Bates Steel Mule

Calvin Sorenson's model F (17-25 HP) Bates Steel Mule.

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24938 Ambrose Road Plainfield, Illinois 60544

The Will County Thresher men's Association (WCTA) held its 36th annual antique power show on July 16-19, 1998, in Burn's Woods near Kankakee, Illinois. The weather co operated with four warm, sunny days, and the large oak trees provided plenty of shade for the spectators to enjoy the demonstrations. The activities included wheat threshing, log sawing, and corn shelling on all four days, with a tractor plowing competition on Saturday. The daily 2:00 p.m. parade contained over 200 pieces of equipment and showcased the feature manufacturer, Massey-Harris, followed by antique automobiles, steam engines, antique tractors, and various other farm and construction implements. There were also many small engine and flea market exhibits to peruse in the shade.

Norm Christiansen was the Grand Marshall of the parade for the 1998 show. Norm is a charter member of the WCTA, has been a member of the Board of Directors for most of the Association's existence, a former president, and a former treasurer.

Norm (who is a nephew of the Kirstein brothers) and Ray Kestel were instrumental in founding the club in the mid-1960s. Mr. Christiansen currently serves the WCTA as a director emeritus.

The plowing match was a favorite event for tractor exhibitors. Entrants to the competition each plowed seven rounds, which were judged for straightness, furrow opening, depth of cut, trash coverage, and neatness of the furrow end. At the end of the rounds, operators could get advice from the judges on how to improve their technique. It's good experience for younger generations who operate the equipment for pleasure rather than to earn a living.

The 1999 show dates are July 15-18. The featured equipment will be orphans and oddballs (prototypes, machines from small production lots, or otherwise unique equipment). We expect machines such as: George Schaaf's Pioneer, Calvin Sorensen's Bates Steel Mule, Bob Satterlee's Big Four, Jay Wilhelm's Graham Bradley, and many more.

For the 1999 show, the club arranged to have a weight transfer sled for a 'Fun Pull' on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There will be a small fee for each pull, but the bragging rights will be well worth it.

Who knows, maybe a steam engine or two will even give a tug. Thanks in advance to Bill Tucker for making the sled available. Due to the Fun Pull on Saturday, this year's plowing match will be moved to Sunday at 10:00 a.m. Steam engine plowing will also occur this year in the wheat field adjacent to show grounds. For more information about the show contact Jim Huston at 815-476-6800, e-mail: gas-manfs@aol.com). See you there.