An Old Timer In SWITZERLAND


| September/October 1994



Engine

Engine built in 1921 by Clayton-Shuttel-Worth in London, England. 7.8 metric tons empty.

1288 Lexington Avenue Winfield, Iowa 52659

I am 23 years old and a spring '93 graduate in agricultural engineering from Iowa State. Having Swiss ancestry, I was led to study the German language at the university, and eventually decided to spend a few months in Switzerland after graduation. With help from distant relatives in Switzerland, I was able to find a job near them as a farmhand. I left on May 25 and returned on October 5.

Now ever since I first saw a steam traction engine, when I was eight years old, I have been totally fascinated with them and want dearly to own a full-size engine someday. God has truly blessed me to be able to grow up near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (Midwest Old Threshers Reunion), and also to make the acquaintance and friendship of a nearby farmer who owns a traction engine and taught me everything I know about them-in part by just giving me the chance to run it and a 1/3 scale model of his.

So what do my interests in steam engines and Switzerland have in common? Well, I told the farmer I worked for about my old iron addiction, and he mentioned that there were Swiss organizations that put on shows and have museums for 'Old Timers,' as they call them. (Somewhere along the line they adopted this English term into their own Swiss-German language.)

The farmer's son mentioned that he thought he saw an 'Old Timer' advertisement in one of their farm magazines. So, after eagerly looking through the magazine pile, I found the one with the ad. The show was held on August 21 & 22 in Moriken, Switzerland. I believe the name of the organization was 'Freunde alter Landmaschinen,' or 'Friends of Old Agricultural Machines.'

The farmer's son, his girlfriend, and I went on the 22nd. We had no trouble finding the show, as they had advertised it by suspending an old Lanz 'Bulldog' tractor from a crane about 100 feet in the air. (Lanz, a German company, was eventually bought by John Deere in 1956.) I was surprised to see as many gas tractors and engines as I did. Most were German makes, although many were Swiss, and there were also a couple of French and Italian tractors. To them a real 'Old Timer' would have been built around 1940. The transition from horses to steam and later gas took place at a later time than it did here in the States. In fact, I was told that in the 1950s, some Swiss agricultural schools were still preaching that horses were the best way to go. Some Swiss farmers still use horses to this day. I saw one farmer pulling a dump rake with a horse and talked with another who uses horses for seeding grain. The small size of their farms, and steep slopes, make justifying a tractor difficult.