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Field Notes

New Case Car Owner Short on Two Counts


I had a cousin who was a great storyteller. His granddaddy and my granddaddy were brothers. He was born in June 1899 and was 32 years older than me. He had a story about a man in the late teens or early 1920s who had ordered a Case car. He ran a country store and was very busy on the Saturday afternoon when it was delivered. The dealer showed him how to start the car and told him a little about driving it.

The store owner did not spend much time learning how to drive the car. Whenever he got a chance that afternoon, he would look out the store window to be sure the car was still there. On Sunday, he and his wife went to church in the car and then came home and had lunch. In the afternoon, he and his wife went joyriding and were having a great time when, all of a sudden, the car cut off. He tried everything he could think of, but nothing worked.


After a while, someone came along with a mule and a cart and carried the man to a place he could get in touch with the dealer. When the dealer arrived, he had a 5-gallon can with something in it. He opened a cap on the car and poured something in it, and then he poured a little in the motor and told the owner that it took two things to run a car: a tank full of a gas and a head full of sense, and he didn’t have either. The owner said later that he would have hit him, but he was afraid he would not fix the car.

This story is the only thing I had ever heard about a Case car. Thanks for the story about the Case cars (Farm Collector, February 2018).

Daniel W. Lang, Gatesville, North Carolina

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:

Ad Gives Nod to Gilbert and Sullivan



The music for the “Jolly Thresherman” (Farm Collector, January 2018) may have been from an Aultman & Taylor ad, but the tune is from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, “H.M.S. Pinafore.”

When I asked my daughter, Christina, who is the music expert in our family, to play it for me, she immediately identified it as “Sweet Little Buttercup.” At least Aultman & Taylor gave Arthur Sullivan credit for the music.

Clyde Eide, Bryan, Texas

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:

Reader Holland SP166 Baler Stories


Remembering run-ins with Model 33 baler

Jerry Mattson’s article in the January 2018 issue of Farm Collector brought back memories of a former farm kid. My dad had a Model 66 baler, but it was a power take-off model.

I do not remember any of the quality problems that the article mentions. I think that the 66 was simply too small for what we were trying to do with it. I remember it took a lot of shear pins. I think if ours had an engine, then we could have slipped the clutch on the tractor by not shearing so many pins.

The 66 had a spring-loaded door on the right side of the bale chamber. I know that because once that door slammed shut on my am as I was pulling a slug out. Another time I had pulled a good amount out of the chamber, and for some reason the plunger came forward just as I had pulled my arm out of the chamber with a handful of hay. I always wondered if that happened to anyone else.

The article is right that they were designed to pull a trailer. And pull a trailer we did, which is tough on rough and uneven ground. Bales could flip off the bale chute and land in front of the trailer. Once when that happened, I jumped off the trailer to grab the bale. A classmate of mine had the same idea. But he went after it with a bale hook that ended up in my hand. The hand that writes this bears the scar.

Another time, when we were baling straw, I had a very bad headache that put me in the hospital for a couple of days. Funny what a kid will do to get out of stacking bales.

I really liked the articles and letters on the stone boats. Clyde Eide even wrote a letter to me, answering a letter I’d sent to him. Barry Borg, Valley City, North Dakota

Restored baler brings $25,500

Since I live within a 45-minute drive of New Holland, Pennsylvania, I read with interest Jerry Mattson’s article (Farm Collector, January 2018) on the New Holland SP166 baler. He mentioned that two similar balers (unrestored but running) sold for $11,000 and $11,500.

It may be of interest to readers that a restored and running SP166 was sold Sept. 16, 2017, at the Bud Reifsneider estate auction at Royersford, Pennsylvania, for $25,500. Mecum Auction Co. conducted the auction.

Keep up the good work on the magazine. Richard E. Frantz, Richland, Pennsylvania

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:

Harvest Photo Opens Window onto the Past


As I was sorting through some vintage family photos recently, I ran across this one. One cannot help but notice how labor-intensive harvest was in the days gone by. One person does with a combine today the job that these 12 men did years ago. If you look close, you can also see two horses.

I grew up on a farm in Ogle County, Illinois. I had a career in education for 30-plus years, then went back to farming and fully retired in 2009. Every month I look forward to receiving my copy of Farm Collector!

