It was the fall of 2007 fast approaching Princeton time. For those of you who don’t know what Princeton is, the outlaw summer grass drags and swap is held each fall just outside of Princeton MN. These drags and swaps attract the largest number of vintage swappers in the Midwest.
Friday night the whole family headed out to the Twin Cities to spend a weekend away from home. My wife and kids were looking forward to staying at Grandma’s house and I couldn’t wait to see the isles and isles of pure old sled heaven. The sun was just coming up in the eastern sky as I pulled the truck out of Grandma's driveway and headed the last 40 miles towards Princeton.
I pulled into the lot, and found a place to park near the gate. One last check before I went into the gate; wallet, keys, and most importantly the shopping list.
I found a pair of skis I needed within the first 3 rows. The next hour of swapping was rather uneventful; I ran into a lot of old friends and had plenty of time to trade some stories. I picked up a couple t-shirts, a carb, and some windshield trim just because it was there.
As I headed back out to my pickup with my armload of treasures, I saw a real nice Yamaha Enticer 340. I stopped to look it over; it was as nice as they come for a used one. My brother had asked me to pick up a sled for his boys to run around the yard, and the lil Yamaha looked like it was just what the doctor ordered. I asked the lady sitting there about the sled, and she said, “ My husband will be back in an hour.” I told her I’d stop back later and continued on my way.
Around lunchtime, I grabbed a burger and watched about an hours worth of the drags. Well rested, it was time to hit the swaps again. My shopping list was getting short as I stopped by the Yamaha again. I had not brought a trailer and only had room for one sled going home, if I could strike a deal, the Yamaha was the one. As luck would have it, the owner was not around, and no phone number listed.
I continued around the swap. As I got to the outside row, I saw a kid around 12 desperately trying to start a beat up old Jag. I could see the kid was crying and I asked what was wrong. He told me that his mom had taken the beat up Jag in lieu of rent from some guy, and that he’d convinced his mom if they took it to the swap meet it would sell.
I looked a little closer at the Jag; it was the epitome of neglect. It had a ripped seat, busted hood, and hadn’t been licensed in years. Above it hung a sign that said $200.
The kid told me the sled ran this morning but now he couldn’t get it to start. I grabbed a plug wrench and pulled the plugs…yep, they were wet. I had a case of plugs in my cart so I grabbed a pair, stuck them in, and pulled. And I pulled, and pulled…Finally the flooded engine came to life. I let the sled clean itself out and it seemed to run real nice.
I reached for the key and shut it off, turned the key back on and with half a pull the sled was running. I shut it off again and the kid was beaming. “Thanks mister, do you want to buy it?” I politely explained I only had room for one snowmobile in my pickup and this wasn’t going to be to one. He persisted…” You gotta buy it, my mom wants to go home right now”. I declined again and told him I had to keep moving in the swap. He said “ Just make me an offer, we aren’t going to haul it home”. I really did not want that sled so at this point, I was left with no other options, so I said “$20” knowing he’d say no and I could be on my way.
He said, “SOLD” and threw out his hand to shake.
A deals a deal, so I gave the kid $20 and walked away in a stunned state of disbelief . I flagged down a sled hauler and went to pick up the old Jag, as I rode through the swaps on the way to my pickup I was kicking myself. I told myself; well at least it’s got a good track and engine. As I was loading it into my pickup I saw the track was torn in two. There goes the good track theory.
I finished the day and went back to grandmas to pick up my wife and kids. My wife asked me about the junk sled in the back of the pickup, I told her the story and she just chuckled.
When I got home, I unloaded the sled and pulled the rope…nothing. Again, nothing. What? I pulled the plugs and pulled it over…Yep. No spark. ARRGH! I hooked onto the old jag and pulled it unceremoniously back into the trees behind the shop.
You’d think that would be the end of the story but it’s not. Since arriving in the trees, that $20 Jag has donated a carburetor to the first charity build, and muffler to a friend in need, and provided shelter for countless mice families.
And the kid? I saw him the very next year and bought a bike rack for the kids from him. His mother laughed as I told her the story of the tired old Jags new life as a parts donor, and thanked me again for helping her son that hot fall day.
Moral of the story:
No good deed goes unpunished...
Keep your skis on the same side of the tree.