In The Beginning – Or Shortly After Anyway

Old  Betsy

Old Betsy

This is “Old Betsy”, sometimes knows as “Old Red”.  That depended on how in love with her at the time Joe was.

I had to go ask the “Authority” on things mechanical.  Because, well, I’m a girl and I know where the gas or diesel tanks are, how to check the oil and water levels, and how to add oil.  That is the extent of my mechanical knowledge, and frankly, I don’t want to know more because I may be next asked to become a mechanic by my dear husband.  Not really, but it might happen and I’m not taking any chances.

For any guys that have found their way to this blog, here are the answers to your burning questions.

Old Betsy is a 1985 Ford F-250 Super Cab long bed pickup,  with a 6.9 diesel engine, automatic transmission, and 4 wheel drive.  Lock out knobs on the front wheel hubs and a transfer case lever thing on the inside cab floor.

Joe had Old Betsy long before I met him in 1990.  “She” was everything he could have ever hoped or wished for in a vehicle and he loved her.  Most times I thought more than me but not all the time I’m happy to say.

You see the glaringly evident green door on an otherwise red pickup?  I wrecked Old Betsy one winter in Wyoming while Joe was in the passenger seat napping.  The gist of the whole episode is we had been on electric transformer business in Wyoming and were returning home when I hit a patch of ice that was like a bed of marbles.  The 25′ goose neck trailer I was pulling behind swung around in the wreck and was so scared it wanted to get inside and sit on Joe’s lap.

That episode permanently cured me of winter driving.  I don’t do it at all anymore and if I am successful until the day I die, I won’t be doing any winter driving at all.

Thankfully, Joe was not hurt in the wreck.  He didn’t even get any scratches from the glass that shattered and splintered everywhere inside the pickup.  I can tell you that it was a very cold and windy drive until we could get to a truck stop for some trash bags and duck tape.

Gravity Boom

Gravity Boom

My ever resourceful husband, designed and built our first working boom for the Drive-Away business.  This is called a “Gravity Boom” because it basically relies on gravity to do most of the work.

Sorry for the glare on the photo, it is one of many that has had to endure my scrapbook obsession and I took a photo of this photo.

There are two king pins.  One on a shorter metal tubing which is held on the left rear of the pickup.  This piece connected to the 5th wheel of the truck Joe was going to drive.  It rested on the frame of that truck.

The longer piece of the gravity boom is on the right side of the pickup bed.  This, also having a king pin, was connected to the 5th wheel of the truck Joe was going to tow.

Once all of the hoses and electric lines were run, brakes hooked up, axle chains tightened around both rear axles across the frame (one chain per axle), the loading commenced.  The long boom on the towed truck was raised with the aid of a 6 ton hydraulic jack, the lead truck was backed under the boom then carefully backed to allow the boom to ride up the piece on the front truck until they clicked into position.

Once the boom was loaded the rear axles of the towed truck were raised off the ground.  There were many huge pins to be pounded in to keep these two pieces together during the trip to their final destination.

Old Betsy had some problems and she just plum wore out.  Blowing her engine a couple times and we had to eventually replace her with “Gracie”.



Gracie is a 1986 Ford F-150, with a 302 gas engine, automatic transmission.  She lived her life as a recreational vehicle that towed a travel trailer a few times during her life.  Poor dear, she had no idea what she was in for.  I have to say, this girl worked her heart out and got us to where we are today and I’m forever thankful for Gracie because of her gumption.

She had her problems and I will tell about some of those later, but for now I’ll just tell you about our work.

JB Hunt International Cabovers

JB Hunt International Cabovers

This is what our set up looked like as we traveled the highways.  The lead truck is to the right in this photo, the towed truck with the rear axles off the ground is in the middle, and Gracie brings up the rear.

Gracie attached

Gracie attached

My Joe is the most smartest man in the whole wide world.  He designed and built hitches to hook up first Old Betsy then later Gracie to the front bumper of the towed truck.  He had one hitch he designed for Freightliners, one for Macks, one for Kenworths and Peterbilts, and one with adjustments that could be attached to all manner of trucks.

The hitches were heavy, for me anyway.  Joe would just latch on to one of them with one hand and carry it around like it was nothing.  I’d grunt, groan, moan, and wail as I pulled the proper one from the bed of Gracie or Old Betsy and carry it to the towed truck’s bumper.  Most of the time I had to drop that heavy sucker on the ground to ease the pain in my shoulders and get my breath back.  Once I milked the moment for all it was worth, Joe would come around and check to see if I had the hitch ready to be attached.  Slave driver, I tell you.



This is a set of Freightliners that are attached to Joe’s Gravity Boom with Gracie following behind.

