At left is Lloyd “Bones” Dehm Sr., who operated the 1917 Reeves 16 HP steam traction engine at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, for many years. He is John Gallahue Jr.’s (right) father-in-law. In the center is John Gallahue III.
Having attended his first Mt. Pleasant show while dating, it is no surprise that John Gallahue and his family (wife Tara, daughter Cortney and son John III) continue to attend the annual Mt. Pleasant Midwest Old Threshers Reunion.
John III has especially taken an interest in steam. "I think he knows more about the Reeves than I do," John says.
"I got interested in steam by going to Mt. Pleasant with my family, and hanging around Dad and Grandpa since I was about 5 years old. It just came to me. I've been around it ever since and I learn something new every year," John III says.
He's learned how to inject the water into the boiler, how to lubricate the engine and that if you don't open the cylinder cocks to let water drain out of the steam engine, the water will shoot down the exhaust pipe and out the stack. He had just finished with the Cavalcade of Power Parade when two girls were walking by the Reeves. "l disengaged the engine and set it in reverse, and l saw one girl walk through and one back up and l thought, uh, oh, l just gave her a free shower." He adds that it isn't the water that's the problem, but the steam cylinder oil. "If you have a white shirt on at the time, you'll soon look like a Dalmatian."
John III enjoys steam engines because they have a more labor intensive process than other machines and he likes to tinker around with them. "It's amazing how these things work. They can outpull some of those Farmall As or John Deere Bs. There's a thrill to running steam engines and how they work. They're fun and neat to mess with."
John III often pilots the Reeves from place to place during the Mt. Pleasant show and takes it around the track during the daily Cavalcade of Power Parade, piloting it while his grandfather operates the throttle. "Right now I'm working on one of the most complicated parts of an engine, lining up the pulley on the steam engine with the veneer mill, so I'm learning how to pilot and figuring out how to line it up," John III says.
He adds that the chain steering is a challenge, too.
Up to now the only engine John III has run is the Reeves, but he's hoping to be able to run some other steam engines, especially the Averys. "The under-mount is my particular interest because they look like a steam locomotive to me. l haven't really asked anybody if l could run one, but l would really love to," he says.
One of the things he enjoys most about the Reeves is that it's a double-cylinder, so he doesn't have to worry about it getting stuck on center and not starting. "You don't have to worry about any slippage with the direct drive, either," he adds.
Though his friends might give him a hard time about his hobby, John III isn't dismayed. "I just say, 'If I put you on there and you don't know what you are doing, you'd get seriously injured or even killed.'"