R.R. 3, Wooster, Ohio
I grew up about nine miles from Massillon, Ohio, home of Russell and Co. but the first threshing rig that I remember was an Aultman-Taylor engine without tanks on the rear platform and a hand fed separator with a web stacker. It was owned by a thresher named Peter Stakes. I remember that the engineer set me up on the platform while the threshing was going on.
Barn threshing was done by every one in this area up to about 1930 and rigs were small. A 16 horse engine and a 27 x 46 separator made a good sized outfit. Threshing did not start much before Labor Day after all the oats had been hauled in.
The following incident happened about 1914 not far from my home. A 12 horse Russell engine and hand fed, web stacker, thresher were threshing a small job in a bank barn. Because it was the first job of the season, the regular engineer was not on the engine, and a young fellow was running it under the direction of the separator man. In hooking up the eccentric he had not gotten the lever up to the third notch where it usually ran. A visiting neighbor boy noticed this and saying, 'I'll put that lever where it belongs', shoved the reverse lever forward, but instead of one notch it went on over center. He jerked it back and jumping off the platform took off over the hill. The engine had stopped for a moment but started on again without throwing the belt.
In a few minutes the feeder came out to the engine and asked, 'What in the hell happened back there? Another quarter inch and the machine would have been pulled over the blocks and out of the barn.' On being told what had happened he said, 'Never let any one else near the levers when you are running an engine.'
Another incident I heard about, happened about 1910 near Wellington, Ohio. A thresher named Peter Finkel was sawing wood, when one of his helpers slipped and fell backward into the buzz saw. It cut the ribs on one side loose from his spine. Ginkel sent one of his boys to fetch a horse and buggy, and another into Wellington to stop the next train going to Cleveland. They wrapped the injured man in a horse blanket, put him on the train, and telegraphed a Cleveland hospital to have an ambulance meet the train. All ended quite well as the man was back on the job in about six weeks.