During the first spring break after high school, the gang here at Randomland got together and spent $110 on an old, beat up 2wd Toyota pickup truck. Over the course of several years, we cleaned it, broke it, fixed it, and broke it again. It's final resting place seems to be at the far end of the field at Nick's house; may she rest in peace.
Through the many ages of the Randomnets (2002-present), we have provided you with giant, uselessly long stories of Francine. Check out the stories below!
I have added a few Francine pictures to the image gallery. I will be digging up more in the days to come, but it's a start. View them here.
Now you can view videos of Francine on YouTube! Access the videos here; more to come soon!
First of all, please forgive the current formatting of these stories. We moved the site off of GoDaddy's servers a few months ago (YAY!!) and the image gallery was lost. Some of the images have been restored, here, but the in-story links are still broken. I'll work on getting them back up soon (aka some time 2009).
Part 1 — The Story Begins
Here is where the epic tale of Francine the Crap Truck start. This tale is one of miscommunication, triumph, and acquisition. And perhaps unsurpisingly, it is not one involving keys.
Part 2 — Meet the Parents
After buying the vehicle, we decided our parents should all have the privilege of being graced by her beauty. They were in awe!
Part 3 — Let's Go Camping!
The first thing everybody does when they get a new car is to seehow it will fair on the backroads. We chose logging roads. It was mildly disastrous and a ton of fun.
Part 4 — Damage Assessment
The truck was a globulous mess of house paint, carpet, insulation, and plywood. Oh yes, and plants starting to grow in the bed.
Part 5 — Beautifying and Bashing Francine Some spray paint and fresh oil could never hurt a crap truck, right? A few spins in the cow-field, however, are not so benign.
Part 6 — More Cleaning, Beating, and Bashing
This may or may not have been the last section written about Francine. Read about us swapping out the fuel pump and getting her stuck in the mud!
It was the best of times, it was the wettest of times -- and mine shoes hath leaketh since the extraction of the duct tape. During Spring Break of 2003 Brad, Nick and I decided it was high time to look for some trouble. As we are not normal, it was concluded that the best place to look for trouble on this 2nd weekend of March was the Barlow Auction Center in Barlow, Oregon. Now, I am not implying that we are, or have ever been normal. That possibility was thrown through the window long before this incident, thus breaking it leaving us to pick up the pieces while others laughed incredulously as we used duct tape to repair the damage. But that series of events which proceeded that fateful week are ones that will be ever engraved in my mind (I thought my head hurt...)
It all started weeks before Spring Break 2003. As I sat in my dorm room I chatted with Nick and Brad about the need of another beater vehicle. As you may recall, we acquired a Ford Tempo over the summer, leading to an ... interesting ... camping trip. Growing increasingly tired of the computer monitor, I decided it was time to embark on another such "beater adventure." Slowly, very slowly, Spring Break rolled around. I took the first opportunity to jet back to my hometown. Plans were made, and by that first weekend Nick, Brad and I headed to the auction house (yes, the same one the Tempo came from).
This is where the trouble / fun begins. The day had started off appearing as if it could turn into a nice day. It didn't - the weather turned sour and the rain began to fall. Living in Oregon, this is hardly a new thing but the situation was complicated by my age old shoes. Having been used well past their feasible functionality, these shoes leaked like Microsoft code. Merely walking across a wet parking lot leads to a strikingly wet right foot. Puddles are out of the question, unless you want to use them as watersocks. Unfortunately, the lot where all the cars to be auctioned off looked like a graveled minefield, creating puddles deep enough to eat my foot off. But fear not! It's not that I am so poor I can not afford shoes that work as designed. It is, instead, that I left school and my dorm room in such a hurry, that I forgot the pair of shoes that I had worn for the past 6 months. In fact the leaky shoes hadn't been touched in months. I ended up with these because my normal shoes had been dirtied in a dash of "offroad" excitement. Anyway, this "feature" of my shoes was remedied for a few hours by green duct tape, but later fell off. It's amazing how much a wet foot or two can create grumpiness and discomfort.
