David Erickson

I replaced the plug and Lauren Speaker of Midland helped us evaluate and correct the relief valve problem. In about 45 minutes we were back to threshing with the only damage being a burn to my arm from the hot water exposure while replacing the soft plug

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2113 E. Wheeler Rd. Midland, Michigan 48640

In the summer of 1965, I hauled an old Huber Grain Separator from its retired resting place on the Ithamer Poole farm near Maple Ridge, Michigan and added it to my collection of old farm tools and machinery.

This addition started something that has grown into an annual community activity.

My father, Earl Erickson, now 73, had been a 'thresherman' for many years, before the days of combines, and never fully lost his interest in the 'big machines'.

Never having threshed with steam, he said he had always had a desire to thresh with a steam engine.

With a bit of searching and inquiring, Dad, our boys, then 15 and 19, and myself ended up as owners of a 20 Hp., Advance, Rumely Traction Engine and plans got under way for a Commnuity Threshing Bee.

Our first activity was held in August of 1966 and the interest and response was so good that it has become an annual event.

We have added other attractions since our trial run in 1966 and last year we baled some of the straw with an old Case Stationary Baler powered by an Old International W-30 tractor.

Other attractions included: a collection of old horse drawn plows (including an ice-cutter plow), early harvesting tools of cradles, a special made left -handed sickle with owners name stamped on it, a winnow-corb, flail, and a wooden 3 tined fork made in Germany and brought to this country by a family of early German farmers, some other early vintage horse drawn machinery, and some gasoline, one cylinder, engines.

While repairing and replacing a part of the grain separator for the 1966 activity, I forgot to remove a loose piece of angle iron from inside the separator. A short time after starting up the angle iron-ended up in the blower causing lots of noise but only minor damage.

Last year during the 'heat' of activities, the relief valve on the engine popped and the stem got bound in the guide and wouldn't let the valve close. Some of the spectators thought the big beast was about to blow its bonnet and retreated to a more favorable distance. We blanketed the fire but not quite soon enough to prevent melting out the soft plug.

The final activity of the day is a community potluck dinner (supper to us farm folks) in the Earl Erickson yard. Crowds of 200 to 500 people have attended the activity during the past three years with lots of fun and fellowship.

Its lots of work too and after the activities are over each year, Dad thinks maybe we won't do it again next year. But when next year comes and folks start asking about this years activity and Jack Frost says its safe to fill the the boiler and steam up the big engine, Dad begins to think 'maybe it wasn't too much work after all', and plans get under way for another day of fun, fellowship and good food in memory of the days of threshing with the 'Big Machines'.