The LONG road to Awesome

FYI, sorry for the overall lack of pictures, unfortunately, my camera is still acting up and I am in the process of converting my stuff to make it work.

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I am bruised everywhere at the moment from pinching myself (and working excessively tired) Can you believe this (maybe you should pinch yourselves) . The truck is up, it is running, giving rides, and being generally awesome. Not just awesome. THE COOLEST MONSTER TRUCK EVER BUILT. Maybe I am a bit biased, but if you saw this bad boy in person, it’s likely you wholeheartedly agree.
Mentally, I’m on even sure where we left off. I know I wrote a mini series, separating the functions into individual blogs, but when then third portion took a detour, I had no time to fill in, and no time to do anything except help make a truck work.
Before I get too far into the ramblings of the final stage of the build, I need to take a moment for some “thank you’s “and some” couldn’t have done it without yous. “ Of course, as usual, there are some other musings and thoughts mixed in. (in no particular order)
We recently had the pleasure of meeting someone we now consider a friend. She was patient, humorous, and incredibly helpful. Mona, m’dear, thanks for sticking it out with us, for having “Mini Mona Moments” and keeping general optimism during the roller coaster. We can’t thank you enough- You are fabutastic.
Tom, thank you for your support in this whole build. Without you, this build couldn’t have happened in the speed it did, and I would still probably be writing about axles and parts. You were always there in many different ways and as you know we have had some major ups and downs during the course of this build, so thank you for all of them. I’m not sure what today would have looked like without you.
Phil- Thanks again for the shop’s swamp cooler, the enthusiasm, and for the future pool days and BBQ’s. We were glad you made it out for the first day and as always the cold Mountain Dew.
Sam Sturges- While Brad might have his own ideas for the trucks, there are so many unknowns in the builds, that you have to ask someone, and that someone was Sam. He is an old bucket of knowledge and a master monster truck driver. Whenever Brad had a thought or question it was Sam he went to first, and he always made time to think about it, and provided whatever insight or direction he could.
Mark- I know you will NEVER EVER read this, buuuuuuuuuuut thanks for your help on the “final push” last night. Hope we never have to do seat mounts again 😀
Melissa- Aww, well where do I begin. Thanks for your help the last few days. I know its tough at the end of a long day to come help your friend scrub glue off bars. Not exactly a high point, but more than that, Thank you for helping me keep my sanity, eating chicken salads with me, and humoring my venting and rambling.
There are many more people I will thank when my brain isn’t attempting to shut down or ignore my basic commands. So those of you who deserve a thanks or a kudos bar, hang tight. It’s not that I forgot you, I just need to finish the blog first while I can remember any details of the past while. We also obviously have dealt with numerous companies for both product and service, which had its better moments, and some less than stellar (aka absolutely horrid) instances. Although we only have thus far accumulated one official sponsor of the truck (Optima) we would still like to give credit where credit is due, and we thoroughly encourage you to utilize these companies for your needs.
So back to the blog. Ok, so I left you off at vinyl. Beyond that was a melee of the upholstery getting completed, getting the remainder of the drivelines in, and 50 trips to Vegas for that bolt we forgot and the paint, and all those things you forget until you need it. So there was a lot of that.
As you can see in the final pictures of the truck there are actually 4 individual custom drivelines. We had a hiccup with them as the ends from the original builder were not suitable of usuable. Brad fought them for a few days (not straight) trying to get the ends on, but alas, they drivelines won, Brad wanted to beat people, and then ended up at the driveline shop in Vegas to be repaired. One thing we have dealt with throughout the build are companies who really are proud of the work, charge you for what they think is amazing quality, and utterly let you down. Nothing is worse than paying a lot of money for something that doesn’t come out right, and has to immediately be repaired, modified, or refabricated yet again. (Oil pans I’m looking at you) Right now, Brad just didn’t have the time or the patience to fix someone else’s “less than stellar” work, so what do you do?
While drivelines were in the shop, Brad focused on getting the electrical wrapped up. While as simple as possible, there still is a lot of electrical in the truck, and by adding the length you obviously had several hundred extra feet of cable that you wouldn’t have on a small car. The good news was, Brad was able to get the rear steer with the center steer working on the first shot. The monster truck gods have smiled upon us. That was a relief. For those of you not familiar with the workings of monster trucks, they have separate steering for the front and rear so that you have a better turning radius. (VERY important on this truck) The center steer feature, makes it so when you release the rear steer switch, the tires automatically go back to the neutral position of “center” therefore avoiding your tail end to crawl willy nilly to the side while you try to line back up. Very handy on regular sized monster trucks, absolutely essential on the Sin City Hustler.
We also recreated the schematics sticker on the back as well as customized the front of the switch panel to not only look cool, but match up with our monster truck functions (instead of what a regular boring race car might have). The wiring harness needed to be recreated to work with our needs, so Brad worked that one over for a bit. Like I think I said before, there is no “Painless Wiring” for a monster truck, and if I am wrong, please send me the part number so next time we can save a day or so.
A lot of what got done in the final leg was mostly clean up and odds and ends. Kinda like when you pack and you just have a drawer that has a battery, some rubber bands, 2 pens, a few sticks of gum, a razorblade, and 14 small boxes of matches. What do you do with it? Well, it was just one small project to the next. A little bit of touch up paint here and there. Mounting the ridiculously overpriced fancy billet fire extinguisher mounts and Halotron chome extinguishers. Removing the plastic off the Lexan. Tightening bolts, Torquing them, putting them in. Topping off fluids, Mounting the hood.
The biggest time sucker was cleaning. OY VEY! The amount of time required to vaccum, dust, scrub, wipe, blow off, and polish a monster truck is a feat, even when it has been sitting in the shop and not in the mud. To be honest, we didn’t do a perfect job, because there are still a few items that need addressed before we put the “show polish” on. But to be fair, this thing could be filthy and STILL be awesome.
We spent some of the day with friends that popped up before their show down in Laughlin. It was great to see Sam and while Peggy opted for the pool (can I say I was super jealous) I knew we would be seeing her Saturday. Monster truck friends are always great for a visit. Burgers for lunch (nom nom nom) some stories, some questions, just nice little BS session, and then back to work!
The night before last, Brad and I were up until 4am working on getting this truck out the door. I didn’t care what it was going to take, we were going to be working it the next day. If that meant I had to bribe people with snickerdoodles, so be it. (Note to those out there, have one recipe that is awesome and everyone really loves, so that you can use it as payoff…..VERY VERY important life skill) Melissa trucked it out way past her bed time, and Mark (from the gun range) first provided his assistance putting the rear tires on (we had done the front before dinner) then helped me with seats until probably around midnight thirty (yes, that is an accurate way to say it, and yes I say it like that all the time. If you got a problem with it, give me the year make and model on your car when you stop by…it might be a bit flatter when you get out of the restaurant) Seats put up a fight and a half for me. Between the extra layer the powder coating provided in making the holes smaller for the bolts, and only one seat actually cooperating with me, I had a good 6 hours into mounting those. Come 4 am I had one seat left and it would have done it before our nap had it not required extra modifications from Brad’s fabrication downstairs. While I used lots of choice adult words at seats Brad installed the seat belts, wrapped up stuff outside, and I think we probably talked a lot about why we decided a giant monster truck was a great option, and why the heck we did it. Fortunately, neither of us remember.

