Randal G. Hofmann
6668 Bunch Road,Terre Haute, Indiana 47802
After 28 years of working as a conductor for the railroad,
I've seen a lot of people's backyards, the total length of
Indiana from Hammond to New Albany. Some things you see are
wonderful while others are disgusting, but that's life.
It always amazed me the difference between the front and back of
people's homes. The front may look like a park but the back is
full of junk. The junk is what this story is about.
Linton is a small mining town in Greene County, Indiana. The
railroad I work for passes through and I, not of retirement age,
must go along for the ride. North of Main Street about half a mile
is a small block house with two old outbuildings behind it.
I've passed this home a thousand times and had never seen
anything of interest until about three years ago. While passing I
noticed a section of tin had fallen off one of the outbuildings.
Looking inside, to my surprise, I saw a 30-inch steel wheel looking
back at me. For a year I looked at this wheel and wondered what it
was connected to.
That fall, while returning home from a gas engine show in
Elnora, I stopped at the small block house. There I met a lovely
lady named Florence who owned the wheel. I explained my purpose for
stopping and also why I had an intimate knowledge of her backyard.
She was wary at first, but after learning the railroad connection
we were soon like old friends. She then explained that the wheel
was attached to a McCormick-Deering tractor and had been in her
family for years. Her husband had built the building around the
tractor, and to my surprise it did not have a door. By calculating
from the time of her husband's death, the McCormick hadn't
seen sunlight in 20 years, and yes, it was for sale.
Being a hit and miss man myself, I was unsure of how to proceed.
I took her telephone number and said I would call back. After
talking with some tractor guys I felt I had a pretty good idea of
what it was worth. The only thing I had failed to do was see if the
engine was loose. We talked by telephone and again, I was surprised
by her knowledge of antique tractor pricing. I explained that the
price she wanted was in the ball park, but first I must see if the
engine was stuck. Three days later we stopped the train long enough
to discover the engine was okay. Have you ever wondered why trains
stop with road crossings blocked? Now you know.
I know it's too late to make a long story short, but
I'll try. Seven days later, after demolishing the building, the
1927 McCormick-Deering 10-20 was sitting in my driveway. Two hours
after arriving home it was running. Two years later the restoration
was complete. Enjoy the before and after pictures.
This has been my biggest project and by far the most enjoyable.
Just remember, when you pile that junk in your backyard, someone
may be watching.