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Running moonshine... any good stories?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 4t64rd, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. I would like to have some good stuff!!
  2. crashfarmer
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,274

    from Iowa

    Some pretty good stories here. :)
    I don't have a lot to add but I do know it was made around here also. There was a still under the floor of a barn about five miles from my folks place.

    When I was small one of our neighbors made beer in his basement. One wall was shelves full of beer bottles. It doesn't sound like much now but back in the early 60's it was illegal. I always think of him when I hear that 99 bottles of beer on the wall song. :D

    I had my first taste of the moonshine in the 70's in the local hang out gas station about five miles from home. It's a town that consisted of three houses. a gas station and a church. One of the neighbors brought some in one day in fruit jars and passed it around, it was some pretty stout stuff! Now the town is no longer on the map, the roof has fell in on the gas station, there are two houses and the church left.

    Miles to the Northwest in Carroll County, Templeton Rye is thriving. It has it's roots in bootlegging. My brother-in-law is from that area and he told me that he had his first taste of Templeton Rye when he was 9 years old. He had tryed to get some on trips back to Iowa from Texas but always found it sold out. They started stocking it on the shelves of the local grocery store here so we got him some for Christmas.
  3. afaulk
    Joined: Jul 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,191


    There's a feller about 1/4 mile from my place that makes some. It tastes a lot like paint thinner. Real smooth stuff....
  4. crashfarmer
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,274

    from Iowa

    I'm betting it'll burn pretty good also.

    I'm told there is still some being made around here also.
  5. No story's but I love reading these ones!!!
  6. 63comet
    Joined: Jan 31, 2006
    Posts: 508


    Old coot I know, fairly racist old fart, offered me some very fine untaxed liquor one afternoon. Told me his other daddy made it. On another occasion I met his other daddy. Backwoods black fella who's family had rented a house on the back forty of first dudes family land since god knows when, probably since emancipation.

    And he wasn't making a joke about other daddy either, he seriously treated this fella like a father.
  7. i like cars & stuff
    Joined: Sep 14, 2012
    Posts: 74

    i like cars & stuff
    from Aotearoa

    Only story i have firsthand is... When i was only about 2 feet high i remember there was a shearing shed with carpet on the floor, a big TV on the wall and the people sitting around the tables drinking whatever it was they bought from the guy in the corner all got in their cars & left with their lights off when a strange car approached.

    Never saw how anyone made money in it in modern times, darn store-bought stuff is so cheap.
  8. afaulk
    Joined: Jul 20, 2011
    Posts: 1,191


    The stuff doesn't cost much to make at all, except for time. I failed to mention in my earlier post that the stuff I sampled was 155 proof. Anyone who can drink it with a straight face is one tough dude. I had some 135 proof during the Bama/ A&M game yesterday. Much better although not for a sissy LOL.
  9. RPM
    Joined: Feb 5, 2005
    Posts: 204


  10. 5559
    Joined: Oct 25, 2012
    Posts: 362

    from tn

    used to be an old man around here that ran a little.I heard him tell a story about running a load while being chased .he said he hit the ditch wide open and hit a giant oak tree.He finished the story by saying he took off on foot & got away,but when he hit the tree he knocked out his front teeth & he sh!+ teeth for a week!!!
  11. wv171
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 3


    Well I am not going get into much detail just in case plus it happened a long time ago, If you been there, done that you know why.
    Long time ago my family was one of the 1st settlers @ a part of the east coast of US so everybody was kinfolk one way or other or we know just about everybody in the whole area, One of my cousins got elected Judge of the county for many of years. Before the new courthouse was built & before ATF got so hot on peoples cases.

    The old courthouse was not much but old wooden building and my Cousin the Judge had his office with his law books and all the other normal stuff there. And it had a regular appear running water sink in it. Everybody Police got caught hauling moonshine had to spend night in jail and next morning with evidence there, Judge tell them well I think you ( most time a cousin or friend of family ) learn your lesson. I tell you what.. I let you go home if you just pour that junk down the drain and promise me you not going to do this again. And you pay this like a $5.00 dollar fine and you can go on home. That went on for ages.

    What for many years except very small few people know, Was that sink & drain system ran directly into the basement where there was a few old wooden 55 gallon barrels with different on-off valve's systems on them where you could control the flow of the liquid just incase for quality assurance sake, So a very few main people at courthouse never had to buy nothing to drink and they always had a very good supply of moon right there.

