Saying Goodbye to 'Old Yeller'

Between the Fencerows

How many farmers can relate to this story?

Published on: January 24, 2014

It was January 2003 and we were traveling with a neighbor to Cincinnati to pick her out. There were five left to choose from. We pulled out all the tricks to find the best ones. We took her out in the yard, crawled around, and played for a while. Then we went inside and haggled.

We gave our neighbor pick of the litter; he took the 1996 model. Dad and I brought home a 1994 and a 1993 model painted yellow. It was late in the day before we left. It was my first long trip. Driving bobtail on what had become rainy/icy interstates made for an interesting journey. But that night, she got me home safely.

I had been home from college a few years, and we had worn out the old, underpowered, spring ride, cab-over we had been using. We had grown to the point where we needed two trucks to be efficient. Boy, we thought we had made it big with the upgrade from 290 to 350 horsepower. The air ride suspension was like flying on air. It was also nice to have trucks with drivers' doors that stayed shut when we took a right-hand turn.

Yep, it was the life.

I took a liking to the yellow truck right away, mainly because it was NOT white, and secondly because it had a 'jake' brake (whatever that was). It was also the least expensive of the two at $8,500 - I could afford that!

Some paint, some tires, normal maintenance, and she served us well. She was like any other truck, nickel and dime stuff, but never anything major until a couple years ago. Maybe she resented that her replacement had come along; after we hired a full time driver, we also purchased a newer truck to be on the road. The yellow truck had to be assigned a limited role.

We replaced an aluminum spacer above the engine block, and everything else looked good in the engine. But then things took a turn for the worse. Last winter I couldn't get heat in the cab. We took it to a couple places. One suspected a blown head gasket; the other found the oil cooler was gummed up. Replacing the oil cooler was the remedy for a year.

Again this year with no heat in the cab, I relented and let them tear off the heads to take a look. It was bad news - at least two of the liners had slipped. There isn't a kit for the small block engine for boring it out and shimming it. A replacement engine costs more than the truck.

It was time for her to go.

We knew this was coming

We had an inkling this was coming. We have been searching casually for about six weeks, and daily for the last two or three weeks. The truck market is hot right now, especially in the pre-EGR age.

We have a short stack of possibilities, but haven't chosen a winner. Unfortunately, we're going to have to make a selection sooner than later. This time we'll upgrade to about 450 horsepower, and an air ride cab.

No, there won't be another 'Old Yeller' - how could you replace her? 

And right now, none on the list are yellow.