Rumely Over The Continental Divide
John and Mary with the Rumely the day we left Indiana.
2838 Heybourne Road Minden, Nevada 89423
John Weaver, 'Rumely Man' of Middlebury, Indiana, placed an ad in the April 1995 GEM to sell a 30-50 'Y' Rumely OilPull tractor. Being a tractor and engine enthusiast, I noticed his ad, which had a small photo of the Rumely with a white cloud of smoke coming from the stack. At this particular time, I knew nothing about a Rumely. From the size of the stack and the white cloud, I thought it may be steam. What I did know was that it would look good with my tractor and engine collection in Minden, Nevada. I already have thirteen tractors, but can always use one more! Besides, it is unlucky to have thirteen of anything!
I made several calls to the 'Rumely Man,' asking him questions about the tractor. I learned that it runs on kerosene and cools on about fifty gallons of 30 weight oil. I requested that he send me a photograph so I would not have to rely on the tiny picture in the ad. The photo came in the mail within a week. Within minutes, my mind was made up and I called John and agreed to buy it. It was a done deal!
Prior to this purchase agreement, I had always sworn off any idea of driving across the plains states. Sort of a hard and fast rule of mine. I always explained to my wife Dorine, that it would be far too boring to make such a drive and if we ever went 'back east,' we would fly and rent a car out there. Needless to say, this tractor purchase proves there are exceptions to every rule.
We planned our trip leaving in mid-April taking our new Ford ton with the new power stroke diesel (this diesel power sure came in handy over the Rockies pulling this 4,000 lb. tractor plus trailer). We planned on buying a heavy trailer in Indiana to haul the Rumely back. Once back here, we could use the trailer for our construction business. We always heard that we could buy equipment trailers for much less in the Midwest than here in the western states. John Weaver said there were several places to buy trailers real close to Middlebury, and he would help me find one.
We arrived in Middlebury mid-afternoon of Easter Sunday. We found the trip across the 'Plains' more than just fun. We met many interesting people, saw many interesting places, and thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The best of the trip, though, was meeting and getting to know John and Mary Weaver. As it was Easter Sunday, we found ourselves joining in with their family's Easter dinner, grandkids and all. These are certainly wonderful people. Within a short time, we felt totally at home and at ease with the Weavers. That ham dinner Mary cooked was excellent!
The next three days were spent, with John's help, in buying an 18,000 GVW goose-neck trailer, modifying the rear legs of my truck's lumber rack to accommodate the trailer, and learning about the Rumely (of which John had several). Our new purchase ran excellently and was surprisingly easy to start. John certainly knows his Rumelys. His help was wonderful, as was the use of his steel shop. John basically took off two full days from his own work to help me out. Without his help, we would have had many difficulties, and it would have taken much longer to get equipped and loaded for the trip home.
Tuesday night after Easter, we were loaded and ready to go. Wednesday, we began our trip back to Nevada with our prize addition to our tractor collection. We traveled as far as eastern Iowa before I decided to check our weight on a set of truck stop scales. With trailer and all, we grossed out at just under 26,000 lbs., but had far too much weight on the truck. While Dorine scoured an antique mall, I moved the tractor back on the trailer about 18', adjusting the weight. After we re-weighed, I was much more at ease knowing we had the weight better dispersed. We' took our time shop- , ping the many antique malls as we crossed the country. At one time while in Walnut, Iowa, in a pouring rain, we even agreed to purchase a turn-of-the-century Avery thresher in excellent condition. I returned with a good collector friend for the thresher a month later, and had another 26,000 lb. load; this one was over width.
Our selected route home was through Wyoming on I-80 so we would miss some of the real steep grades in Colorado on I-70. As we entered southeast Wyoming at midday, we arrived at the port of entry including the scales! I thought I would avoid being weighed by driving around the back of the scale house and parking in their lot. I took my paperwork into the scale office and got in line with all the 'real' truckers. I thought if I explained I was not hauling commercially, I would not need to be weighed or get a sticker. When my turn came up, one of the scalemasters said, 'That's a Rumely you're hauling, isn't it?'
'Yes,' I said nervously.
'You're overweight!' was his first comment.
'But I weighed in Iowa and I have the papers right here with me,' I said.
He came back with '1 don't care! You're overweight! You will have to unload!'
This guy seemed serious and I was getting real worried about what I was going to do. About the time when I was at my wits' end and my heart was choking off my windpipe, a second scalemaster said, 'Ohhe just wants your Rumely. His dad used to pull a grader with one and he used to ride on it. You are alright!'
He further explained that when we took the off ramp into the port of entry, we were weighed by an electronic scale built in the ramp. He said we'd crossed the scale at 47 MPH and weighed 25,925 lb.
'Here, see, we have you right here on video with all the numbers. Don't get anything else on this trip. 26,000 lb. is your magic maximum!'
The first scalemaster was quite amused with his actions but turned out to be a pretty nice guy.
That afternoon, we crossed the Great Divide stopping for a picture of the Rumely with the Lincoln monument right on the summit. It was late and lightly snowing, so the photo is dark. Since it was late and snowing, we spent the night in Laramie, Wyoming. The next day, we continued, using four wheel drive over the Rockies, due to snow pack on the roads. We didn't break any speed records on the snow pack. By Evanston, we got out of the snow and finished our trip traveling through Salt Lake City, and on to Reno, Nevada, and then home to Minden.
The Rumely is now in its new home nested in 5000 ft. Carson Valley surrounded by 12,000 ft. snow capped peaks of the Sierras. This summer, I entered it in the Carson Valley Days' Parade (tractor division). The tractor, out of 120 entries, took first place in the parade. Maybe the Rumely, belching white smoke and being the only one most folks here had ever seen, helped win that trophy.
Eds. noteUnfortunately, John Weaver passed away in the late spring of 1996, before we could get this article to press.