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At Dale’s, wheels are starting to turn again

By Laura Gossman Horihan

lhorihan@postbulletin.com

PINE ISLAND —

Most days Dale McNamara can be found with tools in his hands, fixing a tractor in his shop southwest of Pine Island.

He’s been fixing farm implements for area farmers for 34 years, but his work came to an abrupt halt on Dec. 4.

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He had gone into the house for supper at 6 p.m., and at 9 p.m. he looked out the window and saw that his shop was in flames.

Four of his customers’ tractors and two of his own tractors, which he had been using for parts, were destroyed in the fire. Many of his specialty tools and new and used parts were also lost.

Because the Pine Island Fire Department was holding a meeting the night of the fire, all members of the fire department were able to get to the fire quickly.

"They were able to save a nearby building," McNamara said. However, the shop was a total loss.

McNamara said his first concern was for the tractors. He was able to move one of them away from the burning building, but the flames were too high for him to save the others.

"My main concern after the fire was that my customer’s tractors would be covered by insurance," McNamara said. "Thankfully, they were."

Friends and family helped cleaned up the rubble. His next step was to try to rebuild Dale’s Repair.

For the past few months he’s been designing a new shop, browsing though catalogues full of tools and attending auctions and implement sales to pick up some of the specialty tools that are no longer made.

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McNamara started repairing implements in 1975, just after he finished vocational college.

"You wouldn’t believe the amount of tools you acquire in that time," his wife Barb McNamara said.

McNamara spent the winter working with the insurance company. Then he started designing the shop. He also did some work in a friend’s shop to keep his hands busy.

"He couldn’t just sit around a do nothing," Barb said.

His new shop was finished the first week of July. He already has a few tractors to work on, and many other farmers are calling.

Grand opening

A year before the fire, Dale purchased a sign for his business, but it, too, was lost in the fire.

He’s decided to hold a grand opening to remind farmers that he’s still there. The grand opening will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday at Dale’s Repair, located at 11814 Count Road 5 N.W.

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People can take a look at the new shop, visit with neighbors and enjoy hot dogs and chips served by the McNamara family. Barb said it was a chance to say thank you to the many friends and relatives who have helped them since the fire.

"All of the local farmers have been encouraging me to rebuild," McNamera said. "Some have been coming here a long time. When you’ve got good customers, you want to keep them, too."

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