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artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/22/16 4:29 p.m.

MB has been going without much issue. Just need to keep topping off oil and threw some ATF in there this morning which seems to have helped with the hard shifts.

Small photo dump incoming!

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/22/16 4:34 p.m.

All photos taken over the last 24 hours with a Nikon D3200, 18-55mm lens, full auto mode, no editing.

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artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/23/16 12:27 p.m.

The Merc is leading the charge into the desert today

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artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/23/16 12:46 p.m.

Also, I am proud to announce that both vehicles survived the climb to 7000ft in the sequoia national forest yesterday. May not be a huge accomplishment, but we consider it a victory.

Pictures and report to follow, the forest was incredible

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Dork
3/23/16 1:16 p.m.

Altitude was one of our primary enemies in the Maverick- congrats on the climb!

TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte SuperDork
3/24/16 11:08 a.m.

I was amazed at how HUGE those trees were, awestruck actually.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/25/16 12:27 a.m.

Sorry for the lack of updates, our days have been fairly hectic, and with limited cell service, its tough to get the photos from my camera to my phone, uploaded, and posted here with any explanation. I will have to put together a full write up of the trip when I get back.

For what its worth, both vehicles are running relatively well. Every fuel stop involves adding oil and whatever other fluids get puked out along the way, but no major drama. We made it from Williams, AZ (thanks for the suggestion) to some town just east of Albuquerque(?). Tomorrow is a long day as we are hoping to get to Tulsa to visit an old friend.

We did go on a little adventure on some back roads today and I wanted to share this glorious picture of the Merc:  photo DSC_0232.jpg

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
3/25/16 11:44 a.m.

I scrolled down to see the hood strap, chuckled, and then scrolled down some more...

volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
3/25/16 11:46 a.m.

Make sure you explore the "Sidewalk Road" in NE Oklahoma. It'll be fun in the Ford...possibly less so in the Merc.

Catoosa, OK has a concrete whale that's everything you'd expect from rural America.

Carthage, MO is a cool little town to explore, as is Cuba.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/25/16 3:16 p.m.

Define "fun." Rough roads are somewhat of a pain point in the truck. The combination of this bushing:

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And extremely dry rotted tires makes me cringe any time the roads get rough.

In other news, we are in Oklahoma! We have been fighting strong winds the last few days and today has been especially rough. The oil leak situation is pretty bad, this is what happens in the time it takes to fill up a tank of gas:

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At one point the oil pressure gauge started showing a borderline normal reading (instead of zero) which was cause for alarm. Seems to be back to showing no oil pressure now thankfully.

Also, I created a speedometer conversion chart since it's inaccurate and bounces around a bit:

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TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte SuperDork
3/25/16 4:41 p.m.

Looks like a typical blue oval speedo chart to me?

dropstep
dropstep Dork
3/27/16 9:49 p.m.

i just recently bought the rustier 2wd version of that truck in ohio, as much as i wanted to avoid rust i didnt have time for a trip like this! im jealous.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/30/16 7:20 p.m.

Alright, I guess it's time to do some sort of trip report now. The Merc was far more photogenic than the truck, so the photo count is biased, but I promise the truck made it.

LA

No pictures from the couple days I spent in LA, mostly visiting friends and buying a truck. It looked exactly like I figured it would from the 3 grainy pictures on the craigslist ad. I had never owned a truck before but it had a manual transmission, 2 bench seats, and a functioning modern radio, and I had to have it. The seller wasn't much for negotiating, but I got him down to a price that I figured shouldn't give me any problems when it comes time to sell it back in MI. I managed to get the truck up to an indicated 75mph on the way back down to the city, nearly pooped myself, and only much later realized how fast I had actually gone in that giant brown brick.

Anyway, on Sunday night, we made our way to Ventura to avoid morning traffic in LA.

Day 1:

Avoiding LA traffic didn't really matter since we spent the whole morning driving around to parts stores and harbor freight getting all sorts of supplies. Spent the night sleeping in the bed of the truck, which was parked next to the dumpsters in a hotel parking lot. Glamour is the name of the game here.