Well, that was the horribly boring saga of the leaky shoes (I got decent ones the next day at Costco for $10! Ok, I promise, no more about the shoes) Now on to the important part of the story - the auction! Before even leaving, Nick had his heart (or wallet) set on a Subaru wagon. The one thing that gave it the thumbs up was the fact that it was a manual transmission. It had long since been agreed that the next beater would be stick shift, increasing fun, breakable parts, and the learning experience for Brad. Several other cars in the minefield caught our attention, but not as much (in terms of actually buying.) After being told I can't climb on cars to avoid puddles; after being yelled at not to open the hoods of the cars (why?? I don't know!); and after revving a '91 Supra Turbo and entertaining myself with the whirry sound of the turbo charger we ran out of time and the auctions began. To make a long, boring story short, the Subaru went for more than we deemed it worth (over $150 ) As the day wore on, we began to be confronted with the reality that we may not come home with a beloved beater this time.
And then she strolls in. Ok, fine, we hardly noticed its presence. Rolling through was an '81 Toyota pickup, complete with a bashed in bed and extra paint in random places on the body. I have to be fair - Nick did ask if he should bid on it. Wanting something to bash, I said "....sure!" About 2 minutes later, Nick returned with a funny look on his face, and said that he had just bought the truck for $100. I laughed, Brad made some funny sounds, and we all went to go pay for the thing. Since there were about 1.2billion (give or take 1.19995 billion) people waiting in line to pay for their newly won prizes, we had to wait. Darn. So standing in the lobby, we immaturely punched at each other and made a general ruckus.
After 15 minutes or so, I interjected with the thought that our new truck should have a name. In about 1 1/2 seconds Nick blurted "Francine!"... and it stuck.
Once we ('we' being Nick) finally paid for the wondrous new truck 'Francine,' we headed out to the lot to see what we had done. Oh and it was bad. At a first glance, the truck looked, pardon my French, like a piece of crap. Upon further inspection, it was unanimously agreed that it was a piece of crap.
Despite the fact that the truck looked more appalling than a pile of vomit, it ran. In fact, it even has the same motor as my '87 Toyota truck, but no one cares. What this means in a nutshell is that the truck is gutless, but will run forever.
After a brief scuffle over who 'got' to drive the new vehicle home, we decided to make Nick do it, since he was the one who paid for it (initially) and to keep my butt out of trouble. To everyone's astonishment, we made the trip home without a hitch (...literally). In fact, we estimated that the brown-mutton-mobile hit 80mph!
Speeding on a public freeway with an unlicensed, uninsured, and questionably street legal, and just plain hideous vehicle is generally not encouraged, but we had to try, right?
Later that afternoon, our families got the pleasure of meeting the new truck. Accompanied by the persistent laughing was the itching question of 'Why??' Having done our damage for the day, we all went home, or played games over at Nick's house, or something.
The next day we decided to check prices for spraypaint to brighten up Francine's image. So we headed to the local GI Joe's and stared at the shelves until someone noticed us. Some guy tried to help us until he realized that we had no intention of using a spray-gun or any sort of decent paint job. On the way back to Nick's house I was flipping through the radio stations, trying to find something of interest. I came across the ending of the song 'Teenage Wasteland' (Baba O'Riley) by The Who. Stopped at a traffic light, I ... moved ... to the music on the radio while Nick and Brad tried to ignore me as the three of us sat in two seats. Some teenagers with their thumping music rolled up next to us. Yeah, they stared. After a good 45 seconds - 1 minute of this, the light finally turned green and the cars started to move. Well, as soon as they could, the teenagers in the Explorer high-tailed it out of there and gave us (me) the finger. Ah, well. Having completed my immature act for the day we went home.
Having bought our beater, we deemed it necessary to take it for a little spin in the woods. So as Monday rolled around we got all of our camping necessities. But Francine wasn't ready yet. Somehow it ran fine all the way to Brad's driveway, but then, 10 minutes later, wouldn't start. After much pushing and clutch popping, we found out the battery had a bad connection. We played with it for a little bit and then we were off! We headed toward Detroit Lake.
The weather that day had started out to be decent, but as night fell, so did the rain. Finally we found a place to stay. It was campground that was not used at this time of the year — that means it was free! So in the wet and cold, we attempted to set up Brad's hugely gigantic tent. It took way too long but we eventually got it up. Meanwhile Nick tried his best to make a fire in the pouring down rain to get us warmed up.
