Titanic Adventures in South America
The following is an excerpt from Farmall Century by Lee Klancher R. W. Henderson was a road manager for IH, and his job was to go out in the field and help customers with their tractors. This is one of his tales, which took place in Chile in 1912. Note that some Titan tractors were branded “Champion” in South America. The original document reads “Mellapilla,” which is likely “Melipilla” on modern Chilean maps, and “Talcahuna,” which is likely “Talcahuano” on modern Chilean maps.
“At Valparaiso, I reported to the office of Savvada Bernard Cia. They furnished me with a German by the name of Hans Brighton to go to a place called Mellapilla to start a 30-60 tractor owned by a man there. I was in Mellapilla until June 1, when I went to Talcahuna to get another tractor that was to be delivered to the same man. We loaded this tractor in a barge to bring it ashore, and as Talcahuna has rather a treacherous harbor, and a norther was blowing pretty severely, the tug crew became excited and cut the lighter adrift. It floundered around in the waves for a few minutes and then sank. The next day I went out in a rowboat and located the tractor which you could see very plainly under about twenty-two feet of water. I started in to make arrangements to have this tractor raised, but found that the insurance company would not let us touch it, so I therefore want back to Mellapilla to finish my work.
On June 11, I left Santiago with a piston and connecting rod for a 25 horsepower Type D tractor located about sixty miles inland from Sliva Scorva. By leaving the train at Mellapilla and going overland I could make this trip in twelve hours, but by taking the train to Sliva Scorva it would take me at least three days. I had been over this road before, so I therefore hired two mules, loaded the piston and connecting rod on one, myself on the other, and started over the mountain pass. The Andes mountains on the Chilean side are exceptionally steep, and on this particular trail, there were places where it was a sheer fall of one thousand feet. In many places the trail was not more than three feet wide hewed out of the solid rock of the mountain. At one of these places, for some unaccountable reason, the mule carrying the piston and connecting rod lost his footing and fell over the precipice. I think he fell possibly five hundred feet before striking the shelving ledge of the mountain and then rolled and dropped at least another three thousand feet.
Through my field glasses I observed that the piston had busted and the connecting rod bent in its fall. The mule, of course, was dead, so I did not undertake to salvage any of the material. It is very seldom that one of these mountain mules lose their footing, but at times they will get frightened at small pieces of gravel and rock rolling across the path, and I presume this is what made my mule fall. When you see a live mule going over and realize what it would mean if you were on his back, it makes you feel rather dubious about taking these trips. . .
On March 27, I was informed that the engine which sank in Talcahuna harbor had been raised and was ready for me. I therefore took a train to Mendoza and hired pack mules to take me across the Andes mountains. , ,
Upon arriving in Valparaiso on the night of the 28 of September, I found the entire city excited over a prophesied earthquake.
On October 1, I again went to Mellapilla and stayed with the 45-horsepower tractor there until the 15. This was on account of some red tape from the insurance company, and they would not allow me to touch the engine that was on the docks at Talcahuna. . .
On October 16 . . . I found that my tractor had been setting on the docks for practically six weeks, after being submerged in the water for about the same length of time. The salt brine had even removed every particle of paint from the tractor and bad rusted it so that not a working part would move. After tearing the tractor completely apart, I had to use a fifteen-ton screw jack to force the pistons out of the cylinders. I never saw as badly rusted up a mess in my life before. I finally got this tractor running to the satisfaction of the man who had purchased it for about one fourth of its original price, and, on November 1, 1912, I sailed from Valparaiso to Panama.
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