    Know a guy wanted get in the diesel mechanic business but poor people like us didn't have that type of overhead money wise for such a big step at once back in them day's, So this guy found and bought a used 70's Ford F-250 4X4 with utility bed on it with 390 in it, Took that engine apart sent heads to machine shop to get shaved, Clean everything up and port & polished them heads & intake for weeks just on the flow part of the engine and put a bigger carb on it & bullet glass pack dual exhaust on it, And put that baby back together. That truck even after loaded down with well over a ton of tools would bark the tires in all 4 gears.
    But to get the money for all them tools, He loaded all them tool boxes up with shine & blend right in with the 5:00pm coming home after work traffic almost daily and Cops never even took a 2nd look at the truck. That was a good sleeper, Plus he ran it with lock-in / lock-out front hubs in the lock-in 4-wheel drive position so if needed He could hit the hills, All you had to do was shift the 4-wheel drive system in side of the cab into 4-wheel drive and you was gone up the very most steep off-road hills you could find quick. And no cop car could reach you. Back in them days around here all police had was cars there was no 4 wheel drive jeeps and other SUV's at all that police drive today. The 4-wheel drive extra-safety system was never ever used. Truck never got a 2nd look from any police. Guy got his tools and went right into business after about 6 months of many runs & I bet plenty of sweat.

    This is a quick Lee Petty story, I am pretty sure it came from Benny Parsons one day.. At track back in good old days, Well them Petty boys was never known for there huge size, I think Lee got into a little fuss with Tiny Lund and next thing Tiny know he had 3 of them Petty boys coming at him but Tiny pretty big guy and doing Ok until Grandma Petty got into it with her big pocketbook, Tiny thinking good god she is beating me half to death with that blame ole pocketbook. By that time lot of people got around them and got everybody calm back down. And only later did Tiny find out that Grandma Petty Keep a big 38 pistol in that pocketbook and that weight in it was what was killing Tiny.. I got this I pretty sure during a rain delay of Nascar race & Benny Parsons was announcing it on TV & that was one of the funny stories Benny told during the rain delay for folks watching on TV.. Been long time ago but I think that where I pick that funny story up from Benny Parsons on TV race or one of them TV shows Benny was on.
  12. 55willys
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 1,661


    My dad ran shine in his 47 GMC flat bed. 250 gallons at a time in "spring water" 5 gallon containers. He had a 58 GMC 270 bored to 302, Jahns pistons, and a 5x2 intake on it. His cousin had a wrecking yard, and a spring water business along with other fronts. They would steal new cars off the lot before they were inventoried and strip them for parts to sell at the yard. That is where the engine came from. He got caught after a girl turned him in and told where he was going to be. He dumped the load on a corner but 1 of the cans stayed on so they got him for that and the sheriff that was paid off took the $1500 he had in the glove box. So after that he ran decoy hauling water and the got him and took an ax to all the cans only to find water.

    The trial came for the first possession with intent and the judge gave him a choice 5 years prison or 4 years navy. My dad chose the navy and when he got out he went back and got his truck drove to the West Coast and never looked back.
  13. woodz
    Joined: Feb 23, 2010
    Posts: 517


    What a great thread with some awesome stories. Thanks to everyone for sharing them.
    Not sure if anyone mentioned it before, I may have missed it. There is a book called Driving With The Devil by Neal Thompson. It is all about moonshining in the 30s and 40s and how it lead to the birth of NASCAR. It follows people like Parks and Red Vogt and Bill France and all the other people that went from Hopping up cars for moonshining to racing cars to starting NASCAR.
    I picked it up a few years ago at the library in the LeMay Museum in Tacoma. It is an excellent read. If you like the stories on this thread, you will love this book.
  14. mx6262
    Joined: Oct 2, 2008
    Posts: 375


    How much you need? Apple, Peach, Blackberry. $$$$ :cool:
  15. desotot
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,840


    Don't know much about running moonshine but I heard guitarzan carried moonbeams home in a jar.
  16. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle

    This is my favorite "real" moonshine runner of all time. It belongs to Dwight Cass who like his friend Junior Johnson pulled time for being in the moonshine business.

    This '39 Ford was built in 1957 for serious running. It has a '57 Cadillac Eldorado engine with factory 2 fours, '37 Lasalle trans and Columbia 2-speed rear end. It's the real deal.

