Monday, November 24, 2008

Desert Destination: Back to the "Equipment" Yard

Every Monday we visit a desert destination.
A few weeks ago we visited the equipment yard located on our ranch, and we just barely scratched the surface of all the interesting things that are there. In addition to being a depository of ranch history, the equipment yard has also been an inspiration for my NaNoWriMo novel, which I'm about 70 percent done with and will finish up by November 30. I don't want to give away my plot, but suffice it to say that the cars' stories will be heard.

Above is a 1957 Chevy Belair, Uncle Larry's car. Uncle Larry used it to go to California and back. Once he retired he mostly fished and played bridge when he wasn't irrigating. He died two weeks short of his hundredth birthday and missed the big party.

The interior doesn't look too hot, someone needed some parts and took them. The old speedometer still looks cool, though.

Now we're going to back further in time, to this Austin-Western pull-type grader No. 11, vintage unknown, but we're guessing 1920s or 1930s. This road grader was pulled by horses or a tractor, and the wheels that Desert Boy is having fun spinning controlled the height of the blade.

Here's a view of the grader from a bit further away, so you can see the iron wheels and long arched frame. The operator had no seat--he had to stand.

Next to it is another old Austin-Western pull-type grader, a No. 31. This one is a bit newer, with a hydraulic system to control the blade. But the operator still had to stand.

This is a dump rake used for raking hay into piles. Before the dump rake went out in the field, a sickle bar was used to cut the hay. Then the hay dried, and the dump rake was brought in to gather the hay. When enough hay had gathered in the rake, , the operator pressed a pedal to let the hay fall in a pile. Then the horses (and later tractors) continued on until the entire field was raked into piles.

This John Deere 105 combine is from the 1960s. It was used to cut barley, wheat, and alfalfa seed. Once the crop was in the machine, it separated the straw or chaff from the grain. The grain went into a hopper and then out the chute to the side, called an unloading auger. The straw or chaff fell out the back into a windrow and was later baled, or sometimes the chaff was blown into a wagon that followed the combine.

This John Deere 55 combine is smaller and older than the 105, but otherwise it worked pretty much the same way.

The John Deere 720 tractor from the 1950s looks a little funny because the rear wheel is missing--it was needed for another tractor. See, this really is the equipment yard, full of useful parts! This particular 720 is slightly rare because it has a wide front axle instead of a tricycle. 

The Kenworth logging truck was called affectionately by my husband and his brothers the chartreuse Kenworth. It was used for hauling water and for a long time it had a cement mixer on the back of it. Its front tire was appropriated for more urgent matters.

Desert Boy looks kind of interested in this black VW bug, vintage late 1940s or early 1950s. It was a back up car when other vehicles broke down, but eventually it claimed a spot in the equipment yard.

I love the color of this 1953 GMC truck. The rust has just added more character, along with the missing headlight. Desert Boy looks ready to take off in it.

Ah, I feel so refreshed after a trip to the equipment yard. What treasures will we find next time?


grdma Sylvia said...

If my memory serves me, the black VW bug was Uncle Joe's for many years. Later bought for leaving at the Delta airport for transportation into town. As it's relegated to the equipment yard, I hope it's had a few useful parts for ongoing usefulness. It was a lot of fun, except when a tire was flat when we flew into Delta.

The Incredible Woody said...

I love your equipment yard. What a great place to roam around and let your imagination go!!

Caroline said...

My father would LOVE your equipment yard, with all its treasurers. He could spend days and days there reliving all the oldies. Now me, I pretty much only enjoy seeing it in your blog. Last year I had a run in with a huge rattler on the top of Potato Patch mountain where, don’t ask me why, I was hiking alone, up to the top, to try and get pictures of my son as he came up the front with ropes. I had to evoke all the angels and saints to come to my aid.

I do like places like you’ve shared today, but it will take me a few years to forget that big ol’ granddaddy snake….


mgang4020 said...

Loved your photo if the JD 720. It brought back so many memories of my days growing up on our farm. I spent many hours riding a 720. We actually had two of them. My grandpa drove the newer model and I followed with the older one while we cultivated corn. We sold the pair on a farm auction in 1990 and I've regretted not keeping that beloved 720 I drove. Wish I could do that one over!

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