Wow what a weekend in Vegas. I received a call from Nikki Doran and Merritt Pelkey last Sunday regarding bringing the Mantis down to Vegas for a party the upcoming weekend. Shit, I haven’t even cleaned the truck or made any repairs since Burning Man and I only have four days to get ready!
I busted ass all week getting the Mantis cleaned up and ready for the party. I had to rebuild the front arms, remove and replace the carpet in the back, clean up the interior of the truck, wash the exterior of the truck, fix some broken welds, chase down a problem with the remote control on the fire system and pack. Also, the head was still on the neck so I had to find a fork lift to remove it and load it into the back. Finding a fork lift to install or remove the head is always a junk show everywhere I go for some reason.
Luckily Jeremy Smith was available and was able to do his wiring magic on the fire system. We added a key to the fire system to ensure that some crazy wasn’t able to come turn on the fire system, added igniters to the antenna and replaced the remote control and the remote control relay.
This fall we replaced the engine in the truck after it blew up on the way back from the Burn. Since the replacement I had only driven the truck a few miles for a short test drive. On the test drive I found a small leak on the oil pan gasket. For the past couple of months I had been trying to get the Mechanic over to my shop to get this taken care of, but he kept blowing me off. I called him again to make the repair before I left but he never made it over before I had to take off. Shit! The leak didn’t look too bad so I decided that it would be ok to drive with it anyway.
My last stop on the way out of town was to pick up propane and try to convince the propane people to help me remove the head. I was able to talk one of the guys at Wasatch Propane to help me out. They have been great the past couple of years with supplying me propane and helping me out with any questions that I have. We hooked a chain up to the head and started to remove it from the neck. We were having some problems with the last couple of inches so I starting pushing on the head with my feet while sitting on the neck. As soon as the head was free it went careening to the ground 8 ft below. What the Fuck! Somehow the chain became unhooked while I was jostling the head around. Good start to the trip…
The day didn’t get any better. While driving the leak turned to a gusher and used four gallons of oil between Salt Lake and Las Vegas. A repair shop wouldn’t be able to fix it right away and I had to start setup at 10 the next morning. I stopped every 50 miles to keep the engine full of oil. After what Kristen and I went through last fall, there was no way I was going to let the engine run out of oil! 9.5 hours later I was in Vegas.
Nikki had arranged for some volunteers to help assemble the Mantis at 10 am. A fork lift was also coordinated to help me install the head back on the neck. I showed up at the fork lift address at 9:05. This would give me ample time to install the head and drive back to the event before the volunteers showed up right? Wrong. The guy who was supposed to help me was passed out in bed and wasn’t answering the door or his phone. Now what? On the drive back to the event site I noticed an Oil distribution company that had two or three fork lifts in the parking lot. I figured what the hell, who wouldn’t want to help assemble a 40ft praying mantis? The manager Eddie was a champ and helped me install the head, with no head slams to the pavement this time!
The rest of the weekend was amazing. The Mantis fire system passed inspection from the Clark County Fire Inspector, which is a big deal; they are notorious for being very strict. I met tons of great people and actually left the Mantis in Vegas for a few weeks. It looks like we’re going to be at the First Friday event in Vegas the first Friday of April.