Old Iron in Texas Peach Country

Case tractor

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Reprinted from Rust Bucket Ramblings, newsletter of the Rio Grande Valley Old Farm Equipment Club 712 La Vista McAllen, Texas 78501

1994 Fredericksburg Antique Tractor & Gas Engine Club Show, Stonewall, Texas. Model L Case tractor, 1936, Harry Seidensticker, Comfort, Texas.

At the end of our Mercedes show several of our Valley club members vowed they would reciprocate visitations to the Burton Cotton Gin Show, April 16-17, and the Stonewall Show, June 25, 26, 1994. So it was that Alfred Townsend and yours truly made plans to keep the vows intact.

Alfred has three engines, a 10 HP Krueger-Atlas Junior, a 9 HP Fairbanks and a 6 HP John Deere, mounted on a four wheel cotton trailer. Despite all arguments otherwise, he insisted on pulling this rig to Burton. I followed, with a '65 Chevy ton pickup towing a four wheel tandem, 17 foot trailer loaded with a 1928 International six speed special truck. Top speed 34 MPH! When Alfred exceeded that, the cotton trailer began whipping his 1986 Chevy one ton dually pickup with camper all over the road. 34 MPH was the magic number! We made the 425 mile trip doing 30 MPH most of the way. Had further complications when the right front tire on the cotton trailer went flat. It was quickly replaced by a spare. Had a chance to see lots of the country. The wild flowers were resplendent in all their beauty.

During the Burton Show we decided to store our stuff in the Stonewall area for the late June show. Harry Seidensticker, Comfort, volunteered the use of his hay barn. So, after the Burton Show we made our way to Harry's barn, 25 miles from the Stonewall show grounds. Stored the 28 IHC truck and the cotton trailer with its three engines inside the hay barn next to a neat threshing machine. We parked the '65 Chevy pickup and trailer outside the north side of the hay barn. We returned to McAllen in Alfred's camper.

White Lily 1 cylinder engine, serial number 600, 1907, manufactured by White Lily Washer Co., Davenport, Iowa. Harry Seidensticker of Comfort, Texas, also at Fredericksburg.

June 23rd I had an evening telephone call from Alfred who suggested we should leave for Stonewall early evening the next day. This would mean missing the heat of the day and allow him time to get some crews ready for the maize harvest. By noon Thursday, I was all set and waiting to go. Four o'clock no Alfred! Six o'clock the same! Finally at seven, the phone rang. It was Alfred. He had been in the process of delivering one of the eighteen wheelers to the harvest area, and the truck ruptured a brake line. After cutting some fancy dados in the neighbors field he managed to stop the rig with only a badly shattered set of nerves. 'As soon as I finish eating, we'll be on our way.' 8 p.m. we departed McAllen pulling Randy Morris' new 17 foot four wheeled tandem trailer. No more 30 MPH for us. We'd piggy-back that dratted cotton trailer back home! By 3 a.m. we were at the Stonewall show grounds. After a brief sleep and an early breakfast, Randy's trailer was parked and we headed for Harry's hay bam.

'Marvin it looks like a bull took out your right front sealed beam on the pickup.'

'Must have been a real tussle, chalk up one for the bull. Hope we can get the old truck started.' (Starter had gone kaput at the Burton show.)

'Give me the crank, let's try it.' Four cranks, a little choking and the engine roared to life. Hastily we hooked Alfred's camper to his cotton trailer, moving it out allowing room to maneuver the '28 IHC truck. Off the jack stands, and out we started.

'My gosh this thing steers worse than a tractor on steel.'

'Marvin, you've got a flat on the left front wheel, let's air it up.' Air improved the situation considerably,. but by the time the truck was on the trailer, the tire had gone down again.

Mary, Harry's spouse, recommended their regular filling station in Fredericksburg as a good place for tire repair.

'Alfred, you go ahead with your trailer to the show grounds and I'll take the truck to Mary's tire repairman.'

'That's okay, but let's eat lunch at that roadside park where we turned to come down here.'

During our lunch, several carloads of people stopped to admire the three engines and the old truck. One courteous young man volunteered the information that the Goodyear store in Fredericksburg had an excellent tire repair facility. Found the filling station first. A full service station it brought back memories. Watched with interest as the solitary attendant scurried about pumping gas, checking oil, airing tires, cleaning windshields, answering the phone, etc. After about 30 minutes he politely asked if there was something he could do for me. 'How about fixing this flat?' He took one look and stated, 'I've never seen as split rim like that before. I'll have to pass on this one.' Undaunted I headed for the Goodyear store.

