California Steamin'


| July/August 1981



Steam Threshing Bee

G. A. Humann

The South Shasta Steam Threshing Bee, the only one in California, operates every her year in the odd-numbered years on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. In the even-numbered years, our huge 0 gauge Model Railroad is operated for the public on Sunday afternoons during April and May.

In spite of the scarcity of gasoline, the 11th show in 1979 had an attendance equal to the 1977 show nearly 5,000 people. They came from 16 states and 307 California towns. The show is held on the farm of Godfrey and Betty Humann near Gerber. The Humanns begin preparation for the bee in January each month requires more work as the show date nears. Here is their story as told by Godfrey:

'At 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, the show begins with the blast-off of several steam whistles. The show proceeds on a strict schedule, and most events are repeated twice a day.'

The first event you are about to witness. A small 14-40 HP Case steamer owned by Hank Beebe, or a homemade 2 cylinder steamer of about 8 HP owned by Melvin Harris, is belted to a small 18 x 28 Case slat stacker thresher owned by Marvin Cairns who rescued and restored it. The slat stacker, meaning no blower, is unusual and will require someone to move the straw. I am the separator man and I climb on to the top of the little machine to keep an eye on things. The grain is being sacked and requires a sack sewer. The bundles are pitched by a volunteer.

'At 10 a.m. we move to a much bigger outfit we own. A 28 x 46 Case separator and one of the four steamers that will take turns threshing the two days is all belted up and ready to go. David Cripe, my grandson, is engineer on the 20-60 Case. Here again, I am the separator man and I am right at home as I used to run a Case stationary in my youth. We thresh bulk into my truck so grandsons Ricky and Billy level the grain. In about 30 minutes the stack is gone and the sounds and sights of the steamer with the long crossed belt over the flywheel will cease. It was these sights and sounds that inspired me to promote these shows for the public.'

'The next event takes place immediately. I walk over to a 16-30 Rumely Oil Pull that is belted to a 22 x 36 Red River Special thresher. This machine will sack the grain. Roy Stoner keeps an eye on the volunteer sack sewers, giving a hand if needed. At times it is really a show in itself to see some folks try to sew sacks. The Oil Pull with its peculiar sound keeps the separator right up in the collar. With this outfit, we thresh only half a stack at a time. That done, we shut down and go over to the next event.'