By Oscar H. Will III
Opposite, top left: Wayne Judge’s 1919 Stover Model U greeted folks at the entrance to the show.
Whether your passion is animal power, steam
power or petroleum power, the Mid-Iowa Antique Power Association's
(MIAPA) annual Antique Power Show has something for you. Now
approaching its 22nd year, the show is still expanding, but it
hasn't yet outgrown the group's 40-acre grounds west of
Marshalltown. With that much space, MIAPA members grow their own
oats and corn and have space for extensive field demonstrations,
permanent installations and hundreds of exhibitors. "We still have
room to expand," explains avid show supporter Les Tempel. "That
gives us a lot of flexibility with the demonstrations, and lets us
try new things without crowding out something else."
The MIAPA was born in late 1984 of the Marshalltown Area Chamber
of Commerce's Agricultural Committee effort to enhance
relationships between local towns and associated farming
communities. By August 1985, the group had incorporated and held
its first Antique Power Show on land offered by the Marshalltown
Community College's board. "It was a real community effort,"
recalls founding member Irene Ellsberry. "The college even provided
ground to grow oats for the threshing." Within five years, the
MIAPA had outgrown that space. In 1990 they obtained a long-term
lease from Marshall County on a parcel along U.S. Highway 30 about
8 miles west of town.
Today the MIAPA event focuses on live demonstrations, and though
static displays are welcomed, hands-on is the name of the game.
From horses plowing down a rank stand of red clover, to steam
engines powering large stationary machines, to any manner of
petroleum power being put to the test, Marshalltown provides
diverse stimulations for old-iron senses. Last summer's 21st
Antique Power Show featured Allis-Chalmers tractors, Percheron
draft horses and Stover stationary engines, but the celebration
welcomed all comers. "We aren't particular," says MIAPA member
Vernon Waterman, while cranking up his 1923 Waterloo Boy. "We just
require folks to have a good time."
Fieldwork brings them in
In most parts of the developed agricultural world, land plowing
is a practice of the past. However, as anyone who has done it
knows, turning the soil with a well-scoured piece of iron coupled
to a seasoned source of power is about as close to heaven as
fieldwork gets. At Marshalltown everyone is invited to experience
Mike Mayland, Iowa Falls, prefers the power of horses. "I am
just a horse guy," Mike explains, stopping at the end of the furrow
to let his team rest. "A good team is a joy to work with." Mike's
seasoned pair of Belgian draft horses clearly demonstrates that
they know what they are doing in the field. In practice, Mike
prefers the sulky plow to the walking plow, but notes that it still
requires some effort to keep it together. "I have to keep an eye on
the plow, the furrow and the horses," he says from the seat of his
Oliver single-bottom plow. "Lucy and Buttercup are better at it
than I am."
Tractors are also used. In one instance, a John Deere
multi-bottom gangplow was pulled by an 80 hp J.I. Case steam
engine, and in the other, a petroleum-powered Aultman & Taylor
shouldered the burden. At one point no fewer than 30 machines
sporting metalwork in various shades of green, red, gray, yellow,
orange, blue and rust turned the earth in parade-like fashion.
"People love to plow," Les Tempel says as he climbs up into the
seat of his John Deere 60. "But some take it a lot more seriously
Last August, the MIAPA hosted an International Plowmen's
Association sanctioned state-level match. According to Les, MIAPA
member and avid plowman Mike Fitz was largely responsible for
bringing the match to Marshalltown. "I have been plowing
competitively for 20 years," Mike says. "I am really pleased that
we could host a match this year."
In competition plowing, participants are required to turn a very
specific section of ground within a specific period of time and are
judged on how straight and uniform their furrows are, the quality
of the tilled surface, whether they adequately cover the stubble
(or clover in this case), and a number of other specific
Demonstrations tell the story
Back in a little valley along the southern edge of the MIAPA's
show ground, a 50 hp Case steam engine has been belted to an Avery
Yellow Fellow wooden threshing machine, and under John Glessner's
watchful eye, the pair is ready to work. "The men grow the oats up
on the hill," explains Irene Elsberry. "It is cut with a binder,
shocked, left in the field to cure and then collected in wagons for
the threshing." Irene's family took part in many threshing runs as
she was growing up, so she is familiar with the cooperative nature
of the process. Today, MIAPA threshing crews continue that spirit
and welcome younger members. "I am concerned that the knowledge
will be lost as we lose the older generation," Irene explains.
"That's why we encourage younger members to get involved."
