The Homesteading Experience
The saga of the Ranch Truck continues.  The fuel additive
helped a little bit, and next I tried an oil additive.  I am afraid
that the two years the truck sat at the ranch and didn't get
run, the seals have all dried up and cracked.  I put two cans
of a product called Restore in the crank case hoping it would
help.  Restore claims to help rejuvenate old rings and seals.
After running the truck for about 70 miles the engine
smoothed out pretty good.  When I am sitting at idle it still
misses badly, but once I give it some fuel it smooths out for
the most part.  When I first start the truck it smokes pretty
bad, and if I stop at a red light and have to wait very long it
gives a good puff of black smoke when I finally take off again,
but it still runs.  I've talked to a couple of mechanics about it,
but because the truck is so old and beat up, they do not want
to work on it.  That means it's up to me if the truck is going to
get fixed, and unfortuantly I have very limited experience
working on diesel engines.  I purchased a Chilton manual
however, and if I need too I guess I can rebuild the motor.
At this point I'm into the truck for only about $1000. so I have
to decide if it's worth spending anymore.  At this time I don't
trust the truck enough to drive any distance from home.  I am
still using it to drive across town, and to the store for
supplies, and it hasn't given me any trouble.  I'm afraid that
out of the blue one day I'm going to blow a piston, and there
I'll be.  I recently came across another truck that might be
worth investing in.  It's a 1996 Ford F150 with 89K miles.  The
outside is a little banged up, the inside is pretty clean, 4 new
tires, automatic, and cold AC.  Currently the truck doesn't run,
but the owner towed it to the homestead for me to look at,
and I'll see if I can fix it.  At first glance I believe the problem
is an after market alarm that has malfunctioned.  If I remove
the alarm I believe the truck will start, and if it does I might
be able to work a good deal on it.
It's not a heavy duty diesel like I wanted, but it's a truck with a
bed, and I can use it to pull a trailer.

Homesteading experience
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I finally got the chance to work on the 1996 Ford truck.  After lots of  line tracing, and some
trial and error, I was able to isolate the auto alarm.  This is what I know about auto alarms.  
Depending on how fancy the alarm is, and how diligent the installer was, the alarm can be
spliced into the vehicles wiring system in a couple of places, or as many as a dozen.  Guess
which one I had?  That's right, I had approximately 12 wire splices to trace out and restore.
The good new however is that after restoring the wiring system, and removing the alarm, I
was able to start the truck.  A good check of the vehicle, and it appears everything is running
good, and the truck starts with no problems now.

I was very proud of myself for figuring out what was wrong with the truck, and getting it
running again.  The next day however, the truck was dead and wouldn't start.  A quick check
and I discovered that the battery was dead.   I put my meter on the battery and it appeared to
be alright, just in need of charging.  A few hours on the charger, and the truck started right up.
I checked the battery again and everything looked good.  The next day however, the battery
was dead again.  Back to the drawing board!  It was obvious I had a short somewhere, or
something was draining the battery.  I double checked all of the wiring repairs I had done to
make sure everything was connected and secured.  Everything looked good.  In my
experience I have found electrical shorts or battery drains are usually something small.  I
checked some simple things that can cause battery drain.  I made sure the hood light was
going off when I closed the hood, I checked the dome light inside the cab to make sure it
wasn't coming on, and then I found the problem.  The glove box light was not turning off.  
The switch inside the glove box that turns the light off and on was broken, so I removed the
bulb, and the problem was solved.  I recharged the battery, and have not had any more

I contacted the owner of the truck and told him I would purchase  it "As Is".  We agreed on a
price of $700., and after a little paperwork the truck was mine.
Well every homestead needs a good truck, but now I've got two.  I decided that even though
the 1996 Ford wasn't a diesel, it was in very sound condition, and the low miles meant it
probably had lots of life left in it.  The decision was made to sell the old diesel.  I placed an ad
on Craigslist the next day.  I know the truck has lots of issues, and it could possibly have
some bigger problems that I don't know about yet, so I made sure my ad was very clear on the
condition of the vehicle.  I gave a very good description, explained how the vehicle was
running, mentioned the black smoke, rough idle, everything I could think of, and included
some photos of the truck.  Asking price $700.00
Within the first couple of days I had received numerous inquiries, but even though I gave a
very detailed description, and explained the problems with the truck, I still had people
contacting me wanting to know if it ran good, how was the A/C etc.  Finally I sorted through
and found two people who were interested in the vehicle "As Is".  I invited both persons to
come over and take a look at the truck and test drive it, which they did.  The first one decided
the truck was more work then he wanted to take on, but would give me $250. for it.  The
second person was looking for a truck he could rebuild and customize, and he really wanted
the truck, but did not have $700., so I agreed to sell it too him for $500.  
All in all, I took a gamble on the old diesel farm truck and it didn't work out so well, but luck
was with me and I had the opportunity to gamble on another cheap truck which worked out
great.  I ended up with a good Homestead truck and my total investment was $1160.  I think
that's a pretty good deal for a free and clear vehicle that runs great.

Now maybe I can get back to working on my house!
The photo on the left is the spot were the refrigerator
was located.  After I removed the refrigerator I
discovered a huge nest of fire ants that went up the
wall about 3 foot from the floor.  I ripped out the
sheetrock, exterminated the ants, and cleaned a
huge pile of dirt out of the wall.  I guess I'm lucky it
wasn't more termites.
The above pictures show me working on the floors.  As previously discussed, after removing
the carpet and pad, I had to spray an enzyme solution on the floor to kill the urine stains and
odor.  What I'm doing at this point is painting the entire floor with a primer.  I'm using an all in
one primer from Kilz, and rolling it on nice and thick.  Once I'm finished I don't think I'll have to
worry about the urine stains or the odor coming back.  It might be over kill, but better safe than
The photos above and to the left show the
construction of the office walls.  Originally this
house was built with an open floor plan.  The
family room, living room, dining room, and
kitchen all pretty much open to each other.  There
was a short wall that came out to the right of the
front door, extended floor to ceiling about 10 ft.
out into the room giving a little separation
between the family room and living area.  I tore
this wall out completely.  Since it is just my wife
and I living in the house, we didn't see a need for
a family room and separate living area.  Instead
I'm building two walls and enclosing the family
room area to become an office.
Homestead experience