Published in the Hometown Press
The employees of Co-Line, a manufacturing business south of Sully, surprised their owner Dale “Rail” Brand with a 60th birthday gift he won’t soon forget. Co-Line, formerly known as County Line Welding back in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s was prominently known in the area as a farm repair shop and portable welding service. Brand was surprised with his fully restored 1983 Chevrolet portable welding truck.
In 1983, Brand bought a new portable welding truck, a 1983 Chevrolet cab and chassis. “I couldn’t get the money for a used truck from the local bank, but the dealership would finance me on a new cab and chassis, just a bare bones one!” laughed Brand. “The only option I added was an AM radio! I built the bed/box and tool boxes and had that truck loaded from our repair shop with everything we would ever need on the job. Son, Eric Brand found a nearly identical Miller welder to add to the fully restored truck. “When I traded off that original Miller welder, it had over 12,000 hours on it,” recalled Brand. ”That’s a lot of stick welding!”
“I had no idea what the guys were up to when the truck pulled in, I just couldn’t believe it!” exclaimed Brand. Several current and past employees, vendors, customers, and friends joined Brand in a small birthday celebration on Dec. 28th at Co-Line. “I opened the tool box on the truck and was just going down memory lane, and then I remembered where I was at and I looked up and there were about 50 people looking up at me. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe how vivid the memories were. That truck was the foundation of the service we gave our customers. It was a different era with livestock and reliability of machinery was far less and I was just gone all the time in that truck. The three people that ran that truck the most was me, Jerry, Roorda, and Mark Jansen.”
Brand added at two-way FM radio to the portable truck recalling it was long before cell phones. “We had a base with large antenna at the original repair shop and my wife Tana would take the phone calls and send me from one job to the next. I would be gone from sun up to sun down, going from one to the next to the next all day long.
“A truck like this probably means nothing to anyone else, but it means the world to me. I served so many customers for years and years in that truck. I probably ran that truck more hours than any piece of equipment in our entire Co-Line organization. It was just what I did. I had some weeks, I would charge out 70 hours at the rock mine and just weld and weld and weld.”
The portable truck has probably been out of service for nearly 15 years now, replaced by better equipment. But on this milestone birthday, Brand’s sons and several employees banded together to pull off the surprise. One Brand will never forget and a piece for the Co-Line history books.