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4 am- quick nap, then back up at 6 to get the rest done. Although, when 6 came I really almost didn’t care if the truck ran, and I am pretty sure Brad was in the same boat. We still had so many what ifs that could happen it was a little tense in the morning. Sure, the motor had been ran and tuned many times. The steering components all worked as they should. Electric functions had operated, and in theory it was all good to go. HOWEVER, anyone in motorsports knows that if it can go wrong, it will. We didn’t know until the tires were on if the shocks would hold the weight of the truck (without a coil add on) and even once they were on and the shocks filled with nitrogen, if it would support a full load of tourists!
Scrambling through the morning, I vacuumed the interior (again) to get rid of the metal shavings, installed the last seat (which still fought me tooth and nail….needless to say I had a drill so I won), blew out the inside (because OH MY GOSH Lexan is about the most static-y thing on this freaking planet. Side story- I am a very conductive person for whatever reason. Like I hate pushing the cart at the store because it shocks the daylights out of me every 4 feet. So when I pulled of the inner lining on the Lexan the night before Melissa almost peed her pants because It shocked the living daylights out of me. I’m pretty sure it was the equivalent of being struck by lightning 12 or more times. Not to mention my really fuzzy arm hair stood up the rest of the night. Hilarious, but not so much with no sleep) Anyway. I pulled the temp carpet used to protect the polished diamond plated floor, trimmed up a few pieces for temporary purposing where the speakers will be located shortly, and then grabbed the phone for some pictures and quick mobile updates for our fan base. 😀 While my attention was directed at my tasks, Mikey blew off the outside of the truck, Brad check everything to make sure it was all ready to rock and then checked it again just in case his no sleep delirium had made him forget something.

