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1-1.  Discovery
    Recue of a Wheel Horse on a Horse Rescue Ranch

RJ-58 as recovered from the "Horse Rescue Ranch"

This 1958 Wheel Horse Ride-Away Jr. RJ-58 came into my possession completely by chance. The story begins during Thanksgiving weekend 2008, while on a family trip to Tennessee. We were visiting my wife’s Parents and oldest sister's family for the holiday. My wife's parents are retired and live in a semi-remote area of North-Easte Tennessee, very near to my wife's oldest sister Kathy. Kathy and her husband Jason own and operate a Mustang-Horse Rescue Ranch (http://www.MustangAlley.org) there.

Kathy and Jason were in the midst of preparing to build a  new home on their ranch and Jason asked me to come over and discuss some of his plans. As Jason and I were walking the property discussing the new house, he commented on the typical "farm junk" which needed to be taken to the dump in order to prepare the site for construction. Then he added; "Oh, and that garage sale tractor Kathy bought for Casey". This, of course, got my ears perked! When I inquired as to "what tractor" he was talking about, he asked if I wanted to see it (the whole time I'm thinking; "Does a bear shit in the woods?"). He took me to the tractor, and I immediately had a pretty good idea of what it was. Unfortunately, off the top of my head, I could not determine the year any finer than to say; "Jason, I believe this tractor is a Wheel Horse and it is probably late 50's or early 60's". He had a hard time believing me.

That evening, after a little online research, I was certain he and Kathy did in fact have a Wheel Horse, and it was a 1958 or 1959 Ride-Away Jr. (RJ-58 or RJ-59). The tractor, as it was found, had about 85% of its original parts present and was otherwise still in pretty good condition considering its age of 50 years. I contacted Jason the following moing and explained what they had and its collector value. I also asked that he not take it to the dump and if I could buy the tractor from them. He said he would discuss it with Kathy and get back to me. After a short discussion, their reply was; "Merry Christmas, you can have it". I was not prepared, nor did my wife and I have the vehicle room, to take the tractor back to Pennsylvania this time around, but I promised that on the next trip to Tennessee we would collect it and take it back to PA with us.

Sometime later I asked Kathy how she came about acquiring the tractor and was told the following; More than ten years ago, while living in Indiana, Kathy found "the cute little red tractor" at a garage sale for $25.00 and bought it so Jason could "fix it up for Casey", their Grandson, "to ride around the horse ranch". Kathy and Jason were not aware of what they had in their possession, and only intended to install an engine to make it ride-able. Jason made one attempt to install an engine, but ultimately abandoned the project due to time and money. The tractor was not touched again for several years, but it was stored quite safely in a storage trailer even through they had moved from Indiana to Tennessee in the interim. Can you see the irony here; "Rescuing a "Horse" in need, at a Horse Rescue Ranch? True story!

As fate would have it, my father-in-law was hospitalized in May of 2009 for pneumonia. His condition required my wife and I to go to Tennessee to assist in his care after his release from the hospital. When his hospital stay was delayed for several days, and my wife needed to retu home and go back to work, I was asked to stay for an additional week to assist him. My wife would retu a week later and she and I would retu home the following weekend with a disassembled RJ58/59 stuffed into the back of our KIA Sportage.

My father-in-law has a fully stocked and equipped woodworking shop in his large garage and the opportunity to stay and help him would also give me ample time, and the readily available means, to break-down the tractor, assess its underlying condition, and get a jump-start on the restoration process before its trip to PA.



Last Updated: 2017-08-15 14:56:44 (7527 views)