Hand fed thresher

An 1870 Champion, hand fed, thresher made by the Waterloo Co., and in action at the Steam Threshers Reunion 1959. See Mr. Greenfield's letter.

Clement F. Greenfield

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I have been interested in power farming all of my life. Horses and what they could do in the way of farming never did appeal to me. My father once said that his boys were not happy unless they had a monkey wrench in their hands and were in grease clear to their elbows. They would rather let the horses starve or run in the pature all summer while they did the work with a tractor.

The tractor we used was a 9-18 case (I still have it) and we credit the case with having kept us on the farm and not the horses. There were seven of us and we are all farmers. We each own our own farms.

We bought a large wheat farm in 1927 along with 125 head of horses that went with the place. We sold them, much to the disgust of the neighbors, the next day and bought two tractors. The neighbors promised us we would go broke trying to farm without horses. We went right on with the tractors and before four years was up, there were no horses used for farming in that valley.

In 1955, after looking for some time, L. K. Woods of Hendon and I found a 40 horse Case Tandom Compound steam engine. It was just as good as new. It is a 1896 model engine no 13184. I was able to buy it for $225.00. In the shed with it was a wooden Nichols and Shepherd 36-60 Thresher which I purchased. It was also in very good condition. It has a Hart blower and a Maytag feeder. The feeder has a canvass conveyer in it and so does the extension conveyor for the feeder.

At the time the outfit was in its 'hay day' they used a Model T Ford pick-up to do the chasing. I also bought this 1909 model ford.

I am not sure but this my be one of the last complete outfits left. The cook shack is also around.

The thresher was first hand fed, but they found it too big to keep loaded so they put on the Maytag feeder. I still have part of the hand-feeding table.

I bought a 1903 Smith manure spreader from the same man. It is also in excellent condition.

I have a lot other old equipment including a 1914 Rumely oil-pull tractor, a hand fed Nichols and Shepherd thresher with straw carrier. It was the last hand fed thresher to be bought in southern Idaho and was only used one season. I am still looking for a horse-power unit to run it.



According to 'Farm Engines and How to Run Them' written by James H. Stephenson and published by Mongomery Ward & Co. in 1903:

Lime may be taken out of an injector by soaking it over night in a mixture of one part of muriatic acid and ten parts soft water. If a larger proportion of acid is used it is likely to spoil the injector.

A good blacking for boilers and smokestacks is asphaltum dissolved in turpentine.

To polish brass, dissolve 5 cents' worth of oxalic acid in a pint of water and 'use to clean the brass. When tarnish has been removed, dry and polish with chalk or whiting.

It is said that iron or steel will not rust if it is placed for a few minutes in a warm solution of washing soda.

Sulphate of lime in water, causing scale, may be counteracted and scale removed by using coal oil and salt soda. When water contains carbonate of lime, molasses will remove the scale.

Letter from Canada

I have been enjoying the Iron-Men Album Since 1959. I saw it on sale at the western Ontario Steam Threshers Reunion. We were there mostly because my brother works for a small company that builds threshing machines. Besides that we are both very interested in anything mechanical. If it happens to be steam propelled so much the better.

Ernest Bros., Company, Mt. Forest, Ontario has been in business more than 60 years. They build a very fine steel machine in several sizes. They call it The Favorite. My brother is the Blacksmith there. He also does sheet metal work.

It is impossible to-live a farming community and not hear stories like the ones you publish in the Album. I always get a kick out of them. You have written them down with lots of pictures. I think it is a wonderful idea.

I notice a picture of a Waterloo Champion in the Jan-Feb 1962 issue. I have a couple snap shots of one of these machines in action. I hope you will find them interesting.

I work in a Service Station so I can't claim to know much about Farm Machinery. I do enjoy watching it work. I know a lot of, people who have never seen a steam traction engine at work. I think they have missed a great deal. Modern machines are, of course, more efficient than the old equipment but it is nor so interesting to watch. I hope there will always be Reunion and I would like to have more time to go to them.

Clement F. Greenfield, Box 723, Kincardine, Ontario. Canada.


Am enclosing a snapshot. Must say your magazine renews many an instance that took place during my 56 years of threshing. My first start was in 1906. I purchased a Birdsell clover huller and a 10 horse power Advance traction engine, then a few years later I purchased a complete rig consisting of a 15h.p. return Minneapolis engine and a 32 inch separator with a Minneapolis feeder and blower. Later I bought a 20 H.P. direct flue Minneapolis engine, with a 22H.P. boiler including heavy plow gears. I bought this engine second hand. It was made to order at Minneapolis Thresher Co. for a road contractor in Montana. He used it two years for road grading, then turned it in and had a 35 H.P. made, and I must say it was one of the best engines that traveled in this area. Drivers were 72 inches in height and 24 inches wide. I used this engine until the small rigs came in, then I traded it in for a small 23 inch separator and a gas tractor and ran that several years. During all these years I lived in the township of Pleasant Valley, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin.

