R. R. 5, Box 47, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
(In three parts)
(This is Part II)
The Case separator was very popular in our vicinity then and I planned to buy one, although one or two in my run were partial to the Avery. So one day instead of going to Des Moines, Iowa headquarters, I started out to Peoria. I wanted to see the Avery factory and knowing Case had a branch house in Peoria, I knew I could look the Case over there also. I first went to Case. It was a hot day. I finally found a man in a chair with newspaper over his face, evidently asleep. When he roused. I told him I wanted to look at his separators, that I was thinking of buying one. He said, 'Where are you from?' I said 'Iowa.' That did it. Without another word he folded the paper over his face again and went back to sleep. Not so at Avery. When I got to the factory I read a sign 'Visitors call at the office'. I did, was given a yellow ribbon badge and provided a guide. He took me all over and through the plant, and was courtesy itself. It was there I saw my first Avery Undermounted engine. And I enjoyed a ride down in the yard on the first 18 hp. Avery built and which they used in their machinery loading department for years. I fell in love with the Avery Undermounted then and there, and I have never gotten over it.
They put my name down, and a short time lated a man from the Iowa house called on me, and I bought an Avery 36x60 Yellow Fellow separator to be delivered the next spring. When we started threshing with it I soon discovered the little 15 hp. wasn't big enough
That fall I discarded my 3 gang plows and bought 6-bottom P. and O. engine gang. And I didn't have enough power for either, it just pulled my engine terribly. So I went back to Avery and bought an 18 hp. Undermounted. It had power enough for the separator and the plow. That engine sure handled nice, and the men in the run liked it. It had to look out for bridges though, they were not strong enough for so heavy an engine. I found also that it was not good for spring plowing packed the ground too badly. So I sold the 6-bottom P and O plow, (I never liked it anyhow, too unhandy to throw in and out of the ground) and after a couple of years more with horses I bought my first farm tractor, a 12-25 Avery with a 4-bottom plow. I used it on my farm for several years, and its convenience, no waiting to fire up, etc., finally induced me to trade the Avery 18 in on a 40-80 Avery tractor. Somehow I never liked it quite so well as the little 18, and when it was stuck (slipping its drivers) the little 18 was walking off with its load.
In 1919 our county did a lot of road work preparing for paving. I hired to furnish a steam engine on the job if I could find one in time I put an ad in the American Thresherman for a 30 hp. Avery Undermounted. In the same issue in which my ad appeared was a for sale ad for a 40 hp. Avery Undermounted near Rock Island, Illinois. Due to delay on my part the 40 was sold into Indiana; but I followed it and bought it. I received the bill of lading showing it had been shipped. But I waited and waited and still no engine. I wrote the man I bought it from but he said the freight agent in his town seemed unable to trace it. So I went to our freight men here and told my story. Next day they phoned me the engine had been located, on a disabled car in Chicago yards and it would have to be reloaded. In about three days more it came, but I had lost the road work. That engine had a straight side boiler ' shell, butt and strap seams, and built for 200 lbs. working pressure, with open bottom fire box. Louis David of Northville, Michigan, has one just like it.
I was told at the factory that only a few with that style boiler were built for the 40's before they began the 30 special and the 40 with wagon top boilers.
I found this engine to have abundant power with 150 lbs. steam and although the boiler was in excellent condition I never carried more than that. I used it for about 17 or 18 years for everything steam could be used for and rode it many a mile. It was a faithful engine, and I never had to spend much in repairs. House movers called on me because of the steady power. On one house we moved, the mover had his family with him living in the house while we were moving it. They told me that when their meals were ready they would fill the coffee cups on the table, arid none would be spilled, the power was so even and steady.
Finally the flues gave out, and it was hard to find flues just then, and combines and caterpillar tractors were taking over the work I had done with it. After setting for several years in the shed, in 1939 I sold it to Ray Traut of Douds, Iowa. He had broken a crankshaft on his engine in his sawmill. When he took the parts he wanted and sold the rest to a junk dealer I felt like I had betrayed an old friend. It had never let me down.
As time went on I never quite got over that feelingguilty conscience I guessand when we organized the Old Settels and Threshers here at Mt. Pleasant I was delighted to find a little 1 8hp. Undermounted again that didn't need much to put it in shape to show. That was about eight years ago.
About 5 years ago I learned from Justin Hingtgen of a 40 hp. Avery Undermounted in Tonkawa, Oklahoma. He had secured an option on it, but had not brought it up to lows. Later I learned that on a trip to Texas we had passed through the town where it was located. I decided that the next time we were down that way I was going to hunt it up. I wanted to see it. I had no thought of buying as I knew Justin had been interested in it and also I was told the owner was holding it too high. In the fall of 1956 we passed through the town of Tonkawa, Oklahoma again and inquired where the engine was. They told us how to get there, and also something about the owner, a fine old man, a bachelor, who was wealthy. We drove out to his farm. Before we reached it we saw the engine out in his lot but no one was home but a friendly black dog.
My son Bob and I looked that engine over pretty carefully. Also, as it was a beautiful bright warm day, we took several pictures. Then and there was born a burning desire to own that engine, but of course with no hope that it could be done.
On our way home we swung up around through the Northwestern part of Kansas to visit relatives, and while there called on Roy Kite of Bird City, Kansas. Roy is an enthusiastic preserver of old machinery and has a nice collection of engines, separators, combines, tractors, etc. While talking with him we mentioned having visited the old 40 at Tonkawa and my wish that it could be bought. To my surprise I found that he knew the man Mr. Emory Petit, and had had business dealings with him. (Roy is a dealer in J. I. Case machinery). He said that he could have traded for it about a year and a half before, but at the price asked he couldn't use it.