Dairyland Driftings


| January/February 1962



Peter Bitzan

Peter Bitzan's Masterpiece

C. R. Willets driving his '40' under-mounted Avery in the parade, had packed in his cab 5 colored and 5 white children. One dark girl, cute as a picture, was asked by C. R. 'What's your name?' - 'Tiny Wells' - upon asking another, her name was Wells, too. 'You girls sisters?' asked C.R. 'No, we 're Aunts' - 'What kind of Aunts?' - 'I don't know'----

We attended the Pioneer Thresher Show at Dresser, Wisconsin - a good show indeed with elegant weather and a good turnout. In action were several steamers including C. E. Gilbert's Birdsall portable pictured in last Album. Several tractors and a long display of gas engines, one of which amazed me. A 12 hp Westman, 1905 made by Enterprise Mach. Co. of Mpls. This unit at one time used in elevating ice, out of the river into an ice-house at Oseola - now owned and restored by Lonnie Maugans and Bruce Mortenson. After reworking it, they cranked and cranked as fast as they could, but it wouldn't fire. When they quit cranking it started, turning over 60r.p.m.'s - fires every 55 seconds, and ran so cool no tank or water was needed.

After filling my silo we headed for the Dalton, Minnesota show 'the home of the Giants' and big engines is right, together with whatever it takes to make a good show, ideal grounds, good eats, lots of activity. One rare item is the New Giant 14 HP chain drive No. 4310 owned by Ralph and Glen Risbrudt. Occasionally, shows come up with something new - rather something old, perhaps more proper, some thing different. Here was Peter Bitzan from Evansville with his home-made tractor. This he built in 1912 at the age of 18, using a 20 hp Witte No. 10654 and the traction from a 14 hp return flue Minneapolis steamer. This tractor, he used for threshing and feed grinding from 1913 to 1922 whence it was traded on a 16-30 Oil pull. This sorta handicapped the grinding since the canopy kept the Oil Pull from going in the shed, but nabers still insisted to bring their grist. In 1928 Bitzan made a trade with Victor Oslund on a corn shredder and got his home-made tractor back in the deal. At once, Peter went to restoring it; having set in this dealers lot since '22 - replaced the oak beams and added the missing parts, like brass grease cups, the driving clutch belt and water pump. He again belted it to his Stevens Roller Mill (rolls 10' x 30') and did custom grinding til 1938 when small hammer mills came into use and more farmers owned tractors. Said Peter, 'The old roller mill was getting dull too, but the Witte had a good home and was put back on the thresher in 1960, just to make it happy.' - Wish I'd been there with my movie.

With us on this trip was George Christian whom we left off at Swanville, Minn. He was now set to harvest tobacco crops on two plots of ground. Imagine raising tobacco up in Central Minnesota. Well, George proved it can be done, and now I wonder how it smokes in his pipe.

October 1, headed south to Beldonville. This show put on by Dan Boothe and Ed Huppert. Must say there was a lot of action for a small pasture. Two Case steamers 11 x 11, belted to a 32' Case steel machine and a 30' hand feed Eclipse apron thresher. Four Oil Pulls in motion one belted to a planer and the 30-60 to the Sawmill. An old Fordson belted to a two roll Rosenthal Shredder was quite a sight.

October 7, to 'Peaceful Valley Reunion' on Archie Stevens farm. Here, too, we witnessed some unusual equipment and activity. Every time my spouse sees a M. H. 4WD she is sorta 'moved with compassion' and Archie let her drive his in the parade. My egotism really elevated when he let me drive the Townsend. I kinda like that gear shift and clutch lever in one. Thanks, Archie.