ford truck enthusiasts
My stubborn truck battery.

“Calling all Ford truck enthusiasts!”

You might get a chuckle from what you read below, and you might even have a bit of advice that would help.

First, let it be said that this native New Yorker — who for years enjoyed not having to shovel snow out front, mow the lawn out back, or fix cars or even know about how to fix cars — married a Texas girl.

Smartest thing I ever did.

She often jokes about my extensive knowledge of the New York subway system and how getting around the city that way was perhaps one of the main reasons she married me.

home slice pizza austin
Home Slice Pizza, where homesick New Yorkers go for a slice. (PHOTO: Home Slice)

I have many such useful skills:

  • Where to get the best bagels and pizza;
  • Which streets you are most likely to get mugged on; and
  • A fairly photographic memory of Manhattan due to walking everywhere, so that if you want to get from “here to there” I can tell you which subway to take, which route to walk, and usually which stores you’ll see as you get close to your destination.

Very little of that is relevant today.

(Except for knowing that Home Slice in Austin has the only real New York-style pizza within a reasonable drive from Kerrville.)

My married a Texan made it a foregone conclusion that we would move out of New York City and to a quaint Massachusetts town. It was even more foregone that we would wind up in Texas and in her hometown of Kerrville (which I have loved for as long as I’ve known her, which is roughly half my life).

Some days it felt like this. If you get behind on one snowfall and it ices before the next, it’s “call in the truck with the plow.” (PHOTO: Art of Manliness)

In the course of these two relocations, I came to love cutting the grass, tolerated and even enjoyed the heart-healthy exercise of shoveling the frequent and deep snow in our part of New England, and have now been thrust into the position of having to fix cars. (Notice that I didn’t include any verb indicating joy associated with that last change.) I changed my first tire with the help of multiple YouTube videos. (True story.)

And now it’s time to get my hands dirty in our 1988 F-150.

So, Ford truck enthusiasts, one and all, here’s the situation outlined a couple paragraphs below. And here, too, is what I love about my Ford truck.

First, though, is a “word from our sponsor” about both trucks and being a city kid.

“Ford Country” commercial

What came to mind was a song written by Alan Jackson in which he substitutes, “Ford country” for “he’s/she’s gone country.”

Whether most Ford truck enthusiasts — of which I count myself one — consider that was a sell-out or not, it doesn’t much matter to me.

Long live capitalism.

And Alan Jackson is still a great story-teller.

But when I navigated over to YouTube for the music video, the opening scene made me think, “Hey! That’s me!” (I even wear snap shirts and have done so for more than 25 years.)

As you could see, after the brief opening scene of the group singing on a remote back deck somewhere, it segues into a helicopter shot of the Statue of Liberty.

Now, many of you know this but: New Yorkers never go to the Statue of Liberty. I’ve actually never been in more than half a century of life.

It’s just one of those things.

Just like New Yorkers not only don’t go to Times Square. We go out of our way to avoid it. To eliminate encounters with the fake Spidermen badgering you for $1 to take a photo with them or the near-topless Brazilian ladies barely covered with paint or pasties — yes, the first time is interesting, but it quickly gets old — we’ll walk down dingy 8th Avenue or fight the suited young masses on Sixth.

Performers in Times Square. One reason why some go, and one reason why many New Yorkers decide to skip the area. (PHOTO: NY Daily News)

All that to say, I’m about as “New York” as it gets, with the concomitant lack of skill when it comes to fixing a truck.


Many of you no doubt are familiar with the Ford Truck Enthusiasts forum here. But I’ve yet to find the solution to the task at hand.

The mule that’s dug in its heels under the hood is this:

Apparently, after I accidentally left the key in the ignition’s accessory position, we found the truck unable to start the next morning.

There is legitimate doubt that I was the culprit. The doubt is not shared by others.

(SOURCE: The Alleged Culprit)

First, I’ve read elsewhere that leaving the key in the accessory position doesn’t draw that much electricity over the course of what would have been 8-10 hours. Perhaps the writer of that wisdom is also from Manhattan.

Second, we have had a history of problems with the starter. Could be that.

Third, I realize it could be the alternator, but all the signs of a bad alternator or starter aren’t there: this leaves me with the battery.

This is where it gets tricky.

ford truck enthusiasts
The battery in my 1988 Ford F-150. The albatross around my neck. The wind gone from my sails.


How does a battery become “tricky”?

I can’t get the battery out.

Oh…I see…, you say, as you quickly scan to the right to which advertisement you could click on to get away from this post.

Once again, I went to YouTube for some initial advice, since videos worked so well when changing a tire. I successfully removed the negative and positive cables and felt really good to that point.

That’s about as far as it went.

I know some batteries have hold-downs. My son, who drove the truck regularly before I did, said he had replaced the battery probably a year ago and, because it didn’t quite fit snugly, he got it fairly tight and then figured it “jostled” its way into place as he bumped along local roads.

Umm, yeah.

I have looked around the front edge of the bottom of the battery, and it appears to have a hold-down. (Perhaps the mechanic did this when servicing the truck last time?) I put plenty of WD-40 on the slightly rusted nut appearing to keep the hold-down in place — which makes me think this is not a new hold-down — and can’t get it loose for the life of me.

If it works on rock, I can make it work on my truck battery. (PHOTO: Poluyanenko)

Next tactic, a jackhammer.

What I love about my Ford truck

I don’t want to talk only about the current problem, since it’s only a matter of time before it gets fixed.

I’m learning what a lot of Ford truck enthusiasts have learned, especially owners of older trucks, as this one is. It’s a 1988 and when it was given to us (for free), it had been a ranch truck and had only 80,000 miles on it. Yeah. Right?!

ford truck enthusiasts

It has hauled a heavy sleeper-sofa we got (for free), a washer/dryer we got for $150, and in normal times finds me escaping the Texas heat heading down Bandera Highway toward Flat Rock Park with my paddleboard sticking over the tailgate. It’s also where our cat sleeps: in the bed on some old packing blankets when the truck is parked in the garage.

(As it is now, seemingly indefinitely.)

I love the gear shift on the column.

I love the quarter glass.

I love using my left foot for the high beams.

I love the flat rear windshield and the added visibility this vehicle affords over our other two (a Santa Fe Sport, and a Mini Cooper Countryman).

I love sitting a little taller than when driving our Mini Cooper. Love that a lot. Especially when encountering local Ford truck enthusiasts who are a bit too…enthusiastic.

ford truck enthusiasts

So if you have advice, let’s hear it.

Otherwise, it gets towed to the shop, and I kinda wanted to get my hands dirtier.

GUYS: if you’ve been working on your truck too much during COVID lockdown, get your lady some really nice jewelry here.


EPILOGUE: After further and extensive review on YouTube — my source for all things vehicle — it appears that, yes, batteries have a hold-down clamp. It’s that I simply can’t loosen it.

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