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4xForward by 4xFred: Friends With Wrenches

Posted in Features on August 12, 2015
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I love project trucks, and I hate project trucks. I hate them because I always give myself some crazy deadline and the week before the deadline I'm killing myself to get the darn thing done. This is true even if I set the deadline 35 years away so I will have "plenty of time." This results in plenty of time not getting it done until the week before it needs to hit the trail.

I love project trucks because it's so much fun to build something, but I've noticed that recently I am building more and more stuff with the help of friends, shops, and anyone else I can wrangle into the mix. I am no doubt a bad friend because I always have something heavy that needs loaded, or some bolt that requires two people to tighten, or some other problem that I can't complete without assistance. I guess I could really use an assistant, but I have no budget for that, no time to wait for babies to grow up and help, and no knowledge of how to train my two dogs to hold the wrench inside the cab while I tighten the nut underneath the cab.

The other day I spent 25 minutes trying to remove a pedal from the firewall of a truck because I had to wedge the wrench inside on the bolt head then climb underneath to loosen the nut, only to hear the wrench fall off the bolt head after a quarter-turn. And you wonder why I throw tools out of frustration. Actually, I don't throw tools out of frustration because it would just make me even more frustrated if I had to walk around the yard looking for the wrench I just threw out there in frustration.

My friend Perry told me a funny story about how he was on a construction job with his brother. Out of frustration at who knows what, Perry took his hammer and threw it at the ground. The hammer hit a board, bounced up in the air, and whacked his brother right in the forehead. As the blood ran down his forehead he gave Perry such a look of disgust that from then on Perry never threw a tool out of frustration again. I have three brothers and so I took that story to heart and gave up throwing tools myself. So should you.

But back to project vehicles. One of my favorite parts of any project truck is working with a shop to build something cool. There are many reasons to do this. It promotes the shop, it helps me get the project done, and it usually means a professional is working on the project, not just a magazine guy who loves 4x4s. What's more, I get to learn cool truck-building tricks from these guys who do it daily, and bring some of those tricks to you via the articles about the project. Plus on many occasions I've cross-pollinated ideas from one shop to another in ways that helped everyone, such as welding old spring U-bolts together as caliper hooks when working on a front end, or using a big welding clamp on a drill press base to keep a piece of metal from spinning around while drilling a hole. But the real reason is that it's fun to build stuff with other people.

On those late nights when it's down to the wire and we were trying to get this year's Ultimate Summer Camp Jeep done for the Ultimate Adventure, I recall the silly tired antics with the crew from Synergy Manufacturing more than anything else. Guys trying to wire stuff and weld stuff and all the while laughing about who knows what because we were so exhausted. Strange inside jokes and weird sing-alongs with the radio are not unusual when it's after midnight and a 4x4 needs to be finished. Those are the best parts of building project trucks and why I'm always looking for friends and shops to build stuff with. Because it's fun.

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