    I took these pictures at the Moonshine festival in Dawsonville Ga. last month.
  17. raprap
    Joined: Oct 8, 2009
    Posts: 768

    from Ohio

    The Story goes that my '40 coupe might have been a Shine Hauler. It is a 1940 Business coupe that had the solid front axle. It has 2 extra sets of shocks in the back and 1 extra on the beam front axle. The rear transom between the rear compartment and trunk folded down as a "pass-thru". The stock gas tank was in the back seat area but also had a 5-passenger tank under the trunk area. Some say it was a "Salesman" Special for hauling products. I found Alabama plates and loads of red clay packed all under the suspension parts when I restored it. The motor looked stock but had a lot of welding done on it.
  18. KStewart
    Joined: Dec 17, 2009
    Posts: 46


    My wife and I went to the Moonshine Festival this year in Ga. It a very large car show and a tour. We had a great time and got to meet the fellows that are on TV the Moonshiner. We took our 40 Ford which we got Best of Show. They raise money for Kids in a home that have no one. There were over 400 cars in the show. That me in the middle. That was a great car show.

    Attached Files:

  19. TP
    Joined: Dec 13, 2001
    Posts: 2,023

    from conroe tx

    I don't have any stories but watched the movie "Lawless" for about the 5th time the other night. Those folks were true to each other for sure. Very good movie and supposedly true about virginia moonshiners.
  20. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle

    I never thought anything about stumbling on an operating still while trouncing around unfamiliar woods here in the Carolinas until I saw "Deliverance" the first time 40 years ago. I do think about it now.

    Here are some things I have learned about distilling alcohol from various fermented products. For me fermented fruit tastes better than grain. It doesn't leave any aftertaste. Apples, peaches and muscadines make good sippin' moonshine that is very smooth.

    The first couple ounces can not be consumed mainly because it is cleaning out the lines but it will be the highest proof in the batch. The last is not used because it is being diluted with water in the mash and the proof is only about 40-50. Alcohol condences at 175 degrees and water at 212 so at 175 degrees alcohol (150-160 proof/75-80 % alcohol) is the only liquid coming out. As the temp gets higher the dilution begins and the proof drops. You can use the last in the next batch. 100 proof is the best for sippin'. Most store bought likker is 80 proof (40% alcohol) including Jr. Johnson's Midnight Moon. Everclear makes very high proof grain alcohol (up to 190 proof/ 95% alcohol) but you can't sip it. If you think you can sip it your throat will burn like hell as it's going down and knock you on your ass before you know it.....stick with 100 proof or less for sippin'. I never drink over 3 or 4 ounces on the days I do and don't feel bad the next day.
  21. wv171
    Joined: Nov 26, 2013
    Posts: 3


    <HR style="COLOR: #e5e5e5; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #e5e5e5" SIZE=1> <!-- / icon and title --><!-- message -->
    "I never thought anything about stumbling on an operating still while trouncing around unfamiliar woods."

    Myself Hunting, Berry Picking , Fishing or anything outdoors if I am back away from any houses and I start to smell Cornbread Baking. I would head away from that smell as fast & quietly as I could just incase. Sometimes on good windless day's the whole hollow would smell of fresh cornbread baking.

    Countless times Trout Fishing, I leave a real good place only to drive 1/4 mile or so upwind on public county road only to find a camp set up and campers appear to be making or eating Beans & Cornbread. Better safe that sorry.

    Well this guy was running with moonshine involved, So hopefully this newbie is not breaking any board rules, but he was running Away from Moonshine that already been consumed by his uncle that didn't like him too good on that given day, so it close to a true story of running moonshine but as fast as his 2 feet could carry him that day. I was little kid maybe 6 years old & remember that like it was yesterday.

    I saw 1st hand what a backside of a human body look's like loaded down with buckshot, I used to know the total amount of buckshot that guy had in his backside, but older age I guess catching up with me, Beside picking out buckshot for couple months it really hurts for a long time with the gun powder residue imbedded under your skin. This one poor guy even got buckshot that pierce his ear. He could worn a ear ring after that very bad experience, It Could of turn out real bad if he didn't take off when he did and was a fast runner on 2 feet on that given day. I think he took like 3 shots from 12 gauge before that guys brother wrestled that shotgun away from that guy that was sampling little too much of the product that day. And by that time that running guy was about out of shotgun range anyway.
  22. Had a chance to buy a real moonshine car once when I lived in east Tennessee in 1970 a buddy of mine who had a used car lot asked me if I wanted to purchase a rather ugly four door 1953 chevy I said what for, he laughed and proceeded to open the hood it had a J2 olds in it complete with the three duces, no rear seat and a large tank in the back and beefed up suspension I didn't have a clue what it was to this day I still think about that car what a sleeper lol
  23. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle

    I was talking to an old timer in Mooresville N.C. who worked at a garage there in the late '50s. He said there was a moonshine syndicate in Charlotte they did a lot of work for. He said trucks would deliver a new complete Cadillac Eldorado engine complete with 2x4s and factory air cleaner still in the crate. A car the syndicate had chosen for it to go in was already gutted and many of the necessary modifications completed. I asked him what car was the most popular with the syndicate, expecting him to say a '39 or '40 Ford coupe. He said they usually went with a late model 4 door sedan like a '53 Ford. He said his boss told him the revenuers weren't looking for cars like that.

