December, 2012: How many straps does it take to keep a Land Rover down?
There are some stories that I have thought should never be told, kept to oneself to protect the foolish... namely me. But at the insistence of two brothers, (who are probably looking for a way to make me look foolish), I am sharing one of my misadventures in order to possibly save others from the same fate.
This past summer we purchased a 1958 Series 1 107" pick-up from a customer a couple of hours away. Normally there would be at least one brother or both to help out with winching and strapping down a truck onto the car hauler trailer; but schedules didn't allow for it this time. Although the truck was not a running truck, I thought I could handle the job alone; I've done it before without any issues.
The electric winch on the trailer always makes us look like professionals. Pull out the cable, hook it up to a strap wrapped safely around the front axle, (pulling an old truck by the front bumper is just asking for trouble), and bring it up to a point where it's giving just enough weight on the trailer's hitch mount to keep the trailer from swaying when you are on the highway, (learned this the hard way). The tedious job is strapping it down; but even that has become a pretty quick job with four axles straps and one safety line. Strapping the doors closed is always a good idea, and we typically use plastic wrap to cover up the windscreen, door windows and side or rear windows. But I didn't have any plastic wrap with me on this trip; and besides, I was planning on taking some back country roads home, so the likelihood of a stone flying through the windscreen was minimal.
The truck was loaded up with a few spare parts strapped under it just before it got dark and after a traditional stop at a Tim's for a coffee and a quick check of the straps, I continued on my way home. The trip was uneventful; actually it was rather relaxing, listening to the radio, interrupted occasionally by the GPS telling me to get off the country roads and take a highway, along with it's nattering statement of defeat, "Re-calculating, Re-calculating".
I arrived home around 10pm, talked to my wife for a few minutes, ("Yes dear, another truck is being parked beside the barn"), and then headed outside with a flashlight to undo the straps and get the pick-up ready to be pushed off the trailer in the morning. But something was wrong... very wrong. Initially I was confused, as I stared at a very different looking Land Rover; stupid flashlight is playing tricks on me. That wasn't the truck that I brought home. It was a pick-up that I picked-up, not a convertible! Why does it look... oh crap! I jumped up on the trailer, somehow thinking there should be a roof laying in the truck bed somewhere. It had a roof when I left. Then I realized that the entire cab was missing. Oh crap....
Somewhere out on the back roads there was a Series 1 pick-up cab and roof. Then the thought struck me; what if the missing cab and roof caused an accident? Do I go look for it? What if I come up to an accident scene? Do I hold up my hand and declare "I'm the idiot that lost the top of his truck!", or do I just drive on, nodding and shaking my head in disgust like everyone there is probably doing? No choices. I'm going to face the consequences like a man! So I went back into the house.
My wife spotted the pale, drained-look on my face, and asked "What's wrong? What did you do this time?" It isn't that I have a habit of loosing Series 1 truck cabs, but I guess I've gotten myself into silly pickles in the past. Once I explained and brought her outside to see my dilemma, she convinced me to saddle-up, get the small utility trailer hooked up to the other Discovery and head down the road, in search of the missing truck cab. We had back-tracked through rain and fog, spotting things that looked like a truck roof multiple times, discovering just how deep the ditches were out on the country; you could hide a transport truck in some of them! Well after an hour of driving, I slowed and turned around in frustration, declaring that "someone must have picked up the cab and we'll see it on eBay tomorrow". I was tired, sick to my stomach, (which reminds me... it was close to midnight, and I hadn't even had dinner yet!), and I just wanted to get back home and wallow in my misfortune.
There's something to be said about a woman's intuition... my wife wouldn't let me go home. She had me turn around again and continue the search, all based on "It's stupid to stop now; it could be just a few miles up the road." So, we continued. And sure enough, a few miles further and there it was; sitting on the side of the road, upside down, the opaque plexi-glass cab windows, fully intact, grinning at me, "Hey, roof loser! What took you so long?"
In future, I will always include a few additional straps to ensure that what I leave with, arrives home with me; particularly, the roof. You can never have too many straps!