Winning Dodge

Well, here’s one for you Dodge boys (and girls). Specifically, I’m talking about the members of Turbo Diesel Register, otherwise known as TDR.

The TDR is actually based on a quarterly publication that started in 1993 with a stated purpose to be “an open forum for the exchange of information from the manufacturers to the owners,” and “to give Dodge diesel owners more satisfaction in the ownership of their truck.” The TDR magazine is a collection of regular columns written by a variety of authors, two of whom are John and Polly Holmes. John’s “Ranch Dressing” column refers to their 2JP (John and Polly) Ranch in Silver Springs, NV, about an hour east of Reno, where they raise goats and other animals with exotic “coats” for Polly’s hobby/business of producing “fiber” for spinning into yarns for knitting or weaving. John is retired, but still spends one day a week (Wednesdays) at Carson Dodge in Carson City, doing “special projects.” TDR members know he’s there, and bring in their trucks when they want something “special” done to them.

Polly’s column, “Polly’s Pickup,” is a chatty, feminine-side take on diesel trucking with multi-topics that can range from trailer-towing to her new Dodge Viper (“Snake”), to a recipe for sweet and sour chicken. They’re both gear heads, with a small collection of show-winning vintage cars and trucks. Plus they were both heavy into NHRA drag racing in the ’60s (Polly drove a G/SA ’67 AMC Marlin). Between them, they’ve had a succession of hard-working diesel Dodge pickups, which tow a variety of trailers to haul animals, hay, and other ranch necessities. And both of them have an insatiable accessory habit. Gotta have those accessories—lots of ’em!

Last summer they were trying to sell Polly’s ’97 pickup, but the neighbors wanted John’s ’00 Quad-Cab instead, so he replaced it with a white 2002, Quad-Cab, 4×4 with an automatic trans. He immediately began to accessorize it with things like custom mud-flaps, cab lights, trailer hitch, rear lighting, a custom trans pan, and differential covers, and little touches like painting the taillight housings body color. That’s just the shortlist.

About this time we had contacted TDR to see if we could get some coverage in the magazine on Banks power and braking products for Dodge diesels. They directed us to John and his new 2002. I’ve talked about prototyping new products here at Banks a couple of times, and how we need a guinea pig truck for every model year to fit our new parts to. John’s new truck was just what we needed to test-fit our products on ’02 Dodges. He was happy to oblige. Installing a complete PowerPack and Banks Brake, with SmartLock, on John’s ’02 was relatively simple, primarily requiring reworking some of the wiring harness to match changes in the new Dodge’s wire circuits.

But remember the new Computerized Brake Controller (CBC) I told you about on 12/13/02? John’s truck was the guinea pig for that, too. The first prototype CBC was installed on John’s truck, and getting all those little black boxes (including the Ottomind, SmartLock, and CBC, not to mention the ones that come on the truck) talking to each other politely and intelligibly took some doing. But they did. We also did some prototype upgrading to John’s torque converter and automatic transmission, but that will be Banks News for a future Friday.

If you are a TDR member, you read John’s first report on his ’02 Dodge, including his own modifications and Banks’, in the Nov/Dec/Jan ’02-’03 issue (#38). With the Banks PowerPack installed and working properly at that point, John reported “it ran like a scalded dog!” The next issue will have a follow-up.

But here’s the punch line for this week’s news. In Polly’s column in that issue, she’ll report on a relatively new TDR event, called Diesels in the Desert. Held last October 25th, this is a Show-N-Shine for turbo-diesel Dodge trucks co-sponsored by the Antelope Valley Chapter of TDR and Hunter Dodge in the high desert town of Lancaster, CA, northeast of Los Angeles. A total of 60 TDR member trucks descended on the dealer’s lot for the 2nd annual event, carrying 180 people, though only 18 tricked-out trucks entered the Show-N-Shine. But some of these trucks were very tricked out. The event also included vendor booths and seminars and was followed by a barbecue for TDR members.

John and Polly, accompanied by another TDR couple in their own pickup, drove down from northern Nevada the day before, taking the Montgomery Pass over the Sierras and stopping in Bishop for lunch. The next morning John and Polly parked their new 2002 Dodge, complete with Banks PowerPack and Brake and all of John’s owner-installed accessories, in the Show-N-Shine area, and then wandered off to look at the other trucks and enjoy the show. Judging was of the “People’s Choice” variety, with trophies being given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, overall, in the show. When the votes were tallied and the trophies were presented at 2:00, guess who got handed the big one? Yep, John and Polly. You can bet they enjoyed that day. And that’s not at all shabby for a truck that drives on dirt roads on the ranch and traveled hundreds of miles to get to the show. Yes, John, I guess your new Dodge is a “magnificent manure mover,” as you say.