A Tiger by The Tail
Dave, Bob and I were sitting around one day talking about hunting and how nice it would be if we had a vehicle to use in the woods. There weren’t too many choices back in those days like there are now. Why, you can buy an All Terrain Vehicle on about every street corner today. In 1969, that wasn’t the case. In 1969 we did a lot of hunting together and after over 40 years, they are still at it. Me, not so much, anymore. I gravitated more to the fishing thing.
My two friends that day were (and still are) Bob and Dave. They both worked on the fire department and had those work-a-day and be-off-a-day jobs so they could go hunting a lot or work other jobs if they wanted. Me, I had an old fashion 5 day a week job.
So Bob calls me and says he has called up a company he read about and asked about an all-terrain vehicle they offered. After talking to the people, they said they would have their person contact him.
Sure enough, the guy calls and Bob talks to him about the machine they sold. They said they did not sell them direct to the public but that they were looking for a dealer in our area. So, Bob said what you would expect someone to say, “What do you have to do to be a dealer?” It turned out that you could be a dealer if you bought one. Imagine that.
Now Bob was quick on his feet. He asked about the chances of seeing one of the machines. The fellow says ok. He agreed to bring one on a trailer and leave it a few days on a trial. The only request was that the unit not be abused or beat up.
A couple of days later, Bob calls. The unit has arrived! I went flying over to see it!
When I pulled in the yard, there it sat.
6 low pressure tires, 18 HP engine, amphibious, and brand new! It was too late in the day for us to take it for a spin. The next day I had to work but Bob and Dave took the machine out into the country and tried it out on some firebreaks, a duck pond and who knows what all. It would go in the water….slowly….and made a lot of noise doing it. On ground, it was pretty impressive.
On Saturday afternoon, the three of us took it out in the country again in Crawford County to some places I was familiar with. It was a tad crowded with three people in it. We tried it in Sweetwater Creek in the beaver pond. We tried it on the firebreaks and the dirt roads. It was a lot of fun. The only problem was they wanted about $2500 for it, as I recall. That included the trailer. We decided it was time to call it a day and started down the dirt road home.
Now, before I go any further, you need to know a little more about Dave. Dave is about 6’2”. Long legs. Never met anyone he didn’t like and could out-talk any of us. Dave was a fireman, as previously mentioned, and got hurt while on a fire call.
This caused him to have a “permanent disability” due to the back injury. He would be prone to moaning and groaning about his bad back if there was anything he did not want to do or participate in. It did not seem to affect his ability to climb up in a tree stand 40’ or to climb in a boat to go red-fish fishing. But, if it was his turn to drive in the middle of the night in Pennsylvania, well, you could bet his back was hurting. Dave once shot a Canadian black bear in his Jockey shorts. No joke.
To this day, Dave is off hunting every day. And, he gets paid for it!!!
So, as we were driving down the dirt road in Crawford County, there was a high dirt bank beside the road. Probably about 20’ high. It was not totally vertical. That is to say it was not 90° straight up. More like 60°. Dave announces that he can take the little 6 wheel ATV and drive it up that bank! Bob was driving the truck. He slammed on brakes and got out. “Now, that’ll be worth watching, Dave”. He proceeded to get the machine off the trailer.
Now, Dave was at that “put up” or “shut up” stage. So he starts getting up his courage to drive the little 6 wheeler “up that bank”.
Now Dave looks a bit awkward in the little machine. When he sat down to drive it, with his long legs, his knees were almost in his face. He had to hunch over to hold the drive levers and was almost as uncomfortable as one could be. Not exactly the macho look one would like who is about to attempt such an Evil Knievel feat.
But, now, it was time to go. Motor running. In position. One, two, three, go.
He started at the dirt bank at full power. The little machine responded well and as he hit the incline, the 6 rubber tires were digging in. The 18 HP engine was giving it everything it had. Up the bank it went. About half way up, Dave was trying to hold on to everything, not fall out, and appeared to be seriously doubting the wisdom of the decision to do this at all. He has started to try to stand up! But the 6 wheeler was going up that bank! It looked, for sure, that he was going to make it!
Just as the front tire got to the top of the bank, a problem arose! There were some small pine trees at the exact spot the right front tire was going. You might expect the 6 wheeler to stop when the tire hit the tree. NOT SO! The tire grabbed hold of the pine tree and immediately starts up the tree! Now, the little machine had gone from 60°vertical ascent to a 90°vertical ascent! This was too much for Dave! He starts disconnecting himself and standing up, jumping out, and turning around to run back down the bank. Abandoning the little machine, he made about two steps and he was at the bottom of the bank, almost to the road bed. By this time the little machine is doing a back flip and is coming down the bank backwards right behind Dave. Just as Dave is about to leap into the clear, the little machine hits Dave in the middle of his back and they both land in the middle of the road. For a brief moment, it was scary. Dave is lying in the fetal position yelling that he had broken his back. The little machine is lying on its back, motor still running and the headlight popped out being held by its wires. So much for not scratching it up! It looked as sad as Dave.
Now it took Bob and me a moment to collect ourselves, turn off the motor, and determine that Dave was not seriously injured. We, then, doubled over with laughter. Too bad there were no Go Pro Cameras or cell phone cameras to record this event. But, in the absence of those corroborating devices, I’m allowed to see it in my mind anyway I choose. And it just gets funnier and funnier!
We collected the little machine, took it back to Bob’s house and spent a couple of days with some polishing pastes and cloths getting the scratches out. Bob called the rep and he came and picked it up.
Thus ended our short venture into the Allis Chalmers Terra Tiger business. And for a brief few moments, Dave truly had a “Tiger by the Tail”.