While attending the Blue Mountain Swap Meet in Bangor, Pennsylvania, this year, I spotted the rear wheels of this three-wheeled dolly. Thought to myself, 'Boy, that would make a strong front axle for a cart project for my Witte engine.' I said to the gent, 'How much for the dolly?' And he said, 'Make an offer. I don't want to drag that heavy thing home again.' I said, 'Five bucks, if you have a cord that I can drag it with.' He said, 'Sold!' I gave him the fiver. As he attached the rope and handed it to me he said, 'Don't put anything valuable on it. It's a bear to steady and push at the same time. It's tippy.' I said, 'How is it you didn't say that at the same time you told me you didn't want to drag it home again?' He shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Good luck,' and let go of the rope and patted his pocket with the fiver in it, all in one motion.
The dolly was in my barn and always in the way, so I decided to take the rear wheels and axle off and scrap the metal. When I turned it over and saw that strong swivel caster welded fast the way it was, I studied it and started to think. What I came up with was to use the same rear axle and wheels as the rear axle and wheels, only raise them to the proper height.
I removed the caster wheel (see it hanging), and made a heavy duty axle with a couple of other wheels. I cut two slots in the axle for the ribs of the caster for more welding area. I used the original wheel holes for the steering and pulling handle. It worked out fine.
I saved the complete dolly and just added front axle wood. So, now when you see heavy duty swivel casters at a show or swap meet for a dollar or two, you now have a good strong steering mechanism for the front axle of your home-built cart. The steering design is always a problem. This will work fine on a smaller scale for models also.
I won't be participating in the shows much and may even give up my collection, due to my hurt shoulder. The guys at the shows are more than eager to unload for me and reload my truck or trailer, but I feel odd not being able to help. When I do I pay dearly with pain. You are a great bunch and even turn the flywheels for me! Now that's understanding!
I make many shows each year and admire the men and young men and families with their engines and related farm collectibles. And you folks know it's very common to be walking down the rows of collectibles and many of the proud exhibitors are a husband and wife team sitting on their lawn chairs chatting, more than willing to answer questions and tell the tale of how they acquired something. Some have spare empty chairs ready for me or you to sit and chat a bit. That's togetherness and friendliness that I admire. I often ask the gent, 'What did you promise her to get her to attend with you?' The wife usually says, 'I have to push him to get ready.'
I guess the ultimate girl would go to the engine shows, fish and row on the non-show weeks and cook and bake.
I wrote the story in the July 1999 GEM, about the Otto. It runs like a fine clock. I hope I can exhibit it so others can enjoy hearing it.
Contact Dan Cerro at 6 Williamson Lane, Chester, NJ 07930-2311.