What is the sound of one piston slapping?
What is the sound of one piston slapping?
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Lauren P

This is the trip of a lifetime!

Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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THE COMMUNIST traveled a total of 2,550 miles getting to the Oregon Gambler 500. We started in Illinois following a $700 Del Sol that was more rust than car, met up with a $500 Toyota Sequoia pulling a 70s Trillium in Wisconsin, then headed west.

Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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We camped in Minnesota, saw Bison in North Dakota, climbed through Montana, witnessed Old Faithful in Wyoming...

Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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...then convoyed into Idaho. There, we did an emergency fix to the Ranger (alignment got REALLY bad somewhere in Montana and it managed to eat 2 tires in 300 miles) and drove a $500 Honda Accord out of a junkyard for a Gambler that had her Subaru’s headgasket blow right before we arrived. We finished the night having a party and drunkenly theming each others’ cars.

From there, our convoy grew and hit the deserts of Washington into Oregon.

Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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The rally itself was epic. Sheryl got to become a true Gambler and despite half the turnout as last year, we collected a record 500 cubic yards of trash from national forest lands!

Sheryl has spent most of the ride home thus far looking at various crapbox versions of her dream cars. Oh what have I done. xD

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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes

We saw some epic builds from a car with two engines at HooptieX to a PT Cruiser perched on a Blazer frame to a Unimog!

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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes

Oregon has all four seasons, all the time. We crossed the border in 100 degree weather in the deserts, chilled out in the fall-like weather of central Oregon, and witnessed a full blast snowstorm on Crater Lake.

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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes

On the way towards home we came across the bus that was sitting in my driveway. On the way out they blew two steer tires and blew nearly their entire fuel budget getting a measly 5 mpg with their Nissan Xterra in the back. This time they found themselves broken down without brakes. They actually beat us to Oregon despite the bus only having a top speed of 55 with the Xterra in back (15 on mountain passes). How? They slammed energy drinks the entire way out.

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The owner decided to sell his pretty good shape Xterra because he just couldn’t bring it and the bus home. Sheryl and I seized the opportunity and now we have a $2k+ Xterra for $500.

Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes

We’re following the bus home, taking a southerly route. Lost an entire day of travel due to the bus dying throughout the day. As it turned out, the alternator was putting out 16-17 volts, which easily cooked what was left of the bus’ electrics. A new voltage regulator and a battery later saw the bus running. To fix the alternator issue, they disconnected the leads from the alternator, fired up a generator, connected a trickle charger to the generator, and the charger to the bus battery. Somehow, it’s working! The Ranger and Xterra had to revive the bus a few times too.

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Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
Illustration for article titled Gambler 500 Update: 5,000 Miles in $500 Clunkers
Photo: Mercedes
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1,500 miles until home. The Ranger has thus far only needed new caliper bolts (I accidentally snapped the old ones), new caliper housing bolts (1 bolt backed out), and a front end alignment. Not bad for a truck pulled out of a field! When we get home we will have traveled 5,000 miles in a collection of junkers and crossed 12 unique states.

Stay tuned for a full epic adventure of a write-up on Out Motorsports.

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