    Mooresville has a long tradition building hot cars. The city limits signs say Race City USA
  24. As a young child I spent my time on Cape Cod. Our family lived in Brewster, Massachusetts.
    We lived only one block in from the ocean.
    The tides would roll out 2 1/2 to 3 miles at low tides.
    The fishermen set up nets attached to sturdy vertical polls driven into the sand to catch fish when the tides rolled out.
    They would drive their old 30's and 40's trucks out on the sand flats, load the catch into the trucks and head for the local fish market.
    The trucks that ran at night time went a little past the nets and picked up cases of shine dropped from boats that bootleggers operated.
    My parents and my aunt and uncle used to tell me who was legal and who wasn't.
    They could tell by the rattles in the back of truck.
    Mason jars and bottles rattled in the old trucks, fish were dead silent.
    Nobody bothered anyone. It was common knowledge around town and everyone in town appreciated the income and easy source for the stuff.
    True story.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  25. A very close friend of mine who is in the same hot rod club as I'm in was indirectly involved in the 'shine industry.
    Durring the 50's thru early 70's my friend C.C. Ran a speed shop plus a junk yard that primarily dealt in 40 Fords.
    He built to order numerous 40 Fords (maybe an occasional 39 Ford) for his customers that used to fly up or take the train from down South and arrive in Boston then be whisked to his operation in the route 30 area of a quiet suburb.
    C.C. Had possibly 100 Fords in the graveyard at all times, plenty of available Lincoln and Mercury suspension components, H.D. Shocks, springs, brakes and 100's of transmissions.
    Any engine a buyer wanted could be spec'd out on the spot.
    C.C. ran his farm legit but eventually the Feds knocked on his barn door and by the middle 70's encouraged him to return to farming produce instead of farming Fords for bootleggers.
    C.C. Still after all these years talks very quietly about the operation and systems he had in place. It was a very efficient and profitable business but the dirty money was highly risky and eventually leading to possible prosecution.
    Statute of limitation have long since run out but we're still a little discreet to protect our friendships here.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  26. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle

    The new cable TV show "Moonshiners" has created a lot of interest in one of America's oldest businesses. From time to time I will post more information on the North Carolina bootlegging syndicate as told to me. There were several individuals and also group syndicates that were headquartered in and around Charlotte. They hauled the moonshine out of the mountains where most of it was made to major cities in the Carolinas and Virginia. The runs were not long runs...usually less than 100 miles. The larger syndicates would sell it to small bootleggers who would haul it shorter distances, usually to illegal liquor houses. This all but ended in the late '50s when the ATF had grown in size large enough to almost wipe the industy out. The Robert Mitchum movie "Thunder Road", which came out in 1958, ironically was released as bigtime moonshine running was coming to an end. I was only 14 at the time but saw the movie when it was released. If you are interested in this part of American history you can read "A Breed Apart", a book written by ATF Special Agent Charles Weems. He spells out how the ATF was successful in catching enough of the the moonshiners and bootleggers in the south to cripple the industry.

    One of the larger syndicates was run by Ralph Shue who operated out of Charlotte. He was one of Charles Weems victims when he was caught (for the last time) and sent to prison in Atlanta. More on him on the next post.
  27. frank spittle
    Joined: Jan 29, 2009
    Posts: 1,672

    frank spittle

    The Old Timer from Mooresville N.C. tells me Ralph Shue ran the largest bootlegging syndicate he knew of. Shue, like so many other bootleggers, also raced Sportsman cars and had work done at "Tokyos" in Mooresville where the Old Timer worked in the mid to late '50s. Tokyos was a garage/junkyard owned by George Benfield and Doc Eddleman. Both were machinists and engine builders. They made parts for race cars and built their share of bootleg cars too back in the '50s. Ralph Shue was a regular customer.

