Thursday, July 12, 2018

Snort'n Nort'n Rides Into the Sunset

Yesterday the old Dodge truck, fondly known as 'Snort'n Nort'n' was driven down the lane by a new owner. Over the winter Jim managed to become the owner of three trucks.  [Four if you count the one bought as a 'parts truck.']  Three trucks and a car add up when it comes to registration, insurance and maintenance. 

The 1992 Dodge Cummins Diesel Ram is the 4th year in the series which came to be known as First Generation Dodge Cummins trucks.
The first ones rolled onto show room floors in 1989, and Jim looked them over with a certain longing, but decided, quite sensibly, that buying one was not within our budget.

 Over the years a succession of trucks were parked in our dooryard--first in Vermont and then in Wyoming, a state where pickup trucks are the usual mode of transportation.

We had been living in Wyoming a few years when our son, Howard, learned that a rancher near his workplace was planning to trade his 1992 Dodge for a newer model.
Based on Howard's description of the truck and its good condition, Jim tore over South Pass to the dealership in Big Piney and made arrangements to purchase the truck--before it even arrived on the lot.  A few days later, on a frigid winter morning we were in the familiar Chevy truck chugging over the mountain to collect the blue Dodge. 

Jim led the way back down the mountain and through Red Canyon driving his prize, while I trundled behind in the Chevy.
The truck proved to be the work horse that Jim needed for hauling construction machinery and building supplies.
The diesel engine had an impressive roar, one which Jim's Siamese cat, Raisin, uncannily learned to distinguish from the many other trucks which traversed the road above the house.  As the hour approached each evening for Jim's homecoming, Raisin took up a listening post at the bottom of the stairs. As Jim down-shifted on approach to our drive, Raisin moved to the glass-paneled front door ready to greet her lord and master. 

When our grandson came to Wyoming for a summer visit he fell in love with the blue Dodge and christened him 'Snort'n Nort'n.'
From that day on, the truck was referred to as 'he' or 'Nort'n.'

Nort'n was essentially a man's truck. The driver's seat had stuck far back, a position that was perfect for the long-legged, tall men of the family.  I didn't often have to drive Nort'n, but when I did, after futile wrestling with the seat adjustments, I resorted to hauling an assortment of work jackets from the back cab, rolling them up to stuff behind me and perched on the edge of the seat. 
Driving a 5 speed standard shift truck wasn't usually a challenge for me; driving Nort'n I often felt that I needed to wrap myself around the steering column and hover over the steering wheel!

That being said, if I had to drive the truck I made the most of the noise and smoke, double clutching and letting him roar!
We bought a second-hand clean slide-in camper and Nort'n took us for weekends in the mountains.

The box/bed on the truck became rather battered, so Jim replaced it with a flatbed with 5th wheel 
Here Nort'n is at one of our building sites.

About a year before we left Wyoming, Nort'n  was refurbished.  Note the sturdy front bumper--meant to save the truck if an unfortunate collision with moose, elk or mule deer should occur.

We drove Nort'n from Wyoming to Kentucky on our search for a retirement home in February, 2010. 
A few weeks later Nort'n was part of the convoy hauling our worldly goods across country in the last fierce blizzard of the season.

Jim's decision to put Nort'n up for sale last month was not lightly taken.  When a vehicle has been part of a family's work and recreation for more than a dozen years, it takes on a personality. 
A great many memories, thousands of miles, and an era has come to its end.

Jim feels that Nort'n  has gone to the best possible new owner.  This man has wanted a first generation Dodge Cummins for years and is enthusiastic about his plans for restoration. 
His parting words as he eased into the driver's seat and switched on the engine, "I'll be taking good care of this truck!"


  1. You must have been sad to see Snort'n Nort'n go, after so many years together he would be an old friend (we felt similarly when our old red Renault Van finally bit the dust - all those happy holiday memories gone to be crushed.) At least your chap is going to a loving home to be restored and part of a new family.

    Great pictures and memories there. I had to smile at your accounts of bolstering up the seat before you drove him though. I hate it when my feet have to reach for the pedals.

    1. Jennie; I meant to take one last photo of 'Nort'n' before 'he' was driven away. I waited out a cloudburst in the barn while the goats were being milked--never saw the couple drive in to collect the truck, and no time to dash into the house for my camera after I trudged back up the lane. Maybe just as well--partings are difficult, even with 'inanimate' things.
      Having vehicles with fully adjustable seats is a must when family members are of very dissimilar heights. After driving the car I'm meant to let the seat back so that Jim will be able to get behind the wheel for the next trip!

  2. What a 'great' truck Nort'n was for Jim. Glad it went to someone who will restore and enjoy having it himself.

    Thanks for the story.


    1. Rainey; Here in KY we see so many vintage vehicles rusting away behind someone's house or barn--I'm glad that Nort'n will be appreciated.

  3. A good vehicle becomes like a family member, glad he's gone to a good home.

    1. Janet; I am delighted that you referred to the old truck as 'he!'
      Its not like parting with a horse or a dog or cat--but the out-cry from family members has been substantial!

  4. Loved your tale of Snort'n Nort'n! We too had a version of this truck. When my mom died in 1997 she left me a sum of money to do with as I wished. We had just finished building our house and barn in Reading, Vermont and were about to start lugging chattle up I-91 in our tag along stock trailer. A tag along aluminum stock trailer is just fine for short distances on back roads but not on a highway. The sway is unnerving to say the very least! I had just driven my horse from Massachusetts to the Chicago area for a clinic, pulling that trailed with our Suburban. A White Knuckle trip, both ways! After much research I bought myself a one ton, dual wheel,Dodge diesel, 5 speed transmission truck and a gooseneck stock trailer and never looked back. My husband, not to be outdone, then bought a gooseneck equipment trailer. We never looked back! That truck hauled horses, cars, tractors and anything else that needed to be moved, without so much as a groan. Loved that truck!!

    1. Mundi; Thank you for sharing your truck story. Several family members have bought diesels made by Ford or Chevy--we think the Dodge Cummins in all its incarnations is the gold standard.
      I'm glad I wasn't a passenger on your trips with the bumper hitch trailer!
      I can recall only once that I drove Nort'n with a trailer behind--it was up in the high desert near the Wyoming/Utah border when we were coming from Logan, Utah with building supplies. Jim was tired and asked me to drive for a few miles. Then, instead of taking a nap he proceeded to tell me when to shift, what speed to drive, not to hit potholes, etc. It wasn't my finest hour!