Saturday, November 1, 2014
The Best SHTF Homestead Truck
I get to "test" drive a number of different vehicles and spend a good amount of time rubbing elbows with all manner of automotive professionals. The people I work for own dealerships spanning about every brand of vehicle made from Ford to Fiat and while I pay little attention to the sales pitch angle I have learned to listen to the mechanics and lot boys closely when it comes to certain topics that will effect keeping a vehicle running in a long term grid down situation.
While many of those in the survival genre like to be cheerleaders for the various Diesel engines and vehicles, with some very valid points for their opinion, I am not sure that our current environment makes them exactly ideal. Yes you can run waste oil through them in many cases so you have a few more options there but generally speaking not enough to make a difference. Even now the few people I know who have tried such alternatives are complaining waste oil is not easy to come by. I seriously doubt if the supply diesel and waste oil will last any longer in a grid down situation than gasoline, at least here in the good ol US of A.
To me then the top priorities for a post collapse vehicle will become engine reliability, available parts supplies, overall gas mileage and size v. horse power. When taken together it is my opinion that there is one particular truck type that shines above the rest.
The Ford F-150, FWD (With manual lockouts) Straight Six 4.9 engine models made from 1964 to 1996 in various configurations.
The Straight Six engine is the most important part of all. This engine was used in so many commercial and private vehicles that it is literally everywhere. From UPS trucks to powerline work trucks, small dumptrucks, and countless large scale generators, ski lifts, etc. etc. It's rated number four in the top 10 engines of all time (in this article at least) and even after being out of production for 18 years it still is rumored to be the most used small commercial engine in N. America.
Last available in the F-150 in 1996 it is generally old enough to be considered easy to work on and many claim is the easiest engine to maintain they have ever worked on and pushes 150 HP out of a six cylinder.
The aspect I look at in my region though is the availability of spare parts. This engine has been used in some racing configurations and the range of spare parts through the retail markets is endless. However the range of spare parts out there through scavenging is also endless and in many cases the vehicles out there are not in private ownership but part of company fleets. Much less likely to be guarded in a long term grid down situation. In fact many of them might well just be abandoned once the work crews decide to not come to work any longer.
Other aspects I would try to find in an F-150 of this type would be the dual gas tanks, perhaps a full sized bed, mostly for the homestead work an extended cab might be more useful in other circumstances, non-power windows and perhaps a bit lifted.
I know picking a homesteading or survival truck is just as controversial as picking a firearm. If you disagree with me there will be no convincing you otherwise anyway. There is also the fact that these old F-150's are becoming increasingly hard to find as well. I waited almost two years before I found one and I had a widespread network in place watching every trade in that was made for just a specific configuration. As it was I had to settle for one with power windows and of course ended up replacing the motors already.
There is also the problem that things can change. The newest trucks that fit this configuration are now 18 years old. How many more years will the commercial fleets and such continue to be available in such numbers is anyone's guess. For now though I still rate this engine and truck model the best bet for a long term grid down situation or generational slide like we are seeing.
One final aspect of the this engine/truck combination is the ease that it can be converted to propane use. I have been told that it easier to convert this type of engine to propane than about any other. Something we may want to consider as the decline moves forward as well.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!