We charred some hot dogs or something and then slipped into our wet selfs into our sleeping bags. The next day we woke up (it happens) and then plotted what the day would hold. After doing normal camping things — which coincidentally does not encompass ingesting flammable, rotten liquids (aka alcohol) — we decided it was time to take Francine for a spin ... literally.
We found a little graveled opening that was about 3/4 mile off the main road. Here we let Francine loose! After all the rain there was substantial mud and muddles (even for gravel) so we 'tested' them by driving through them. Needless to say, the ride was anything but 'smooth.' But this only made things more fun :-)
During the 20-25 minutes of playing in the gravel pit, we burned almost twice as much gas as we did on the 50mile drive to the camp site. But it was fun!
Now, at this point, it would be nice to think that we stopped for the day, having done our damage to the environment — but instead we continued. Before long Nick decided to try scale a large (10-15ft high) pile of gravel.
Against all odds, Francine would not climb the hill. Instead, she sputtered, idling at a ridiculously low rpm (like under 150rpm) until she died. Somehow, Nick's uphill adventure killed the engine and made it refuse to even turn it over. Probably that darn battery again, or we think the alternator may be for the birds... So anyway, Nick tried fruitlessly to at least get some spark in the cylinders, but to no avail.
What's next? Push it down a hill! For once, we made the right decision. Since this truck has a manual tranny, we just roll it down the hill, pop the clutch and there she goes!
Moments later (with Nick in the driver's seat) the wondrous flatulencesque exhaust sound came from bottom of the hill - she runs! Yeah!
At this point it was pretty much agreed that we should no longer take our chances for that day. So after burning 1/2 tank of gas, killing and reviving the truck, leaking some oil, and shoving the truck downhill — all within a few-hundred yard radius — we returned to camp.
The rest of the day was probably uneventful, cold, wet, and generally miserable. Thankfully, this trip was much more fun in hindsight. We beat each other with 'lightsabers' and went home the next day when we awoke to a few inches of snow. Brr!!
After being chilled to the bone and soaking wet for two and a half days, we decided to high-tail it back home. A day or so later, I went over to Nick's and we got to work, ripping all of the junk out of the bed of Francine.
Now it was time to get to work. We felt we had to rip out all of the old carpeted junk that was permeating the bed. So with a monkey wrench and about 40 minutes of work, we got it cleared out. To make things more exciting, the paint, mold, and carpet residue stunk badly and was slippery.
That pretty much wraps up the Francine story as of Spring Break 2003. I had to leave the next day to go back to school, or something like that... yeah. But much more fun and mess came next. Click here to read more about Francine's adventure.
A few months passed, and finally school came to a halt. Nick and I basked in our unemployment while Brad freaked out about not having any money. Amidst the envisioning of Suriboka's destiny, we played around with Francine. Strangely, it seems that the crappier this truck looks, the better it runs. Nevertheless, we continued to try to make this little Toyota look better than when we got it. Unbeknownst to me, Brad and Nick bought some seat covers for Francine from a scrapyard. It helps immeasurably to ease the pain of sitting on the seats, and even masks the fear of being attacked by black widows.
Next, Francine was attacked with an angle grinder. The majority of the junk splattered on the side of the bed was obliterated. It was later (who knows how much later) blasted with a wave of magically red-brown primer.
Eventually we started to get in another one of our 'basher' moods, and Francine was the designated victim. A few spins in the field raised our spirits. Thanks to a little rubber gripping, the field was transformed from grass to dirt in a relatively short time. Naturally, we were able to achieve ruts in the ground too!
A few weeks passed and one day we decided to take off the front fenders to pound them out a little. However, tools were limited to shoes, a hammer, and nothing in between, so results were unimpressive, to say the least. But on the bright side, they make a great hide-away!
One day, we decided we needed to back Francine out of her old parking spot (between a tree and some bushes). Brad hopped in to do the honors of driving the beloved beast. At this point however, the deformed fenders were still lying on the ground, behind the truck. After asking if it 'was clear' to back up, Justin, Nick's step brother shouted a confirming 'Yes!' and back she went... Make no mistake - if Francine's fenders were not bent out of shape prior to this incident, they definitely were now. After everyone took their turn to laugh and yell condescending remarks at Justin, we continued on with the intended activities, which I believe were to pull Suriboka's carcass into the back yard.
