The Wind Wagon(5)

by aubie56

Tags: Historical, Humor,

Desc: Western Story: Sam was jealous and stubborn. When he heard about Roland's war wagon, he had to have a self-powered wagon. If you don't believe that this is possible, then Google "wind wagon."

Sam Esterling was one of the most stubborn people you could ever hope to meet. He heard about the war wagon at the York Ranch and he had a big attack of jealousy. He decided that he just had to have his own self-powered wagon. He knew that he could never find the money to buy himself one of those new-fangled diesel engines, so he had to come up with a different kind of engine.

He thought about it and thought about it, but never could find the answer, until he happened to be sitting on his porch, taking a break from the heat of the day, and just happened to look at his windmill. He watched it for a few minutes, and then it dawned on him—he could use a windmill to power a wagon. This was a mind-blowing experience, since Sam Esterling was not known locally for his brilliant ideas.

He realized that the rod from the windmill fan, he thought it was called the sucker rod, could be hooked to a wagon's wheel just like the drive rod was hooked from the cylinder to the drive wheel of a steam engine. "Now," he thought, "that looks promising."

There was an abandoned windmill a little way down the road. No one would object if he got it to experiment with. So that was what he did that afternoon. At least, he started getting it. By the time he had gotten all of the windmill, including the tower moved into his barn, he had spent a week at it and he was sick of looking at the damned thing!

But Sam Esterling was stubborn, so he went back to work on the windmill a couple of days later, when he, figuratively, had caught his breath. He first thought of simply putting the whole windmill structure, as is, on the back of a wagon, but realized that something that heavy and that tall would make the wagon turn over. So... what to do? He fiddled around a while, and then decided that a buckboard would work better for his first effort. He had an old one behind the barn that never got used, lately, so it was available to be sacrificed, in the name of science.

He cut the windmill tower down to ten feet tall and mounted it to the middle of the buckboard just behind the seat. He then placed the windmill fan mechanism on top of the tower. The buckboard did not immediately fall over, so everything was working, so far. Then he discovered that he couldn't get the buckboard through the barn door with the windmill tower in place. After a few choice cuss words, Sam Esterling, removed the windmill and tower from the buckboard and moved out into the yard (I told you Sam Esterling was stubborn) and reassembled the tower and windmill back on the buckboard bed.

Now, for the first test of feasibility. The windmill was thoroughly cleaned of rust and oil was liberally applied. The break was released and the fan began to turn in the wind. Sam Esterling moved the buckboard to a different location and the fan continued to turn. He moved again and the fan continued to turn. God, this was harder work than Sam Esterling had done in ages!

OK, the first test was a resounding success. Now, how to link to the wheels? Sam Esterling tried swinging the sucker rod around to different places near one or the other wheels, but, no matter what he tried, he couldn't figure out how he was going to hook it up to a wheel. Then he had an inspiration: if he moved the tower back directly over the rear axle, he could replace the rear axle with a steel bar having a U-shaped bend in it to act as the crank. If he replaced the old rear axle with this new one, he could get power to the wheels.

Among his other talents, Sam Esterling was a serviceable blacksmith. The next day he resurrected his old forge, anvil, etc. and set up a place to work. He looked around and finally found a suitable steel bar. He heated up his forge and started to work. Two days later, he had his axle/crank ready. He had put fittings on each end of the bar so that he could attach the old wheels from the buckboard.

Sam Esterling propped up the back end of the buckboard and removed the old axle and wheels. He made some adjustments to the old axle supports, including adding bronze inserts for bearings, and mounted the new axle and wheels. He cut a slot in the buckboard bed to clear the sucker rod and fastened it to the axle crank with a suitable fitting. A test showed that the wheels turned as they should when the windmill turned. Sam Esterling decided that was enough work for now, besides there were some chores around the place that he had neglected while he was working on his new self-powered buckboard.

While working on his chores, Sam Esterling cogitated on how he was going to steer his buckboard without reins going to a horse. Finally he decided that he should rig a device to the front axle that he could use to move the front wheels around to the direction he wanted to go.

The next day, Sam Esterling set out to implement his steering idea. He got a sort of tiller arrangement set up which seemed to work.

Now, at last, Sam Esterling was ready to test out his self-powered buckboard! He climbed to the driver's seat and released the break on the windmill. Away he started to move! Right into the big tree he had been using for shade over his work place! Obviously, he need an open space to practice controlling what was a more active conveyance than Sam Esterling had expected.

He got out of the buckboard and pushed it into the open area in front of his house. He resumed his place in the driver's seat and released the windmill break. He was off with a lurch! He recovered and steered around his yard with considerable glee. He now had his own self-powered vehicle. He no longer needed a horse to go anywhere he wished. He was free-free-free!

But there was still one thing lacking. His contraption needed a suitable name. He thought for a while, and then realized: what better name than Esterling?

Now that he had his wonderful Esterling, what was he going to do with it? "I know," Sam Esterling thought, "I'll take a trip into town." People would marvel at his invention and he would be the envy of all his neighbors (he didn't have any friends).

With that thought, Sam Esterling set off to town. Julesburg was about ten miles away and he never gave any thought of how long it would take him to get there. A pretty good quality road ran near his house and it led into Julesburg, so Sam Esterling expected no trouble on his journey. Off he went with a light heart and no planning.

Fortunately, the road had seen enough use that the loose sand had been thrown off and the ruts were down to the hardpan. Therefore, the prototype Esterling had no trouble with negotiating the road. Sam Esterling drifted along at about 6 MPH, confident of reaching Julesburg in short order. Then he came to a downhill section; his speed built up and up, until he must have been going 10 MPH! This felt like a race with death with no horse in front to cushion the fall!

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Story tagged with:
Historical / Humor /