Courtesy of Mr. E. E. Danielson, 221 S. Tenth St., Burlington, Iowa
I started threshing when I was 18 years old. I ran the old steamer or threshing engine. For 6 years I ran steam, then the tractors came out. We had what was called the Rumely Oil Pull. They were rated at twenty forty and they were one of the best tractors at that time. We used them from 1926 to 1938. They were a two cylinder tractor. But getting back to steam, it was during the first world war that I go my initiation to steam. Help was hard to get then owing to the war. The first year I hauled water and the next year Dad asked me if I thought I could take the business end of the engine. I said I was willing to try and I made it okay until we ran into a bad batch of coal. It was about the third day out when we pulled into a place where the farmer was kinda hard run and he bought some cheap coal. You can guess what happened. The coal melted and ran through the gates. Of course, that shut off the air. I got my poker and got under the platform and went to work. All the time we were still running and my steam was dropping fast. Anyone who thinks I wasn't busy should try it sometime. Dad was there and he never said a word, just sat there and grinned. I knew if I got into real trouble he would take over. There I was a sweating and maybe saying something under my breath about that poor coal. The water dropped down until I could just see it in the glass. The steam gauge said 90 lbs. when it should have said 175 lbs., but I kept sweating and trying. Finally the steam began to climb. You see, the injector that puts water into the boiler would not work under 75 lbs. Well, I fought it for an hour and a half so I begun to take it a little easier. Dad said anytime you can come out of a predicament like that you will make an engineer.
I threshed with Dad for 6 years before the tractors took over. I sure missed the steam, it was harder work but I sure enjoyed it. At that time we had a 22 HP Advance Rumely on a 36 inch cylinder by 60 inch Separator. In a good days run we would thresh 3000 to 4000 bushels of wheat a day of 12 hours. The combines began to take over in 1938 so Dad sold out after 40 years of threshing.
We then went to saw milling. We got hold of another steamer and put it on the mill. You can't beat steam for power, I know, I have tried all kinds; gas, electric, diesel, etc. The days of the twenties were the best this country ever saw or ever will see. Your dollar went some place then. Now it don't buy nothing.
Until the stock market broke in 1929, everyone who wanted to work could get a job.
They were even begging for help. Too many out of work now, automation has taken care of that. At that time the farmer fed the hands and what a feed it was. Every farm wife was a real cook. The women had to plan a week ahead in order to have everything run smooth. Everything went like clock work. We would run up to noon and the machine men would get into the first table. They reserved four places for them. We hardly were over thirty minutes at noon. We had to get back and oil and grease up so as to be ready to go. I remember when I would get up at three in the morning to hunt kindling wood to start a fire. I bet many a farmer missed boards off his fence, but I never heard nothing from it.
Our run consisted of from 12 to 14 farms. That took lots of help. We ran 12 to 14 bundle racks, 8 or 9 pitchers and 6 to 10 grain wagons. We had 35 to 40 men all the time. The run, as we called it, lasted 3 to 4 weeks. Sometimes we would have 2 runs in a season. Dad was one of the best threshers in those parts. The second run would wait for him no matter what. We have many a day started up at six in the morning and never stopped until noon. After a hard week of threshing the boys would all go to town and have the time of their lives, but I always cautioned the machine crew to be on the job early Monday morning. How I liked to sit there and watch that black smoke go to the sky, but I guess those days are gone forever.
Letter by G. C. Dixon, Germania, West Va.
On page 37 of the 'Climax Book' at the top is G. W. Wilson No. 1. An engine which I never saw, but believe it or not Wilson's Mil's West Va. was only four miles from home, and that engine actually logged parts of our farm. Also maybe you can figure this out, my favorite sister-in-law's grandfather, who came from the Bradford-Kane area of Pa. was the engineer, utterly fantastic. That was Dunkirk rather than a Climax.
On pp. 23 of Nov.-Dec. 63 Album, there is a guess what picture, since no one responded I will offer my two cents worth. The separator and engine are Gieser of the early 1900 vintage, wood wheels, engine about 6 HP from the looks of it and the separator a No. 3. That is the first kind of a rig I ever worked around and it looks very familiar.
On pp. 26 of the Jan.-Feb. issue of the Album, the engine at Portland, Ore., isn't necessarily too old. By the look of the gearing on the front end, under the boiler, it is a cog locomotive similar to the type used in the famous Pike's Peak Cog Road. Owing to the extreme grade, they used a cog geared rail in the center of the rack to give it absolute traction. Wouldn't have any idea where it came from but that is the type locomotive it is.
Letter from Russell Sederberg, Route 2, Box 78, Port Orchard, Washington
I would like to forward a few momentos about my father. My dad passed away last August at the age of 86. He was born in Iowa and farmed north of Kiron, Iowa for many years. In his early boyhood days, he spent his leisure time building steam engines. We still have in our possession a steam traction engine he built when he was 14 years old and it still runs. He told us he had used a stove poker for a soldering iron. A burner was made that burned tallow. He had made many model steam engines and had built a car he could ride in before they had cars in Iowa. An electrical storm hit the garage on his farm and burned his models, including his home-made car. Only one model was saved. He finally moved to town, Kiron, and built a new garage and had the Ford car agency. He told us how he drove Model 'T's from the Omaha assembly plant to Kiron on frozen mud roads, when he arrived home the side walls of the tires were worn down to the canvas. One time he took out a prospective buyer and ran out of gas, so he poured the kerosene out of the head lamps in the gas tank. He started the Model T and it smoked so they could hardly see the car, but they made it back to town. The customer made the remark, if it would run on kerosene he would buy it.
