d either drive about 40 in this 35 MPH zone, or slip the truck into 3rd despite the noise… hoping to avoid trouble however, this time I left it in 4th gear, and endured the constant ‘rocking’ motion as we proceeded North up Rt. 13.

As you leave Sylvan Beach on 13, the speed limit goes from 35, to 55 mph… and this night, like many others, once the new limit sign became visible, I slipped the truck into 2nd gear, stomped the gas pedal, grabbed 3rd, and as the speedometer hit 55, slipped it into 4th and let off the gas. (This truck was just plain fun when you stabbed the gas!!)

As I looked in the rear view however, there, about 13 car lengths back, is that same State trooper. Only now, all the lights are flashing, and the car is rapidly closing in on me.

I pulled over, set the parking brake, turned the truck off and waited on the officer. We did the ceremonial license /registration/insurance card exchange, and all of that was in order. The next thing the officer said to me was “I’m going to have to cite you for an inadequate exhaust”.

I then asked him if the exhaust system, was complete, starting at the engine, and then exited behind the rear bumper, how that could be considered, “inadequate”. He went on to inform me that running “straight pipes” (a system without an muffler) was illegal, and therefore inadequate.

I explained, the system had mufflers, but, he told me that he didn’t believe me. I then offered to get my suit dirty, if he’d also bend a knee and look underneath to see if I was telling the truth or not.

Yes, I was in a 3-piece suit, looking quite dapper actually… he eventually consented, pulled out his flashlight and we both looked under the truck. There, to his surprise, were two, nearly new, full sized mufflers.

After that, he began looking at my license again, and inquired if the address on my license was, in fact, current. I told him, yes it was, and that I’d lived there for nearly 10 years.

After explaining to me that when I’d hit the gas the sound had ‘rattled the windows’ in the police cruiser, he’d assumed that for it to be that loud, it would have had to have been ‘inadequate’. We also had a brief discussion about what was considered ‘loud’ and he explained that he didn’t have the equipment to measure the actual decibel levels.

Once he’d handed me back my paperwork, and we were preparing to part company, I asked him if he’d seen the barracks sergeant lately. He replied that he saw him nearly every day, why was I asking.

I simply replied “Tell him I said he’s overdue for a visit and a cup of coffee”

He looked at me, rather quizzically actually, and said “You know the sergeant?”. We had a brief conversation about how I knew him, some mutual friends and so on, as we were wrapping that up; he asked me “Why didn’t you mention that sooner?”

I told him that I’d never ‘name drop’ over a simple ticket. We shook hands and went on about our separate ways.

A few weeks later, I did run into the sergeant, over at Larry’s house as I recall, and his only comment was “I heard you broke in the new rookie!”

You see it was just small town life. The new officer assumed I was not local, and most likely had more than a couple of drinks (I’d had none), and that a ticket would ‘slow me down’ for the rest of my stay in the area. All very reasonable assumptions, in that area, especially in the middle of the summer!

It’s one of the reasons I miss that place, those times, those people. The cops all knew the ‘bad’ guys, and the ‘good’ guys. For the most part, if you were a local, and weren’t seriously out of line, they’d let you slide a little as they really had their hands full with rowdy vacationers for the most part.

It also illustrates that if you’re going to drive something that attracts attention you need to have all of your paperwork in order, all of the time. This was not the only time I was pulled over with that truck, it happened quite frequently actually. Most of the time, it was a ‘routine stop’ followed by a “Can I look under the hood?” sort of question. Some folks might have been upset by it, me, I sort of enjoyed that so many folks thought the truck was cool!!

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Firehawk said...


The opposite is true, as well. With a really unassuming car, you can often get away with bloody murder. I've had experiences of both sorts. We had a really good looking black Thunderbird when I was a kid, and we were always getting pulled over. On the other hand, when we had an "invisible" grey Taurus, you could clip along at almost any speed you wanted without a second glance from the police. Not that it was a car that you sat and daydreamed about, or that people wanted to take a closer look at...

Bill said...

Firehawk - You know.. you're exactly right. THe VW I have, and commute to work in, is just so 'plain jane' it's nearly invisible. I should keep count of the type of cars I see pulled over each week, the stats might actually be interesting!

Cylithria™ said...

Bill I love this story....absolutely love it. Sometimes when things are at their most hectic for me I too sit back and think about those old days in the small towns of NC. And I can so see the rookie pulling you over and then saying "You know the sgt." Hahahahah!

Well written Bill, thanks

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


Great story! Dear Hubby Steve and I felt that way whenever we drove anywhere in his car - - a 1968 Mercury Cyclone GT, 390, Orange with White stripes. The looks we would get! Ahhhh - - that was fun . . . :-)


Bill said...

Cyli - (I can still cal you Cyli right?) Thanks, it's one of my favorites too! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Liz - A *very* underappreciated car the Mercury Cyclone.. great looks, classic lines and with that 390 it would turn more than heads!! I would love to find one of those today in need of some TLC!!

Spirit Of Owl said...

I would love to have been there when the poor guy was giving his reports in back at the station! Man, he must've wanted the earth to open up on him for a couple of days!

Jay said...

Apparently, small blonde women fit some sort of profile...I get stopped an inordinate amount.

Bill said...

