Life on the (side of the) Road
As project vehicles go, OPTIMA Jim's 2003 Ford Excursion seemed to come together like most others- at the last minute. Planning for the truck began last year, but various delays pushed everything back to the very last moment. One example of an unanticipated setback was the oil pan that rusted out on the bottom and rusted solid to the block on the top.
Those kinds of setbacks should probably be expected when dealing with a vehicle that has nearly 200,000 miles on the clock. Even after all the delays and setbacks, things still seemed to line up for a departure that would allow Jim and his travelling partners enough time to make it to Cocoa Beach, Florida, for the start of the 2011 Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour.
Wednesday night he drove the truck home, with the only remaining work to be done being the addition of 20x10 BMF wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich rubber. The Edge tuner performed as advertised, the new springs and Rancho shocks reminded Jim of what the Excursion rode like when it was brand-new, the Hellwig sway bar helped the SUV track well on the road and the Maganaflow exhaust system gave a new voice to the turbo and a confident growl out back.
The trouble came when the new wheels and tires were installed on Thursday. On the first test drive, something was clearly amiss as soon as the truck pulled out onto the street. The truck never hit 20 mph and there was clearly something wrong in the drivetrain. When the truck was hoisted onto the lift and the transmission pan was dropped, telltale signs of a dead transmission were found in the debris in the bottom of the pan. It was an unfortunate coincidence and one that will sideline the 400K Power Pack Nation Excursion for at least the weekend.
A new transmission is on it's way and OPTIMA Jim hopes to be on the road late-Monday or early-Tuesday and catch up with the Power Tour in Nashville. We hope your summer driving season goes better than Jim's and we'll keep you posted on his progress (or lack thereof).