Letters


| November/December 1964


Courtesy of Mr. E. E. Danielson, 221 S. Tenth St.,Ā 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.






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