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Then, it happened. Brad started the truck and just like that put it in drive and it crawled out of the shop. I capture part of the first little jaunt. Testing the turn radius (which I think is better than our Superduty) shocks, motor, temps, etc. I actually almost cried. Wow, sleep does weird things to you. I couldn’t believe that we were ACTUALLY here. That over a year has gone by working nearly every day on this thing in one way or another. We took it for a ride, through the temporary course to see how it was. Brad driving it first, and me riding up front, Mikey trailing behind to make sure if something happened we didn’t get stuck out there. Then I rode in the back while Mikey gave it a spin. The ride in the back is definitely better, but it’s a blast either way. The clear side panels on the floor give it an awesome feel because you can see the edge of the canyon and it adds to the adrenalin factor when it looks like you might just drive right off.

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Yesterday was a slow traffic day at Arizona Last Stop, but we did some rides, met some people, and I just couldn’t quit skipping and smiling. While the wind and the sun bet us pretty bad, I didn’t care. I was just glad to be past the majority of this. Of course there are still novelties to button up, marketing to do, and plenty of stuff I need to do, but for now, it will be much easier without emergency part interruptions. So while the build might be 99 percent complete, the blog will continue with the shenanigans we have, the novelty and merch updates, special events, sponsors, and whatever else comes our way.
Thank you to our readers, whether today is your first look, or you have been with us from the beginning. Thanks for reading my ramblings and sticking it out. Hopefully it was entertaining, helpful, or just tolerable. Ok maybe I juts hope you didn’t hate it. Until later…..

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New Year…Part 2

2014- Quick Trivia!

The best way to start the new year?

A-     Waking up early after the holiday and going to Vegas to get an air compressor

B-      Disconnecting the power source for the camper so there is no power, and not having the parts to make the transfer from one converter to the other.

C-      Cooking dinner in the dark, with no power, and freezing simultaneously

D-     ALL THE ABOVE

If you guessed D, you are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. What a day. We did get a new awesome compressor, and for a moment I thought we were at a car show when we were strapping it down multiple people drove my slowly and commented to us on it. How weird is that? It’s a compressor, not a showpiece, although I do want to wrap it to make it look like an old style missile and do a Bombshell tribute on it, but that’s much down the road.

Of course, when we got home from Vegas, it was the first things that got put together and installed, never mind that I haven’t had real power in the house for a week….. that’s not important at all. So we didn’t  get to it until late. From there, trying to resolve the mass of knots and bundles of wiring, and then not having that parts. Freaking awesome. So to finish my post I’m huddled in front of the one heater and charger I can use via extension cord from the shop. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEWISH YEAR!!!!

New Year’s Eve. Hmm being that this is my last “bad” day for at least…….one week, I figured I had better take full advantage of it. Brownies, bacon-wrapped EVERYTHING, plus chips, caramel corn, meatballs, and buffalo chicken dip. NOM NOM NOM

Aside from concocting things to gorge myself on, I spent some of my day taking pictures, interviewing potential upholstery designers/installers, and pondering what 2014 will bring. I’m not really a believer of the new year being this magical moment of change. You can see proof of that by hopping on Craigslist next week and scoring an awesome deal on a nearly brand new treadmill that someone’s 2014 was going to really utilize. Instead of intangible goals, mine are simple, well maybe not simple, but easy to lay down an obtainable plan to.  So here they go:

Blog post twice per week

Get using Facebook for the Truck and Promotion

Bitch less

Be more patient with Brad, even when I want to punch him in the face, and kick him in the patella simultaneously

Do a standing backflip

Finish things I start

Become a better business person (more bitch, less nice)