Greeted by six boys and a bustling crew of technicians, I headed for the service manager's desk. He was a six foot, blue-eyed, husky young man with a confident appearance. 'Young man, to what do you owe your claim to honor and fame?'

'We can fix anything.'

'You can? How about looking at the flat on my truck?' He proceeded outside to the truck on the trailer. He looked at the flat tire. His lower jaw dropped. 'I've never seen a rim like that.'

'Well, it's like this, I can leave this truck on the trailer as a static display or get the tire fixed and parade it. I have a rim tool for the rim.'

'Oh, you're here for the antique farm machinery show at Stonewall. We'll fix it for you.'

Off came the tire the rim tool was put to good use. It wasn't too long before a shredded inner liner and the tube had been removed from the casing. Old patches peeled off the tube like paper. 'We can patch the tube, but we don't stock a 600 x 20 inner liner.' At this point I departed the tire scene seeking a replacement sealed beam for the pickup. As I returned from the auto parts store a pickup pulled in. A boy delivered a brand new 600 x 20 inner liner to the Goodyear tire repairman. The service manager installed the sealed beam. The inflated tire and rim were placed back on the wheel. A good job, well done, by a crew who met the challenge and seemed to relish it. 'How much?'

'Is twelve dollars too much?'

'Never, and thanks again for your efforts.'

As I motored eastward to the show grounds, made mental note that this area is renowned for its healthful climate, pure water, angora goats, and the best peaches in the world. Numerous roadside stands and adjoining orchards were located along the highway. All were open for business.

Upon arriving at the 35 acre showground, I noted that in the eight hours since morning, exhibitors had moved in, in droves. After unloading the truck and parking the trailer rig, I set out to find Alfred. First person I met was Hume Baker of Sheridan, Texas, who passed the time of day and told about Carl Symonds, Victoria, Texas, who had just undergone heart surgery. He also indicated Alfred was set up near the main gate. Drove the antique truck over by Alfred's exhibit.

A 1920 Fairbanks Morse, 25 HP, Billy Joe Helwig and June, of Miles, Texas, at the 1994 Fredericksburg Show in Stonewall, Texas.

I grabbed a camera and set out to see the sights. 'This is one of the finest displays of engines I've seen, ' remarked a veteran exhibitor from Odessa, Texas. Engines varied in size from monster to palm-sized, from common to exotic. All engines were interesting, but the gem Harry Seidensticker had on display produced a steady stream of engine aficionados. In 1984, Harry located a 2 HP 1907 'White Lily' air cooled engine. It was manufactured by the White Lily Washer Company, Davenport, Iowa, serial number 600. Piston is stuck and rod is broken, ignition is jump spark from hot shot battery with buzz coil, sparkplug is Champion X, four inch piston and four inch stroke. Over the years the restoration has taken second fiddle to other more important projects. Am glad to be able to report Harry has been able to farm out the restoration to Sing Johnson, master-mechanic from the Rio Grande Valley.

Other than several large steam tractors, the tractor side of the show seemed sparse, however this changed suddenly. Tractors began to arrive in hordes. By late Friday evening, the area reserved for tractors was densely populated. The variety was terrific. Tractor pulls began early in the morning and ran all day excepting time out for the eleven o'clock parade.

Refreshment stands dotted the entire showground. Hot days caused crowds to gravitate to the lemonade stands. Customers were usually at least ten deep at the fresh peach slush concession. Live wheat threshing and rope making demonstrations were conducted near the display of antique windmills. The blacksmith wasn't too much envied because of his 'hot' work, but he didn't seem to mind.

Everyone enjoyed this show, exhibitors and spectators alike. I remember with fondness attending my first ever show when it was located west of Fredericksburg. The foresight and unselfishness of Albert and Dora Meier in donating the thirty-five acre plot to the club will long be remembered. This show has grown to be one of the best in the state. Marshall and Jane Stone (Albert and Dora's daughter) and their daughter Krystal all pitched in to make 'Grandpa's hobby' a 100% success. Good layout, adequate space, good traffic control, competent management, and a multitude of good people provided the basis for a memorable occasion (even if we didn't get to hear a 'real' oomph band).