Got my first trip of handling hills in the truck on this day; found out early that the brakes get hot quickly. Still, this view couldn't be spoiled by the smell of hot brakes:  photo DSC_0638.jpg

We made it to Morro Bay for lunch and I picked up some parts for the rallycross Miata. Probably the best lunchtime view of the trip:  photo DSC_0659.jpg

The weather started taking a turn for the worse, but we still could have spent a week driving up the coast taking photos and exploring.

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Suddenly the road started getting much more interesting and the views dramatic (see photos from earlier on this page of the thread). It was the most amazing road I've ever been on, it was like driving into a new postcard around every turn. Judging by the amount of fun I had on this road in a truck, you could bring just about anything and enjoy yourself. Caught the sunset at the Bixby canyon bridge and made our way to Monterey to find a hotel parking lot to camp out in.

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TRoglodyte
TRoglodyte SuperDork
3/30/16 7:33 p.m.

Well done flogging that Furd home,awesome pictures.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
3/30/16 7:40 p.m.

DAY 2:

Took an early morning cruise on 17 mile drive in the Mercedes, saw some amazing homes and sights

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Then we did the usual morning routine of topping off fluids and started heading inland:

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After surviving the Pacific Coast Highway in the rain the day before, I was starting to trust the truck at this point. I was still trying to figure out how frequently which fluids needed to be replenished, but thankfully we stopped for gas frequently enough that I had plenty of opportunities to check. Just after we stopped for lunch and put on shorts, we started climbing into the Sequoia National Forest and the temperature dropped dramatically.

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The Mercedes looked so at home in this environment that I had to stop and take some more photos:

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For those that have never been, I would HIGHLY recommend coming to the Sequoia National Forest. This was probably my favorite day of the trip. The size of the trees is staggering.

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The view as we were coming out of the forest wasn't bad either:  photo DSC_1009.jpg

Aside from being too long to take some of the hairpins comfortably, the truck was an amazing gravity assisted racecar. Only had to stop to let the brakes cool down twice, but it made for some more nice photo opportunities.

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volvoclearinghouse
volvoclearinghouse SuperDork
3/31/16 6:51 a.m.

Your pictures are amazing. I guess that's what happens when you bring an actual camera on your trip, and not just a Crackberry with a built-in.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
4/1/16 2:47 p.m.

Thanks! I just recently bought an entry level DSLR and figured this trip would be a good way to break it in and figure out how it works. Still haven't figured out how it works, but it took good pictures in "auto" mode.

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
4/10/16 7:28 p.m.

Guess I should probably continue this, eh?

DAY 3: WELCOME TO THE DESERT

We spent the night in Bakersfield, CA and started making our way East on this day, joining onto Route 66 for a few long stretches. Getting a different camera angle was one of the trucks most significant features.

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While still in California, I saw what I thought was a large tumbleweed or piece of trash in the distance. As we got closer, I realized it was actually a person. Not only was it a person, but it was probably the most interesting woman I'd ever met. We stopped to talk to her, gave her some food/water, offered a ride, and listened to her story. She had been biking since last July and had ridden as far as we would drive. Meeting her really put our trip (and lives) into perspective, I don't think I will ever forget this amazing woman.

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Pretty much absolute radio silence in our cars for a while after leaving her. We stopped for lunch just before crossing into Arizona and then jumped back onto Route 66. This particular section of the road was wildly different than the arrow straight sections just a couple hours prior. Constantly changing direction and elevation, finally climbing over Sitgreaves pass. Not before coming across the famous Burros in Oatman, AZ.

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Our overnight stop on this day was Williams, AZ (Thanks again for the suggestions!). Saw those terrible Burma Shave signs, but the rest of the view made up for them.

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artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
4/10/16 8:04 p.m.

DAY 4: GRAND CANYON (and the worst meal of my life)

Got up at 4:00 AM, topped off fluids in 15 degree weather, and got to the Grand Canyon in time for the sunrise. It was incredible.

