Three Head Stake Driver
by Stephen T. Flint
(1) In 1934 Adkins & Terrell purchased equipment from the 101 Ranch. Included was a triple headed stakedriver. The driver heads were mounted below the roof line. It was numbered #92. In 1937 a second unit was added (presumed to have been built in Rochester WQ’s) to the show It was numbered #110. The driver heads on #110 were mounted above the roof line. This is the key element in distinguishing one unit from the other.
( 1938 – Conover Set # 102, photo # 802 – Wm. Koford photo )
In 1938 #110 went out on Robbins Bros. Circus and was numbered #89. The unit sat in Rochester for the 1939 season. On Feb. 20, 1940 a fire destroyed the WQ’s along with the wagons that were in the paint shop, including the train light plant. The 101 Ranch unit was destroyed. The “new” unit was put into use. Of interest is the fact that a gen/set was installed crosswise in the rear portion of the wagon. The wheels were solid disk in front and wood spoked hard rubber tired in the rear. The number was #89. For 1941 the gen/set was removed and “COLE BROS. STAKEDRIVING DEPT.” was applied to the front accordion doors. In 1942 it was numbered #99 and a short wall was added across the rear to contain stakes. In 1943 (3) horizontal slats were added to contain the stakes. Metal wheels were installed in the rear and the old “hit and miss” engine was replaced by a more up to date gas engine mounted crosswise. The radiator actually stuck outside the driver side door opening. The side driver was also removed to accommodate the new engine. By the 1945 season many changes had taken place. Among them the #3 driver was reinstalled, a roof extending 3/4 of the wagon length was added, the cross mount engine was moved over the rear axle. For 1946 the engine was moved to the front compartment, accordion doors were reinstalled, and a wood spoke wheel was installed in the rear. The doors were lettered COLE BROS. CIRCUS STAKEDRIVER.
( 1947 – Conover Set # 508, photo # 3210 – George Hubler photo )
In 1947 slats were added to hold stakes in the rear compartment, and the doors were lettered COLE BROS. CIRCUS STAKE DRIVER (2 words). In 1948 the full roof was added with a hinged section to provide protection for the driver heads, wheels were 3 steel and 1 wood spoke. By 1949/1950 the front wheels were replaced with single pneumatics. The rear retained the 1 steel/1 wood arrangement. At the end of the 1950 season the wagon was “retired” along with the rest of the equipment at the (Kelly) farm in Peru. IN. It sat there for 46 years until the auction July 27-28, 1996. According to my notes it sold for $675.00 and ended up at the International Circus Hall of Fame in Peru, Indiana.
( 2013 – International Circus Hall of Fame in Peru, Indiana – Bob Cline photo )
The wagon can be seen in person at the International Circus Hall of Fame in Peru, Indiana
(1) From Steve Flint on the Wagon Fanatics Facebook site on December 30, 2015
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