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A Conversation With

Don Shaver

Silver King Salesman


Reprinted with permission from Antique Power 8/1991

     Don Shaver began working for Fate-Root-Heath in 1940 at the age of 23. He retired from the company in 1983 and now spends his leisure time drawing and painting.

   "I started out in the stock room, and worked my way up through service, engineering, and finally into engineering sales.  I remember selling the Silver King well. They were famous for being fast on the road. We had a local guy who bought a 3 wheeler and hooked a travel trailer to it. His plan was to go to Florida with that rig.  Well, he got to the town of Waldo,  a few miles south of here, and stopped for dinner and maybe a couple of beers. One thing led to another, and before long he'd decided he really wanted to go to California instead. He pulled his travel trailer all the way to California with that Silver King, then drove the whole rig to Florida, and then back here. Then he sold the tractor to a local farmer who farmed with it for several years. Those tractor were popular with people who had lost their driver's licenses, too. You didn't have to have a driver's license to run one, and with the seven tooth pinion final drive, they'd go 45 mph. That was faster than some of the cars around here. One Dealer from up by Detroit bought seven and drove them all home on the highway.

    "The Plymouth plant was never what you'd call a mass production facility. It was really more like a job shop. It got to where we'd paint a tractor just

 about any color a guy wanted it. 







  We painted several with a darker hood because farmers complained that the glare from the sun on that bright silver paint hurt their eyes.

  There was alot of innovation and development going on around here in the late 1940's that never got followed up on. Plymouth built one of the first vehicles that could be operated on and off of railroad tracks. The transmission in the Silver King was very good. General Motors was allowed to use it in their one man tank during the war. After the war, some of the parts came back here and went into tractors.

    "I eventually went into engineering sales for the company, selling locomotives. It was pretty easy to sell loco's after the war. Company management wasn't much interested in tractors anymore. It was a family type business, and decisions were made by how the bosses felt rather than on strict economic factors. After Charlie Heath, no one was really interested in tractors, that's why the tractor business died. Plymouth was a good place to work, the company always treated me well, and I think I gave them their money's worth. I retired from the company in 1983, but I still live in Plymouth."

  Don has  passed away since this article was written in 1991.


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