Spirit - I doubt he really had anything more than a good laugh over it all with the Sarge. I do wish though I had a picture of the expression on his face when I asked him to tell the Sarge he was 'overdue'.. it was one of those 'once in a lifetime' moments.

Jay - I like the new 'nick' seems a lot of folks are tweaking their nick this season. You're probably referring to the 'cute' factor... Something I've never personally experienced, but, that I've heard tales about.

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


Dear Hubby STILL has the Cyclone, and STILL tinkers with it in the garage - - it's his "pride and joy" . . .

And you're right - - that 390 can really scoot! I used to drive it to work once in awhile (when I worked 35 miles away) and loved how fast it got me there and back! :-)

However, it no long has a 390 in it - - he's replaced it with a 428, so . . . you can imagine what it will do when he's finished with it!


Bill said...

Liz - Still has it.. and has a 428 in it now!! Sounds like my kinda guy!! R...RRR...RRRRRRRRR

I love the lines on htat year Cyclone... now the 428 option is one Ford should have offered!!

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


Dear Hubby says Ford DID offer it, but it wes *very* rare - - most of them came out in 1969, some in 1968, but not as many. He loves the fastback, too!

He has had the 428 on a Dyno, and it is over 500 HP, and 507 fy/lbs of torque! The motor builder says he should be able to do 11:20 at 120 mph. Hubby is scard to death (and I can't watch!!)


Cylithria™ said...

Bill, of course you can dear man. How is your mom doing and Maryan?? Hopefully all is well on your side of the fence. Just and FYI, at one point I may be heading towards the Carolina Coastland again (Marines, ya gotta love them) Not for a few months, but when all is said and done, Davi, & I may have to buy you and Maryan a cuppa joe (or whatever) ;) Take care of yourselves and you can always call me Cyli :)

Bill said...

Liz - Dayum!! Ya just gotta love HP... and stump pulling torque numbers like those will just paste you to the back of the seat!!

Has he actually run it to see what he kind of times he can lay down? Or, is he more like me he just likes to drive it, have a little fun, and every once in a while just stab the pedal for the 'rush'??

Cyli - If you're out this way, please do let us know... it would be great to have a cuppa joe!!

Mom's doing well thanks... I talked to her last night in fact and she mentioned she woke up yesterday morning, for the first time she could remember in years, without feeling achey and sore!!

Maryan is undergoing another round of epidurals in hopes of getting some relief from the residual nreve pain. The best part of this is that this particular Dr seems to feel he can get her off the meds she's been on, and on to a far more successful 'package' that could get her nearly pain free...

One can only hope!!

(btw... you know, with the 'TM' and all I was just checking!! :) )

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


He has not run it yet, but intends to whenever he gets done putting it together (again - - *sigh*).

And he can't drive it around anymore - - it's no longer street legal . . . but we have a few tracks in the area so he can go and try his luck.

Also, Steve said he plans on emailing you a picture of the car. We will probably get that done this evening, so be watching your email for that bright orange car! :-)


Comfort Addict said...

Good story, Bill. I've never lived in a small town like that. From time to time, I've thought that it would be nice (especially for Mrs. CA's asthma) though I would miss the abundant vegetarian take-out.

Bill said...

Liz - I'll be looking forward to seeing the pic!! It'll get me dreaming of finishing that truck project!!

CA - "vegetarian take-out"... in the 'country' they call that a "farm stand" :)

There are downsides to the small town, rural, life. I still prefer it to living in the city though. Currently our place is sort of a blend, we're almost in the country... but still have al the city services.

If we moved, I know I'd want more land, and less neighbors!

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


Emailed the pics to you last night. Hopefully you have them by now.

Enjoy looking at them! :-)


Flash said...

I actually had 2 vehicles that got me in a lot of trouble and out of it.

The first was a 1985 Ford Pickup. A little wear on the engine, but was bought from a local racing garage. On the outside, it looked like a standard work truck, nothing special. The inside held a 405 Big Block engine, modified carb. and brand new manifolds. that thing SCREAMED! It had a Baha suspension with slightly oversized tires. 0-60 in like 4 seconds flat. So what was the problem? The speedometer didn't work. So whenever I got pulled over for speeding, I'd tell the cop that the speedometer did'n work, and that I have an appointment to get it fixed in a few days. Most believed, some didn't . The one's who didn't just took a small ride up the block with me for proof. I never got a ticket in that thing.

The second car was a 1987 chevy Monte Carlo SS with a 450 rebuilt Crate engine. That got me a few tickets...

Bill said...

Liz> - I had a problem with my email server last night... well between yesterday afternoon and now, and seem to have lost some email. I'd appreciate it if you'd resend that email!! Thanks.

Flash - Heh-heh... Us boys and our toys... is it any wonder we all have a love affair with vehicles? Seems we end up having so many memories wound around them!!

I'll bet you miss both of those rides 'eh?

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


The email will be on its way again shortly! Sorry you had problems!

Trevor Record said...

There usually aren't too many people that get excited over trucks these days. Maybe I'm wrong though, I have seen a few that have been "pimped out".

I've never once been pulled over in my life, believe it or not.

Bill said...

Trevor - I think that's why I've always liked 'Hot Rod' trucks, there just aren't that many of them around!

I'm not big into the whole 'pimped' thing.... I'm still trying to understand the appeal of 23 TV screens inside a Chevy Suburban...

On the other hand a 500+ Horsepower Suburban I totally understand!