Iron Man Of The Month

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IRON-MAN RALPH ARY WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED. - A typical sight at the Darke County Threshers in Western Ohio (Greenville), was Grandson Kim Beesecker handling throttle of the little Case Steam Engine, while Grandpa Ralph fills the tiny water wagon. Engin
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GRANDPA-GRANDSON RELATIONSHIP IS ALWAYS BEST WHEN THERE'S A STEAM ENGINE IN IT. One always helped the other - and where the one went, the other went also. Here Kim Beesecker is seen throttling the little Case alongside a big Case at the Darke County Thres
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IRON-MAN RALPH ARY ALSO GOT IN ON THIS RUBE-GOLDBERGIAN CONTRAPTION. ''Hizzoner'' Clark Davidson drives around the Darke County Threshers grounds comfortably seated astride his ''Comet Doodlebug.'' It's a jewel of a mechanic's play thing utilizes an old e

He was a Spark Plug of the Month without peer, and yet his first
love was steam. You could tell it, like when he treated the folks
at the Darke County Steam Threshers to a new kind of ‘tug of
‘War’, between the little Case steam engine model he’d
made years before, and the larger gas tractor with which he’d
won so many tractor-pulls and trophies. Ralph Ary thought it was
just another way to demonstrate the power of steam, whatever the
size package it came in and he always chuckled that the bigger
garden tractor he’d made and belted with step-down pulleys that
out-pulled many another its size at the contests could be stalled
by the much smaller model of a Case traction engine.

‘Once that little Case Engine digs a rut, the larger tractor
is helpless,’ explained Ralph with a chuckle. ‘You’d
think the larger tractor would out-pull it, but the little engine
will stall it every time. ‘

The crowds had converged so close, watching Ralph Ary’s
grandson, Kim Beesecker, throttle Grandpa’s little ‘Mighty
Case’ which had spun its drivers into ruts from which son, Gene
Ary, couldn’t dislodge them with the hefty garden tractor, that
it was simply impossible to get in there with my camera to get a

But there they were the crowds cheering the mighty little steam
Case versus the larger tractor towering over it, and being stalled
despite the many trophies it had won at the tractor-pulling
contests. But it was the way Spark Plug-Iron Man Ralph Ary liked

‘Shoot I like to see that little steam engine stall that
bigger tractor, even if I did make them both,’ confided

Ralph in a low voice with a sly grin. ‘After all steam’s
my favorite, much as I like the gas tractors too.’

It was all just a part of Ralph Ary’s big contribution to
whatever steam threshing-gas tractor reunion he happened to be
attending in western Ohio or eastern Indiana. Whether it was his
little model Case steam engine, belted to the miniature sawmill
he’d modeled to such precision, the gas tractor pulls with his
larger red tractor finishing at the top or near-top, or his
beautiful third-size model of a Rumely

Oil-Pull Iron Man Ralph Ary was the workshop genius who stood
quietly in the background at the reunions and let his engines get
all the glory.

And that’s just what makes the writing of this story a bit
difficult, now that the news of Ralph’s passing has just
reached us. For it is the purpose of these stories to praise the
man behind the engine as mightily as we do the engine he’s
labored so long to build and takes of his time and effort to run
that folks who gather at the reunions might have the unusual and
novel kind of

Entertainment that Iron Man Ralph Ary contrived to provide.

‘I remember when Ralph Ary made that little Case Engine,
down in his workshop around the corner to the left from the town
pump in the little village of Ithaca, Ohio,’ said ‘Two-ton
Tony’ Pauline, and Iron Man of the Month in his own right.
‘Ralph was the best when it came to making anything. And, as a
welder, he was tops. Why he could just write your name as pretty as
you please with a welding torch on an iron plate if you’d have
asked him to just to show you.’

Ill never forget the time I stepped into the Clyde Ross welding
shop, down the street from where I live and there was Ralph Ary
standing there, welding the cast-iron bridge of an old upright
piano of all things. For Ralph was a master welder could weld up
even an aluminum wedding ring, if you couldn’t afford a gold
one, and then go on to tackle the largest steam boiler if the
day’s work had called for it. And there was the time that Ralph
made up a special welding job of a hand-operated corn cultivator
for the mighty Joe Dear. Furnished only the barest pencil
scratching I’d given him as ‘plans’, he said to come
back in a day or so which I did, and there it was, all painted up
and ready to go. That was Ralph Ary. You left him your plans and
orders and sort of told him how you wanted it and like the faith of
a prayer answered, when you went to get it, it was better than you
had originally sketched it.

