Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gator delivery part III- a few days in Minnesota then back home-

  "What's that green thing you brought on the trailer?"  I was asked.  I handed dad the keys, and said this was payback for blowing the engine in his pickup when I was 17.

He looked perplexed, I explained how I had acquired the machine.  I got my plank ramps out, un strapped and unloaded the Gator,  and we took a quick ride around the place as I demonstrated the operation, then he drove.  I think he may have cracked a smile in the process.  We pulled in behind the house and he came in and got mom.

As predicted she proclaimed it "cute" and I took her on a long circuit of the back forty, I caught a giggle now and then and she gripped the dash handle tightly. Mom's got a knee that bothers her some and doesn't get way out on the woods trails like she used to so this was neat.

Dad and I went out and cut up some ash from a tree that had fallen in a storm earlier in the summer -


And off the old settler drives......

When you get back to the wood pile, flip the switch and dump the bed. 

While there, I fixed a few things as I usually do.  The right brake on the 8N Ford dad picked up was soaked in oil from a leaking axle seal, leaking oil on to the brake assembly from the transmission. I had ordered parts ahead of time from Stiener Tractor parts so I had what I needed. 

From what I can tell, this tractor had been a "blue belly" at one time, and the leaking seal was due to being ineptly installed, it was not "square" in the carrier, and they used (re used!) gaskets and about two tubes of nasty black RTV.

I used the Gator as a work bench that day.

It is a very good running tractor, a 1950 model from the serial number and it has a 12 volt electrical conversion.  However, there are a few things I think of as "hackery" done to it. First off, if you are going to "restore" a tractor, at least do some body work! A few hours with some bondo and a ball peen hammer would have gone a long way on the hood, the fenders were painted right over rust pits and are bleeding rust back through all ready.  Then there is the brake issue I had to fix, and I have found a few loose bolts here and there.  Sure, it may look great in this picture but the hood is rough as hell from ten feet away.

I then patched up a roof on the sap shack a bit.  I think a metal roof is in order here in the next couple years.

 The stovepipe coming out the side is from the sap boiler used each spring for maple syrup.

The Central Minnesota Heritage Club was having it's summer show just a couple miles from the house so I went over and took it in.  One thing I really liked was the number of machines in "working clothes", in other words not overly restored. 

This Case "CC" was I believe a 1934 model and originally on steel wheels I would imagine, I saw it run pulling the stone boat with a big water tank on it and folks jumping on as it pulled down the track. It sure sounded sweet lugging down! 

And here is a home added log splitter on an Allis Chalmers "B"  Allis Chalmers was this year's show featured brand.

Shorthorn oxen?  I didn't see them at work though the owners have a little wagon they pull. Docile creatures for sure. 


Lawn mower pullers! The lawn tractor pulls were held Sunday.

Video I took of the threshing machine-

I also dug the '74 model six horse Johnson outboard from the shed, it gets run every few summers on the johnboat dad bought along with it.  When we lived on the other side of the road, my grandmother had a dock on Big Swan lake it was kept at.

I shall also mention that these were probably the two hottest days of the summer, in the high 90's.  That dip I took on a Sunday afternoon after anchoring the boat and jumping over the side sure felt good. :)

Since I had an empty trailer, it had to be loaded! Back in the early 80's, dad bought this wagon running gear from a farm auction for 25 dollars or so.  A tad of research showed it was constructed (quite well so) with a pair of '37-'39 Ford front axles, which were flipped over 180* to raise them (they "smile" in the car but are "unhappy" on the wagon) and the large bolt pattern wheels.

  I had to put air and a valve stem core in ONE tire.  Sure, some were low, but dad figures this thing had not moved in 27 years!

We had a flat bed on this when I was a kid, here is a pic from 1982 baling some hay- the rest of the equipment is long gone but the running gear remains.  The guy on the Minneapolis-Moline RTU tractor is a 15 year old me, the guy on top of the load now owns a successful pool and spa business, the third guy I lost track of. 

Loaded that wagon up along with an old horse drawn walking plow and a better chassis to replace the rusted chassis on a '67 Ski Doo I have.

Monday morning came, and it was time to leave for Georgia again.  I had the load strapped down to the trailer, said my good byes and headed out about 6am on a Monday. I stopped in the town of Grey Eagle, 3 1/2 miles down the road, and checked the straps, and who came walking by but this guy Vance who I recall from school, on his way to get a cup of coffee from the Clark station that was opening up.  We summarized our lives since we last talked in four minutes or less, and I got on the road again!  
Down two lane country roads as dawn became morning and I headed on down I-94 towards Minneapolis.  Baled road ditches anyone?

Below is a load of sweet corn, to compliment the load of tomatoes I got behind in Indiana. I was not pelted with corn this time however. This was after merging to 1-35.

Iowa, here we come.  The roads proved much smoother than the Wisconsin route on the way up.
I'm not sure what this place is- airport?

Several hours later, the "worlds largest truck stop"  which has a separate truck museum that I did NOT go in to due to time.

Here is the base, or part of it, for one of the many giant wind turbines being transported -

Inside the actual truck stop store, which reminds me of a shopping mall, there was this neat Dodge Power Wagon on display.

Things sure have come a long way, neat old truck but I sure would not want to, nor be able to, knock down 850 miles in a day in that iron dog!
Above is a Caterpillar building in Peoria, IL.
I pressed on, making it east to the outskirts of Indianapolis, then south on I-65.  About 12:30 AM and 18 hours since leaving the home place, this guy needed a place to rest. Only the rest area on the big slab was backed up on the the on ramp with big rigs. I pulled in a TA truck stop parking lot in Seymore, IN. 
This time I was not as lucky. Ended up parked between two rigs and it was warmer, more humid out than it was on the overnight in Kentucky on the way up.  I woke up sweaty a couple times and had to start the engine to run the AC and cool off the cab.  With rigs coming and going all the time, GOOD sleep was not possible. 
About 6 hours later I gave up on trying to sleep more, and hit the road.  Here are the lights coming in to Louisville at dawn.

Once in Louisville, I hit I-64 and headed east. This time, instead of bearing south on I-75 at Lexington I continued east/southeast on Combs Mountain Parkway. This took me on a very scenic route, most of which was a divided four lane. At Pikeville, I headed south on US 19-23. At about noon, I pulled in to my inlaw's yard.
I backed the trailer in to a spot and unhooked it, as the wagon and plow were to stay there. Chris was doing better after the ATV roll over but still couldn't really use his arm.

The story pretty much ends here. After unhooking and shooting the breeze with Chris, I headed to Savannah, getting home about 7pm.
I can't find my notes, but the trip back was 330 or so miles longer than the trip up, due to the Iowa route (extra 80 miles) and going home with a detour to Wise, VA to drop the trailer.  
I don't have one of those GPS navigation units and chuckle when I am driving down the interstate, and look over to see a car lower than me (which you can see well while driving a 4x4 truck) and see the screen with the arrow pointing straight ahead! Now I will admit they are nice in a city trying to find a place, but I do just fine with a Rand McNally altas. I have a Garmin E-trex GPS I use basically as a trip meter. It records mileage, time moving and time stopped. It will surprise you just how long those gas stops take!  I snapped this shot close to the VA/TN border, you can see the elevation displayed on the bottom, 3750 ft.  

I also have a small Uniden CB that is powered through a plug to a lighter socket. I use a magnet mount antenna on the front fender. This was handy in the construction traffic I encountered in Illinois. I had a means of finding out what lane was closed up ahead and what the hold up was.