One Man’s Trash ANOTHER’S TREASURE

By Staff

RR #1, Box 63, Avoca, Iowa 51521

When I came home from my tour in Germany, my first job in
civilian life was at a salvage yard. I believe that was one of the
most interesting jobs I have ever had. I learned a lot of things
that have come in handy in later years.

Just a few years ago our son David took a job with a local
contractor, under the Iowa Job Service. This was a program set up
to encourage employers to give high school students a summer time
job. The employer actually paid something like one dollar and forty
cents per hour. However, the state picked up the rest, up to the
minimum wage.

David painted buildings and helped out as an extra hand wherever
needed. It seems the boss owned a small farm just out of town and
David was painting the buildings. One day David asked me to take
him to work. He said the boss couldn’t provide transportation
that day and besides, there was something he wanted to show me.
When we arrived at this farm, he showed me-there were old farm
implements setting all over the place. He said the people who had
lived there some 10 years before had abandoned everything. His boss
had told him he could have it all if it could be cleaned up in two
months. If not, it would all be bulldozed into a big pit down by
the creek.

We walked around through weeds sometimes over our heads to
inspect all the buildings. I made an estimate of 20 tons of old
iron. The farm had once had a dairy herd and the special built milk
house had a lot of the stainless piping and brass fittings.
David’s boss said some of these buildings ‘would go’,
sp ‘clean up everything.’

That weekend, David and I made an agreement with a farmer friend
who lived just a few miles away. We not only needed help, but also
a place to store everything temporarily. The friend had a one ton
truck and a John Deere tractor with a loader, which we used to lift
a lot of the heavy things.

Monday morning our friend and I began to haul away ‘our
loot’. One of the first items we found was a ‘Papec’
grinder/mixer. This went to our friend, as it was in working
condition except for needing a plate welded under one of the
augers. We later found 5 ‘Papec’ forage cutter heads. Three
of these were new and were setting on a manure pile in a cattle
shed. The other two were for hay of some sort and had been used. We
uncovered a 4 section harrow in the weeds. One of the big problems
was the place couldn’t be mowed. There was such a batch of
stuff all over.

We ran across a ‘Do All’ tractor loader made for a Ford,
wide front end tractor. It had been bent slightly by someone
running into it with a tractor. This was understandable, as the
weeds had grown over my head and I am 6′ tall.

One of the real jewels I had found was a John Deere ‘Handy
Helper’ cement mixer. This was ? full of hard cement and
setting just outside of what appeared to have been the
‘shop’. This building was approximately 30′ wide and
50′ long. Inside all along the alleyway were shelves piled with
old generators, starters, and things we couldn’t identify. Also
in this building was a separate compartment that looked like it had
been an office. We found an older Sears Roebuck air conditioner
with the control buttons missing. I later cleaned this up at home
and found the buttons (although broken) inside. It worked like a
champ after it was all cleaned out. (Later, David traded it on an
old John Deere tractor.)

One of the many items we were amazed to find was a rubber tired
hay rack. It was piled above the front boards with sections of
7′ grain auger. My friend later had an elevator 30 or 40 ft.
long, made from just the newer sections. He uses this every
summer.

Inside of the shop was a nice cement floor. The best part was,
this floor was covered with bolts, nuts, washers, cotter pins, etc.
We literally scooped this mixture up with grain scoops, into 5
gallon pails. Many times, when I made the trip to unload, my old
Dodge pickup was setting pretty low. Being a carpenter, I
confiscated boxes of nails, guttering, tin shingles, etc. These
things are used in my trade.

In one of the buildings, we found vee belts. They were hanging
as if for sale. There were matched sets. Our friend said some were
for the big round balers. There were more belts than a man could
carry at one time.

We worked steadily almost every day at our clean-up job. Our
friend would get a much later start in the morning because he feeds
a lot of hogs and had chores to do. I tried to be out there by 7:00
a.m., as it was cool. I usually had all I could get on my pickup by
10:00 a.m. I would arrive at his farm just as he was about to
leave.

Some of the small things I found were lots of parts for a flat
head Ford V.-8 car-heads, carb, starter, fuel pumps and air
cleaner. These our friend’s son got, as he is interested in old
Ford cars.

There were new cast iron hog oilers and many other things of
this nature. One day I chanced into a building I had not inspected
before. There stood a new farrowing crate all set up. There were
also several pieces from another. It looked as if the owner had
bolted it together and then couldn’t get it out of the door. We
found two elevator carriers. By this I am referring to the ‘two
wheeled, rubber tired’ carriage a large grain auger is carried
on. Our friend intends making trailers with these. They should be
very nice except for replacing the 600X16 tires.

It seemed the original owner had dabbled in grain bin
construction at one time. We found packages of new sections of
round steel bins, lots of ladders, lids, screens, for ventilation,
etc. I had noticed lots of the bolts that round bins are assembled
with and also bin jacks.

Two weeks later we had the acreage all clean and David’s
boss had finally gotten it mowed. We were told the place was sold
and the new owner took possession on our cut off date. Our friend
went happily back to farming and his hogs. My job had just
begun.

Since a large portion of the loot was David’s, it had to be
disposed of. He could only work with me on Saturday and Sunday. We
would load for Council Bluff and the salvage yard on his days off.
With a sorted load of iron and some boxes of copper and brass, I
would leave early Monday or Tuesday a.m. I usually was back by 1:00
p.m. If we had metals along with the iron, I would average close to
$100. each trip. David was able to buy several old antique gas
engines and tractors with the money.

We still have lots of old things left. I have plenty of bolts,
nuts, washers to last a lifetime. We have strap iron, reinforcing
rod, ‘well’ pump rod to make handles for gas engine trucks
out of and lots of iron pipe for axles.

I have often wondered what ever happened, that someone just
abandoned all ‘those treasures’. What is one man’s
trash, is another man’s treasure!

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