For years, the miniature sawmill belted to the little Case
Engine was one of the main attractions around the Darke County
Thresher’s Reunion grounds, east of Greenville, Ohio. It was
always a heart-warming experience to watch the warm relationship of
Grandpa Ralph Ary standing in the background while grandson, Kim
Bee-secker ‘oiled around’ then strode to his little seat on
the tiny engine deck to place his grimy, boyish hand upon the
miniature throttle. Then it was that Grandpa Ralph would bend low
over the diminutive sawmill and begin feeding small slabs of
fresh-sawn lumber into the whirling saw teeth, making the little
Case bark its stack in defiance at the opposite end of the
straining belt. Little boyish hands contrasted with the knurled,
horny knuckles of older hands all reaching with delight to get the
thin fresh strips which Grandpa Ary always jokingly called
‘toothpicks’. And there were the many times when Ralph
Ary’s tiny steam-operated sawmill furnished just the right size
sticks that happened to be needed for some kind of a project or job
a-building elsewhere on the reunion grounds. For Iron Man Ralph Ary
was always ready to lend a hand, from the most menial task that was
asked, to that of the more grandiose preoccupations of proudly
showing the works of genius that came out the doors of his little
village shop.

They always arrived early, before the big show got started
grandpa and grandson, Ralph and Kim, the family trailer
heavily-laden with their sawmill and steam engine gearing.
Methodically they unloaded, piece by piece, rig by rig engine,
sawmill, wrenches, oil cans, gas cans, water wagon, tractor and
all. Then a second trip was in order, for to fetch the larger model
of the Rumely Oil-Pull, latest to emerge from the Ary workshop
doors. Soon the sawmill was in place, the Case belted up and fire
wafting dreamily from the tiny smoke stack, ready to run a few test
strips through the whirring blade just in time for Sylvester Ditmer
to set off the aerial rocket that announced the start of the big
Darke County Threshers Reunion. The little red tractor would be
already chugging furiously, bringing up fresh supplies of slab wood
for the hungry little sawmill, while in the background, somewhere,
could be heard the heavier booming of the Rumely Oil-Pull model.
You could always count on three crowds congregated somewhere on the
Darke County Reunion grounds and all three were watching bug-eyed
at either Grandpa Ralph Ary or Grandson Kim Beesecker either
running or directing the operations thereof.

And, if three crowds weren’t sufficient evidence of the
Ralph Ary genius being displayed on the reunion grounds, there
could well be a fourth crowd gathered around another of the Ralph
Ary Rube-Goldbergian dreams that had come into reality in the shops
of this Iron-Man genius. For somewhere on the grounds could be seen
‘Hizzoner’ Clark Davidson, the major of Gordon Village,
Ohio, who was quietly chuffing around seated on the rear of a
contraption known as the ‘Comet Doodlebug’.

The nameplate on the rear of the Davidson ‘Doodlebug’
reads, ‘The A. & D. Company’ – meaning the Ary and
Davidson Company. For, indeed, it was a contraption and a beautiful
one at that, born of the merging of two Iron-Men’s dreams into
one magnificent and sublime ‘whatcha-callit’ machine.
Incorporating an upright boiler, and old steam engine once
manufactured in Greenville, Ohio, a comfortable seat and overhead
roof sunshade, numerous steam gages, gadgets and throttles and
knobs, as well as even a steam locomotive bell the ‘thing’
would not plow or do a hitch of towing or work of any kind, but it
was mighty comfy for ‘Hizzoner’ the mayor, to merely ride
around over the grounds and ‘inspect’ all the proceedings
and operations. (We might indulge here a bit and think that even
Uncle Elmer would delight in riding rough-sod over the reunion
grounds on such a sophisticated conglomeration of gears and
reciprocating parts all designed just to locomotive a man’s
rear-end from one place to another.) But there it always is at the
Darke County Reunion and we must always stop and look with envy at
the man who owns it as well as at the genius, Ralph Ary, who made

For Iron-Man Ralph Ary, who cannot read this, we doff our
engineers’ caps in silent memory of his genius. His

Tireless efforts well never forget, expended always as they were
to make the reunions a bit different and unusual. For preserving an
era of our great historical-agricultural past, we eternally are
grateful. Well miss you, Ralph, coming early and setting up
‘neath the big, spreading shade tree. And, worst of all,
I’ll miss running over to borrow your big, long-spouted oil can
or the key to the big gas tank to keep the faltering Joe Dear

There are some people, even among engineers and mechanical
geniuses, who are so far above the mere wrenches and tools they
hold in their hands that we call them gentlemen, kindly,
considerate, always ready to help and how we so often hope they
could live forever. But Someone greater than us has destined
man’s beginnings and his endings. And so, the most we can do is
to remember and not forget.

Iron-Man, Ralph Ary things will be different but well always
remember, when Kim runs the little Case belted to the tiny sawmill,
and we hear the red tractor a-growling, and the Rumely a-chugging
its defiance, as a sort of unspoken eulogy to your genius.

Ill leave it to Uncle Elmer to say a mighty

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