Letter


| July/August 1964



Steam traction engine

Jack Kadinger

R. R. 4, Box 204 A, Sioux Falls, South Dakota Dec, 1963

When I received the November-December issue of the Album and came to page 37, I looked at the picture Mr. Leffelmacher, Rt. 1, Fairfax, Minnesota sent you and decided it was a picture of a BIG 4, 30 x 60 Gas Tractor made in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My first experience on sales for a threshing machine company was back in early 1912 out of Fargo, North Dakota. Between early 1912 and October, 1917, when I enlisted in the U. S. Regular Army, I was on many different territories on sales and collections, in North Dakota, Northwestern Minnesota, Montana. Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada, as well as here in South Dakota and Wyoming. I saw many, many Big 4, 30 x 60 Gas Tractors. So am fairly sure it is a Big 4, 30 x 60 Gas Tractor.

A picture of the 1892 Aultman-Taylor steam traction engine and this is indeed the best picture of this engine that I have had the privilege to see and is at a much better angle than the typical 'Walrus Mustache' picture which was played up for so long a time, and was not a credit to the machine. This picture was from their Letter Head and not from the catalogue. Personally, this is not only the best in appearance, but is the best engine this company ever put on the market, also, I believe this is the most beautiful, (if I may use the word) of all the steam traction engines. Well do I realize that people will disagree in this, but I believe this will only reflect the act of actual aquaintance of this particular model. These engines which I had experience with were ten and twelve horsepower and were used primarily in threshing. At this time they were not used for plowing in my vicinity primarily because they were too heavy and packed the ground entirely too much, however, in more remote localities and where the soil was different they were used for this type of work. The constant quest for more power, the merit of which is questionable, and the struggle for existance, from 1908 because of the gas tractor, caused them to develop into monstrosities, (the Dinosour) of the machine age. This engine I have modeled and have a 1/8 size which is just about exact prototype and closely resembles the original. This model is about two feet long the boiler cylinder is 3-1/2 inches in diameter, the drivers are 8', the remainder accordingly.

Referring to the picture of the tractor on page 38 of the November-December issue, sent in by M. Glass, 8018 Quartz Ave., Canoga Park, California. It is a 20 x 40 Horsepower Gas and Oil Tractor. I can't say just what year this tractor was made from the picture, but I would guess it was somewhere around 1913, 14, 15, or 1916. Most likely about 1914. This is the Model likely about 1914. This is the Model Tractor that Case won two Gold Medals at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. One burning gasoline and one burning kerosene. I was with the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company from 1914 until I enlisted in the Army in late 1917. I worked on sales and collections on a territory in western South Dakota and Northeastern Wyoming. I sold several of the Model 20 x 40 HP Gas and Oil Tractors. They were a very good tractor for that time, certainly a good threshing tractor I recall driving a team of horses in later part of August, 1915, some 56 miles east of Sturgis, South Dakota. I left Sturgis around 6 A. M. and arrived at my destination around 1 A. M. the next morning, as it was a very warm day and had to let the team rest several times. Next day was Sunday and I drove another 7 or 8 miles where I met with some 23 homesteaders that wanted to buy a threshing machine. After about a 3 hours session I ended up by selling 19 of the 23 a 20 x 40 Case Tractor, a 28 x 50 Case Separator, Gas Tank and Steel Truck, Separator fully equipped with recleaner, corrugated teeth, etc. There was much alfalfa to thresh in that vicinity. I sold this machine. Reason for the recleaner and hulling attachment. I didn't have too much trouble selling this rig as these homesteaders had a very good crop in 1915 and no machine to thresh it. However, as you can guess when 19 homesteaders sign an order for a threshing rig you can expect 19 different opinions on just about anything and everything that can come up.

I had to have settlement for the rig before I could unload it. The night I was to get the papers of settlement I met with the 19 about 8 P. M. Between 8:00 P. M. and 12 midnight, they certainly did a lot of wrangling, chewing the rag and nearly had a couple of fist fights, and what have you. About 12 o'clock I thought I had lost the deal. However, about 12:30 they calmed down and, as I recall, I had 5 notes, a chattle mortgage and a release for the rig. Each of the 19 had to sign each note, the chattle mortgage and the release for the rig. It was nearly 3 A. M. when I had all the papers signed. After this group got started threshing everything worked well and I never had to see them on collections because when notes were due they paid them at the bank.