R. R. 5, Box 47, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
(This is part III)
On our way home I talked it over with Bob, and we decided to get Roy to contact Mr. Petit and see if he still wanted to trade it on Case machinery. He did. This entailed a trip in March of 1957 to Tonkawa, a thorough examination of the engine, and a meeting between Roy Kite, Mr. Petit and us. We got to within a couple hundred dollars of each other, but hadn't got together when we had to leave for home. After we left, Roy Kite made the plunge and traded for it, thinking if I would refuse it, that maybe he could dispose of it to someone else. He closed the deal with Mr. Petit, only to find that the particular tractor Mr. Petit wanted was temporarily out of production. It was 8 months before I heard anything more, and winter setting in, however, I finally bought it. I arranged twice during the winter to go for it, but each time the weather broke.
As the spring of 1958 wore on and March was part gone, I realized that if we didn't get it soon we would have to wait until fall, as work on the farm here would soon be starting, and we would be tied down until after harvest. I learned they were having lots of rain in north Oklahoma and I tried to contact Mr. Petit, but got no answer so I wrote Roy Kite. He told me he had grave doubts about being able even to load it, as fields and lots were full of water. He put me in touch with Lyman Knapp of Black-well, Oklahoma. Mr. Knapp sent me a postcard everyday for about two week send every day it was rain, or the promise of it. Finally on the 6th or 7th of April his card said it had not rained for a couple of days; and the weather report was fair for a day or two more. So Bob and I started out on a Saturday with our little 1 ton truck for Tonkawa, the lo-boy to follow on Monday. In the afternoon in Missouri, we ran into rain. We took the Kansas turnpike on Sunday A. M., and got to Wellington, Kansas that evening. Rained most of the way.
On Monday morning, before going on to Tonkawa we drove out to the farm of Mr. Charles Boyer. Mr. had a 20 hp. regular Avery Under-mounted in his lot, and I thought I might be able to buy some parts missing on my 40. We got him out of bed. But, while I could not induce him to sell me the parts, we found him to be a wonderfully pleasant and kindly man, and not at all upset because we roused him from sleep on a damp, chilly cloudy morning. He also is a bachelor, and the last of his family. After visiting with him for a half hour we drove on to Blackwell and hunted up Mr. Knapp's home. He had wanted to accompany us to Tonkawa to help us get the engine out, but we found him gone. Mrs. Knapp said he had, been looking for us, and would be home later in the day. So we drove on to Tonkawa, engaged rooms at the Smithville Motel, then drove on to the Petit farm and the engine.
This time again there was no one to meet us, not even the dog. But the engine was there, and also water and mud everywhere. We had to put on chains to get the truck into the lot. Our first task, as you can see by picture was to remove the boards, chunks, iron, old tires, etc., that surrounded it and was stacked against it. This took considerable time. Then we oiled up and worked the stuck parts loose, then wrapped a rope around the flywheel and pulled it with the truck, limbering up the engine, until the truck mired in the mud even with chains on.
By that time it was near evening, so we drove back to Tonkawa in search of a big caterpillar to come next day to load the engine on our lo-boy which was to come from Oskaloosa, Iowa, and was owned by the Angus Coal Company. We were told of a man who lives 10 miles south of Tonkawa by name of Cecil Coughlin that we might be able to get. So after phoning him we drove the truck to his farm. More mud roads. He came soon after we arrived and promised to help us out. While there we learned that Mr. Petit had been found lying in his yard unconscious a few days before, and had been taken to the hospital. The report was brain hemorrhage and he was a very, very sick man. They also expressed surprise that he would part with the old steam engine. We also took time out just before that evening to drive back to Lyman Knapps where we found him at home. He told us that Roy Kite, whom I had expected to meet us at Tonkawa, was also detained by the critical illness of his mother. In fact, she passed away soon afterward. While at Lyman's he showed us his collection of antiques, which included two fine Russell engines, a 25 hp. and a 6 hp.; a Canton Monitor with upright boiler; a 40 hp. Reeves tractor; old combines; and a 1915 Reo auto. We went to bed that night realizing we had had a very busy day.
Tuesday morning we were up with the break of day. When we opened the door of our motel the chill met us full on and water was dripping from the trees, fog banks were hovering and the windshield and windows of the truck were covered with moisture It was clear and the sun soon dispelled the ground fog and dried up its moisture.
We got an early breakfast in town and just as the sun was coming up were on our way back to the engine. About 8 o'clock an older man and two younger men arrived on the scene. He introduced himself as Mr. Pettit's brother and his two sons, from Ponca City, about 20 miles or so east of Tonkawa. His resemblance to his brother left no doubt as to who he was. I showed him my bill of sale to the engine, and he and his two sons stayed and helped all day. They, as well as everyone else, pitched in and helped with a will.
