You Need Pieces to Make a Puzzle
Buying the first two vehicles
Because I live in a remote northern community, buying a vehicle is more difficult then it would be in a city. The nearest major city is over 1000kms away, so making the 2000km round trip every time I wanted to see a car would have been impractical. But thanks to the internet I could do most of my shopping from my desk. When I found something that I thought was worth looking at I would get a friend in the area to go investigate. If everything looked good, I would get them to buy it.
I got my Dad to buy the first car, a 1998 VW Jetta TDI. It had only 67,500 kms on it and very little front end damage. The back and sides were badly wrecked in a rollover and was listed as unrepairable. It was exactly the car I was looking for. It was purchased for only $1000 from MPI in Winnipeg.
I knew a trucking company that made regular trips to my town from Winnipeg. They were able to haul the car for free as long as I could wait for lightly loaded haul. It took almost two months, but I got my car. Pulling it home from the shipping yard with a broken ball joint was fun (see below). It only got pulled like this for the last couple hundred meters. I was able to tie wire the ball joint back together enough to test drive the car up and down my 30 meter driveway. The fact that the car started and ran good in reverse, first and second gear was good enough for me. It was time to start taking this thing apart :)
The second part of the puzzle was the 4Runner. I wanted something that was street legal or at least salvageable so I wouldn't have as much trouble getting it registered after it was completed. Finding a drivable Toyota 4x4 with a 22re for under $2000 was not easy. I didn't want to wait around too long so I took a chance on a Red 1991 4Runner that was very rusty for $900. I got my brother and friend to take a look at the truck. It had a bad U-joint but I wasn't too worried about that. It's easy to fix, right? They ended up buying the truck and driving to my friends place. When I got down a couple of weeks later I took the truck for a drive to see how bad the wobble was and didn't even make it a kilometer without the u-joint breaking. With the help of 4x4 I drove it back in to the garage in front wheel drive. Here's what I found (bottom center pic).
The U-joint had been worn out for so long that it had worn out the yoke of the drive shaft. With limited tools, a friend and I were able to install a used drive shaft with some new U-joints. The truck made the 1000km trip back to Gillam with no problems. During the 12 hour plus drive back up north, I thought about how rusty the frame might be. I had done a quick hammer check before I left, but only time would tell the full truth.