25 hp. undermounted

Stevens 25 hp. undermounted at the Illinois State Fair Grounds, October 3rd, 1906. There were only five of these engines built. Courtesy of J.D. Roberts, McClean, III.

Content Tools


H. G. Nachtrab & Son of Box 113, Holland, Ohio, have obtained permission from the editor of 'Ford Farming,' Mr. Ben T. Logan, for us to reprint the following: story. The Nachtrab's thought you would enjoy it and we do too. They also suggested using steam engine where tractor appears. Mr. Logan may not like this liberty but it sounds so much more musical to we steam fans.

OUT ON 'Seldom Seen Ridge' they still talk about that year the shredder stayed all winter at our place, We were the last job on the Ridge and the steamer, shredder and operator, a man called 'Nubbin'', were all getting old.

Trouble began on the first load. The belt broke, flipped out and whacked Nubbin alongside the head. Nubbin had a temper that would peel paint off a barn and he had a heavy hammer in his hand. He let out a yell, reared back and let go at the shredder. The hammer clanged into the spokes of a pulley and pieces began to fly.

When Nubbin got the shredder fixed the tractor wouldn't run right. Day after day the neighbors came over and hooked their teams onto the loads of corn they'd left the day before. Some days, a half dozen loads would run through before anything went wrong. The trouble and Nubbin's temper always got worse together. At first he'd push and jerk at things, kind of at random, but the end was always the same. His face gone bright red, Nubbin would start jumping up and down and slamming away at the offending part with his big hammer.

That would end shredding for the day.

Nubbin had a mysteriously never ending supply of nuts and bolts of every description which he used in patching up the old rig. Some nights we'd hear him cussing and pounding away out back of the barn after we'd gone to bed.

Bad weather came early that year. And if it wasn't the weather, it was the steamer or shredder, and when both of them worked, Nubbin would lay aside his hammer and go off on a bender.

It got to a point where no one could remember when the shredder hadn't been there. We ran out of potatoes, butchered two extra hogs and bought a barrel of cabbage. Some of the neighbor's horses had been there so often they always came over automatically when they got out at home.

Every time Nubbin said he had things pounded back into shape, we'd ring up the neighbors and try again. The men shoveled snow off the loads and a mixture of ice, snow and fodder would go rattling up into the mow. Some of the corn in the crib had four feet of stalk hanging to the ears. The hired man swore the shredder wasn't even waking up the mice bedded down inside the husks.

Finally, one day in late January, they pried the last shocks out of the snow and ran all but five loads through before the shredder clunked to a stop. The crew started husking out the rest by hand.

Nubbin gave the shredder one last thundering whack with the hammer, got his money and went away, leaving the rig where it was for the rest of the winter.

On an early spring day, he came back with another steamer and towed the whole outfit away.

'I'm glad we're rid of him,' my father said.

When it came time to get out the machinery for the spring work, it turned out we weren't yet through with Nubbin.

The hired man hitched onto the gang plow and hollered 'Get up!' The tongue dropped off, the double trees came loose and the horses bolted out of there. For a split-second the hired man was left sitting on the seat with his mouth hanging open. The slack ran out of the lines before he could let go and he went flying out of there like yellow jackets had gotten him.

H. F. Schaller using conventional oil can on a Port Huron 16 hp. Compound Steam Traction. Schaller says, 'We use this engine every Summer for our annual Sweet Corn Festival. We usually cook about 10 tons of sweet corn Cooking is accomplished by piping steam into the bottom of several stock tanks. On the end of the steam pipes we use a Penberthy water heater which cuts down the noise which usually accompanies the release of live steam under water.' Mr. Schaller's address is Mendota, Illinois.

No one realized they were on the verge of a discovery until someone got weak from laughing and sat down on the mower. The seat skittered out from under him and dumped him on the floor. Meanwhile, the hired man had picked himself up. He leaned back against a corn plow and a wheel fell off.

The source of Nubbin's unlimited supply of nuts and bolts was no longer a mystery. Every time the men moved a piece of machinery, it collapsed. There wasn't hardly a nut or bolt left on the place. For awhile there, a lot of new words floated around the machine shed and I got into trouble when I tried them out at the house.

Nubbin, of course, had the good sense never to show up again on Seldom. Seen Ridge. But the story of that year the shredder stayed all winter gets better every year. Last time I heard an old timer tell it, that hammer of Nubbin's had gotten so big he could hardly lift it.