Trio of Old Iron Collectors Restore Threshing Machines for Pioneer Power Show

Minnesota trio brings antique threshing machines to life at LeSueur County Pioneer Power Show.

| July 2013

  • 1926 Minneapolis thresher
    This 1926 Minneapolis thresher was restored by Dwight Yaeger, Doug Hager and Mark Meyer. Because it has only a single feeder in front, it is generally referred to as a “small” thresher in comparison to the enormous Minneapolis double-wing thresher. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Machine has a carefully rolled belt
    Note how carefully the belt is rolled up on this machine. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Ancient thresher
    Doug Hager, Mark Meyer and Dwight Yaeger — have joined forces to restore half a dozen ancient threshers, four of which are club-owned.  
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Huber Roto-Rack
    The Huber Roto-Rack’s feeder is folded over in this photo, either for storage or transportation. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Minneapolis double-wing thresher
    A 36x67-inch Minneapolis double-wing thresher at work at the LeSueur (Minn.) Pioneer Power Show.
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Oliver Red River Special thresher
    This view of the Oliver Red River Special thresher shows the large red pulley on top that runs the entire feeder housing, the apron and the bundle cutters on top. Three or four knives cut the twine wrapped around the bundles when they come in so the grain will lay flat and go into the cylinder. The large green gear in the center runs the feeder apron, chains and other mechanisms. It can be changed with two other sizes to alter the speed of the product coming into the apron, depending on how thick the grain is, how many workers are available and how wet the grain is. The pulley next to the gear at its left is the clutch, which can be set so if something catches on the apron, it will slip and not be stripped or destroyed. The half-circle gear next to it can be adjusted in response to the height of the straw pan inside. The long pulleys at left drive everything on this side of the machine. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Oliver Red River Special pulleys
    The pulleys on this 1942 22x36-inch Oliver Red River Special are made of heavy cast iron. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Useful Pulleys
     Each of these pulleys has a use. The pulley just below the word “Roto” drives the arms that shake the cleaning sieves back and forth. Of the double silver-rimmed ones, the larger one set in closer to the machine operates the main drive pulley, where the drive belts from the steam engine or tractor attach. The outer silver pulley hooks up a belt back to the blower (all belts are off in this photo). The bottom large red pulley operates the crankshaft, moving two arms that shake the straw rack pan under the machine back and forth, and also moves the clean grain sieves back and forth. The red-rimmed pulley at the far left is the drive belt guide pulley, where the belt can be adjusted to run center on the cylinder pulley. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Small 1926 Minneapolis thresher
    This 1926 Minneapolis thresher was restored by Dwight Yaeger, Doug Hager and Mark Meyer. Because it has only a single feeder in front, it is generally referred to as a “small” thresher in comparison to the enormous Minneapolis double-wing thresher. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • McCormick-Deering thresher
    A rear view of the restored 1932 22x38 McCormick-Deering thresher. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Avery thresher
    This Avery thresher is owned by Doug Hager, Good Thunder, Minn. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • 1940 Wood Bros. thresher
    This 1940 23x42 Wood Bros. thresher is another project completed by Doug Hager, Dwight Yaeger and Mark Meyer. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Hart weighers and feeders
    Most early threshers used Hart weighers and feeders. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler
  • Side of the thresher
    The side of the thresher was a handy place for a farmer of the past to do some figuring. 
    Photo Courtesy Bill Vossler

  • 1926 Minneapolis thresher
  • Machine has a carefully rolled belt
  • Ancient thresher
  • Huber Roto-Rack
  • Minneapolis double-wing thresher
  • Oliver Red River Special thresher
  • Oliver Red River Special pulleys
  • Useful Pulleys
  • Small 1926 Minneapolis thresher
  • McCormick-Deering thresher
  • Avery thresher
  • 1940 Wood Bros. thresher
  • Hart weighers and feeders
  • Side of the thresher

When it comes to antique threshing machines, great minds think alike at least at the LeSueur County (Minn.) Pioneer Power Assn. Three members of that club have joined forces to restore half a dozen ancient threshers, four of which are club-owned. In addition, the trio has 19 threshers (including eight jointly owned rigs), most of which are restored.

Dwight playfully blames Doug. “My interest in old iron goes back to my folks,” says Dwight, who lives in Mankato, Minn. “They collected household antiques. When Doug was a mechanic for my bus garage, he was interested in old iron. Doug kept hinting toward giving him a hand with the threshing at the LeSueur show, so I got started in that field.”

Mark remembers learning about threshers as a boy. At age 5, he listened to his father and a neighbor talk about a thresher. “I was sitting on a stump, watching them,” he recalls. “But I never in my life thought I would buy a thresher and run it.” Mark, who now lives in Good Thunder, Minn., bought his first threshing machine for $350 at a 1995 auction. Working on it at night and on weekends, he spent two years restoring the piece, “wire brushing the angle iron and hand-painting it,” he says.

Doug, also of Good Thunder, was fascinated with old iron as a kid. “Neighbors had vintage equipment,” he says. “They farmed with old 2-cylinder John Deere tractors, planted and cultivated, and that fueled my interest.” When he was 15, he saw a thresher listed on a local farm sale. Doug knew very little about threshers but that didn’t stop him. “In the mid-1970s I bought my first threshing machine for $100,” he says. “It was a 1928 Avery with a 28-inch cylinder. It had been shedded, so it needed mostly belt work and paint.”



The threshers gathered up by the three men represent most of the major lines of the past. Dwight’s set of eight includes five John Deere models (his personal favorites); a 28-inch McCormick-Deering, a 20-inch Belle City and a hand-fed Sterling with a 10 hp Fairbanks-Morse engine on it. Doug has an Avery; Mark has a pair of Red Rivers. Together the three own a 28-inch Case, two Belle City machines (24-inch and 28-inch) two Minneapolis machines (30-inch and 36-inch), two 22-inch Woods Bros. units (one of which is very early) and a 28-inch Woods Bros.

Laying the groundwork

Members of the Pioneer Power association, the three men discovered a shared interest in antique threshing machines in 1997. “Many were just rotting away,” Mark says, “so we went out and looked at machines and started buying them.”



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