Ka-thud, ka-thud, ka-thud. Pop, pop. Ka-thud, ka-thud. Pop. Ka-thud. Pop.
The big OilPull rumbled along the main perimeter road at dusk one day during the 2002 Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Just as it seemed to be running strongly, the old Rumely died. Rising resolutely to the occasion, the crew aboard scrambled to get the tractor going again as darkness fell. Now, this is serious fun.
The 2002 Old Threshers Reunion, held on a gorgeous Labor Day weekend in this picturesque southeastern Iowa community, drew a crowd of more than 113,000 and 1,463 registered exhibitors, spouses and other family members, according to Lennis Moore, Reunion CEO. Such events always are hostage to the weather, he said, but the mild temperatures and sunny skies this year might best be described as 'a dream come true' for him.
Rumely was named the featured tractor and steam engine for this 52nd annual event, and 23 OilPulls and two Rumely traction engines turned up to join the celebration. Along with the OilPulls, some 450 other antique tractors of every hue lined up like a regiment of soldiers across a grassy plot the size of several football fields.
A contingent of Murray County, Okla., Antique Tractor and Implement Club members drove more than 700 miles with 30 pieces to show, ranging from an eye-catching 1950 'icecap white' Farmall Cub with red wheels, seat and lights to a pair of snazzy burnt-orange Allis-Chalmers road graders.
White Farmalls, which are very rare, were built as part of a promotional campaign in the first three months of 1950 at the Louisville, Ky., IHC plant. They were Cubs, Super As and Model Cs, and any dealer could order them to use as 'demonstrators.'
The restored white Cub at Mt. Pleasant is owned by Pat and Dennis Goldsby of Goldsby, Okla. It came out of a Lexington, Okla., barn, they said, having been left there after its bum carburetor was pulled and never replaced. When they found the tractor, it 'seemed like it had been worked hard,' Dennis said. 'The head was busted and there were a number of missing parts.' Today, the father-son team has the little Farmall almost ship-shape again - '90 percent' they call it.
Other rare tractors at the Reunion included a 1943 red Huber HK, one of the last production tractors made by Huber Manufacturing Co. of Marion, Ohio, and owned by Marty Huber of Moline, Ill.; a 1951 Case DC Vineyard Special, owned by Buckert Farms of Hamilton, Ill., and a 15-30 International, donated to the Old Threshers organization by Viola Sargent of Lena, Ill., in memory of her late husband, Wendell. She said he bought the 15-30 in the mid-1980s out of Alberta, Canada, and spent five years on its restoration. The model was made from 1917 to 1920. 'We had a lot of fun traveling around the country, looking for parts,' she recalled, 'and he really enjoyed showing that tractor.'
Also present was the Hadley family's collection of well-kept, late-1930s ruby-red Graham Bradley tractors, some on original tires. Lawrence Hadley said his grandfather, the late Edward B. Hadley of Atalissa, Iowa, started the family on Graham Bradleys. Today, the tractors are owned collectively by Lawrence, who also lives in Atalissa; his brother, Leland Hadley; and their dad, Edward R. Hadley.
Another family with tractors present was the Marvin Crull family of Mt. Pleasant. Marvin bought the 1935 John Deere 'B' pictured on the cover of this issue at an auction many years ago for his sons, Mark and Mat. Today, granddaughter Makinzie Crull, 11, often takes the wheel of the restored 'B' - with an adult riding alongside.
For sheer numbers, the gasoline tractors took the prize at Mt. Pleasant, but steam traction engines offered an impressive show, too. Sixty-five full-sized engines and 20 scale models steamed their way around the show grounds during the event; all had passed the Reunion's own inspection process, according to Lennis, who added that a special Safety Team also was present to continuously monitor the engines during the show.
One of the biggest engines on display was a 1910 110-hp Case, serial no. 24150, which also is owned by the Old Threshers. This machine was purchased in 1972 from the J.J. Hingtgen estate in LaMotte, Iowa, Lennis said. 'Manufactured as a Canadian specification engine, it operated in the wheat fields of western Canada. Hingtgen dismantled the engine and made several trips back and forth to finally assemble the engine in Iowa. He used the engine to power a sawmill in LaMotte until he sold the engine to Old Threshers, who restored it in 1986 and 1987.'
Stationary engine collectors brought choice pieces too, and although they were fewer in number than the gas tractor folks, they seemed a happy crowd, sharing booth space with each other and visiting back and forth in the shade of their canopy tents. George and Hazel Martin of Wyaconda, Mo., shared space with Glenn Karch and his family, who live at Haubstadt, Ind. George said he'd attended all but the first of the 52 Reunions - 'and I didn't know about the first one or I'd have been there too.'
This year, he displayed his restored 2 1/2-hp United and Jaeger engines, both of which were manufactured by the Waterloo Gas Engine Co. 'Waterloo would sell engines to anyone who would sell engines,' George explained, 'so I've been making a collection of these.' He's got 15 so far, and he's not sure how many remain to complete the set.
George also exhibited an unrestored but operating Domestic mud pump that show goers enjoyed watching. 'It's about a 1920,' he said. 'It was made for contractors to use to pump out ditches.' The Domestic brand was the Reunion's featured stationary engine this year.
Wilbur Swartzendruber held court near the Martins' booth for onlookers fascinated by his big, white 1920 Superior engine. The 40- to 60-hp engine came out of Montana, where it operated two oil wells at one time, Wilbur says, and was brought to Wellman, Iowa, where Wilbur bought it in 2001. Restored by Earl Werts, Jim Stewart and George Miller Jr., the engine is now owned by Wilbur's family and permanently stored on the Old Threshers' show grounds.
Even running at an idle, the Superior rocks back and forth dramatically. Last year, Wilbur reported, he drove a steel pin through the hitch tongue into the ground to keep it from rocking and it broke a casting on the truck. 'It's got to rock,' he says.
Mike Trotnic of Parsons, Kan., set up shop with the stationary engine crowd, promoting the 100th anniversary reunion of the Shaw Manufacturing Co. July 4 to 6, 2003, in Galesburg, Kan. Mike says all Shaw-manufactured equipment or related items are welcome, regardless of condition.
For the second time in as many years, the Reunion invited Paul Gorrell of Burlington to put his large Crosley collection on display. Paul said he made about 30 trips from his home to the show grounds to bring everything. The exhibit included a Farmall Cub-style red Crosley tractor and a green Farm-O-Road, which looked like a miniature jeep. Both were shown with implements. FC
- For more information about the Old Threshers Reunion, contact Lennis Moore, Terry McWilliams or Billie Turley at 405 E. Threshers Road, ML Pleasant, IA 52641, (319) 385-8937; Web site: www.oldthreshers.org
- For more information about the Shaw Manufacturing 100th Anniversary Reunion, contact Mike at 5201 W. Main St., Parsons, KS 67357, (620) 421-2500, or John Hasty, P.O. Box 35, Galesburg, KS 656740, (620) 763-2357; e-mail: email@example.com