TFL Misadventure: Big Green, Big Snow, Big Trouble!

TFL’s trusty 1985 Chevy K10, better known as Big Green, has migrated north to Canada to live with me, and driving this truck everyday has already taught me a few things. 

Since the long drive home from Boulder, CO, Big Green has been used quite a bit, serving as my leave-behind vehicle when I pickup test trucks. So I have come to depend on this truck, which is why I need to make it reliable. It has been mostly dependable since bringing it home, but the truck has stranded me once. More on that later…

ALSO SEE: Driving Big Green 1500 Miles Back to Canada

The other lesson that an old vehicle like Big Green teaches is patience. Especially when fit with 35-inch Mickey Thompson mud terrains like it is, because these tires are truly not meant for winter time. 

It seems to be a common misconception that large mud terrains are going to be fine in the winter thanks to their massive biting grooves, but that really isn’t the case. The rubber compound used is soft to allow the tire to form around rocks and grab on with every available surface. Thanks to this, in the cold, these types of tires get very hard, which means they are not allowed to flex and properly do their job. The result is extremely low traction, especially on hard-packed snow and ice. 

In the deep snow drifts with grass underneath, the Mickey Thompsons actually proved themselves to be a bit better than on the hard packed stuff on top of the asphalt, but for daily city driving, these tires are certainly not recommended for the winter.

To offset the rubber, Big Green’s four-wheel drive still works great, so popping it into four-high via the flour-mounted lever is the key to driving on snowy roads when you actually want to get anywhere. The front hubs are manually locking, but I just leave them locked in the winter to save me from having to jump in and out of the truck when I need that added traction. 

Leaving it in two-wheel is when the patience comes into play, though it can also be quite fun. Since there is no weight over the rear end, the back of Big Green likes to step out on you if you’re not careful. This can be fun when you’re prepared and trying to have some slow-speed hoon-tastic fun, but if you’re not ready for it, the rear end can whip around on you a little too fast. And sometimes it happens even when you’re paying attention, as the video shows….

And once you get to the end of the video, you’ll see why this truck needs to be made more reliable. So far, I suspect the high-pressure fuel pump that is part of the FITech fuel-injection system is the main issue. At the time the video was shot, I was thinking that the pump was freezing up, which could still be the case. But further investigation suggests that it’s actually a power issue with the pump, and that the relay that runs it might not be consistent. 

The YouTube commentariat has suggested running additives in the fuel over the winter, something else that is worth a try. 

But the bottom line is, Big Green needs to be reliable. But it also sucks working on a truck in the driveway at -20C. So stay tuned for the next instalment when we continue working on the truck, though it may not come into the temperatures have turned.