Yesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying Mustache Man to the Auto Skills Center here on Camp Pendleton. Let me just say, I think this is one of the best resources Camp Pendleton has! If you work on your own vehicle, I highly recommend it. Because we were replacing the front shocks and the leaf springs on our truck, we used a lift, which cost us $5 an hour. Included in that fee was use of the Skills Center tools (wrenches, sockets, pneumatic stuff) which is extremely convenient if you don't have many tools (we do, but why take our own when we can use theirs?). We worked on the leaf springs first. We replaced them with slightly upgraded leaf springs which more or less gives our Ford F150 an F250 rating. Overall it betters our towing/hauling experience. It also lifted the truck about 2 inches which made Mustache Man very happy. It was definitely a project. The bolts were rusted in, and even after applying quite a bit of Power Blaster, it was still a battle getting the bolts loose. I used pneumatic tools for my first time ever, and enjoyed the experience. There were a couple other spouses at the Skills Center with their respective military member, but for the most part they sat in their vehicle looking bored out of their minds!
After installing the new leaf springs, we replaced the front shocks. We planned on replacing all 4 shocks, but the rear ones are still en route, so I may end up changing those out in our drive way this week. The first shock was quick and easy, and we were sure we were going to have our project wrapped up in no time. We started the passenger side shock and, much to my frustration, realized that the accessory pack hadn't been packaged with the shock. This meant we had no washers or bushings or nut to install the shock with. The washers and bushings on the old shock had been mangled and we couldn't reuse them, and the old nut was too small to fit on the new shock. I called 4 Wheel Parts to see what we could work out, and they told me to just come to the store and they'd get me what I needed - the catch was that they closed in 45 minutes.
I raced down there like a bat out of hell. Normally, I'm really good about not speeding or driving erratically, but I couldn't imagine what we would do if we couldn't drive the truck home or how we would pay for the solution. I had to take a different gate than I am used to exiting Camp Pendleton, and plugged the store's address into our GPS. Not only did I hit every single red light, but the signs at one crucial intersection weren't accurate and I got lost. I broke down, cried, called Mustache Man sobbing, called the guy at 4 Wheel Parts sobbing, and ended up making it in time. Then, I ended up working with not the guy I talked to on the phone, but some other idiot who was a complete jerk. He treated me like I knew nothing, and was extremely rude (his first comment to me was that it wasn't his first day on the job, and his last comment was that I should be careful with the open end of the box). I was pretty disappointed - Mustache Man always raves about how great the guys at 4 Wheel Parts are, and this was my first experience there alone. Mustache Man is contemplating calling or going in and finding the guy who "helped" me... and I'm not discouraging him!
All in all, we ended up getting the last shock installed and were able to leave right as the Skills Center was closing. Here are some pictures of our project for your viewing pleasure.
Our truck on the lift
New shock, old shock
New leaf spring, old leaf spring
Inner/under view of installed new leaf spring
Me working on the front passenger side shock