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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Triathalon Part 2- VINYL

I’m definitely not going to say I am a graphic designer. I have had to figure things out as I go, (video editing, graphics, web design, etc) and while I love Photoshop to death, every time I do a project (whether a poster or a sticker) I learn something new. And by the time I am done, I want to start all over again and apply all that new found wisdom. No time on this one. You have all seen the mockups and that excitement. Those are like 3 inch images that were placed on a photo of an excursion limo with big wheels and drivelines drawn in. Converting that into a 35’long image is a little tricky. You know. I should take a class or something. It would probably save a lot of time in my life. Maybe next time.
Anyway, thanks to all you voters on the design of the truck (what like a year ago) I had to redo ALL the graphics because it ended up being a blend of the designs. Not a big deal, except I wasn’t anticipating Derrick, owner of Las Vegas Car Wraps stepping in and joining the old BTR team. So the most awesome thing, suddenly became my worst nightmare, and when Photoshop failed me and corrupted my open files (which was all of them) it became the worst possible scenario. Sure, sure, there might have been some procrastination involved, buuuuuuuuuuuuut the sides were mostly done prior to that point.
Nothing like a do-over, when you really have no idea what you are doing in the first place. I just know a lot of clicking takes place, that I can drag images from Illustrator to Photoshop sometimes, but not always and that I don’t understand 99% of the jargon on the program. Someday…..but for now, time to get the Hustler some skin.
Also, side note, don’t use two year old lap tops for graphic design. I’m impressed mine help up as much as it did, but I’m not gonna lie, there were moments of the laptop nearly being airborne, shot, driven over, thrown in a tub of water, and tarred and feathered. Yeah. And as you all know…my battery likes to fall out when I move the computer…so, that probably accounts for half of the time I spent on this thing.
As promised, the truck was measured last Saturday, and Tuesday was the big day. Derrick, Ryan, and Ryan came out and knocked that bad boy out. It was poetry in motion. We watched a good portion of it, and I didn’t even pretend to be working. Vinyl is just so dang cool, and these guys are fantabutastic. Of course I stalked them, taking lots of pictures, but they were used to the stardom. Nope, the limelight didn’t get these guys. They showed up, scaffolding together faster than I could grab my phone, and before I knew it, the first panel was being laid down.

Prepping for vinyl

Prepping for vinyl

 

Setting the vinyl in place

Setting the vinyl in place

Situating

Situating

See how cool is this stuff???

See how cool is this stuff???

The plan was get the solid vinyl on Tuesday, then come back and do the perforated vinyl and the top on Wednesday. Two ginormous monster truck sides and one hood later, they were packed up and ready to come back the next day. Everything went flawlessly as far as I could tell, and they even improvised by doing a drop look on the bottom of the truck so the image wouldn’t look distorted by wrapping the underside and then the lowest panel. Freaking genius if you ask this girl. Picture below.

See the gap?

See the gap?

And now see how the picture flows better?

And now see how the picture flows better?

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I knew eventually the top of the truck would prove useful for a shot

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Ok so if I thought starting the motor was life changing, vinyl was pretty much ten times past that. I don’t know what it is, but like I told Melissa, its like you can have a cake, and it might be the most difficult, best tasting cake out there, but it still just looks like a cake. Now, you stick some fancy pants frosting on it and BOOM, you have magic. That was exactly what the vinyl did. Magic. The truck transcended from “project” into reality. It now looked like the energy drinks, like the images I was sending to sponsors…..but better.
So yesterday, the crew, whittled to two, came back out to finish up. We opted to do the roof in White plain vinyl so that it would keep the truck cooler. WHICH I forgot to mention required a few hours of DAing the roof to get off all the surface rust and weird welding beads. What a mess. But, the vinyl probably wouldn’t have cooperated without, so I’m just going to say it was worth it. Oh and we had to paint the underside of the hood before they wrapped it too, so that required some additional work. I taped and then brad sanded the inside to scuff it up, carefully blowing the dust in my direction. HENCE my voice went to crap and I sound like the cell reception between here and Vegas. Everyone here seems to think it is hilarious. So far I have been told I should go on American Idol (thanks Steve) that I sound like a 16 year old (thanks Alex) and that I should just quit talking. Fine. If that is the case, then you make the phone calls. –that’s what I thought.

A last minute thought, looks pretty awesome though!

A last minute thought, looks pretty awesome though!

