It was a long drive, but it seemed to go quickly because we were so excited about bringing the old Geiser home. The trip had to be quick, like always, because being dairy farmers, we couldn't stay away too long.
It was June of 1999 when we went into the foothills of the Rockies, just north of Helena, Mont., to rescue the Peerless No. 4, which was snuggled under some pine trees.
It had been built 80 to 100 years earlier by the Geiser Manufacturing Co. of Waynesboro, Pa., and somehow found its way westard.
We hauled it more than 600 miles to our home in rural Almont, N.D. Whenever we'd stop for gas or food, we'd always find someone looking at it and commenting, 'What are you going to do with that?' or 'Are you really going to fix that thing?'
After I got home and got to looking at it some more, I do remember thinking, 'What did I get myself into?'
But once I started tinkering on it, I soon found myself working on the thing every spare minute - whether late at night or for a few minutes in between milking and feeding our dairy cows.
When I look back, it was all wonderful time spent. Whether I was alone, or with my two sons, Vincent, 19, and Adam, 8, or with my wife, Charlene, I enjoyed the challenge of this project.
It took about a year to restore the machine. We replaced 85 percent of the wood and made a completely new wind stacker.
On the Internet, we linked up with W. Michael Rohrer of Smithburg, Md. He collects antique agricultural literature and was very helpful in finding pictures and literature on the thresher for us.
With that information, we were able to get the pin striping and other details as close to original as possible.
Michael, coincidentally, lives in the same city where Peter Geiser, the inventor of the Geiser thresher, was born back in 1826.
Originally, the Geisers' serial numbers were just painted on the sides of the threshers, and our number had completely weathered away. As a consequence, we are not sure what year it was built.
The Geiser separator name was changed to 'New Peerless' in 1890, and Geiser made a major but unsuccessful push to break into the Midwestern market about 1912. When that effort failed, Geiser was sold to Emerson-Brantingham Co. of Rockford, Ill. One side of our thresher has an Emerson-Brantingham emblem on it.
The Geiser, a stationery piece of equipment that became well known for its 'sieveless cleaner,' eventually gave way to the modern combine.
Since we've finished our restoration, we enjoy doing an old-time threshing demonstration every year at the Almont Labor Day Reunion. It's a fun-filled day for the whole family, and we invite anyone to come! FC