MEMOIRS

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Frick steam engine owned by Andrew Fishelr and Leonard Hiter, Walerioo, Iowa. This fine piece comes from Tennessee and was on exhibit at the Iowa State Fair celebrating their 100th anniversary year, 1958.

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 36×60 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.

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