25 HP Russell engine

25 HP Russell engine owned by Percy Sherman of Palmyra, Michigan plowing at the 1967 Old Time Thresher Show. Photo by Leo R. Clark.

Leo Clark

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633 Cleveland Street, Decatur, Indiana 46733

During the month of August each year, one of the most looked forward to events takes place on the Jim Whitbey farm which is, of course, the 'Old Time Thresher and Saw Mill Operator Show.

The extreme popularity of this show is due to the fact that the visitor is well entertained by a well planned and scheduled program of events; starting at 10:00 o'clock each morning and continuing through the rest of the day and well into the evening hours.

Starting early in the spring, preparations for the forth coming 'Old Time Threshers Show' are taking place. From this time, until show time, the 'Working Dozen' are on hand at various times getting the grounds and equipment in shape for show time. Proof of this is shown by the clockwork like manner in which the different events take place at their assigned times during each days scheduled program of events. For those performing at each event, know that their jobs have been well done by looking at the satisfied expressions on the visitors faces.

What did the visitor see to cause those expressions? He saw logs made into lumber on the saw mill that was powered by the different steam engines. Close by, he saw the model sawmill in operation and being powered by several of the model engines. These models, by the way, were exact duplicates of their bigger brothers. Next in line, the veneer mill where a thin slice of wood was shaved from a log very similar to the way that it is done in the modern mills of to-day. This veneer is highly prized as a souvenir of the 'Old Time Thresher Show', as not a scrap is left when the show is over.

Always a popular feature of the show is the threshing of grain. The different methods of grain separation featured the chaffer which just separated the grain and chaff from the straw by means of an agitating rack. This chaffer, by the way. was powered by an old time horsepower, a team of ponies belonging to a close neighbor, furnishing the power. Nearby, a model hand-feed thresher was seen in operation and was powered by the many model engines on the grounds. Common to this model hand feed and a full sized one located at a different place on the grounds, the grain was separated and cleaned from the chaff and straw and measured in peck or half bushel containers while the straw and chaff was elevated from the rear of the machine by means of a web stacker. The next and final method of threshing was that of the modern grain separator, these being powered by the different steam engines and big gas tractors on the grounds.

Gas engines? We had them! They arrived in car trunks, on two-wheeled trailers, on flat bed trucks and one load even came loaded on a semi-trailer. One very big spot on the grounds is completely taken over for this display of hundreds of old time gas engines. It is known as 'Gasoline Alley'.

A feature of the show is the display of early American antique farm machinery. This display has been very popular for the past two years and will be repeated at future shows. A lot of thanks are due to the surrounding area implement dealers for bringing in modern farm machinery so the visitor can see how it used to be compared to the way that it is in these modern times.

When the announcement is made that the plowing demonstration is about to take place, the crowd heads that way by the hundreds. It is quite a sight to see as the steam engines and large tractors hook on to the plows and start to strut their stuff. It takes a lot of power to pull the plows through the dry Indiana clay loam soil during the usually dry month of August.

What else did the visitor see to keep that satisfied expression on his face? He saw engines climbing the hill, sometimes two at a time. He was pleased by the sight of the big heavy engines being balanced on the wooden balancing platform. He was treated to parachute drops from high in the sky, by pony pulling contests, to square dance and drill team performances by the Elkart Co. boys and girls and their horses; by the various steam engines strutting their stuff on the Baker fans and to dozens of other exhibits and displays.

A lot of thanks are due to the wonderful group of concessions and stands that return each and every year to the show. The 'Old Time Thresher Show wouldn't be complete without these wonderful folks. In the line of food the visitor can get everything from snacks and sandwiches to complete meals. The sanitary facilities are completely modern and the drinking water the purest and sweetest in northern Indiana. For those wishing to pay their respects to the Lord, the famous 'Old Time Thresher' Church services are held on Sunday morning of the show each year.