Disassembling a Truck
Paradise Garage

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© 2002 Brian F. Schreurs
Even we have a disclaimer.

WHO ya callin' scrappy?!
The Paradise Garage 1974 Dodge 100 pickup truck, affectionately nicknamed "Colonel Mosby" shortly after realizing that "General Lee" just didn't fit, was in a bit of a spot after Paradise Garage moved to its new digs. We really had no further use for an ancient pickup truck, and the hassles of keeping it running and finding a place to store it were outweighing any educational benefit it might have had. With all the work we've done to it in the last three years, we started bidding at $1,200. Then we decided to settle for even money, $650. After Mosby wouldn't sell even at $400, we came to realize that the truck was literally worth more as parts than as a complete vehicle. After nine months on the market we made plans to dismantle our old friend.

Making its final appearance, Col. Mosby stars in "Piranha Mechanics: How to Reduce a Licensed and Running Vehicle to a Scrap Metal Shell in 20 Hours". Pop some popcorn and get comfortable.

The beginning of the end. Hey, how often do you get to say that and mean it?

So far, most of the work is out of sight. But check out the extensive bleeding. (We caught as much of the fluids as possible.)

Here comes the happy hooker to steal Mosby's heart.

Bye bye drivetrain. Just preparing and removing the engine/tranny combo takes nearly half the 20 hours.

Now it's time to lighten the body as much as possible.

At this point, the project is starting to feel pretty irreversible.

Dune buggy, anyone?

The end. What was left at this point was sent off to be recycled into dog food cans. Or maybe your 2003 Dodge Ram...?

The goal here is to salvage as many useable parts as possible. After all, it would be nice to make back at least Mosby's original purchase price. But, we only had one weekend to do it! Just how disassembled could we take it in one weekend?

Scene I:
Piranha Mechanics Go For the Jugular

The obvious starting point was to remove the engine and transmission. To do that, Piranha Josh grabbed the creeper and shimmied under the truck to work the transmission side while Piranha Brian grabbed the stool and climbed over the fender to work the engine side. Piranha Brian snickered at getting the better end of the deal until the July sun forced him to consider the benefits of perpetual shade. Was that counter-snickering from the driveshaft area? It sounded fishy.

With the driveshaft, crossbrace, speedometer, trans wiring, trans cooler lines, shift linkage, engine mounts, exhaust headers, starter, engine wiring, distributor, emissions controls, fuel lines, radiator, heater hoses, power steering, and air cleaner removed, the Piranha Mechanics had no trouble using a happy hooker (load leveller) attached to a cherry picker (engine crane) to carefully remove the engine and transmission from the truck. The transmission, despite having been drained as thoroughly as possible, still bled through its output shaft seal everywhere it happened to swing. The Piranha Mechanics dropped this mess onto a very nicely built MotorMate engine dolly -- shipped especially for Paradise Garage, and arriving two hours before the engine came out! Thanks guys!

Scene II:
Piranha Mechanics Strip to the Bone

The next step was to lighten the remaining body and chassis as much as possible. Piranha Josh tackled the big job of gutting the interior (another shade job) while Piranha Brian stripped everything forward of the firewall.

Mosby did not go without a fight. Piranha Josh neatly gashed his thumb open, and Piranha Brian slipped from his perch and hit the asphalt hard. Wounded but undaunted, the Piranha Mechanics continued their relentless assault on their former friend.

Piranha Josh made a "mistake" that cracked the windshield, instantly rendering it valueless. He gleefully finished the job with a three-pound sledge. Meanwhile, Piranha Brian patiently removed every scrap of sheetmetal on the front end regardless of value. Halfway through, Piranha "Windshield Slayer" Josh had the audacity to yell out, "Aren't you taking this a little too far?"

At one point, the mechanics closed both doors, momentarily forgetting that they had removed the door handles but not the door latches. Fortunately, with no window glass, it was only a minor setback.

The pile of parts on the ground was finally exceeding the estimated pile of parts still attached to the truck. The Piranha Mechanics enjoyed figuring out which components were genuine mid-1970s factory engineering versus more recent stunningly incompetent redneck bodges. Some items were really hard to tell. One thing could be certain, though; the truck left the factory with a floor. When the mechanics pulled away the rubber floor mats, they found the floor/air ratio was definitely favoring the Flintstones.

Scene III:
Piranha Mechanics Take Bigger Bites

As Sunday afternoon wore on, the Piranha Mechanics began to feel the pressure of too many parts and not enough daylight. It was the last few hours before darkness ended the project.

Once they had the body lightened as much as possible, they jacked up the rear of the truck and tried to remove the entire rear suspension. Alas, the spring bolts refused to budge, and there was no time to massage them out.

But the Piranha Mechanics had a friend, and that friend's name was Mr. Sawzall. The mechanics put a floor jack under the differential, then asked Mr. Sawzall to slice through the inch-thick axle retaining brackets. Mr. Sawzall did so, though his blade was looking pretty tired by the end of the fourth bracket (the Piranha Mechanics did not have any spare blades). The axle dropped free in record time.

On the front end, Piranha Josh was no longer laughing at Piranha Brian's bodywork. The entire front suspension was in plain view. The mechanics used the cherry picker to lift the front end of the chassis off the ground, then dropped the entire front suspension assembly simply by disconnecting the shocks, strut rods, control arms, idler arm, and steering box. What had taken hours two years ago during a suspension rebuild was now done in about 20 minutes. Of course, the entire front suspension was heavy! So the boys put one end onto a transmission jack and pulled it with the other end.

The deed was done. The Piranha Mechanics had stripped the truck to its bare body and frame in about 20 hours.

Now, the question remains, will this project pay off as the parts sell, or was it a huge waste of effort as the parts sit in storage? Only time will tell. Our goal is to recoup Mosby's $650 purchase price. So far we're $30 in the hole since we haven't sold anything, and it cost us 30 bucks to get someone to haul off the scrap metal. The entire list of salvaged parts will be posted in the Paradise Garage Sale. Meanwhile, we'll keep track of how we're faring at getting our money back.

Update: Someone came along and bought the wheels and tires, bringing us out of the hole and $120 positive.

Running Tally: Five months into the parts sales, we're currently at $145.