TITAN RESCUED FROM A WATERY GRAVE


| January/February 1980



Two-cylinder Titan tractor

R.I Box 204, Marthasville, Missouri 63357 (From an interview with E. Leim kuehler)

I am sure that most of you fellows out in engine land have dreamed at one time or another of finding a rare or unusual engine or tractor somewhere. This is an unusual but true story of the locating and restoration of a 1917 two-cylinder Titan tractor that should stimulate your imagination a bit.

This story about the tractor in question begins some 60 or more years ago when the original owner took delivery of the then-new Titan from a railroad car at Bay, Missouri. He then used it several years for farm work, primarily for plowing and running a separator. Later it was needed to run a pump in a Tiff or Barite open-pit mine in extreme southern Cole County. It was lowered along side of a vertical step-off by means of a cable anchored to a large oak tree. It did its duty of pumping rain and seep water out of the mine for a number of years until the great depression came along in 1929 and it became unprofitable to mine and sell the Barite. Tiff or Barite is used primarily as a white pigment in paint but has many other uses.

When the mine was abandoned the Titan was left at the bottom of the pit and forgotten. The hole gradually filled with water until the old tractor was covered by about 65 feet of water. Two of the more shallow mines were re-opened after the depression but the deeper pit with the Titan in it was left undisturbed.

Now some 40 years later Emil Leimkuehler of Mount Sterling, Missouri enters the picture. He attended an engine and tractor show near Jefferson City and was given a lead by an old timer there who told a fanciful story of an old Titan tractor which was supposed to be located in the general area of the abandoned mine. Tracing down the lead failed to locate the tractor in question and Leimkuehler was about to give up and return home but just an impulse stopped at a home along the way. An elderly man answered the door and when asked if he knew of an old Titan said 'Yes, I know where there is an old Titan in a mine.' Emil did not know it when he stopped at this house that he was going to talk to the original owner of the tractor.

It took a bit of effort to locate the present owner or owners of the property, but Leimkuehler finally tracked them down and arranged the purchase of the tractor. He hired two scuba-divers to locate the tractor but neither of the two were successful and one remarked 'I think you must have bought an empty hole.' A third diver was hired and was only down a few minutes before coming to the surface. Emil's heart sank, thinking that this was another unsuccessful attempt, but was told by the diver, 'I found it.' Leimkuehler had made arrangements for a crane to lift out the old tractor but had to wait a couple of hours for the crane to arrive. While they were waiting the diver went down again and attached cables to the tractor using an inflated inner-tube to hold the cables in place. When the crane came to the site the cables were attached to the lifting boom, but it was found that even with boom fully extended it was necessary for the crane to approach all the way to the edge of the pit to avoid dragging the antique tractor along the rocky bottom. The crane began lifting its weight and the old tractor finally broke the surface and came to light after nearly 40 years under water. It was safely deposited on its new owner's truck and began its trip to his farm without incident.