Joe has some stories about Gracie getting loose and wanting desperately to head for home.  Those are some exciting stories and I think I need to get him a bit more interested in writing a blog so he can tell you his side of things.

Gracie hitched up

Gracie hitched up

This is how Gracie was hitched up to the front bumper of the towed truck.  There is an airline, the red one, that goes to a hydraulic cylinder attached under the drivers seat floor board and has an extension arm and pad that attaches to the brake petal.  When Joe would apply the brakes from all the way up in the lead truck the cylinder would depress the brake petal all the way back in Gracie.

When we had some time to sight see, all we had to do was unhook Gracie, hop in the pickup and head out to see the sights.  Once we delivered the trucks and the Gravity Boom was mounted back on Gracie we would drive to the next pick up point and do this all over again.

Rain, snow, sleet, wind, and burning  hot sun.  We spent an hour or two in the elements getting things hooked up, or unhooked whatever the case was, and away we went.  I wasn’t driving then, just riding along.  Being badgered to get my CDL so I could drive singles.  Joe drove in all kinds of weather and I sat in the passenger seat hanging on for dear life on icy roads and imagining all the worst that could happen.  I was forever hanging on until my knuckles were white and fingers cramped into claws.

I’m still psyching myself up to get back out on the road.  Seven days left for me to spend my time in my craft room before I have to leave.


About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

6 responses to “In The Beginning – Or Shortly After Anyway

  • Lynn Claridge

    Only 7 days? Hasn’t the time flown past? Will you be taking some crafting items with you this time? If not you will be looking for a few places to spend your precious dollars in 🙂

    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      I know. 7 days. And I have so much to do. I’ve got to go digging through my dresser drawers, storage bins, and the old suitcases to round up my clothing and scrubs so I can think about the sordid packing process. Then I’ve got to get out in the pickup and round up all of my Legals so I can be sure I have all current information in them.

      I’m working on an idea for this year. Since I took along that fantastic traveling craft gift from Jann, and it mostly lived in a bin in the back of the pickup last year I think it will remain home so I don’t damage it. BUT, I’m going to make it a point to get to as many scrapbook stores as I can as we travel and pick up some items for give aways. Or if we find ourselves in some odd place that has some kind of original souvenir I think I will use that (them) as a giveaway.

      That is what the plans are now, fomenting in the empty space between my ears, and as with my crazy job I’ll have to improvise mostly. Oh, and I’ll be sure to pick up some scrapbook items for myself now that I’m free to glom onto anything I want without restriction 🙂
      Love you and Rod – Leslie

      • Lynn Claridge

        Can I come, can I? Please can I come? I will help load your shopping basket and assist in any way possible at all those craft shops – I’ll be good and eat all my dinner up, honest:)

        Love the sound of your giveaways. Oh you have plenty of time for packing and digging – the night before is plenty long enough!!!!!!!!!! Just write out a quick checklist and then as you sling things into bags and suitcases tick off the checklist, done and dusted 🙂
        Now me if I’m to get there in time to come trucking with you I’d better get my butt into action now 🙂

        Love and hugs
        Lynn xxx

      • Message In A Fold

        Pack your bags, give your hubby a list of things to do, and be ready come Monday morning 🙂 There will, more than likely, be a week or so before we stop for anything remotely fun to do. By that time you’d be calling Rod and saying “Tell Joe and Leslie that some major event has transpired at home and I absolutely have to be back, pronto” :o)

        Love to you and Rod – Leslie

  • Maureen Mathis

    SEVEN DAYS, and you won’t have to worry about cleaning up your desk to start a new project! You won’t have to check to see if the duct tape is holding the velcro for the trash bin! You won’t have glitter all over your shirt! The word “retired” won’t remind you about years old paper; it will be old trucks that you wonder how they have permission to be on the road! And the only stamping you’ll be doing is stamping your feet whenever Joe asks you to join alongside him to help make his job easier! Many spouses are not as highly valued, and you and I are beyond blessed that we have men with us who see our presence as a necessity, rather than a chore! You’ll be back in your craft room in a matter of months, and will be giddy with the smell of E6000 and Zip Dry glue and Staz-On soon enough! It will be a wonderful reunion, and I can’t wait! Love you Sis!

    • Message In A Fold

      I read your comment to Joe and you receive 2 THUMBS UP 🙂 from Joe. Especially about the foot stamping business 😉

      Aren’t we the most luckiest girls in the whole world with our “men folk”? Indeed, we both have been blessed beyond measure with the men that have CHOSEN to spend their lives with us and beside us.

      And yes, six months is nothing in the scheme of things. Truly I am blessed in that I have the opportunity to work only five to six months of the year and I can take the rest of the year off. Ungrateful brat that I am. Thank you for reminding me of that 🙂

      Your friendship has blessed me also, in so many ways.
      Love you Big Sis

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