Roy's Cat

| November/December 1998

25277 Rancho Apple Valley, California 92308

When I worked for the Dana Construction Company during the 1960s, I was sent with a 966 Cat tracked loader to a small ranch on the east side of Apple Valley to clean out an above-ground irrigation reservoir. I was told that Roy Rogers had bought the ranch and the reservoir was overgrown with brush and weeds.

There was a small house on the property, a few outbuildings, a horse corral, and field of about five acres of alfalfa. While doing the job, I met one of Roy's nephews, Jim O'Dell, who was living in that house with his family and working as Roy's caretaker there, and Jim and I became good friends over the years since then.

When Roy bought the bigger ranch alongside the Mojave River, Jim bought the house and property over the hill and down in the canyon from where I live, and became my nearest neighbor at that time. His kids and mine were about the same age and we saw a lot of each other after that move.

About 1972 or '73, Jim came over and told me that Roy had his old Cat D-8 IH dozer (in the 'old days' we called that model a 'slide-bar 8') hauled up from his previous ranch in Chatsworth to his 'new' ranch and no one could get it to run. Jim knew I worked as an operator who could do a little mechanical work in a pinch, so asked if I would go to the ranch and see what was wrong with the Cat.

He told me that he had gotten the starting engine running, but when he put the starting engine in gear with the diesel engine and engaged the clutch, the diesel engine would not turn over. I was told the Cat had not been started in seven years, so suspected that someone had not thought to cover the exhaust stack, rain had gone down the pipe and rusted one of or more pistons to a cylinder, or cylinders, and that later proved to be the case.