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Stovebolt Sagas

2 Guys in search of a Truck


Episode 2 -- Detour to Distraction

           Today, we introduce a new team member on these sorry silly sagas -- The Red Rocket, or Johnhancock's 'Lil Red Express (Oops, that was a Dodge, wasn't it?) the New Chevy S-10. Extended cab, thank you very much. The New Chevy -- Like A Rock. There's more to that than Chevy's ad agency wants you to know...

Truck #3

           Yes, this is not a truck. We'll get to that in Episode 3. In the meantime, there we were, zipping along I-46 in Western Kentucky (names and locations have been obfuscated to prevent YOU from scoring OUR finds!).

           In today's episode, we ponder the lessons learned when you stray from your real mission (searching for a TRUCK) and get distracted.

           There we were, zipping along when both heads turned and both mouths said, "Didyouseethat!?" I, being the professional photo-journalist that I am, fumbled around for my camera. It was buried beneath two jackets, assorted carpenter tools (heavy hammers, a crowbar and other camera-friendly items) and the who-knows-what that single guys keep in the extended cab part of their trucks. By the time I got the camera out, all Johnhancock said was, "Exit 24."

        "Huh?" I replied intelligently as the Red Rocket maintained course and speed down I-24, the tractor disappearing behind us. We were on a mission, after all..

        "Exit 24. It's off Exit 24. Wanna look at it on our way back?" Dumb question. How often do you see unrestored steel-wheeled tractors still sitting where they died near a major highway? We decided we'd try to find it on the return trip. How quickly we forgot our mission...

           Amazingly, when we returned to freelance our way to the "Volunteer Opportunity Location" (Quick expository note: when we want to go out and look at old trucks, our cover story to Margaret is that we are "Volunteering at the soup kitchen," or "Attending an art appreciation class at UK") we found it quickly. Also, "Freelancing" is a less obnoxious way of saying we were manly men and didn't consult a map or ask directions -- we navigated using the sun and checking the moss on the trees for Old Truck Sign."

           Believe me, when you've been at this long enough, you can sniff 'em out at 200 yards. We're not there, yet...

           I digress...

           Anyway, we found it. And amazingly close to the exit, too. Very odd. But then again, this isn't exactly a part of the country that probably sees much restorer traffic. From the road, the tractor appeared to be complete, intact and very restoreable -- love those wheels. Judging from how deep the wheels had sunk into Mother Earth, it looked like the tractor had been sitting there since before Noah was a midshipman. It had the usual surface rust, probably pitting as well. There isn't much sheet metal and probably wasn't much to begin with. It looked whole and like a real potential restoreable tractor.

           Johnhancock cast a critical, knowledgeable eye on the tractor and very authoritatively said, "Heck if I know what it is." After a lengthy and scholarly "debate" -- remember the hammers I mentioned earlier? -- Johnhancock decided it must be an early Farmall, based on the steering gear that is nearly identical to the steering gear on a much later Farmall M. It was then I snapped the photo you see above.

           We then got into the dilemma. Every old vehicle spotter has been through this self dialogue: Was it for sale? Or was this one of those farmers who would rather have everything turn into scale rather than part with anything? You don't know unless you ask, but what if he's sick of being asked and turns "Spot," his multi-blend of Rottweiler, Chow, mountain lion, raccoon and feral cat loose on us? That would be a memorable end to the day (life) wouldn't it?

        "I imagine that poor guy is sick of having people stop and ask if that tractor is for sale," I offered. Yeah, knock on that door and get greeted by a toothless mountain man with a double-barreled scattergun (that his granpappy made) screaming, "Noooo! That dang ole tractor ain't fer sale!! Now GIT!"

           But then again, if he was that sick of it, why didn't he either move the tractor out of sight (what a concept) or at least put a sign on it saying "Not fer Sail!" So, no sign and a tractor in plain view might mean that he (the farmer) might at least entertain a purchase offer, right? Forget that we have no way to move the tractor, or that we are actively seeking a truck not a tractor, or that Margaret would kill us both if we came home with a derelict tractor (you should have seen her when we came home with a working tractor...). Still, a steel wheeled tractor would be just too cool...

        "Get out and go look at it," Johnhancock said. Visions of Granpappy's scattergun immediately came dancing through my grape. "No way!" I replied bravely. "I like my butt just the way it is -- without perforations." This is rural Kentucky. You just don't drive up to somebody's place in a truck with out of county tags and start hopping fences to look at old tractors. You could end up horizontal and at room temperature that way.

           So, being the manly, burly he-men that we both are, we decided to get out and knock on that door next time.

           We also pondered the lessons learned:

           1. Remember, when you face toothless mountaineers toting granpappy's scattergun, you're actually looking for old trucks, not steel-wheeled tractors. Still? Nosir, we didn't see no still in that barn under those tarps back in the corner. Nope, not us!"

           2. Punching a way point into a GPS would be a much more elegant way of remembering where all these restoration candidates are...

           3. Fortune favors the bold

           'Til next time -- Aloha, JC

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