Down in the Ditch
Courtesy of Mr. Irvin G. Hoffman, R. D. 1, Box 31, Manheim, Penna. 17545.
I WILL give you an account of a little mishap I had which might be classed as unusual. I have been running a tractor for six years. We plow and seed in the spring and thresh in the fall and this is the only 'spill' I ever had. We were going seventeen miles from home to break a quarter section of raw land for flax. Our crew consisted of myself and the plowman. Our outfit and equipment included a 30-60 kerosene tractor and an eight-bottom gang, a cook and bunk car kerosene tractor and an eight-bottom gang, a cook and bunk car10 x 20 feet, mounted on an old-separator truck, one five hundred gallon oil tank, one sod crusher and a tool wagon which made quite a train. We had to cross a steel bridge with high approaches graded up to it on each side.
Just as the engine was approaching the bridge, one of the plow chains came loose and swung the plows to one side. The oil tank was hitched to the plows and of course it ran off the crown of the road. As my repeated howls failed to reach the steersman, I jumped down the embankment to signal him and about the same time down came the oil tank and tool wagon and the sod crusher. The way I went through a barbed wire fence to get out of the way was not slow and was not a bit too soon either. Our tank lay bottom side up in a ditch about six feet deep on one side and about fifteen feet on the other, but it was closed with a pipe cap and did not leak a drop.
Luckily the ground was level on the side, so we ran the engine through the fence and backed up as near as possible to the tank. First we took off the wagon wheels and carried them up the bank, then the front and hind axles. Next we took a forty foot cable and all the log chains we had and drove a crowbar in the ground just behind the engine and hooked one end of the cable to it and passed it down under and around the tank and fastened the other end to the drawbar of the engine. The tank being round, this arrangement allowed it to be easily rolled up the bank. It looked as though a five hundred gallon tank filled to the top would be a pretty good lift for two men but it wasn't. First we rolled the tank over with the bunkers up, then put on the front and hind axles and fastened them on with chains. Then we put on the two upper wheels, and a little pull brought it over easily on those two. Then by hitching over the tank and to each of the axle ends on the opposite side, we could raise the wagon to its proper position. By carefully manipulating the clutch, I managed to raise the tank and hold it until the other man chucked on the remaining two wheels. The rest was easily dragged out and we were soon on our way with no damage but a broken reach in the tool wagon.
Here is a photo of a Sirer Cropp engine made in Detriot, Michigan. I found this little engine in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania about three years ago. It was all bent up and I restored it. It is a two cycle. Note the size of it. I have been looking around to see if there are any more like it. So far I have not seen any. If some reader reads this letter, I would be glad to hear from him.
I have been playing around with auto and gas engines for 42 years. My brother Phare and I have bought about 35 gas engines and sold many. We have at present about 30 engines. I prefer the New Holland make of engine.