You can find much better pictures of the Grand Canyon than what I have to offer, so I'll keep this part short. The far side of this ledge is where we decided to watch the sunrise, and it's probably worth mentioning at this point that both of us are afraid of heights to some degree.

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Sunrise was on our right, with a full moon still in the sky to our left. I don't think I could have asked for more perfect conditions.

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Once we had our fill of the canyon, we decided to head east rather than going straight back down to I-40/Route66. This is where the Merc went on a little offroad expedition. It was pretty much made for this type of stuff.

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On the way down to Flagstaff, I decided to stick the camera out my window and took a few rolling shots of the Mercedes since the scenery was changing and this seems to be what all the cool kids are doing these days.

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The lunch stop for today was Holbrook, AZ before heading into the Petrified Forest National Park. Despite some great reviews on google, the diner we stopped at for lunch had me debating cutting a hole in the back of my jeans in case of an emergency. Looks like the last guys to eat there didn't even make it out of the parking lot:

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Saw some trees that turned into rocks via some kind of witchcraft.

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Proof that the truck was still going strong and this isn't actually just a log of some mercedes driving across the country:

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It's no Grand Canyon, but the park was definitely worth a visit.

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At this point we were realizing that following Route 66 would make it nearly impossible to make our overnight stop of Albuquerque at a reasonable hour so once we got out of the National Park, we cruised I-40 for the rest of the evening.

2002maniac
2002maniac Dork
4/11/16 10:38 a.m.

Excellent trip report! Keep it up.

crewperson
crewperson New Reader
4/11/16 11:03 a.m.

In March I flew out to Anahiem to retrieve an old RV I got off of Ebay. I drove it back to London Ontario. I was amazed at the people on bicycles traveling on the interstate in Arizona and New Mexico. I wish I would have had a chance to talk to any of them to see where they were headed. Sell the truck or the MB yet? I haven't even looked at the RV since returning.

The_Jed
The_Jed PowerDork
8/25/16 10:54 a.m.

Any updates?

artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
9/12/16 9:00 a.m.

Unfortunately not much in the way of photo updates.

After stopping in Albuquerque, we made a cannonball run to Tulsa to meet up with a friend. That resulted in a 12 hour drive in one day, dealing with crosswinds the whole way. That was also the day that I got pulled over. In Texas. With California Plates. And a Michigan license. Needless to say, the officer was a bit suspicious. Thankfully, everything checked out, I had insurance, and he let me off with a warning. (Claimed I was following the Mercedes too closely)

After a long night of catching up with an old friend in Tulsa, the cruise home was relatively uneventful. We stopped at the Pryor Creek bridge:  photo DSC_0354.jpg

Of course we stopped to admire some of the more significant landmarks in the area:  photo DSC_0390.jpg

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But perhaps the most welcome sight, and one that I wasn't sure I'd get the opportunity to see from the driver's seat of the truck when the journey began, was this:

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artur1808
artur1808 New Reader
9/12/16 9:19 a.m.

In all honesty, I was blown away by this trucks resilience. Against all odds, it made it 3,300 miles in one week. And with no major issues along the way. As soon as I bought it from the previous owner, I had a moment of "what did I just get into?"

Minutes after exchanging money for a title, the distributor started giving me problems. The truck leaked so much oil that it would get onto the clutch and cause terrible shudder from time to time. The tires looked like they may as well have been from the 1980's, and the amount of things that buzzed/squeaked/rattled was too high to count. But SOMEHOW, with a few minor tweaks, and a constant rolling oil change, the thing made it. Radio even worked. I couldn't have asked for a better vehicle to do this trip for the first time.

I had never owned a truck before, and I'm not sure I will again, but it was an experience I'll not soon forget. The huge bench seat was surprisingly comfortable for a week of driving, the manual transmission paired to the asthmatic 351 made it just slow enough that you could have fun pushing it to the limit, and the huge bed made for a surprisingly sleeping area that was surprisingly comfortable for two people.

Overall, I give the trip a 10/10. Look for another one of these to happen next spring, but with a more northern route.

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