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tournadude
19-01-2011, 09:36 PM
These are some pics of old Tournapulls. Thought some might enjoy.

tournadude
20-01-2011, 01:46 PM
A story my dad told me at dinner the other night was about the old Tournapull factory in Peoria. Coming out of WWII, the Tournapull was the hottest selling machine that RG made. It was the old original style that had the clutch steering that is similar to the steering on a dozer. Well, in the early 50's I believe, he had designed his first electric steering model Tournapull, which he thought was far superior to the old clutch steering model, but it wasn't selling. He couldn't understand this and blamed his sales force for not making customers aware that the newer model was superior. This was back when RG LeTourneau Inc was doing $30-40 million a year in sales after the war. Well, not always being the smartest business man, RG shut down production of the older model Tournapull at the Peoria Plant and only produced the newer electric steer model, even though he had not really worked all the kinks out of the new model. Sales at the company plummeted and he nearly went bankrupt, but they survived and sales eventually picked up. As my Dad tells it, that was when some of the senior management at the Peoria plant began looking around for a buyer for their operation which eventually turned out to be Westinghouse Air Brake Company and led to my grandfathers exit from the earthmoving machinery for a number of years.

While my grandfather was brilliant in many ways, he was quite eccentric and dictatorial in his style and relationships. He fired my dad once in the 60's for suggesting that he "retire". I have great admiration for much of what he did and a passion for his machinery, but the man had serious flaws as well. In a way that is comforting to me, being brilliant and successful doesn't mean you have to be "perfect".

AtlasRob
20-01-2011, 02:38 PM
............ I have great admiration for much of what he did and a passion for his machinery, but the man had serious flaws as well. In a way that is comforting to me, being brilliant and successful doesn't mean you have to be "perfect".

What a wonderful story, thank you for telling it here.

I am pleased and happy for you that you seem to have a decent outlook on life and can retell a story without feeling you have to defend close members of your family for things they may or may not have done quite the way that some would feel they should have.

Please keep up your good work bringing those rare films and photos back to life, they are a joy to behold. It would be a complete waste for them to be lost forever.

Guest1
20-01-2011, 04:04 PM
Listen dude,no one will ever change the ways the old man of the company does things.I have worked with them...they have there own way of doing things and you can't change that but for those working under them they are a F@@@@@G menace.thanks for your splendid story:)

tournadude
20-01-2011, 09:56 PM
Listen dude,no one will ever change the ways the old man of the company does things.I have worked with them...they have there own way of doing things and you can't change that but for those working under them they are a F@@@@@G menace.thanks for your splendid story:)

I know. Sometimes it's because they are just authoritarian and enjoy the power, which was somewhat the case with RG, but sometimes it is due to their eccentric point of view that is outside the box of other points of view, also the case with RG. Either way, it is tough on those under them.

tournadude
20-01-2011, 10:08 PM
What a wonderful story, thank you for telling it here.

I am pleased and happy for you that you seem to have a decent outlook on life and can retell a story without feeling you have to defend close members of your family for things they may or may not have done quite the way that some would feel they should have.

Please keep up your good work bringing those rare films and photos back to life, they are a joy to behold. It would be a complete waste for them to be lost forever.

I appreciate the complement. I hold a bit of a distinction in my generation of LeTourneau's, much like the uncle I was named after. I'm the wild one/black sheep that raised lots of hell and challenged the authority of the family. There are plenty of relatives that cringe that I am doing some of the work I am on my grandfathers legacy, due to my sometimes less than charitable views of the family. But I think all great persons have their "dark" sides and it does not demean their legacy to make them real and honest folk. Like I said, it's comforting to those of us who are not "perfect" to know we can still be brilliant. Plus it just makes the stories much more interesting than the canned mythology that often gets perpetuated. My goal with RG is not to just air dirty laundry, but to see him in a "real" light that acknowledges what he was good at and doesn't shy away from what he wasn't so good at.

JD450A
21-01-2011, 04:18 AM
I don't think you can air someone like RG In a bad way, same as you can't make Albert Einstine look awful.

He went down a very intresting and diffrent road with much of his equipment, A road that is only really now being followed by the big guns. Useing Diesel Electric was a huge leap and a exceedingly intresting one.

AtlasRob
21-01-2011, 09:07 AM
................................ My goal with RG is not to just air dirty laundry, but to see him in a "real" light that acknowledges what he was good at and doesn't shy away from what he wasn't so good at.

I would say you are doing a wonderful job. Hopefully those disapproving members of the family will come to see and understand what you are actually trying to achieve, although I get the feeling you will not be too bothered if they dont. ;)
Good luck with your quest :cool:

bob
21-01-2011, 07:39 PM
link to preview Giant Earthmovers which has got a lot of RG s earthmovers and other makes
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=oyX4X1B_hLsC&lpg=PA59&ots=_MdLEtSrjy&dq=rg%20letourneau%20inventions&pg=PA59#v=onepage&q&f=false

yellowiron
07-02-2011, 12:28 AM
Hi Tournadude, I have just got hold of a copy of "Moving heaven and earth"
Which gives a facinating insight to the man and his methods. he certainly was a gent of great vision and he strived for something better relentlessly.
What he did for the earthmoving industry, was to point it to what it is today. he has my admiration.

tournadude
07-02-2011, 01:52 PM
Thanks yellowiron. I always knew my grandfather made a big difference in the earthmoving world, but working on his archive has certainly given me a new appreciation for his imagination, ingenuity, and the impact he had on our world. I'm glad to share it and to have it well received.

By the way, my dad always had an expression I liked, related to your tag. He used to say he "had a little yellow paint in his blood" and I think I share the genetics.