Dr. Bailey and His Wonderful Wheat-Threshing, Wood-Cutting, Corn-Cooking Contraptions

Ray Koirtyohann

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9157 E. Milton Avenue, St. Louis [Overland], Mo. 63114.

In the March-April issue of Iron-Men Album were pictures of the Ownesville (Mo.) Steam Show -on pages 14-15. The engine pictured at the left in the center row was incorrectly captioned. Instead of its being owned by Edgar Levings, it is owned by me, and the operator shown is Mr. Ray Koirtyohann, a counsin of mine. He and his father, Earl Koirtyohann, have assisted me in this way for many years.

I purchased the engine at Mount Pleasant in 1967 from Engineer Ralph Shelburne of Zionsville, Indiana, who died in 1968. I have operated it at the Midwest Old Threshers' Show every year since 1969, and it has been at the Owensville, Missouri, show seven years.

Pictures of the model engine have shown in two Mt. Pleasant publications:

OLD THRESHERS - 'the greatest STEAM and GAS show on earth'.

FARM STEAM SHOWS - USA & CANADA - by Dana Close Jennings - (shown being operated by Mr. Shelburne's daughter).

Enclosed also is an article about my steam engine activity as published by St. Louis University, where I studied Medicine. After reading this article, one of my patients composed the accompanying poem, which may be used if you wish.

Following is the list of my engines: 1967 - large MINNEAPOLIS steam engine. 1968 - model steam engine with water wagon -also in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974. 1975 - Altman-Taylor model tractor.

William Harold Bailey (Med. '32) is a city doctor with a country avocation. He collects and displays old steam engines, of the kind used on American farms not so long ago to thresh wheat and saw wood.

Dr. Bailey doesn't have much time to give to his smoke-belching monsters. Six days a week he takes care of eye problems at his office near the University, operates at several hospitals, and consults with medical residents at Firmin Desloge in the capacity of associate clinical professor of ophthalmology.

On the seventh day, unlike the Creator, he doesn't rest, at least not in July and August. He is busy showing his engines at gatherings such as the recent Owensville Old Threshers Association Steam Engine and Threshing Show, in Rosebud, Mo.

Dr. Bailey's hobby is unusual for a man in his line of work. He only knows of one other ophthalmologist who collects steam engines, and that one's a Britisher. He first became hooked about ten years ago, when he happened to attend a demonstration of old-time steam power on a farm near Fulton, Mo. Its purpose was partly to raise money for a community eye tissue bank. Among the 20 or so engines one caught the doctor's eye. It was a Peerless, the same type once used by his father, a farmer, and sold back in 1910. It brought back memories of the threshing season when he used to help as a young boy.

Since that time he has acquired three old farm machines of his own two steam engines and a scaled down version of an early gasoline tractor. One of the steam-powered contraptions is a Minneapolis #8427, built about 1924. The other is a model engine, smaller than the original but still big enough, with its water wagon, to accommodate six or seven small fry plus the engineer.

With or without Dr. Bailey's own engines, the entire family, including two small granddaughters, attends many of the old-time steam shows in the Midwest. A high spot, around Labor Day, is a five-day gathering in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, which leaves local residents groggy from smoke inhalation. Steam engine buffs, when in earnest, burn soft coal in their fireboxes!

The collection, refurbishing and display of old farm engines is growing in popularity. There are shows even in Florida. But it's still an easy-going countrified hobby, which is one reason the Baileys like it. Many collectors are farmers who sold their last steam engine for scrap during the Depression and bought back others as times became more prosperous. For them, in the words of one addict, 'It's like a trip to the attic to meet yourself.'

Dr. Bailey keeps his machines at a weekend hideout on a hill near Washington, Mo. The bluff drops down to the Missouri River on one side. On the other it overlooks the Bailey acreage, settled by his great-great-grandfather under a Spanish land grant and still farmed by one of the clan. On his high, wooded corner of the farm Dr. Bailey has built a cabin, with his own hands, from oak, hard maple and walnut cut on the place.

'Bailey Bluff' is only an hour and a half's drive from the doctor's weekday suburban residence. But it's a long way from St. Louis in atmosphere. There the steam engines are cared for, in the doctor's absence, by his cousin, Earl Koirtyohann, who also helps him show them. A third engineer, on these occasions, is the Bailey's young granddaughter, Laura Neuman.

The smaller engine gets around a good deal, in a special trailer which doubles as sleeping quarters. At Washington, Vienna and Rosebud, Mo., it makes itself useful riding delighted children around the show grounds, while the big machines show their prowess at cutting wood or thrashing grain.

The big Minneapolis, for the most part, stays home on the bluff. Turning it loose on the highway, under steam power, would tie up traffic from St. Louis to Kansas

City, so it has to be transported on a special hired truck. But Dr. Bailey often fires it up to give rides to visiting youngsters. They love its row of six whistles, each with a different tone. It also comes in handy for warming up the swimming pool with jets of live steam. And a special taste treat for guests is steam engine corn on the cob, roasted in the monster's glowing entrails. J.P.

Dr. Bailey and his Steam Farm Engines

It is like a breath of fresh air
After the choking smoke of the past
To read and appreciate their performance
To say nothing of the cast.

In June, one heard their whistles.
Some said, some meant, bring water.
To me they meant another harvest
For one never came without the other.

I was part of a crew once,
Sadly at the very bottom rung,
Pushing wires to tie straw bales,
No risk at all to do something wrong.

My eyes would often fill with chaff,
To have one open was the norm.
Goggles were unknown to us who then
Worked at odd jobs on someone's farm.

Yet, there were exciting moments in those days,
For once I heard an old-timer calmly say
That he was there when a straw pile caught fire.
Modern evacuation system? Nothing rivaled the one that day!

Tho' moaning that was heard
Over the total cost,
One is lead to believe
That there were no lives lost.

So, to you engineers of those engines,
Enjoy your memoirs of the past.
Who knows, you may add a few more
As oil threatens not to last.

By Mr. Claude Soto, 10601 Homestead, St. Louis, Missouri 63114.