It all started with a loose bushing and play in the front wheel of my dad's 1920 double cylinder Nichols and Shepard steam traction engine.
Having a cousin who was a machinist helped us with the problem of a bushing. He quickly produced one of the right size for us. We jacked up the left front side of the engine and proceeded to install the bushing. Finishing up we drove the 6-inch cotter pin back into the axle to hold the wheel on. Since it was from the top down, we thought no more about it.
Having finished the job I left for home, in Pineville, Missouri, planning to return in time for the Mid-America Threshing and Antique Inc., show at Tipton, Indiana, the following week.
I was dumbfounded when I got a phone call telling of the near disaster to old 'Huldy', as we affectionately called her.
It seems that a cotter pin must be spread, which we failed to do, to prevent it from slipping out.
The end result was that while running the engine around the old gravel pit at my cousin, Jack Pearcy's farm in Miami, Indiana, the pin came out, the wheel came off, and the front end of old 'Huldy' snapped off. Ten- year-old cousin Gary Glassburn, who was steering at the time, along with three other cousins, jumped and ran with steam escaping from several pipes.
My father, Howard Pearcy, 'Casey' as he was known back in his threshing days, kept his cool and stayed with the engine and dragged out the fire. Total damage was a pair of lead safety plugs, a broken pipe or two and the front undercarriage.
It was quite a sight to see the two huge wreckers which lifted up the front of the engine so that the welder could weld it back together.
By the way, old 'Huldy' made the show at Tipton the following week.