And then later that same morning....Chris called from Springfield to inform us he had been in a minor fender bender in Springfield in our Ford Ranger. The minor fender bender turned out to have been a totalling of this truck in an accident that hit so hard it bent the frame and destroyed the front clip of the truck, jammed the drivers door closed and knocked the front hood sideways by 2 inches. This is the truck we have kept as a backup, we replaced the head gasket less than a year ago and it was the only transportation for Judy and Chris and now thanks to Chris' carelessness they are without a vehicle to use.
I know it was an accident but at some point accidents cross the line into blatant disregard for other people and this is probably his 5th accident and I am almost as mad at myself for even letting him drive any of our vehicles in the first place. I have never liked to loan out vehicles, tools, or equipment and if I can impart any lessons learned from this to others its go with your gut and stick to your guns...no more will we be in the transportation business.
Luckily I am a pretty fair mechanic and body and fender man gleaned from a lifetime of liking old vehicles but being too cheap to pay anyone to keep them running so we will most likely be able to get it back on the road at least in good enough shape to use as a commuter for work.
This is actually taken after we took the body panels off and pulled the front end over with a chain hooked to the GMC. The bumper and inner fender panel shown here were pushed almost to midline but it pulled out pretty good. The frame is still tweeked a bit and I may take it and have the frame straightened but it actually drives okay and tracks good.
I got the hood realigned and it now latches and sits pretty good. I will have some body work to do on the hood but we arent going for a show truck here....we just need something safe that will pass State inspection.
We made a lot of progress today and even got the drivers door unjammed and working fairly well...its just a little sticky now.
The headlight header is made out of fibreglass on these rigs and this one was destroyed as you can see. The drivers side headlight naucelle was pushed behind the grill and the front bumper was pushed up almost to the license plate until we pulled it out. Today we went to one of the largest junk yards in the Midwest thinking we could buy some parts....nope. It seems other working families like us have kids who shouldnt be behind the wheel and beat us to the parts we needed...and I am not joking. The junk yard foreman said the week before an angry dad much like myself had come in with a parts list almost identical to mine and high graded the parts we needed.
We were going to try and save this panel since I am pretty good with Bondo and we arent looking for perfection but it was just too far gone. We ordered an OEM replacement and I will salvage the fender flare and Ranger badge. We also ordered a new headlight header, some air deflectors that are important parts of the grill assembly but that you cant see, and a new drivers side turn signal assembly.
I did a mechanical check on the engine and transmission and surprisingly no major issues were found and as you can see in this picture we have been able to hammer, pull, and jimmy almost everything back into place. We just want to be able to drive this thing down to the store if we need to and unfortunately our plates are up for renewal which means we have to put this through State inspection.
This is the only piece that we decided to not pull out any further. Its part of the radiator support and I should cut the whole thing out and replace it (and may yet have to) but I think we have the brackets in place to re-mount the headlight header, the grill, and the drivers side front quarter panel. We will need to do a little welding and it wont be perfect but I was starting to tear the support which is otherwise in pretty good shape and frankly we are trying to go cheap here. I do cheap real well and I can almost guarantee I can fix this and make it useful and pass inspection.
So there you have it. If your going to live rural things like this will happen and unlike in the city you cant just put things off and walk or bike for awhile. This truck is a 2000 and had a blue book value of about 1800 - 2500 even though it was in pretty good shape so the damage effectively totaled it. I figure that we will be about $600-$800 into it for parts (which Chris will pay for) when all is said and done but if we couldnt do the work ourselves we would be looking at a couple thousand...and no body shop will agree to only do just enough to pass inspection.