Goodloe Yancey III and Harold Shepherd both enjoy telling stories of growing up in the construction business. Both have stories of their favorite machine from their youth, the 2UD8.
“The 2UD8 had a diesel engine, a hand clutch, and a manual transmission, almost like a stick-shift automobile,” Goodloe recalls. “You would select the gear then engage the clutch. One of the guys I worked with was so strong, he would tighten the clutch so tight I would just about have to push back with both feet to pull it. Ours had a LeTourneau blade with a cable control that you operated with one hand. The cable went over the head of the operator to the front to lift and lower the blade. This was before hydraulics, and once you spent a day doing that, you slept well at night.
“Oh, and when the tracks got loose, you had to manually tighten the adjusting bolts to adjust tightness or looseness of tracks. It took two people and a big wrench and an extension bar to make that thing move.”
Harold Shepherd, who grew up around his family’s construction business in the 1930s, could run any machine except a motor grader, which took both skill and good depth perception. “We had a guy who wouldn’t run anything but a motor grader,” he recalls. “They went to a job where they were preparing the base and they had put the blue tops out. ‘Blue tops’ were stakes with the tops painted blue that you drove into the ground to show where you wanted the grade to be. Anyway, the engineer comes out in the morning and asks my uncle, ‘You got a good motor grader operator?’
“My uncle says, ‘Yeah, as good as you’ll ever see.’
“The man says, ‘We’ll find out,’ and he put pennies on all those blue tops. Then he told my uncle to have his operator cut all those pennies off the stakes.
“Well, that operator went through there in second or third gear just clipping those pennies off, and the engineer says, ‘He can work for me any time.’ Those guys really had some skills.”
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Foundations 1914 - 1938