About 9 o'clock our low boy arrived. Mr. Pettit, the owner of the engine owns also a D-6 caterpillar tractor. His brother got it out of the shed and hitched it to the Avery and undertook to move it out to a better place to load. We didn't go far however until the cat was stuck. At 11:00 a. m. Mr. Caughlin came. His cat, also a D-6 fortunately was equipped with a dozer blade and winch. They hitched both tractors on to the Avery and pulled it out onto a grassy place for loading. We undertook to load the engine backwards so as to get the heavy end away from over the rear wheels of the lo-boy. Mr. Caughlin hitched his winch cable to the engine drawbar and started pulling. When the drive wheels were about half way up the loading ramp the tractor started sliding back in the mud. Then Mr. Caughlin had to doze out a hole big enough to back the lo-boy into, and then pulled the engine on that way. He was due back at 2 p. m. at his other job. It was 1:30 p. m. when we got his tractor loaded back on his own lo-boy. In turning a corner in the narrow road just south of the farm the lo-boy slid off into the road ditch and twisted off a drive shaft in the truck tractor. He got out of that accident about 3:00 p. m. by getting another tractor for his lo-boy. . In the meantime we had driven back to Tonkawa to look up a wrecking crane to come pull the drive wheels off the engine, so we could set it down on the lo-boy to gain clearance. We found what we wanted at the junk yard, owned by a Mr. Phillips. He brought it out and loaded the drive wheels into our little truck. As the weight of each driver came onto the crane the front end of his truck would shoot up in the air. Four men had to get on the front bumper of his truck so he could guide it.
During the day we made the acquaintance of the original owner of the engine, Mr. Harold Lucas. He bought it new in 1913 and told us some interesting stories of his running it. He and his son came over and took some pictures of it, and the son took some with his father at the levers in the cab. The Pettits also told of the reputation the engine had gained for power in that neighborhood.
That evening Bob and I started on the long trek home with our two drive wheels in our little ton truck. I didn't know what the wheels weighed but thought a Class D license should be sufficient. We stayed at Blackwell, Oklahoma that night. Got up Wednesday morning about 3:00 o'clock and started home, after hunting up a g: s station that was open as Bob found he needed a little oil added to the truck engine. The drive wheels made the load a little top heavy, and it swayed some, but we soon got used to it.
There was a crescent moon low in the east, and it was our compass until the sun rose. I always hate to feel turned around. Once again we took the Kansas Turnpike, and traveled from one end of it to the other getting into Kansas City about 12:30 p. m. In passing through Kansas City, we missed a turn and found ourselves on a street where considerable road construction was in progress. It was also divided in the center by a cement ridge about 4 inches high and a foot wide. We stopped by the side of a construction crew and Bob inquired how to get back on our route. This necessitated turning around and getting into the opposite lane across that cement ridge. In doing so we stopped traffic in both lanes for a considerable distance, but were not honked at a single time. In regaining our highway he had to turn up a street in a residential district on which cars were parked on both sides. Sometimes it amounted to one way traffic and in the worst of it we encountered a hill about a block long that sure was steep. Bob went into low gear at the bottom, but had only gone a short distance until he had to shift to super low. I actually prayed on that hill. If we had twisted off a drive shaft or stripped a gear we would have been in real trouble. But at the top there was our highway. It sure looked good to us.
We got the wheels back on with the help of Mr. Burnell Haworth, of Haworth Motors, Dodge-Plymouth dealer in Mt. Pleasant, using his heavy wrecker. The 18 h. p. Undermounted Avery was the only thing that would pull it off the lo-boy, and we got it unloaded safely.
The next big job was rebuilding. Due to field work we hired boiler men to reflue and check on the boiler. Someone, sometime, had run with low water and had caused a slight ripple in front of crown sheet. They straightened it, and renewed the boiler in every way. One of the men working on it had been a boiler inspector and was, I thought, over particular. But, I guess it paid off, as the boiler stood a cold water test of over 300 lb. per square inch with no sign of weakness.
A friend of ours, Charles McMillan, who had worked in the shops of the Burlington Railroad for years took a great interest in our engine and offered to help us get the 40 ready for the reunion. We didn't refuse. The state boiler inspector told us he would allow us any steam pressure we wanted to carry up to 200 lb. We also re-jacketed the boiler} rebuilt the cab, and had Bill Sater, our local blacksmith and welder, rebuild the tanks and coal bunker. Bob's wife Ruth, did most of the painting, a big job in itself, while Bob finished it up with striping. See finished picture.
At the reunion I met a man, Mr. William Merhoff, who had run this engine, plowing the year it was new. He insists it is a Canadian Special. He said there were reinforcements around some of the outlets in the Canadian Special that were not present in the 40 hp. boiler. I also know there was some heavier plate in the dome. As far as I am concerned it is all right with me, as the Canadian Special would rate a 40 hp. in the states as it would also carry the higher pressure allowed by the Ohio boiler law.
Now I have my 40 hp. Avery, and my conscience for letting the other one be junked has layed down and is quiet again.