In 1954, I sold the farm and moved to St. Cloud, Minn., where I now live. It is interesting to read the experiences other thresherman have had. Here in Minnesota I have attended some threshermens reunions and met many old time threshermen. I love to hear their stories.

My first experience in threshing was when I went with my father to help a neighbor thresh. I was 11 years old, and they were using a horse power. My job was to hold up sacks when the half bushel was dumped into the sack. It was quite a thrill to me to be working with the crew.

I could write a long story about those many years of threshing.

In closing, I would love to hear from some of the old time threshers. On June 30th I will be celebrating my 82nd birthday. ( I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, June 30, 1880.)

CHARLES SCHMIDLIN, St. Cloud, Minnesota


I received a letter from one of your subscribers wanting to know if putting- oil in a steam boiler wouldn't do harm to the flues as some one had told him it would and that they would blow out. I have never ever heard of any flues blowing out by that treatment.

I was called one time to put new flues in a reeves engine that had been run a good many years as he thought the bead on end was getting to badly burned off to run another season. I cut the old flues out and was a nasty job as I guess he had put in five gallons of clear cylinder oil every year as the flues were just as clean as the new ones were so good that a man having a Rumely bought them and I put them in that mans Rumely, and If cylinder oil does damage to they would of been to hard to work on the ends. But weren't hurt in the least for the oil being put in.

Was called one time to see what was leaking in a advance engine the owner said it seems to leak inside some where. After I looked in through the boiler I could see little drops of water inside of flues. He had me cut out one flue and It was about the thickness of a piece of tin they were all rusted out.

I always liked to furnish their flues as I always bought the shelby. They were a steel drawn seamless tube and I think the best and very easy to work on.

I was threshing one time in a very low piece of ground had worked about three or four hours when the owner of the outfit came down to engine said the farmers was kicking about so much cats coming over in the straw, said he had shut off a lot of the wind but he was still kicking, was near the pecationica river and a lot of straw on ground. So I said I will stop and we will see what is the trouble. So I tooted the whistle to stop the pitchers so as to run all the straw out when we looked in at the sieve was full of little snakes and oats were sliding over them so I had the shocks all turned out and threshed from another field and had no further trouble when we finished the rest. could tell of a lot more experience but I don't like to take up to much room in your good magazine.

FRED M. LAWRENCE, 631 N. Winnebago Street, Rockford, Illinois


By FRANCIS M. YOUNG, 6140 Briggle Ave., S.W., East Sparta, Ohio

Going through the May-June issue of the IRON-MEN ALBUM, I recognized the picture on the bottom of page 16. I don't know who sent the picture or how old it is, but it was taken at least 16 years ago. It is the 12 horse Russell & Web stacker, 'among others' owned by my cousin, F. E. 'Emmett' Slutz, the engineer on the engine, of nearby Battlesburg, Ohio. The woman checking on the young boy in the foreground, is his wife, Elizabeth, 'Aunt Lizzy'. I cannot identify any of the others. They are threshing on the home place, located in the southern part of Pike Twp., southern part Stark County, Northeast, Ohio.

The trees in the foreground hide the farmhouse. The white building is the butcher house. The buildings, cider press, feed mill, apple butter house and barn on left side of picture are on an adjoining farm known as John Russell Farm owned by the Slutz's. The barn and farm in the distance was known as the 'Brothers' farm. The farms have all changed hands as well as the equipment due to deaths in these families.

The 12 horse engine is now owned by A. H. Fashnacht and his son of North Canton, Ohio. I am not sure at this time if he owns the thresher. Am enclosing a picture I took a short time ago of the Slutz farm, but due to past strip mining and the planting of locust trees, I could not get the same angle.

I own a Russell Sawmill, but power it with gas. Also, have a 6h.p. 1914 Portable Russell - picture enclosed, just recently refueled and in good shape, which we use to buzz wood. The man on the left is my Uncle, Charles Cameron - old-time saw miller, thresher and steam engine operator. His helper is Charles Motter.


Would like to have some of you steam engineers explain the Wolfe Reverse gear to me,- as I understand as all valves make four changes in one revolution. The link Re verse seems plain to me as the eccentrics on the shaft are both advanced. But the Wolfe with a direct rocker or indirect rocker. As much as I know with the lead and valve opening halves the stroke then the closing of steam part on the last quarter of the stroke when valve closes the last thing is the steam part. It seems to me it exhausts late- Please explain.

Jacob P. D. Tiessen, R. R. 1, Abbotsford, B. C., Canada