Old Iron and Gove Rural High School Reunion


| January/February 1996



1920 3 HP F-M Z engine

Right side, 1920 3 HP F-M Z engine finally purchased from Grumbein Salvage, Alexander, Kansas. Alfred Townsend is examining the crude but effective ignition system.

Rio Grande Equipment Club, 712 La Vista, McAllen, Texas 78501

I am a 75 year old retired teacher, member of the Rio Grande Valley Old Farm Equipment Club, secretary, and publisher of the monthly club newsletter, 'Rust Bucket Ramblings.' On May 24, 1995, I departed McAllen for: (1) Kansas City, Missouri, to pick up a small trailer previously loaned to Russell Anderson to haul his belongings from Harlingen, Texas, to Kansas City; (2) Gove, Kansas, to participate in their high school reunion, visiting former students and patrons from the 1948-1950 era when it was my good fortune to be a teacher/coach until recalled to the Army for the Korean conflict; (3) Alexander, Kansas, to continue negotiations with Glenn Grumbein for a 1920 3 HP Fairbanks-Morse Model Z engine. Saw this engine first in 1975 and Glenn wanted $300 for it. He has one of the relatively untouched hoards of salvage and antique farm machinery in the state of Kansas. And he is reasonable, except I didn't agree on the engine price so the years have passed and he has steadfastly held his ground.

From 10:00 p.m. until about 4:00 a.m. on May 25th I rested in an Ardmore, Oklahoma, motel. About 30 minutes after leaving the motel, the truck manifested a leaking heater hose. My first warning was the smell of hot antifreeze, but I told myself that it must be fumes being given off by some chemical plant, and got the real message when steam began emanating from the engine. What to do? Spotted a lighted building (this turned out to be about 10 miles south of Norman, Oklahoma) and carefully exited the freeway seeking haven in what turned out to be The Engine Center. Parked under bright lights and waited for things to cool down after determining the problem was in the top of the heater hose. In about 45 minutes removed the hose at point of rupture, trimmed away the damaged hose and replaced it. But then what to do. About noon I had been stretching my legs at a rest stop and a 1972 Oldsmobile had pulled in needing waterhad used my gallon of spare water to get it back on the road, after helping the driver remove a thermostat that locked like it might have been on one of Sherman's tanks. And, though there were many chances thereafter to refill the container, I didn't. Woe is me, no water!! Just a minute, there on the side of the building, directly in front of the truck was a water faucet. Here I had been thinking about a long wait until someone came in at 8:00 a.m. (hopefully). It didn't take long to fill the radiator and in a jiffy was ready to go. Left a watermelon, a sack of oranges, and a sack of grapefruit by the hydrant, then departed.

About 9:30 a.m. on the Kansas Turnpike near Wichita I decided to try for breakfast at a turnpike restaurant. But no, the sign said 'Open For Lunch at 11:00.' As I returned to the truck a pair of pickups (newer than mine, but not much) pulled in. As the trucks had Texas license plates, politely I inquired, 'What part of Texas are you from?' the answer, 'San Juan.' San Juan is a sister city of McAllen. The migrants were heading for Minnesota and seasonal work. A brief chat, a sack of oranges and a watermelon less, and it was hit the turnpike again. In a good mood, thought things are going well. Even my travel companion, 'Lily,' a half pit bull/half Labrador four months old pup (named after Harry Seidensticker's rare 1907 air cooled 2 HP 'White Lily' engine) had mastered getting into and out of the truck on command. Things were looking up! This pup has the potential of becoming my number one guard dog.

With no air conditioning in the 1965 ton Chevrolet pickup (speedometer passed 180,000 miles on this trip) it was a relief to begin getting cooler temperatures at San Antonio. By the time we hit the Oklahoma line, it was drizzling and cooler temperatures merited opening the heater valve. We ran in 55°-60° weather through Oklahoma and Kansas, coming and going.

Russell had previously instructed me to stay on Interstate 35 until reaching 24, Independence Highway; turn right on 24, find a convenience store to phone him so he could come and guide me to the trailer. Made the turn and spotted a large Ford agency to do my telephoning. Russell indicated I was about five miles from the trailer, how about coming on in? 'No, thank you, these Kansas City drivers have been tooting their horns at me too much, already. Come and get me, I'll wait.' Getting the trailer was no real hassle and Russell was good enough to lead me to Interstate 70 going west. Arrived in Salina area about 10:00 p.m. and was beginning to get sleepy. Plus, one of our good members Robert Robins lives in the area at Minneapolis, Kansas. Checked two motels. Both were filled to capacity. To heck with the motels. Motored on down the road about 30 miles to a rest stop, got in the camper and went to sleep. After a brief rest, proceeded westward. Twenty miles east of Hays a deer sideswiped the right headlight. Still had the left lamp, so proceeded on into Hays. Stopped at an open convenience store and inquired about finding a good auto-electric shop. I was directed two blocks further down the street where I parked to wait out the 8:00 a.m. opening time. At 8:00 I found the manager, explained my problem and asked him to check the right rear running light on the trailer. 'I'm going across the street for some breakfast, and will get right back.' I took about an hour for breakfast. The truck was sitting out, the bill was ready. But, I summarily checked the turn signals; they were reversed. There was still no right rear running light and the right headlight was pointed down at the pavement with a 45 degree angle. 'Marvin, calm yourself, this is doing your high blood pressure no good.' The technician sensed my feelings and quickly offered to spend a little more time on the problems. I assented but immediately called Berneice Herrman at the Chrysler dealership and she put their service manager, Mark, on the phone. He advised me to check out the availability of WHEELS & SPOKES, as they are the best in the area with sheet metal work and trailer wiring. 'Marvin, do you want me to call Jerry and make arrangements for you?' 'No, it's not necessary, I know Jerry Juenemann, having previously sold him an antique Chrysler.'