Get a giraffe (ok the last one isn’t likely, but if I aim for a giraffe, Brad might let me get another dog)

I think that is more than enough to get started!  I got 365 days ahead to get at least one of these accomplished 😀

 

I’m not really sure if Brad made any resolutions this year, which is fine, his resolution just needs to be getting this dang thing DONE! Yesterday was great because it made for a productive day in the shop. High morale and good spirits are much appreciated! I know everyone gets antsy and irritable when they are bored, so getting the truck back was a breath of fresh air. The worst part of the day (aside from a lunch of questionable ingredients at the new gas station restaurant) was learning we would have to the body work ourselves first, as our original plan didn’t go accordingly. Oh well. That is life.

Metal Mike set up a part of some scaffolding to hang the doors to get started. Those suckers are heavy. Both Brad and Metal grabbed one to slide onto the ladder I was in charge of moving , which was a lot of pressure for me. I hate being in position where if I screw up people’s lives are at stake…ok well maybe that is a little excessive, but their toes definitely were. Then the front doors had to be hoisted up by both of them. So much for my laundry room.

Two of Four

Two of Four

Other tasks were using the unispotter to pull out a dent in the back. Fortunately, we won’t have to use this guy much since the body doesn’t have much for actual dents. It is a pretty cool tool that spot welds a stud to the body and then you pull the dent with a slide hammer. Good times. I kinda liked the look of the studs but I was outvoted to having spikes all over the truck. No one is ever fun around here.

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The window mounts were measured and welded on. Mike got the chance to get out the measuring tape and flex his math brain muscle. He was thrilled, and there were a lot of yellow marks that I think got crossed out. I know he hates math, which makes me laugh, oh….I’m a horrible person. Sorry Metal for delighting in your misery. Maybe I should put that on my 2014 list….

Each tab is hand cut, drilled and ground for smoothness....that is a lot of work for these little things

Each tab is hand cut, drilled and ground for smoothness….that is a lot of work for these little things

A third of the day was spent removing the chassis from the trailer. It was a process, and one of our super awesome expensive jacks blew a seal, so that complicated things a bit. Ugh. Fortunately the guys are pretty good at most problem solving, so it wasn’t quite the event it would be for most. There has been a lot of ingenuity in this project, but it’s part of the deal.

dismount from trailer dismount from trailer 1

Winding Down 2013…Maybe I should update the inaugural ride date.?

It is really difficult to believe that 2013 is rapidly waning into the background and 2014 is just days away. It’s also really difficult to see how long this project has taken, that we are almost in it an entire year. Oy vey! I’ll get one more blog in before the new year, but for now, I’ll stick with the last week of adventures and later, we can reminisce about 13.

While the past couple days have slowed to a near halt,

Hurry up and wait

Hurry up and wait

it was a whirlwind prior and zero time for resting. Last week, we trekked over the Phoenix to grab a torque converter from Hughes, and shot down to Tucson to grab the tranny from Herman Automatic. Talk about a fun day of errands. However Herman was an incredibly nice and knowledgeable guy, and it is always great to stop in and see Sam and Peggy Sturges. Sam even let us in on a suuuuuper delicious place with some awesome subs and grinders. NOM NOM NOM, which was fantastic, except, the next day when we were in Vegas….there was no delicious grinder to be found when we were craving them. On the way back from Tucson, we made a quick stop to finish up some procrastinated Christmas shopping, and while I was running around World Market like a crazy person, Brad had the Hulkster out and noticed a large hard growth on his rib. It wasn’t there earlier, and so of course we both panicked, and googled the living crap out of the option we were looking at. Unfortunately WebMD doesn’t have a symptom checker for dogs, which is probably good so we didn’t get too crazy. Either way, a lump that fast, hard, and large wasn’t good. To top it off, we had to be back in Vegas the following morning at 8 am to go over the monster truck. After not sleeping the night before (malfunctioning air mattress on the road) and getting back at midnight, sleep wasn’t looking like it was in our future.

When we got back, Brad crashed, and I stayed up wrapping Christmas crap because it had to get shipped the next day to make it by Christmas (which of course it didn’t….stupid) Somewhere around 4 I went to bed, just to get up by 6:30 and get rolling to Vegas.

