Melvin Kropt and I. Very first time for us to see it run.
7308 Ladybug Austin, Texas 78744
I was at an engine show in Hillsboro, Texas when Mr. Jamison
came by and told me about an old drag line with a large one
cylinder engine. It was owned by a Mr. Joe B. Fortson of Corsicana,
Texas. After talking to Mr. Fortson, I got discouraged because he
wanted too much money for it. Later, I was talking to my good
friend Jim Withers about it and he encouraged me to go have a look
at it anyway. As you might guess, I was hooked after I saw it! It
was a 90 HP Charter with 7'4' eight spoke flywheels. In a
week or two, I was able to get Mr. Fortson to come off his price a
bit and made the purchase.
Now came the job of getting it home. The engine was both the
powerplant for the dragline and the counterbalance for its
seventy-foot boom. We were fortunate in that a big pecan tree
growing through the opening in the bucket, or shovel, was also
supporting the boom. Otherwise, the whole thing would have toppled
over when the engine was removed.
Since the Charter had a short base, we had to jack it up 21
inches to slide 20 inch I-beams under it. I guess I should go back
and tell about our help. We had two welders, Jody Thomas and Hugh
Ferguson, Hugh's son William and Jody's father Sammy and
one fellow from Mexico. All good help, I might add. After 10 hours
of hard work and some fifteen ton railroad jacks, we got it loaded
on a truck which was about the same level of the platform in the
After that long day, it was my job to drive home 150 miles to
Austin with the engine. Early the next morning, I got up and took
it to my good friend Melvin Kropt's shop where he had a dock to
unload it on for rebuilding.