As the oat shocks pass through the Yellow Fellow, the rest of
the valley begins to stir with activity. Norma Binney hitches Doll
and Babe, her team of Suffolk horses, to the nearly full grain
wagon and hauls it to the horse-powered wagon dump, where Jay
Anderson urges Kate and Kathy, his team of Percheron-Paint
crossbred horses, to turn the sweep power. Through the sweep, the
horse's forward movement causes a long drive shaft to spin, which
in turn drives the winch that raises the front of the wagon so the
force of gravity will spill the grain once the tailgate is
Mike's team of Belgians spell Kate and Kathy on the sweep, whose
output shaft now powers an elevator conveying grain from the
wagon's tailgate into a waiting truck. The entire operation spans
at least 100 years of technology in less than a quarter of an hour.
As one group of volunteers handles the grain, another loads racks
with straw and shuttles it to the stationary baler where an engine
stands belted up, ready to convert the disheveled piles of oat
stems into neat and stackable bales.
Elsewhere, MIAPA members Don Dass and Denny Hammer feed cedar
billets into the organization's Brinks & Co. shingle mill. This
relatively simple mill's horizontally oriented blade took its power
from an arbor belted up to a tractor. Don and Denny earlier
demonstrated member John VanNordstrand's 1917 cart-mounted,
Economy-powered Sears & Roebuck buck saw, while other
volunteers operated the club's large sawmill and edger. Power
shelling, grinding, corn shredding, black-smithing and stock-dog
demonstrations rounded out three full days of activities.
Features and favorites
The show grounds' exhibit area is comfortably nestled in a grove
of mature trees. John VanNordstrand had many of his approximately
30 stationary engines on display at the 2005 event. John is partial
to Iowa-built gas engines and his display included a lovely
collection of Associated Manufacturers engines with names such as
Three-Mule Team, Hired Man and Chore Boy.
Alan Hasselbusch, Clarence, Iowa, made a nice display with a
1930 Stover Model CT engine belted to a Big 3 washing machine. In
the air-cooled engine department, Don Dass and Paul Sams had a
selection of Gade engines on display (including Paul's beautifully
restored Gade Model C), and Paul also had a 1 hp International
Harvester Tom Thumb on hand. Among many other IHC engines, Paul's
1915 Famous upright, Patty Price's 1913 1 hp water-cooled Titan and
John Van-Nordstrand's 1 hp Mogul Jr. really stood out. The number
of models and makes of engines at the show was phenomenal, and many
were belted to grinders, water pumps, ice cream freezers and other
Among the hundreds of tractors at the show, many were orange. Of
about 200 Allis-Chalmers tractors, nearly two dozen were Dan
Wilkey's, hauled from his place in State Center. "It takes quite a
while to haul that many tractors," Dan says. "But since it is my
favorite show and they were featuring my favorite brand, I had to
do it." Dan's dad bought his first AC tractor new in 1955, and Dan
spent more hours than he can remember at its helm. For a number of
years, that WD-45 was the family's main powerhouse, even serving
time under the corn picker.
Among Dan's favorite factory-built tractors is his 1949 Model G.
This unique-looking Allis was built specifically with the small
post-war farmer in mind and continues to be a favorite on small
truck farms, where its design is especially useful for close work.
The tractor's rear engine and drive train, and open tubular
framework, allow the operator quite literally a clear view of the
ground beneath. Couple that with a belly-mounted cultivator, and
you can imagine how well suited the outfit is to precision
cultivating - and many other tasks as well. Dan likes the G so well
that he recently completed a working half-scale model of the
machine, using pieces and parts he found in his junk pile.
Another of Dan's favorites is the Allis-Chalmers Model B, and he
has a few of them. "There isn't any shortage of Bs around, so I
thought it would be fun to make a few that had never been made,"
Dan explains with a smile, wiping dew from the hood of his Model B
articulated four-wheel drive.
In the old iron hobby, and at shows like Marshalltown, fun is
what it's all about.
For more information:
- The 2006 Mid-Iowa Antique Power Association Antique Power
Show, Aug. 4-6, featuring International Harvester tractors, IH
engines (spotlighting the Famous uprights), and Haflinger horses;
call MIAPA President Paul Sams at (641) 754-0524; e-mail:
Oscar "Hank" Will III is an old-iron collector, freelance
writer and photographer. He splits his time between his home in
Gettysburg, Pa., and his farm in East Andover, N.H. Write him at
243 W. Broadway, Gettysburg, PA 17325; (717) 337-6068; e-mail: