Dairyland Driftings

By Gil
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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

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.

October 8, back to Minnesota – Karl Marquardt’s gas engine
picnic near Pine City. Here ‘Early Day’ enthusiasts enjoyed
a ‘fly wheel’ exhibition. I even got a chance to steer that
Old Iron – his Mogul 45 tractor. We’ll all come next year,

Returning from the Rollag show, Mr. and Mrs. Harold
‘Job’ Anderson, of Washington, Iowa, stopped over for a
spell. Got him ‘interested’ in moving the old pump house to
make room for a garage. Job likes these ‘foreman jobs’ and
with a few jacks we soon had skids under and ready for a pull. By
chance, Harvey Obrechts from Thor, Iowa, came too, so help me
Harvey had a steamer. He got the ‘ole 50 hot and with Joe
Pangerl to steer, made quick work of a rough move. Anyhow, we had
lots of fun. Here’s ‘ ‘Job’s’ version of
‘The Three Bears’ goes something like this Mother
Bear,’ I have a tale to tell’ – Father Bear, ‘I have a
tale to tell’ – Little Bear, ‘My tale is told’.

Come October 28, we were invited to the Norlander Bros.
threshing bee at Scandia, Minn., and their 30 hp Minneapolis No.
8117 was sold new in that neighborhood in 1917 and still remains
there together with the Wood Minneapolis thresher with wing
feeders. We enjoyed this event and thanks to their sister, Mrs.
Haydee Janilla for the generous Bean Feed supper, everybody went
home happy.

In closing, here’s our good wishes to all ALBUM readers and
to our magazine staff that have gone all out to give us something
to look forward to and Roy- keep comin’ you are part of IT.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment