Once upon a time long, long ago, Papa Pea had an uncle who farmed in Wisconsin. Uncle George had an old, much-used, homemade high-sided trailer (circa 1940). There came a time when Uncle George left the farm and gifted the trailer to Papa Pea's family who still had two boys (Papa Pea and his younger brother) living at home. The boys were very involved with 4-H and animal raising.
Once again, this trailer proved very useful and did a lot of work hauling cows and other assorted animals, bales of hay, fencing, gravel and garden tractors.
As a teenager, Papa Pea remembers putting new sides on the trailer so it could continue to do the wood work it had always done.
When Papa Pea and I were married in the 1960s, we inherited the trailer. We used it in the moving business we had for a while along with doing general duty on our homestead in Illinois. In the early 70s, it was instrumental in moving us up here to northern Minnesota. In the summer of 1973, we made nine round-trips of 1,200 miles (with a two-year old spending a LOT of time in her car seat for every one of those trips) hauling all we owned to our new home. The trailer contained load after load of household goods and everything related to homesteading we could move. The last trip it held a donkey and two goats.
Once on Minnesota soil, there was no rest for the trailer. Continuing to earn its weight in gold, we've used it to haul tons and tons including everything from horses to trail bikes, bales of hay from Canada, and snowmobiles for recreation. It holds memories of kids perched gleefully high on top of bales of hay collected from our hay fields. For years it transported bundles of firewood to a state park when we had a contract to provide wood for the campsites. We've used it to haul umpteen thousand dollars worth of building supplies home from the big city.
In the late 80s, we rebuilt the trailer replacing the flooring and wooden sides again.
This is pretty much what the trailer looked like for sixty-plus years. Good trailer. Wonderful, extremely useful trailer. We loved our trailer.
Then this happened. In September, 2009, we had another one of our "once in a hundred years" wind storms. The trailer was parked in the wrong spot at the wrong time. It was crushed. We were crushed. When Papa Pea's younger brother in California saw the pictures, he said he felt like we'd lost a member of the family.
At first we thought there was no hope of resurrection. Our neighbor in the heavy equipment business felt the frame was too damaged. Then one day we were talking with D and he said he'd been thinking about the trailer and wondered if maybe it couldn't be salvaged. So started a project that took three years to complete.
Papa Pea, good friend J, a nice day and a six-pack of imported beer.
The guys started the repair by taking off all the crushed wood on the sides and flooring. (Just look at the number that tree did to the framing.)
Then we took the twisted skeleton to the local body shop where they straightened the main lower frame (where the axles were attached) which was severely bowed.
Next stop was out to friend J's, welder extraordinaire (more imported beer may have been involved), where all the steel sides were replaced and/or repaired.
Back home again where neighbor D confirmed that major reinforcing of the lower frame (which was nearly rusted out . . . how could that have happened after only sixty years of almost constant year-round use??) was necessary if the trailer was going to be road worthy again.
In his shop, D turned the framing upside down, cut off the axles, reinforced the lower main frame with new steel and welded the axles back on.
Then we put new decking on the floor and new plywood sides. New wiring was completed. Last but not least, new fenders were attached.
Here good, ol' trailer sits in all its resurrected (albeit muddied) glory, once again in service, holding a big load, this time on its way moving Chicken Mama to her new home.
With luck and lack of falling trees, this trailer will continue to be used for who-knows-how-many more years to come. Our daughter will no doubt be pulling it down the road long after Papa Pea and I have gone to that cozy, little (restful, please) homestead in the sky.
Dear High-Sided Trailer, it was a long, long three-year recovery period and you were sorely missed. Great to have you back in service again!