Locally speaking, how else could steam people start the new millennium? Well, by firing up a steam engine and threshing, of course! Weather conditions were perfect, albeit a bit chilly at 45. The ground stayed firm enough to run the equipment around without making ruts. Bruce and Denise Schultz of Onstead, Michigan provided the idea, location, 20 HP Russell steam engine and of course, lots of fabulous food! The crowd just provided the extra atmosphere.
While the 80-plus people waited for the threshing crew to organize itself, the Russell steam engine was kidnapped by "Dr. Steam" a.k.a. David Schramm and Jim Lashaway. We all wondered if the engine would be returned by these Russell men as it went over the hill behind the Schultz's home. With the engine's return, both commented how much fun it was to play on the hills in Onstead, which is located in the famous Irish Hills. Dave and Jim usually operate their 20 HP and 16 HP Russell steam engines on the inclines at the steam shows in Wauseon, and Greenville, Ohio. Maybe next year, weather permitting, they will bring their engines out to play on New Year's.
Belting the Russell steam engine into the thresher was a challenge for engineers Troy Pawson and Bernard Woodmansee. It was rumored that the "polka dots" on the belt were from some unseasoned engineers. Rod Hauenstein provided some comic relief when he jumped into the rear wheel for a ride and they stopped the engine with Rod upside down. Of course, Troy and Bernie's jobs were made more difficult by the expert advice provided by the crowd.
With the assistance of family and friends, we threshed almost two loads of wheat (the last two rows were frozen to the wagon) with Chris Schultz's Case separator. The thresher had not been used for 20 years and performed well with Bruce's 20 HP Russell on the belt. Despite minor problems, like loose belts and the breaking of the feeder chain, it carried its own. When the feeder chain quit working, they backed up my 1929 Model A pickup to serve as a platform to hand-feed the rest of the bundles. All made for great scenery and not a Y2K glitch in sight!
While many were helping with and observing the steam engine and threshing scene, the rest were in the shop preparing and enjoying a fabulous feast! As custom has it, where there are steam people, there is food and lots of it! The potluck was highlighted with fresh fried turkeys and 40 pounds of scalloped potatoes (Bruce actually helped Denise peel and slice all of those potatoes!)