TRIALS IN THE LIFE OF A STEAM ENGINEER'S WIFE OR Restoring An Antique Water Wagon in 1975

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Otterbein, Indiana 47970

Many years ago Gentry Bros. Circus had a round tank, 12' long and 3' in diameter. It had a hand pump to fill it, as there might not have been water hydrants out where the circus had to set up.

This tank was made just like a steam boiler with lap seams which were riveted together and was galvanized inside and outside. It could have been used for their drinking water, as it had a 14' hole in the top to get in to clean out the tank.

When the Circus went out of business, a man bought the tank, and after using it several years to haul water for the steam engine during threshing, Leonard Mann bought the tank about 1934. He put it on Avery water wagon running gears and used it for several years for threshing.

Last year Leonard noticed that the tank had a leak in it; so he decided to plug the hole with a bolt and washer and to paint the inside rusty bottom part with Metallic Zinc Paint (MZP). In order to get the inside painted, he coaxed his wife to get inside, telling her that she was smaller and could get in easier.

She climbed the stepladder, put in one leg, but then couldn't get the other leg in. She finally saw that she had to put both legs in at the same time by supporting herself with her arms on both sides of the top of the tank. The rust had to be removed; so she rubbed and rubbed with a wire brush. The air inside the tank was hot and full of the fine rusty dust. When Leonard pounded on the bolts, the reverberations were extremely noisy.

Finally the bottom was all painted. When the wife climbed out, her shoes fell off inside and had to be fished out.

The outside was painted with two coats of glossy gray MSP, and the wheels were painted a bright yellow. The painters were dotted with spots of gray and yellow.

What a beautiful historical water wagon having seen the days of circuses and threshings!