HOW I GOT STARTED IN STEAM

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R. R. 6, Shelbyville, Indiana 56176

I read an article in the May-June, 1978 issue about the way one man got started threshing for himself and it reminded me of myself. Here is the way I got started.

I have always been a threshing fan and steam engine enthusiast from as far back as about 1915. I started helping my father, Frank Gallagher, run his 32 x 56 Huber Superior separator and 20 HP double cylinder Reeves (1919) when I was 15 or 16 years old.

My first job with dad was driving a team of horses to the water wagon, which was a 12 barrel metal tank and hand pump which I have pumped full as many as seven times a day, on short hauls of which the first run was close to home. My older brother, Tom, ran the separator, and one of my younger brothers, John, ran the blower and he could sure build a beautiful stack of straw. Dad took on a second run of about 15 to 18 jobs which was three to five miles from home, so he bought an old Service solid rubber tired truck and mounted the water tank on it. Brother Tom got the job of water hauler and I learned to run the separator and John continued to run the blower. We all loved that outfit. The Reeves engine pulled the separator so easily it didn't pull hard enough to suck the soot out of the flues, so we had to clean the flues each morning.

One of dad's good friends went to a gas (Huber) tractor to thresh with. That got dad to thinking, so in the Fall of 1925 he traded that great Reeves steam engine for a new 18-36 Huber gas tractor with a Mid-West 4-cylinder engine which did a fairly good job of pulling the 32' separator, but not like the Reeves.

In 1933, in the middle of the Depression, I went to work for my brother-in-law's dad for 75 a day, about 7.5 per hour. Mr. Dettart had a Woods Brother thresher and he was counting on me helping them.

I had a friend who bought an old outfit, (steam), so he wanted me to run the separator (Red River Special) at $6.00 a day, which was easy to take. I don't think his customers were too well satisfied with the job the outfit did for them. I guess they were thinking of hiring a different threshing outfit for the year 1934. I got $1.00 per day on the farm in 1934.

My dad knowing all the circumstances, decided to buy a new Huber Roto-Rak 28 x 46 separator and had three yearly notes of around $400.00 each for me to pay off. Dad was going to furnish the tractor and me the separator, 50-50 basis. I said, 'Dad, that won't be enough for me to pay the notes,' so I bought the Huber Super Four tractor and got 100% and paid off the separator in 1936. It really made a good outfit, and I satisfied my customers well, although I was only 28 years old. I bought an 86-acre farm in 1943 and threshed until 1948 in which we used 2 buck rakes instead of bundle wagons.

I sold the Huber 28' separator in 1950 for around $500.00. It went to Wisconsin. I wish I had it back to play with!