I didn’t have the blog up yet when we officially kicked off this adventure, so I need to catch everyone up!
One a lovely day, we got up at 5:30am with the intent of making a “quick trip” to San Diego area to pick up a Ford Excursion Limo body. It had already been gutted, reinforced, and was lacking a motor and tranny. Perfect for what we had in mind. We could put a -, bulletproof motor and transmission in it, and not have to deal with glitzy ridiculous limo interior. Besides, I know I can’t pour a drink while driving over a bus stack! The Excursion is ugly maroon (thank goodness for a vinyl) and solid as can be. The catch? Well it is 32′ long and the idea was to stick it on a Uhaul tow dollly. (shh don’t tell them).
I’ll admit, the idea of going to California gives me anxiety. Sure, it is home of the happiest place on Earth, but it’s nearly impossible for Brad to make it out of the state getting some type of ticket, usually one that is invalid (such as tickets for speeding because your vehicle has the “capacity to tow” and therefore should follow the “towing” speed limits……don’t ask) Now, we would be cruising 4.5 hours into California, then back out with a 32′ Excursion on a light industrial tow dolly. Call me paranoid, but the only thing that could have made us more conspicuous was if the maroon was actually bright red. We would be a giant flashing billboard cruising down the road screaming “Pull me over, at least one thing I am doing is probably not up to code” We would be dealing with temporary permits because anything on a dolly requires to be licensed and registered or a temp will suffice for out of state. It’s always a pain.
Upon arrival to the Excursion, the lawn appeared to be a limo boneyard. Hummer/H2 skeletons covered the yard. fortunately our new prize was sitting out front so access wouldn’t be too difficult. The difficulty would be getting the motor free (and steering linkage with it) giant limo up on the dolly with no winch, no equipment, and utilizing a rusty come-along.Have you ever used one? Seriously they are awful. I think we used one twice, then in a temper tantrum it was flung into oblivion and eventually relocated to the dumpster. They don’t let the line back out, they don’t tighten, they get locked. It’s just an ugly thing to deal with when you are trying to hurry. It’s hot, you are blocking a street in California, and there is still the tedious drive home, laden with booby traps in the California DOT rules. After several under-the-breath profane moments, and an eventual smashing of the – it finally half worked. The Excursion was loaded a bit too much to the driver’s side, the tire straps on the trailer didn’t fit,but heck, it was good enough! LET’S GO!
After we let air out of the front tires to make the straps fit ok, and set up all the straps and chains up front, we were at least convinced that it was stay strapped to the dolly. A quick customization of an extension for the brakelights/turn signals, then mounted to the roof of the Excursion’s back-end, and finally a temporary permit (that was given to us, and didn’t look completely kosher) stuck to the rear window- we were ready, well as ready as you can be.
The first turn was wide, but also proved that sharp turns of any kind were not an option. Thank goodness that our drive back was mostly straight freeway. Phew! By our second light, we had already passed one officer, without a u-turn to come get us, so I figured we might actually be ok. The rules didn’t say anything about limos on dollies, so just maybe….
Windy roads were snaking back toward the freeway, putting the holding capacity to the test on the arrangement. Our initial pullover yielded good results. Straps were holding, chains still locked, and no other issues yet. Oh yeah. Still good! About 10 minutes later we pulled off to the side before we would enter the freeway to give one last safety check. Good thing we did. The driver’s side tire strap has slipped inside, and the Excursion has settled into place further toward the driver side, and was now rubbing on the flimsy plastic fender, inhibiting turning further, and likely racking up a bill with Uhaul for damage. Without a machine or winch, trying to scoot the front end of that thing was like trying to shove an elephant somewhere it wasn’t interested in getting to. (or what I would think it is like) We pushed, grunted, wiggled, swore, attempted several strap ratcheting maneuvers, and somehow managed to get the front end just barely enough over to alleviate the direct contact with the fender. It wasn’t perfect, but at least it wasn’t going to cause problems with the drive or cost us the 5,000 bucks that Uhaul things their crappy dollies are worth.
The freeway was pleasant. Each cop we passed relaxed my tension more and more. Him not getting a ticket would save me so much time. While, we couldn’t go 80 mph, we cruised along without issue and without any more hiccups. The new straps we added at the last stop seemed to be keeping the Excursion in place, and when we stopped at Del Taco (a letdown when you were trying to find Cooler Ranch Locos Tacos at Taco Bell) everything was exactly as it should. Only another hour and a half to go until state line.
When the lights of Primm shimmered in the distance, I couldn’t believe it. We had made it in and out of California, without even a stop! I didn’t even know that was possible! No ticket. No warning. No close calls. Vegas to Arizona was a simple drive, crappy roads, but a straight shot with no foreseeable problems. It had been a long day, and we were both looking forward to getting out and hitting the sack. As we pulled onto the property and unloaded the rig, it really hit me. One, just how huge this thing was going to be, which still amazes me when I look at the body, and 2 that I was seriously tired.