RR 1, Box 63, Avoca, Iowa 51521
It's always somewhat difficult to start writing a story, so I suppose I'll start by stating that I was born in Marshall County, Kansas. Our 80-acre farm overlooked the Big Blue River Valley, near a small town of Irving, Kansas. The year was 1931 and some will remember that that year was still influenced by the Great Depression.
When I was 6 years old, I attended Prairie Ridge Country School District 55. It was a one-room school, to which I walked a mile each day. My teachers have told me in later years that I was always greatly interested in anything mechanical and especially gas engines and tractors. My father was a horse farmer and I enjoyed it immensely when our neighbors on either side would work their fields. On the one side was a 'regular' Farmall with its smooth purr which never changed tone to any great extent. On the other was a 'D' or GP John Deere. I always enjoyed listening to it, as we could always tell when that neighbor would hit a hard piece of ground when plowing. There was something special about the sound of an old John Deere when her governor would open.
I suppose I'll always be partial to John Deere. The only power we had of that sort was a 3 HP New Way. My parents had lost almost everything in the Great Depression, but Dad had managed to keep his horses and his New Way. There were small items of interest such as his forge. I recall pulling the handle to operate the blower as he would heat plow lays and things of that nature. I would often daydream of how those gears must work in the rachet on the forge and longed to take it apart to see.
I recall that, during school, when I could convince the teacher I had my lessons 'down pat', she would allow me to play. I once recall making a model of a steam engine out of a paper tube and bits and pieces of our 'Indian' tablet back. I had made a paper tube cylinder with a paper and card stock piston. When the flywheel was turned it would blow dust out of the exhaust stack. This would distract all the other kids in the room, although there wasn't any noise they would all watch it work instead of doing their work. Teacher would smile and retire the engine to the top of the piano until recess, at which time I would be flooded with questions on how it worked.
About the time I was to graduate from the 8th grade, our school was closed in favor of consolidation. By this time I had grown up and formed my own opinion of how the world should be managed. Dad and I arrived at a difference of opinion and I went my way to make a a life of my own. As the years went by, I always remembered the old New Way.
Several years later I had married and had a fine young son of my own. I wished that we could have a New Way to play with together. Luckily my son is also interested in John Deere tractors and all makes of gas engines. We subscribed to Gas Engine Magazine and would read the For Sale ads looking for a 3 HP New Way. They seemed such a high-priced engine, we didn't expect to ever buy one. However, when Mr. Albert Eshelman closed his gas engine and tractor show at Elliot, Iowa, Roger (his son) decided to sell some of his engines also. My son and I contacted Roger, as he had a 3 HP New Way. (One thing about the Eshelman family their engines are exactly as they are represented.) After a lot of conversation and several visits, we agreed on a price for his New Way. It took time to get her home.
Before we hauled home our trophy, Mother, David & I went on a little vacation to visit old friends and relatives in Kansas. One of the families we visited was the Lewis Loper family at Garnet. They were one of my adopted families when I first left home to work out as a kid. They still live on a beautiful farm nestled in a valley with lots of trees and a pond that is stocked with fish. All in all, a very nice place. One evening their son, Norman, and our son, David, went fishing. We old folks later went to see if they had had any luck. While walking around the area, I saw a dandy pair of iron wheels and an axle by some other old iron. I asked Lewis what it was and he said the front wheels from an old John Deere hay loader. I guess it was a machine pulled behind a rack that lifted the hay up, though I have never seen one work. He said 'Mama' wanted he and Norman to do something ornamental along the drive with them. They were about 28' in diameter and, of course, I could envision a wagon to haul a gas engine. Later, I saw a similar pair of wheels laying behind the barn. They were also John Deere wheels but only about 24' in diameter. Later I cornered 'Mama Loper' and asked her about the wheels. It took some talking but finally she was convinced that it would be a dreadful waste to bury those nice wheels halfway in the ground. When we were ready to leave the next day, Mrs. Loper smiled and told me I had forgotten to load my wheels. We were really pleased and scurried around to take them apart and see that they were loaded. My wife joked about us boys and our junk and told us to not scratch her suitcases.
When we arrived home after our vacation and everyone was back to their everyday routine, I kept thinking about how this wagon should be built. I'm a carpenter so it's easier for me to think in wood. I sent an order to one of the gas engine book companies. I bought a copy of the New Way catalog D11. Inside were pictures of the 6,7, and 8 HP engines on wagons similar to the one I wanted to build. Consequently, I copied as close as I could with wood. The book said steel frame, but I chose 2x6 boards instead. We had our local lumber yard mix gold paint for striping. I personally like John Deere yellow best. It seems to stand out better against the John Deere green. I drew the daisies freehand. We then transferred them from the paper to the boards with a common carbon paper. I measured out the striping and used white masking tape for a paint guide.
I have been told John Deere Plow Co. bought out the New Way Co. The book I have says 'by JD Plow Co.' on the front. The engine we have has dates from 1904 to 1908. I felt that, if this was the case, a New Way should ride on genuine JD wheels and have JD colors. We hope to have the engine repainted complete with daisies and pin striping for next summer's shows.
We took her to two shows this last summer one at Irwin, Iowa, where it misted both days. Sunday it cleared enough to have a parade. Everyone scurried around and prepared their rigs. We asked Mr. Donald Schultz of Macedonia, Iowa, to pull our wagon with his newly restored 112 International tractor. The parade route was muddy and all wheels balled up, but everyone enjoyed it anyway. There was a very good turnout, considering the bad weather.
The second show was at a farm just west of our town. It's called The Carsten Farmstead. We had nice dry weather; however, we didn't unload our New Way wagon from the trailer. This is a new place and doesn't have a loading dock yet. We started her up for people to see and hear.
Also this past summer, our niece visited from Ogden, Utah. She is a photographer and took black and white as well as color photos of our new toy, two of which are shown on these pages.