Are you interested in MACHINERY?  Then you might find one of these articles handy:

Pint-size Plow-horses by Doug Smith

Friend, Anybody can Weld by Doug Smith

Non-Electric Dreamin’ by Barbara Bamberger Scott

How to Buy a Pickup for the Homestead by Jamie Svrcek

The Complete Sissy-boy's Guide to Pick-Up Trucks by Neil Shelton

The “Swiss Army Knife” of Homestead Tractors by John Molloy

Homestead Truck Turned Mobile Workshop by Tony Collela

How to Buy a VERY Used Tractor by Neil Shelton 

Classic Tractors by Mary Beth Woods

Book Review: Operator's Manual - Ford Model 8N

Bush-hogging by Neil Shelton

The Metz 22 Non-Stop Run

The Snow Devil  (Video)




From a 1949 Studebaker advertisement... That never-never land where everyone drove a Studebaker.


The Complete Sissy-boy's Guide to Pick-Up Trucks

by Neil Shelton



I grew up on a cattle ranch in the 1950's.  Back then, I was not so interested in nature and practical pursuits so much as I am today.  What I liked most back then were the Beat Generation (or what I imagined it to be) hot rods, and Donna Kay McAlister (not necessarily in that order).

So when I hear stories today about how "ah growed up on a farm, and mah daddy taught us all to work hard and blah, blah, blah...", I reflect that one can grow up on a farm and not really learn all that much about hard work etc. and I offer myself as living proof.

However, when the '70's came along and the back-to-the-land movement was luring young people my age into our rural area, I came to realize that even though I hadn't even been paying attention, just growing up on the farm had taught me quite a number of things that city kids didn't seem to have a clue about.

In fact, quite a few of these folks seemed completely unaware of how to even exist beyond pavement. 

I realized that many of them were innocent of things I had learned, despite myself, as a bored, eye-rolling teenager. 

In fact, compared even with someone as hopeless-appearing as myself, they seemed like complete sissy-boys, even the girls.

If you have just recognized yourself as a complete sissy-boy (or girl) this page is for you.  If you're not sure, keep reading.

The complete sissy-boy makes his first mistake before he ever leaves the metro area.  That is, he doesn't trade his car for something more appropriate to the back roads while he still has a job.

Do not make this mistake.  You will need a pick-up truck from the first day you arrive on your land in the country.  The good news is that you don't need the kind of truck you see towering over you at stop lights, the kind with sumptuous paint jobs, enormous tires and rumbling exhausts.

Those aren't really trucks, they're a young man's misinterpretation of what turns young girls on.

What you need is more of a tool than a toy, or a lure.

However, the sissy-boy's next bone-headed move is to buy a truck-wanna-be, perhaps because these wimpy half-steps seem less intimidating than a full-gendered real truck. 

Above: The Ford Ranchero: an early example of the truck-wanna-be.  Below: the Chevrolet SSR faux truck a more recent example.

Again, you need a truck, not a car, and the fact is that a truck must begin its life as a truck - other wise, it's a car - and always will be. 

The homesteader or small-holder needs a vehicle with the following characteristics:

High Ground Clearance

Ground clearance doesn't matter much when you're on pavement all the time, but when you sink far enough into the mud, when one or both bumpers come to ground crossing a ravine, or when you drive across a rocky field, it's good to have the whole body of the vehicle sitting fairly high off the ground.  Partly, this is achieved in the original design of the vehicle.  Real trucks have a design in which the body sits high relative to the wheels, and which isn't too long with too much overhang. 

That's not enough though, you also need to keep the differential(s) off the ground (see photo above).  I order to do this, you'll need...

Taller Tires/Wheels

Unless you have something hanging loose that shouldn't be, the lowest part of your vehicle will be the differential housing on the axles between the wheels (what hillbilly mechanics call "the punkin").   The only (cheap) way to raise the differential height is with taller tires and/or wheels.

With rocks like these, who needs hard places?  The differential(s) are probably the lowest points on  your truck. 

The monster-truck guys solve this problem with enormous, wide doughnuts that cost lots and lots of money.

However this is not, so we're looking for something a little different.

Super-wide tires do have some innate advantages, they can float across boggy ground.  Being very wide, they deliver a lot of traction in some situations.

What no-one ever tells you is that they are practically helpless in snow, especially crusted snow which they also want to float over.  A narrower tire, with an equally aggressive tread, breaks through the snow and sinks into it enough to find traction on the earth beneath.  If you think you're more likely to need to drive in snow, and less likely to want to jump over a line of school buses, choosing the narrower tire is a no-brainer.

Also, besides being terrifically expensive to begin with, wide tires are hard to keep in balance and rarely wear evenly, so they wear out prematurely.

Had you been paying attention to such plebian concerns rather than devoting your life to interpretive dance, you might have noticed that tires have been getting constantly wider down through the years.  Somewhat less obvious, is that they have also been getting lower, that is, what tire companies call the aspect ratio, the ratio of the tire's width to it's height, has been getting lower.  Typical passenger car ratios are now around 60% and the delinquent in the modified Acura with the megaphone exhaust and dark-tinted windows probably has tires with a 50% aspect ratio. 

What the homesteader wants is a little old-fashioned, but still readily available and quite affordable.  Look for at least a 75% ratio, you can read the ratio of the side of the tire.  If yours says, for example, LT235/85R16, the "LT" refers to the speed rating, which we needn't worry about here, 235 is the width of the tire in millimeters, 85 is the aspect ration, or profile, R denotes a radial tire, and 16 is the wheel diameter.

This is a pretty good size for a homestead/farm tire.  When you're buying a vehicle, look for at least 75% aspect ratio and at least a 15" wheel size, for a quarter-ton truck, more for a half-ton.

  Continued on page 2   >



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