P.O. Box 644 Moore Haven, FL 33471
Photo by George Collins, Zolfo Springs, FL. Reprinted from 'The Engine Exhaust', newsletter of the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club
It all started with a phone call during supper in the spring of '84. Told the family it was nothing important, then later in the meal between the cremated casserole and the unusual rock cake, I mentioned that I thought it was time to have an addition to the family! That was when the 11-year-old kid started whoopin' and hollerin'......... WOW, gonna have a new brother or sister, don't care which!
The wife was giving me one of those 'yougottabe kiddinat our age' looks. When they both calmed down told them definitely not a baby; indeed, where would I put all my spare tractor parts that were in the extra bedroom ... I announced that hopefully in a little while, we were gonna be the happy owners of a buffalo.
The kid adapts easily, now only wanted to know: 'Can I keep him in my room till he grows up, and then ride him to school? The wife mentioned something about how we gonna feed the fool thing, and I immediately thought about the cremated casserole!
Dickering about the swap of my Nichols and Shepard steam engine for the buffalo went on for about a year and a half, many letters and phone calls, many of 'those' looks from the wife, and the kid thinking it'd be grown before we get it. The swap was arranged and the picture arrived of the BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD steam powered ROAD ROLLER!
As I said, the kid adapts easily; took one look and says well, I can still ride it, but think I'll need a bigger room. Need to mention here that during dickering, the measurements were sent and, the Buffalo being only two feet longer than the Nichols, was sure it couldn't weigh twice as much. It did: twelve tons total weight!
Loaded on the Nichols and Shepard, and left after work to travel to Chattanooga, TN, to meet Paul Klingel and the Buffalo, at a point halfway from his home in Indiana.
Paul had it all planned, and had sent me the name of a truck stop just north of the Georgia state line; it was there that he and I were to meet. I'll tell you what: there ain't no truck stop by that name in Georgia, Tennessee, or Kentucky. We both arrived at the north Georgia area at the same time and couldn't find each other or the truck stop. Paul called his son back home in Indiana and I called there too to find out where Paul was, and in the meantime, just to keep things interesting, someone eyeing the Nichols as they drove by ran into the trailer while looking. When the kid informed me of this, she said she didn't think she'd ever heard me use that word before!!
After two hours, finally found Paul and the Buffalo. Yup, it did weigh twenty-four thousand pounds. Lunch was had, the exchange was made and the kid spotted a motel with a pool. Since we had only been up for one day and one night and half of the second day, and me being of the mechanical and scientific type, I decided that we'd better haul it a little before we stopped for the night (Really wasn't sure if our poor Ford one-ton truck would even move it, but told the wife 'nuthin' to worry about,' receiving a debit from the Lord for being so careless with the truth).
We set out. The truck turned right and the trailer and the Buffalo didn't. We slid across the road to the edge of a ditch. We were then pulled straight by Paul; removed one of the six axles and tried again. Must say that maneuver was not a total loss, as the wife's slight case of constipation was cured almost immediately. Again assured the wife we had nothing to worry about. It pulled like a dream, a twenty-five mile per hour dream at that. The wife has always prayed considerably, but was in meditation for two and one-half days going home! She did mention something about ending up at the funny farm, and all the while, the good old kid was still looking for a motel with a pool.
Earlier, when the trip had been mentioned to Tony Ullrich (who built my trailer), he assured me that the load wouldn't hurt the trailer, which it didn't. He also informed me to pick a large parking lot to turn around in or park in. Now did he or did he not know that the old 'El Cheapo' motels have the small parking lots and the $50 and up per night motels have the nice large ones? But we managed, by wrecking the family budget. That night, we invited Flywheeler Bob Reed from north Atlanta to have supper with us at the expensive motel restaurant. Clams, he likes! But stopped at six plates when I told the waitress that Bob was a poor hitchhiker we had just picked up along the highway.
The next morning dawned bright and clear and off we went through Atlanta for sightseeing. You really enjoy the view at twenty-five mph top speed. Nice day, but sure hoped for a little rain to cool off those tires.
The wife was still meditating and it started raining and rained most of the way home. I can tell you from experience that during a trip of over 600 miles, at twenty-five miles per hour, with one or two wild dashes of forty-five miles per hour, down-hill... Well, you really get to know your family.
Only one flat tire and the Highway Patrol helped fix that! We arrived home after only one more night in one of those large parking lot motels and the wife says that in about sixty days she should return to her regularity.
Then, the other night during dinner, the phone rang, and when the kid heard me say 'might be interested in a swap, 'she starts jumping up and down and .... just kidding there, folks.