Ground Zero


| March 2004



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Fairbanks-Morse Type N engine

The Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, is overwhelming to the uninitiated. A sawmill here and a steam engine there, and 'oh - did you see that pair of steam-powered sawmills over by the railroad track?' one woman was heard to exclaim. 'Yeah, but let's go back over to the gas engine area, that's my favorite,' her friend fired back.

Unlike the countless rows of large, carefully lined-up tractors and steamers, stationary engines seem strewn in any convenient spot possible in their closely populated area. At the height of the day, they all chug and burp, attracting attention like a pond full of bullfrogs calling out for a mate. Curious onlookers heed the engines' interesting sounds and stop to gawk over the various makes and models. Some displays attract more attention than others, and many onlookers stop to see Dan Peterson.

The Mt. Pleasant native knows a thing or two about the Old Threshers Reunion. Dan's grandfather Lloyd Peterson was an Old Threshers board member during the 1960s and 1970s, and Lloyd's time on the board left an indelible stamp on his young grandson. At 2 years old Dan attended his first Old Threshers Reunion in 1958, then at age 15, Dan restored his first tractor, a Massey-Harris 12-20. From that point forward, Dan gladly accepted his role in the Old Threshers' community, attending almost each reunion (missing no more than one or two shows, he says). At the Old Threshers Reunion, Dan perennially displays a trio of engines that most any collector would gladly own. These engines are beauties in their own right, but they also have strong Peterson family ties.

1908 IHC Famous

Dan's International Harvester Co. 2-hp Famous originally pumped fuel from storage tanks to trucks at his grandfather Lloyd's fuel business, the Farmers Oil Co., in Olds, Iowa. The engine, serial no. KA10161, worked hard for many years until the engine was retired when the cam gear wore out in 1933. Dan located the Famous about a decade ago and restored it.

The engine's pistons were free, but the cam gear that powers the water pump needed work. The gear's teeth were completely worn through, and repairing the gear was the most time-consuming job of the restoration. To repair the cam gear, Dan brazed metal to the gear, building up the worn gear teeth, and then machined the excess metal down to the perfect size.

The Famous also had a cracked cylinder, bad compression and needed a general clean-up and paint job - most of the usual maintenance a restoration project entails. To finish the project, Dan constructed a great-looking oak cart.