    "We built several cars for Ralph and rebuilt several that had been damaged running from the revenuers" he told me. "Junior Johnson drove one of the Sportsman cars we built for Ralph and it would be no surprise if he hauled 'shine for him too. Shue made a lot of money bootlegging but he got busted a few times and it cost him dearly."

    By the late '50s there was no need to build a bootleg car from scratch. Not with what you could order from your local dealer. You could buy a new car with the performance engine option, do some suspension work and be ready to make your runs. And that is what Ralph did in 1957 just before he got busted for the last time.

    That story as told to me next.
  28. shop teacher
    Joined: Jun 23, 2007
    Posts: 225

    shop teacher

    One of my favorite uncles did this to repay bad checks his 1st wife wrote. This story recently was told to me by his son. None of this story -including his #1 wife did I know about.
    He was married to this gal and they lived in a tiny Minnesota town by the Iowa border. He divorced her and was exiled by his family because he shamed the family name. He was sent to relatives in International Fall, MN. Money was tight , so he started to make runs of Canadian liquor to Minneapolis. Eventually he made enough money to repay all that were cheated and allowed to came home. He married my aunt and ran a little store in town.
    In the 50's he was approached by a strange guy in a brand-new Cadillac , but refused the deal.I use to stay with them 1-2 weeks in the summer when I was a kid.Now that town is a ghost town , very sad.
    I would bet that my mom never knew her sister married such an outlaw.
  29. CowboyTed
    Joined: Apr 27, 2015
    Posts: 341


    That's true, but there's more to it. The first portion that comes out of the condenser as the still heats up is thrown out because it is full of two poisons: acetone and methanol. How much of each depends on the contents in the mash. Acetone and methanol both flash from liquid to steam at lower temperatures than the ethanol that we drink. As the still heats up, the acetone and methanol turn to steam and pass through the condenser first. The ethanol comes next. So distillers throw away the first portion that comes out the condenser because acetone tastes and smells horrible, and methanol will make you blind. That's where the old wives' tale comes from that drinking moonshine will make you blind. If you made moonshine and you didn't know enough to throw away the "foreshots" you might well go blind from drinking it. That's also one of the reasons that making liquor is still unlawful, while making beer is fine: the legislatures don't trust us to learn what we're doing and avoid poisoning ourselves.

    So the foreshots are poison, and you throw them away. The next portion that comes from a still is called the heads. This is mostly ethanol, with some various other elements mixed in that affect the flavor. Some people object to the flavors in the heads, so most reputable distillers save the heads, but don't bottle and sell them. Next comes the hearts. The hearts are the best part of the batch. As the hearts run through the condenser, you'll start to get some odd smelling condensate, called the "tails." Some people say it smells like wet cardboard. It comes from various fusel oils that flash and then condense just like the ethanol, though at higher temperatures, which is why the tails come out last. But not all of the tails is undrinkable. After the wet cardboard, some of the best -smelling whiskey you'll ever experience comes out. The later part of the tails often gets mixed with the hearts and bottled, while the early tails gets saved, but not bottled.

    At the end of the run, the hearts and the late tails get bottled and aged, and the heads and early tails get saved for later. After a few batches from mash, the distillers will take all the saved heads and tails and run them through the still again. Once again, they get foreshots, heads, hearts and tails as the temperatures rise in the still.

    Distilling is a fascinating hobby that is widely practiced around the world, even though it's unlawful nearly everywhere. As long as you don't try to sell the stuff, the ATF currently doesn't harass hobby distillers much. They DO still pursue moonshiners who run big batches, as they assume you're selling it. If you get caught with a large still, expect some real legal trouble.

    If anyone wants to learn more, go check out the home distilling forums at

    Making liquor at home is easy. It's basically just like making beer, but without the hops, though there are thousands of mash recipes for various sorts of fruits and other grains besides barley. Building a still is also easy. You can build a hobby-size still for under $100. Just don't try selling the stuff, and don't drink the foreshots!

    The reason that people still make liquor at home and the reason that selling moonshine is still profitable is that most of the price we pay for liquor at the liquor store is tax. The actual cost of the liquor is tiny. Starting with ten bucks worth of corn, and ten bucks worth of propane to fire the still, you can make a couple gallons of 100 proof whiskey. Add some barley and wheat, and the cost goes up a little, but the flavor gets much better.

    Consider this: The ethanol that gets mixed with our gasoline to reduce emissions is the same unaged corn whiskey we drink. We pay less than a couple bucks a gallon for that ethanol at the gas pump, yet we pay at least ten times that much at the liquor store.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017

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