Perforated Vinyl over the windows

Perforated Vinyl over the windows

ahh so pretty with no surface crud

ahh so pretty with no surface crud

 
So bloody nose, raspy voice, and weird puberty sounding squeaks aside, we trucked on, juggling the three ring circus in the shop, and last night they finished the wrap. I know Brad was beyond stoked, I was ecstatic, and Steve was in awe. The only parts left are just to drop in the website into the bumper inserts, and Steve already made his contribution by wrapping the emblem. It was a tough debate between putting Hulkster on it and the company…but in the end the company won out. Sorry bulldog. I’ll put you on the roof next time.

Steve hard at work after hours

Steve hard at work after hours

So I would like to give a HUGE, nay GINORMOUS shout out to Derrick and the guys at Las Vegas Car Wraps. They were freaking amazing, and knocked the job out with a fluidity you rarely find! Stay tuned on their endeavors with us, because we will be wrapping the novelty/ticket trailer, the Vanborghini, and probably an assortment of other things. Excited to have them on board with us! If you need wrapping you can see their website at http://www.LasVegasCarWraps.com . They do some amazing stuff. Love it!

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The Posting Triathalon- Part Uno!

Preface: Some of this is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinda old because I started it only to get interrupted with something else. So follow along and I will try to keep it chronological.

UUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhh. Blogging is about the last thing I want to do (I say about because the last thing I want to do is read the technical specs on high temp thermo coating) It’s not that I dislike writing, cuz I don’t. I love it, but not when I am burnt out on it, and have so much , yet so little to write about. Secretly, I held back on posting, because I was just hoping that the truck would be finished and I could just type “THE END” Alas, that is not the case. We still have a couple weeks left , and since it’s been more than that since my last post, I can’t ignore it any longer.
The days are truly starting to blur together. After Enoch left, we had a week, and then Brad’s Dad and his dad’s girlfriend, Karen came to visit. Fortunately, they are pretty good at entertaining themselves, so it didn’t lag us much. Like I said before, company is company, so it’s not like you operating 100%, but we didn’t dip too far down in production. Plus it was nice to see them and for them to see the progress from their last trip.
Something I would really like to clarify is that I don’t just sit inside shopping online for purses or watch soap operas. For some reason people seem to think I just lay around all day in the lap of luxury. I don’t. In fact I hate being inside. I hate being on the computer. I hate looking for parts that literally do not exist or finding a product that is close enough to the unicorn Brad needs for the truck. I don’t have ample free time to just do whatever. If I did, my hair would always look pretty, I wouldn’t finally get dressed around noon, and I would exercise EVERY single day. When I am not working on truck stuff, I am doing everything else to keep our lives in motion, and start other ventures. I may not get to work outside, and I do not need a gold star, but I definitely have not been on vacation for a year.
Mini-vent complete. Ok. Well as you know the truck is getting more truck-like every day. Brad has been wiring like a mad man. I you ever saw our race trucks, then you are familiar with the wiring Brad likes-simple. Everything is excessive, over complicated, and ill-assembled. To us, the simpler the better. Easier to work on, less problems, and it just makes sense. There is no need for making yellow wires go into brown, then into green…just yellow. Don’t splice unless required, just one wire, one color- done. In the game of electronic equipment, sometimes it just isn’t so simple. I can’t even begin to count the hours of problem solving (thanks Steve for your tech support), making ends that are pretty (each one gets measured, cut, an end soldered on, and shrink tube around it) As much as I would love nothing more than to go count how many wires that has been done with….I’m going to pass for the sake of the greater good (getting this actually done) There is still more wiring to do, but at least the bulk of it is complete.
For all of the boring, wish you were anywhere but here moments, there are greats that just make it all worthwhile. Thursday the 10th, we primed the motor, tested all the parts, and flipped the “start” switch (which I wanted to be one of those giant red “EASY” buttons, but no one values my opinion around here. That and I don’t think it fit on the dash. Oh well. The first two attempts ended in giant mini explosions out the carb (nothing exciting, but for our spectators it was hilarious) Then on the third try, the Sin City Hustler fired up in all her Big Block Ford Glory! I was in the driver’s seat, and to feel her spring to life was amazing. This was real, and it was awesome.
Of course after the initial startup, there has been several runs since. Testing gauges (which all work flawlessly) making sure the heat wasn’t an issue, and tuning the motor. It idles like a champ and sounds like the behemoth it is. Although I think the guys were secretly a little sad about the sound of the exhaust, but honestly, it’s loud and it sounds good….so I could care less about their whining.
I have attached the start up video for your viewing. So make sure you have it plugged in to your surround sound to get a better, more authentic effect.

In the midst of the motor and electrical I had to crack down on my graphics. So moving on to post 2. See how thoughtful I am. Most of you don’t want to read super long posts so I am being so considerate to give you an intermission….yes, you’re welcome.