Donald W. Hay, Polo, Illinois

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:; online at:

Full Restoration for Wehr Power Grader

wehr power grader

wehr power grader

I just saw the letter and photo about the Wehr Power Grader in the November 2017 issue of Farm Collector. Here are two photos I took at the Gera (Michigan) Old Tractor Club show in June 2012. This unit was restored to operating condition. Thanks for many great articles!

Kevin Lawrence, Clio, Michigan

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:; online at:

Antique Combine Questions and Answers



Ping into the hillside combine

Attached are two pictures found in my mother-in-law’s collection of pictures. She had an older uncle who was a wheat farmer, and who lived in Washington. The pictures were most likely taken in the central/south central part of the state.

While I have seen pictures of a combine of that vintage being pulled by a tractor, I have never seen a picture of such a combine being pulled by horses. My count of the horses is five rows of six horses in each row. In addition, there are three more horses that appear to be the main leaders for all the horses. All together, it appears that a total of 33 horses are involved in pulling the combine.

You will also notice that the driver was located in back of and high above the horses so as to be able to see and drive all the horses. It appears that the lines from the driver go to the three lead horses.

I know nothing about the combine, but I assume an engine provided the power to operate the many pieces of the combine. In one picture, you can see that the horses are pulling the combine. In the other, the horses are apparently standing rather than pulling. Notice the traces and single trees are slack on the ground. It also appears that the combine is at the end of the field. You will also notice that there appears to be dust in back or at the side of the combine.

It would be interesting to know if the movement of the combine was greater than the ability of the combine to thresh the wheat. If this were true, it would require stopping the forward movement in order for the combine to complete the threshing process.

One more observation is that of the many men that would be required to operate the combine. I can identify four plus the driver. I believe that I read someplace that the combine had no hopper in which to store the wheat. If so, does that mean the wheat was bagged as it was threshed?

Robert C. Wiseman, Charleston, Illinois

Editor’s note: For answers to Robert’s questions, we turn to David Ruark of Pomeroy, Washington, a fifth-generation dryland wheat farmer and one well-versed in the intricacies of antique combines: 

As shown in this photo, the driver only controlled the two outside lead horses with a rein to each, as pulling on the left-hand horse made him go left and the other two followed (they were hitched together also) so they didn’t have a lot of choice, and the other 30 horses followed suit.

Regarding power: In this case, the combine is engine-powered. By looking close at the front left corner by the ladder up to the combine, just behind the left-hand horse in the last row, you will see the engine flywheel – plus the engine exhaust pipe is very prominent and tall with the big top just in front of the man standing and operating the header. Earlier combines did not have engines mounted on them and were called “ground powered.” They took more “horse power” and special effort by the driver. The combine shown here was made by Holt Mfg. in California. (Holt and Best later merged to form Caterpillar, now headquartered in Peoria, Illinois.)

Dust during operation was normal. In photos where no dust is seen, the horses are being rested. It was not necessary to stop the horses so the combine could “catch up,” as it was a continuous operation.

The photo shows four men working plus the driver. When tractors started pulling combines and the sacking operation was eliminated, the number of men involved dropped from the afore-mentioned five down to three and then to two, and with the advent of new technology, eventually down to only one: the tractor driver!

The man sitting at the top of the ladder going up to the combine (he is facing backward, and is right above the engine flywheel) is the sack sewer. His job is to sew the sacks of grain closed, using a “sack needle and sack twine.” He then tips the sack into the sack chute on his left. When the sack chute is full, he releases the sacks and tries to stand the last sack upright, so the row of sacks are easier to spot by the two men who pick them up and haul them with horses and a wagon to a storage or shipping point.

David Ruark, Pomeroy, Washington

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:; online at:

Loggerhead Shrike Bird Puts Barbed Wire to Work


Regarding Clell Ballard’s article about barbed wire (Farm Collector, December 2017), where he described seeing a bumblebee impaled on a barbed wire fence: I found a description of the loggerhead shrike bird. The birds are known to kill insects and very small animals and then impale them on thorns or barbed wire for future meals and also to help to tear the catch apart.

Bryan Clothier, Corinth, New York

Send letters to: Farm Collector Editorial, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; fax: (785) 274-4385; email:; online at: