Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bringing Home The Mack.

____ The Sunday after Christmas, bright and early, we are on our way to collect the Mack. There is already a long line of Canadian cars waiting to go through into the States; mostly on shopping trips but none with a 1989 fire rescue truck on their list. A long day follows, more than would be legal in a truck. To Indianola, Iowa, the last town before Princeton, in Missouri, which has a motel.

____ There is quite a bit of paperwork and customs formalities before your can bring a vehicle out of the US and into Canada, Some of which need to be done before you take charge of the vehicle. Paying for it is the first thing. Carrying big amounts of cash across the border is problematic, so is sending money by post or wire to persons unknown. I was sending money to a county fire protection department so wiring the money to their bank was a lot safer than if it was to a private individual. Next step was to register the vehicle as an impending export at US Customs. They need 72 hours notice of any internal combustion engine vehicle leaving the country, so they can check to see if it is legitimate and not stolen. This has to be done with an accredited agent and cost me $75 with Border Parcel Services of Pembina, who did a good job and came up with the vital IT number.

____ Insurance is another necessity for the truck. This is done through Manitoba Public Insurance, the only insurance option for Manitobans. They need to see a copy of the bill of sale and title before they issue a temporary tag for the required number of days. $38 for five days for a 16 ton truck. All paperwork on the whole trip went surprising easily for someone doing it for the first time, Thanks to Matthew and Jesse for all the good advice and tips.

____ Three fire-fighters from the volunteer force show me the finer points of their old rescue truck. I get the all-important title and bill-of-sale before I set-off back to Canada. Smiling like a Cheshire cat, everything was going well even though it was snowing and Winter Storm Goliath was approaching fast. Then, just north of Des Moines on Interstate 35, at 60 miles per hour, the right steer tyre blew-out. It threw the truck onto the shoulder but luckily I held it from going into the ditch. Totally disabled after two hours of truck ownership.

____ Armed with the apps on my phone, I started calling tyre companyies, none of whom would come out and do road-side repairs in blizzard conditions. Anyway, only one company had the right size of tyre that I needed; a 10 R 20. The only option seemed to be calling for a tow truck but that didn't happen because the weather conditions had prompted the Highway Patrol to enforce a tow-ban. Eventually a cop car came along and authorized a tow; recommending "Dave's Towing and Diesel Repair" from nearby Ames. It was about to get dark by the time we got back to their workshops.

____ The truck is unusual in the fact that it had 20 inch wheels on the front and 22.5 inch wheels on the back. Dave had 22.5 inch steer tyres but not the rarer 20s. He did have a couple of 22.5 inch wheels that he could throw in with a deal for two new steer tyres. He suggested that the other old steer tyre cold quickly go bang too and I was inclined to agree. The good old boys at the repair shop showed a genuine interest in the old Mack; so while they agreed to sort out the wheels in the morning, we went to the nearby Days Inn for the night, not knowing that it was infested by bed-bugs.

____ The next morning with a freaked-out and badly bitten girl friend, we set off again; $1,300 lighter. But at least it had stopped snowing; we made good progress as the little blue Focus followed the fire truck through into Minnesota and up as far as Fargo for our third night in a hotel. The Mack was suffering from electrical problems; probably caused by the taking-off of the light-bars and the siren but added-to by the steer tyre tread ripping out some wires under the right fender. It wouldn't allow headlights and tail lights at the same time. I also wanted to change the anti-freeze/coolant to a good Canadian winter specification. The workshop at the Petro Truckstop did a good job for a set price of $50 plus the fluid. The Red Roof Inn was the best hotel of the trip.

____ Day four started with the two and a half hour run up to the Pembina/Emerson border. US Customs stamped the title with the date and time of export after checking the VIN and ITN on their computer. Then Canadian Customs did an efficient job of writing-up the import papers and relieving me of $1,500. Back home by early afternoon with a 25 year-old truck that goes well, stops well, but had a couple of old tyres that didn't have enough life left.

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