Everything you wanted to know about our truck, but were too shy to ask!
Everyone always asks about the truck. It has been the topic of many a newspaper article over the years. Thankfully the ancient ride still goes, and customers recognize it far and wide as the "Soap Truck" from Edgerton. So, for your reading pleasure, here is the story of "The Truck".
Our mascot soap truck is a 1976 Dodge B-30 series, Tradesman van, customized into an ambulance. It served in Miami at some point in its life, but when we discovered it, it was living in Dawn, Texas. Dawn is a small town about sixty miles south-west of Amarillo. At the time (2003), this small town of approximately 800 folks could not afford to purchase a newer ambulance, so they listed the ambulance in an E-Bay auction. We happened to see it there one evening. We had been pondering a soap vehicle for a while, but most cargo vans we had seen were not the right ride. At the time, we had to haul not only the soap to market, but also four small children. Most cargo vans have two seats at best. Here, on this E-Bay auction, was a vehicle that was fully equipped with lots of cupboards and storage, as well as six sets of safety belts for riders. It came complete, with an oxygen tank, an intercom, and a rolling stretcher. So we bid on it, never dreaming that we would ever win. We did win, however, and hubby flew to Texas to drive our treasure back home, sleeping on the stretcher along the way. We donated the oxygen tank to the local health clinic, and use the stretcher to haul our soaps in and out of indoor sales events. Dubbed "Trusty Cowboy" by our four children, he has been hauling soap and kids to markets ever since. He was the favorite playing place for our kids during those days, and still welcomes any other kids who are at the farmer's markets. Their wild fantasy journeys in him used to stagger the adult imagination! Now that my kids are mostly grown up, I think he gets lonely for them, and longs to go to markets just to hear the other kids play.
For you car enthusiasts, the truck engine is a 360 V-8, with a two barrel Holley carburetor. He has the big Posi-Track rear end, and a Torque-Flight transmission without overdrive. He is a true duel-energy vehicle, burning and leaking about a quart of oil every two weeks. Mom keeps a gallon jug of oil in the cab, and fills both at every gas stop. He gets about 10 miles per gallon on a good day, and tried, begrudgingly, to haul our soap trailer behind him. After the transmission failed in 2012, Mom finally saw things Cowboy's way and removed the rear hitch, replacing it with the original step bumper, thus ending his trailering responsibilities. (She suspects that he's secretly glad to get out of the extra work!) The tires are the old 16.5" rims, so you really don't want to get a flat. Most tire stores don't believe that this is a real tire size. Firestone is about the only company left that actually still produces Cowboy's tires, and boy, they are not cheap! The front and rear tires also have different numbers of lug nuts, so tire rotation is limited. With new shocks in 2016, he rides and drives surprisingly smooth for a car his age. He's alot slow to get moving, but once he's at crusing speed, he glides along rather well. In the fall of 2016, the original Holley carburator finally failed, and I had a heck of a time trying to convince him to go. But luckily, there are still mechanics out there who know about such things, and he decided that maybe markets were not so bad after all for 2017. In 2017 he had some major hiccups as fuel pump #2, starter #2, and exhaust decided to fail....as well as about a half dozen other things. All have finally been repaired, (I hope!), and he is still motoring down the highway as we close the 2017 season. On average, he soaks me for about $2500 in repairs per year.
We have swapped the original non-opening windows with ones that vent at the bottom. Getting replacement latches for those windows is next to impossible these days! All of the red flashing lights and siren still worked when we got him, but we are not allowed to use them on the road, of course. Sometimes we get special permission from the Edgerton Police to turn the lights on for the Edgerton High School Homecomming Parade, where Cowboy has towed class floats. (The kids go crazy over Cowboy!) Although hubby was able to get the spotlights to work in Texas, they haven't worked since the day he entered Wisconsin, for no reason. Go figure.
In 2010, the Wisconsin DOT took offense to Cowboy's red lighting (after eight years of peacefully driving around!), so now he sports yellow globes around the top instead of red. They also made us disable the siren unit, but we were able to preserve the PA system and bull-horns on top, so Cowboy can still make his own noise for parades. (Currently he's partial to the Rubber Duckie Song.) Mom thinks he's the hansomest rig on the road!
Since Cowboy has lived all of his life in the south up until now, you can pretty much guess that the air conditioner doesn't work anymore, and the heat works splendidly. At times, Cowboy gets a little over-excited and refuses to turn the heat off! Sometimes on really hot summer days, Mom has to drive with the heat on to prevent him from overheating....and he will literally heat you out of the cab! He hates to run in the cold weather, loves to overheat in the summer, and has a real problem with the damp Wisconsin springs and the chilly Wisconsin falls. Being rear-wheel drive and very top-heavy, he's unbelieveably senile and clumsy in the little bit of snow that he drives in. Mom usually puts him to sleep by December. He has the pleasure of sleeping the snows away, hibernating, until Mom calls to him, "Get up!!! It's market time!!" in the spring. With a choking roar of the motor and a huge belch of smoke, accompanied by delighted shreiks from both the kids and mom, he wakes up and we are off to market for another season!