Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Resurrection

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! 

32 comments:

  1. What a great story!!! It could almost be a children's story book with photos and some drawings thrown in except for the violence ... oh, and the beer references. hehehe Nice to have it back in service, I am sure. Good to see you blogging enthusiastically and good to see me reading the posts again. Now I am looking for some quilt posts. I know you are knitting (where is that blue sweater?); are you quilting too? Stay warm!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen L. - Children's story . . . hmmm. Maybe I should have said the guys were working while sipping lemonade. Hee-hee.

      Quilting? I have been turning out Christmas themed pot holders (I just can't stop!!) like crazy. Also just started a holiday wall hanging for that blank spot on the kitchen wall that just cries out for a quilted piece.

      Knitting? My blue sweater is lying in a lopsided heap (one sleeve done, one to go) and I really do want to finish it. But I've started that knitted afghan and pick it up in the evening last thing when hubby and I convene in the living room in front of the fire before bed time.

      Yes, I typically do have several projects going at once.

      As usual, thanks for the boot in the butt again (I love it that I can rely on you!) to get some quilt posts up. :o}

      Delete
  2. Now THAT's a great story! I doubt our trailer (mostly fiberglass, purchased someplace in trailer-land in Indiana) will last half as long as your workhorse. That is most definitely a project worth three years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CR - Thanks for the kind words! The high-sided trailer ain't purdy, but we use it SO much, that's for sure.

      Delete
  3. You had me on the edge of my seat! Poor trailer! That was quite a hit -- thank goodness you didn't give up on him/her. And thank goodness for talented neighbors and friends who will work for good beer... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan - During the time we thought the trailer was kaputz, we casually shopped around for a trailer to replace it. The prices were atrocious and the construction flimsy. As I say, our workhorse may not be classy looking, but we wouldn't trade it for any brand-spanking-new one. And, yes, we really are fortunate and very grateful for all the good, good people who helped out on the reconstruction!

      Delete
  4. So glad you have her back. I love stories of hand me downs. If only they could talk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DFW - Omigosh, yes! Knowing the trailer was first made in the 40s (good grief, that's 70 years ago!) . . . think what life was like then and everything that has happened since then. If only they could talk!

      Delete
  5. Wonderful story! It also illustrates how well- made equipment used to be. Those old fashioned virtues of ingenuity, frugality, patience and real friendship brought that trailer back to life. Kudos to you all!-"M"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "M" - That's so true! We consider ourselves very fortunate.

      Papa Pea has dreamed for years of a small tractor for our place here and has done extensive research. He's come to the conclusion that the best for us would be a refurbished one originally made in the late 50s or early 60s. (No plastic parts!)

      Delete
  6. I remember that awful photo of the trailer smashed. What a neat story and so much history there!

    Wait... Chicken Mama had a carseat?! I remember my mom putting my brother in the way back of the VW, you know above the engine LOL? She says the warmth of the engine and vibration put him to sleep - I say it was probably the carbon monoxide LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Erin - Well, CM's "car seat" wasn't anything like what they have today, that's for sure! She made her first trip up to MN when she was just three weeks old and she rode in a cardboard box with a foam mattress in the bottom. Scares the heck out of me when I think how unprotected kids used to be in vehicles!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hooray for happy endings. I'm glad your work-horse is back in business.
    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow, the picture of the tree in the trailer pretty much says it all. I'm so happy she's back with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ruth - When we first saw that honkin' big tree on the trailer, I can hardly explain our feelings. I know the trailer is just an inanimate object and truly replaceable (one way or another), but at the time we thought it was gone, gone, gone and we had used it and were still using it so much that it felt like a big loss.

      Delete
  10. Oh, so happy that your trailer is back on the road. We have a hand made trailer that my hubby's best friend made for us years and years ago. I love it like no other. It hauled hubby's old original Jeep from Oregon to California, then his Scout from California to Oregon, and too many loads of firewood to count. Love the hand made ones. They're the best.
    ~~Lori

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lori - Funny how objects like that can bring back so many memories, isn't it?

      Delete
  11. Such a great story, Mama Pea....and what a great trailer. Take THAT! tree...lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Akannie - You better believe we removed that tree from the trailer, cut it up, split it, stacked it to dry and used it for firewood! Yeah, take THAT tree!

      Delete
  12. Hum, I feel like I could use a little resurrection myself. I little fix to my frame, bring in my sides. Breath some new life into me :) Can I get an appointment with you cause my wagon has really been draggin and you guys did a GREAT job with the trailer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jane - Aw, dear Janey-Girl, I feel so badly for what you've been dealing with. I really do. Sigh.

      But your cute, clever comment above reminded me of a little (personal) story I'd like to share in a blog post if you wouldn't mind me using your comment as a take-off point. May I?

      Delete
  13. When you gonna write that book,It sure would be a best seller,And as far as that one statement ,if it isn't restful ,i;m coming BACK!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. judy - How 'bout if you and I raise such a ruckus that they HAVE to make it restful?! Together I think we could do it!

      Delete
  14. Yowza, that's a big tree! Seems a trailer like that will be used a lot (and that people will ask to borrow it, too!)

    ReplyDelete
  15. That we could alright ,St Peter would not allow us to be unhappy

    ReplyDelete
  16. judy - Happy and have the time to "play" at all the things we wanted to!

    ReplyDelete