The Kitten Water Wagon of 97

Water wagon

Water wagon loaded on a trailer, headed for Texas.

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R.R. 2, Box 6, Slaton, Texas 79364

Here is another short story about the Ferdinand Foundry and Machine Works at Ferdinand, Indiana. My triple great uncle manufactured steam engines, separators, sawmills and water wagons. I have written a few stories about these products except for the water wagons. So now we have a new chapter to tell.

There are about ten steps for refurbishing a Kitten water wagon.

 1. First and foremost you have to know Francis and Mike Lindauer from Ferdinand, Indiana.
 2. Secure their help to find parts around Ferdinand to reassemble a Kitten water wagon.
 3. Make a pattern or two for some of the missing parts.
 4. Find a foundry to cast the patterns.
 5. Borrow a complete and original Kitten water wagon from a neighbor by the name of Ernie Brames of Ferdinand, Indiana.
 6. Find a water pump manufactured by Myers Pump Company.
 7. Obtain services from Modern Welding to make the tank.
 8. Obtain services from Ernest Weyer to do the blacksmithing.
 9. Obtain services from Joe Hoffman for sandblasting.
10. The Lindauers did the painting and lettering and final assembly.
11. Not really a step, but Francis calls Jerry to say that the Kitten water wagon is ready except for one minor detail before I can pick it up. I have to go to a really good show to show off the 'new' Kitten before taking it home to Texas.

The show we attended was in Elnora, north of Washington in White River Valley.

As Francis Lindauer said, this is the best all around show that he has been to, and I agree. The show featured antique cars and trucks, over 300 tractors, all types of belt-driven machinery, field demonstrations, blacksmith shop, country music, extra large flea market, buildings with hand tools, horse carriages and machinery, general store, avenue of shops from yesteryear, quilting, old farmstead, working wood shop and machine shop, operating steam building, and I almost forgot (not really!) a few Kittens of course, the reason I traveled 1200 miles in the first place.

The show in Elnora, in case you haven't guessed, is not in Washington State or Washington, DC, but is a little north of Ferdinand in the Hoosier State, Indiana.

I met more people at the show than I can remember, but all of them were very helpful at the show and I plan on attending the show again. I wrote a few names down, among those, were Daryl Schwartzentruber, the sawyer; Doug and Dennis Kutch owners of a Kitten steam engine; Joe Driael from Vincennes, Indiana; Hubert Reynolds family from Boonville, owners of another Kitten steam engine; Nessy Hausfuther Henry Kemp-Paul Schue (tri -pie great nephew of Florenz Kitten) and the Lindauers with their Kitten. Tom Sampson, who also owns a Kitten, came from Ohio to see the Kittens in action on the sawmill, separator and the dynamometer.

I even met the famous Larry Creed for the first time.

And then there was Lenus Hausfuther, big brother of Sylvester (Nessy). Well, everyone around there knows Lenus, who has draft horses and an important Kitten separator. Last time I saw his separator was at another show at Fulda, Indiana, when they did a little threshing/separating and we had about ten wagon loads of bundles.

I helped run the Kittens on the sawmill, firing with coal, and as the old saying goes, we had them 'purring like a kitten.' The Kitten has a musical exhaust all its own. First was Hubert Reynolds' Kitten on the sawmill, and a little later the Lindauers' Kitten took its turn pulling the saw. As you can see in the pictures, we had a crowd at the Elnora show. The little half scale Kitten is owned by Francis Lindauer, and while they were changing engines, I pulled up to the belt with the little Kitten, but not wanting to show them the power of this little one, I quickly scampered off.

The Kitten water wagon may look simple enough, but there are a few more details to making the wagon the same as before. The rear axle was made out of cherry wood and was cut by Charlie Kines. The nearby Amish had the glands for the Meyer pump. The wood on the top is oak and the foot rest is cherry. Yellow poplar is used on the rest of the undercarriage and tongue. Francis said yellow poplar was used a lot on the separators and sawmills, because it is very strong and withstands weather better than some of the other hardwoods, like oak. The old yellow poplar trees were yellow all the way through, but the new yellow poplar trees are yellow only in the middle. So the new trees are much softer and, henceforth, not as good. Ferdinand also had a large area of these yellow poplar trees just northeast of town. So, for two good reasons, the Kitten factory used the yellow poplar good hard wood and available close to the factory.

Almost forgot to tell you, there are quite a few Kitten water wagons around now. Let's see, there are two in Ferdinand, Brames and Lindauer have one each, and there is one owned by Plasterer, and now one in Slaton, Texas, for a total of six.

So, as you can see from the pictures, the remaking of a Kitten water wagon takes only a few steps, lots of friends and about two years of time, is all!