GOSSIP FROM THE BACK SHOP

Betwixt Tricks there is many a Pitfall.


| September/October 1963



Engine dealers and factory

The old county fair scene was quite often given to admonitions by some of the local steam engine dealers and factory representatives to the larger horse-power farmers to stop buying 'fuel' for their steeds during the various periods of idleness between planting, cultivating, and harvesting. Certainly this was one good reason to rather invest in a fine new steamer, increase their productivity, make a saving in operating expense, and at the same time enjoy more conveniences.

And when the competition for sales sometimes grew rather keen, there often arose pretty warm arguments between different dealers in their bid for business which might even leave the prospective buyer at considerable confusion. Many claims for machines were actually unproven but were rather exaggerations, while some were simply astounding to a degree which gave doubt as to whether the salesman could really believe his own story.

It was upon one of these latter occasions that Jack Adkins, a local Huber salesman, was extolling the virtues of his 20 hp giant in order to displace Nels Albertson's 12 horsepower sweep which had been rigged to run a small sawmill in the nearby heavily wooded section of Cherry Creek, just off a fordable crossing which was a challenge every fall to any steam threshermen who might elect to tug his separator up the steep road on its banks. Many engine men would not even risk climbing this portion of the roadway empty and using towline on the balance of their load.

During this particular instance, Bud Williams, a factory representative for Russell, who had a 20 hp sample all steamed up, overheard just enough of this power conversation to immediately see his possibilities so thrust in an oar or should I say shovelful of course he had no full knowledge of the details nor familiarity with what might be going on about the countryside. But that made no difference since the sale was the thing.

'You need a real good steamer to do your work, alright, Mr. Albertson,' chided Bud into the conversation in in a voice loud enough to be heard above the sizzling pop of the Huber standing some twenty-five feet away from the Russell. 'But,' he continued, 'you better steer clear of one of those return-flue jobs because they won't pull the hat off your head let alone a string of plows, without turning over backwards.'

'Well now, I don't know about that, retorted Jack with uplifted and surprised eyebrows. 'If there is any money in it I might just show you a thing or two to make you change your mind.'