One day toward the end of summer, Nick and I (zourtney) got this great idea - change Francine's oil. We had owned this 'vehicle' for over 6 months and never even changed the oil. After accidentally seeping a good quart of two of oil on the ground, instead of in the container, we got her all fixed up. We also popped in a new air filter, as the old one looked like it was used to mop up the oil on someone's garage floor. (Actually, I don't think it looked too bad, but there are no fun analogies to make from that) I then had the excellent idea to actually reattach the exhaust manifold to the exhaust pipes. This, I hoped, would make her run quieter and more smoothly. This, however, was tragic mistake. I hopped in the little mutton-chaser and cranked her over... and over and over and over. Gas... crank, crank, crank -- No luck. Francine just wouldn't start! I yelled and screamed, and probably headbutted the steering wheel, but she still would not start. Nick tried it too, but with no luck. After a long time, she finally started, but required about 1/4 throttle just to stay running. With these symptoms, Francine limped out to the field in the back of Nick's house.
After a few quick spins (and a few sputtering deaths of the engine), Nick managed to magically convince Francine to keep an idle! Yay! We rejoiced and continued to bash the truck as we played in the field. And then the symptoms returned. This routine happened three or four times before we finally called it quits. It seems, for some very odd reason, that flooring it 3rd gear, and successfully spinning the tires to get a good rev out of the engine fixes Francine's desire for a sputtering death. All we can say is "...cool!"
After this, school was nearing again, and Francine had to be put aside to do things which are far less entertaining, like finding the derivative of
(PI^32 * (2x^2/x cos x) ) / (tan^2x x * 19x^3)
Come summer of 2005, Nick and I decided to bring ol' Francine back to life. Her image had become slightly marred after sitting in the field unused for over a year. Not the least of which was the fact the goat bashed most of the body panels with his horns. More importantly though, the fuel pump needed replaced because it was leaking badly.
Step 1 of this little adventure was to get out the sledge hammer and bang on the few remaining body panels. It proved to be all but completely useless, so the next day we decided to dig the truck out of the hole it was in.
Because Francine was stuck pretty good, we replaced the fuel pump. It was easy as cheese, except for the fact that we broke a little metal spacer. It took a some looking to find a replacement spacer.
After the new fuel pump was on, Francine started right up! Amazingly, that truck runs just as good as the day it was parked in the mud. With that issue solved, we decided to get her unstuck. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. The rear passenger-side tire wasn't on the rim anymore and the front one was rather flat. After some jacking, jumping, kicking, and pumping we were able to get air in the rear tire.
Well, once Francine was finally out of the muddy hole she was in, we took her for spin in the yard. After a few minutes of playing, we parked the trusty truck in the battle-ready stance for tomorrow's adventures.
The next day we realized just how incredibly stinky the bed of the truck was. Thanks to a certain someone who won't be mentioned, the truck had been used as a really big hay feeding trough. After a few weeks of this treatment, it started to become slimy underneath.
Finally, we added some radiator stop-leak because there were some pinhole leaks up at the top of the radiator.
Sooooooooo, Nick had this really great idea to try and drive Francine over to the other side of the field where there was more room. The only problem was the 30 foot strip of mud in the way. Before I could protest, we were in the middle of it and then ... stuck!
Nick and I got the chain and come-along out. About 2 and a half hours later, we were back on dry ground.
It was pretty dark by the time we had finished winching the truck out, but the next day, we made some good sized ruts in the field.
Unfortunately, our battery cables were getting knocked loose all the time. Beating them with a hammer only helped to make look like mashed potatoes... or mashed metal, at least. Cody and I replaced the negative terminal with one we found under Suri.
Nick got crazy with the driving again, so we got high-centered on a pile of dirt. It took a 4-wheeler and some pushing to get it off, but it was all in good fun.
We quickly got distracted with our Suriboka adventure, so Francine once again was left alone in the field, so very alone... What happens next? Only time and Toyotean fate can tell!