He had four sons, two of them serving their country by joining the Air Corps. One was in the European Theatre and the other in the South Pacific. The other two, and my father came to the Pacific Northwest to work in defense. My Dad worked in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard here in Brenerton, Wash., as a machinist. After the war was over, he was given his reduction in force notice and again he took up his hobby of steam engines. First, he had a small cheap lathe and on his 75th birthday we gave him $75. in silver dollars. To this, he added enough to buy himself the lathe he wanted. First he built a stationary two cylinder oscillating engine that ran on air pressure. Next, he made an all brass model traction steam engine ,this one even has flues in the boiler. This one took about four years to build. The last one is a traction engine, but was not quite completed, however, it does run.
He always looked forward to the IRON MEN ALBUM and would always tell us what an interesting edition it was - seems that he always thought the last magazine was better than the previous one.
When a young man in Iowa, he spent time working around steam engines, starting with hauling water. There was nothing Dad liked better than visiting with a person that had worked around a steam rig or showing his models to someone that could appreciate them.
I might inject here, that when I was released from the service and returned home, he went out to visit the Reecy Brothers, west of Kiron, that Dad used to work for during harvest season. They had a 12 hp. Huber in perfect condition. It had been stored for years in a building and had new flues installed just before it was stored. A few months later this perfect show piece was sold to the 'junk men' for $25.
Here in Washington, out along the Hood Canal there is a 105 hp Case steam engine that was used in the construction of the Hungry Horse Dam in Eastern Washington. We used to take a Sunday drive and take Dad out there. He would always climb up and stand there with his hand on the throttle. Finally in Nov. of 1962, he became ill and was hospitalized for the first time in his life. He had a number of operations and the doctors marveled at his stamina. It was learned he had cancer, but we never told him. He was getting along pretty well and always talked about getting back to his work on the models but in August 1963 he was called to his reward. We took him back to Iowa to be buried beside his wife, and our Mother. He was buried less than two miles from where he was born.
Am enclosing some photos, one of his 72 year old steamer and one stationary and two traction engines, which I am sure some of your readers will appreciate and I'm sure Dad would say, 'A Million Thanks'.
Courtesy of Mr. F. L. Raisty, 409 E. Harvard, St., Glendale 5, California
My first job working around a threshing machine was holding sacks for the man that did the measuring with two half bushel measures. This was about 1885, when I was 10 years old the grain came out of a shaking spout just ahead of the rear wheel on either side of the separator. A box about 2 feet by 2 feet was set on the ground with a talley box on one side and when one half bushel was full it was pulled past the talley box, tripping a lever, that talleyed the bushels and the other half bushel measure was set in its place.
In our' neighborhood in those days three men were engaged to carry the sacks of grain to the granary. Soon after that time the separators came out with a very high elevator called the Dakota elevator, and two sacks could be hung on the long pipe that hung and reached to three feet off the ground, using a trip lever to shift the grain to the empty sack. The sacks were still carried to the granary by three men, but soon after, a wagon with a triple box was used. I remember that 22 sacks standing in the wagon box was what it would hold. Then shortly after, the grain was run loose in the wagon box and each box was measured in depth counting two bushels to an inch in depth, and the grain was all shoveled in the bin, as elevators were unheard of at that time.
The machines were all powered with a horse power, using 12 horses on it to drive a 32' cylinder and were all fed by hand and the hum and ring of the bevel bear on the cylinder could be heard for a mile or two on a windstill day. You could tell if a man was a good feeder or nor by the evenness of the hum of the gear. Much pride was taken in those days in being a good feeder.
A few years later a steam engine was bought on the east side of the Shell Rock River. It came over on the west side in our neighborhood and threshed a couple of jobs. It was an 8 horse Gaar Scott engine and 31' Gaar Scott separator. We all thought it was a powerful machine to thresh and was so quickly put in the belt, instead of setting and steaking down the horse power and tumbling rods (as they were called) which ran from the power up to the cylinder. I remember the engine was too small to pull the separator up the hills and the tank man had to pull the separator with his team. He was provoked and jawing about it.
A few years later several engines were bought and did the threshing in our neighborhood. There were one or two 10 HP Case engines and I remember of 2, 10 HP, O. S. Kelly engines too, but no self-feeders were used yet.
In 1895 the man that had owned the Gaar Scott outfit bought a 12 HP Rumely and a 34 x 50 Rumely separator. The next year, 1896, I hired out with him and hauled water 41 days, fed 40 days, finishing December 4th. The , stacks were covered with snow. I was 21 years old on the December 3rd. The day before we finished the owner of the machine hired a man to cut the ice across the Shell Rock River at the Burris ford where we crossed with the machine the night of December 3rd. The next day we threshed the last job near where the owner of the machine lived.
I fed the next two years and at that time the self-feeders were being used more with better success. The week before we finished we threshed 45 stacks on the R. Root farm. With 1896 being a wet season, these stacks were poorly stacked, had taken water, some quite badly, and were frozen in places so they had to be chopped and bars used to pry much of it loose. We would push the heads of the frozen bundles to the cylinder and thresh off the grain and then throw the frozen chunks back on a pile.
I hired out to thresh six or seven seasons, then in 1903 I bought a complete Port Huron outfit and threshed for 55 years in all, finishing August 24, 1950. I had owned one Port Huron separator, one Gaar Scott, two Red River Specials, three Port Huron Compound engines and one Minneapolis engine. I have sold the engines but have one 36 x 56 Red River separator with 4 ft. Garden City feeder. The separator is in good running order, having good belts complete and is for sale. I sold my last engine, a 19 HP Port Huron Compound, and it has been resold and is owned now by Justin Hingtgen, LaMotte, Iowa. I have attended the steam engine shows at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa for 10 or 11 years and enjoy it very much. I winter in Glendale, California and have driven from Clarksville, Iowa to Glendale 32 round trips.