When we got to the powder coater, the truck was blasted and looking good. The body came out straighter than we anticipated (it had about 4 inches of bondo on it for whatever reason) and lost about 250lbs  in the process. (If only I could work that program) The straight body will allow for less body work overall to be done before we get the wrap on it. Here are a few pictures.

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While Brad finished up going over all the details of the powdercoating, I went back to the van to call the vet to see if they had a Saturday appointment available. Big score. 11:15 apt and it is right around the corner from Trader Joes (specialty grocery shopping is my crack) We got a few errands in and headed over (Brad conveniently left me with a max of 11 minutes shop time at TJ’s) The vet was quick, and Hulk loves going for whatever reason. I think it’s the treat at the end. Showers? Not so much….vaccines? yes please… Go figure. Either way, surgery was suggested, and we booked the pricey procedure for Christmas Eve.

Over the rest of the weekend and on Monday, Brad worked diligently on his motor and tranny aesthetics.

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By diligently, I mean, he kinda did stuff and then stood around for awhile, or came and bugged me while I rushed to finish last minute holiday goodies. Note to self (and anyone dumb enough to try making Christmas platters in a camper…) Don’t try 50 new recipes at once. It doesn’t work out so awesomely. However, they all tasted good, and smelled amazing!

Bulldog Photobombing.. or just waiting for a snickerdoodle ball to roll off

Bulldog Photobombing.. or just waiting for a snickerdoodle ball to roll off

Back to Brad… so if you read this blog, or know Brad personally, you know he is anal retentive about some things. One of those is the way his stuff looks. If it isn’t AWESOME, it’s not acceptable. 99% of the time that is great, and the 1% is more or less just bad timing and me wanting to kill him because I don’t care EVERY time. But in this case, it really is the frosting on the cake, and not just waxy out of a can rainbow chip type, (which is deluscious on graham crackers) but whipped Belgian chocolate ganache. Pure gourmet here.  The motor is gorgeous and the tranny is fabulous. He even paid a minor tribute to the old Bombshell truck by using a tiny bit of the anodized purple on the tranny. (I’ll take what I can get)

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Soooo pretty

Soooo pretty

 

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So while, Brad geared up for the assembly of the truck, and getting Hulk ready for surgery, Brad’s grandpa passed away Sunday at the age of 83, after about a year of battling cancer and a various other health issues. Up till then he lived a great, healthy life, and will be missed.

Tueday morning, we shot over to the powder coating place after dropping Hulk off at the vet. We were surprised to see the truck outside primered and ready for the final coat. Of course we stopped by to grab a picture and get an ETA on the behemoth. The word on the street was this Monday…as in tomorrow. YAAAAAAAAAAY!!! Can I say that again? YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!! It will be sooooo awesome to have this thing back and get putting it together. Can’t wait!

Primered and Ready

Primered and Ready

After the powder coater, we visited a few other parts places, the metal fab shop, and camping world (trying to locate a new converter power center for the camper…..add that to the pile of awesometasticness. Our converter went out on Monday so we pretty much got the TV and heater plugged into an extension cord, and rotate all the items that get charged) Anyway, We dropped off some goodies at our errand stops, and killed a bit more time before picking up the dog. Dogs on drugs are pretty dang funny. Hulk was having a rough time being coherent, and slept in the same position until the following morning. He also managed to have a piece of cheese on his tongue for about 3 hours and didn’t even attempt to eat it. Miracle all by itself.

If only he could talk

If only he could talk

Didn't move an inch

Didn’t move an inch- tongue or anything

Christmas was uneventful. Hulk opened his gifts in slow motion. We ate crap. Then I took down the “tree” and lights. Time to get back to work. Enough of this nonsense. Brad continued to work on the motor, polishing and fitting where needed. I worked on tracking missing packages, locating parts, and responding to the 600 emails I neglected in the melee.

Now, here we are. Hopefully (fingers crossed) we can pick up the chassis on Tuesday and DIG IN. Of course I will let you know, and on that day we will do something special for the end of the year round-up. Oh, and for those who care (which we all know you ALL do) Hulk’s histology came back and he is cancer free. Phew.  And he is back to driving us nuts. Alright, goodnight, I have other crap to get done before bed.

Already back to laying on anything he shouldn't be

Already back to laying on anything he shouldn’t be