111 South Wilmott Street, Otsego, Michigan 49078
As an introduction, I have long wanted to relate (for the benefit of old iron hobbiests who are particularly interested in steam and internal combustion engines and tractors of former times) some personal memories of my own experiences.
Dating back to about 1910, I remember the steam threshing, corn shredding and silo filling rigs that came to our farm to complete our harvests of small grains and corn. There was, for instance, the Huber and Nichols & Shepherd steamers, both single and double cylinder types. They never had extension rims which they should have had for the nature of our locality in southwestern Michigan. It was near the southeastern corner of Allegan County of both flat and hill lands with occasional small bridges which in olden times were sometimes the nemesis of heavy steamers and separators, being sometimes of insufficient strength of wood girders to bear such loads of heavy machinery.
Moving up a bit I remember the first tractors purchased in our neighborhood. The first that I remember was an International single cylinder, double flywheel, screen cooled model of about 20 horsepower which was used for local silo fillings, corn shreddings and occasional wood buzzing jobs. For a mechanical-minded boy, it was a great sight and sound to me. Yes I remember it well and its loud bark of exhaust as it labored in the belt; it probably was hit and miss ignition mode. I do not remember its model name.
The next two tractors were a 10-20 Mogul and 10-20 Titan of International Harvester build, being vastly improved over the previous Moguls and Titans mentioned previously. Both the Mogul and Titan 10-20s came to our farm to plow and thresh--the Mogul with P&O 2-14s plow and the Titan with Huber 22-40 handfed separator. Later there was a Nichols & Shepherd 22-36 with Hart feeder.
As a small boy I remember the gang debating upon the merits and demerits of the single/double cylinder steam traction engines such as were used hereabouts.
Our threshing was almost always a barn job as we drew the bundles in from the field and mowed them away carefully. I can still see my father kneeding each one in place across the mow as they were pitched to him by my brother Paul, from the wagon, and by myself as the forwarding pitcher, the in-between-fellow, a boy of maybe 10 or 12 years or so.
I remember the thresher men always liked to come to our place because of the fine food my mother and her neighbor ladies prepared for them over a hot wood-burning cook stove.
I remember my father hiring our neighbor with the Mogul 10-20 to come and plow sod for us. The field was quite rolling and stony, but that Mogul always seemed to have plenty of power for the 2-14 inch plow, which incidentally was of chain-lift design and the levers were very inconvenient to adjust for depth of work. As for the Titan, my father hired our other neighbor who owned it to both thresh and fill silo for us. Again, I remember the gang at threshing or silo filling time debating the merits and demerits of single/double cylinder oil-burning tractors versus steamers, and of course, the four cylinder Fordsons which were the 'lightweights' of their time in our area. Also soon to come was a 10-20 McCormick Deering tractor to another neighbor; all of these I remember very well.
Going back a little, I remember when we got our first tractor, the first of its make and size in our locality--a 12-20 Advance Rumely Oil Pull complete with extension rims and a Grand Detour 3-14 inch bottom plow manufactured by the Case Threshing Machine Company. All of the rig was of sound design for the times. One good reason my folks chose this Oil Pull was because of the proximity of the factory. It was at Battle Creek, Michigan which is about 36 miles from the farm, a long-time family farm.
Yes, it was about the early part of May when this tractor was delivered to us in 1920. The tractor was ordered early in the Spring of that year, but was held up in shipment to our Otsego destination by a railroad strike lasting about six weeks and the tractor was finally delivered at the Allegan freight station, further complicating its delivery because of the additional seven miles over which it was driven to our place. It was without its lugs, traveling over some very sandy hills coming home across the Kalamazoo River at the Trowbridge Dam bridge and included a further difficulty in that the road crews were doing some work at that point and the road was in poor condition for the smooth-iron drive wheels of the tractor and necessitated the hitching on of one of the teams of horses being used for the road work repairs.
As the lugs were packed in wooden boxes, we had brought them home in our Reo The Fifth Touring Car (1915 model) planning to bolt the lugs on the tractor drive-wheels after it arrived at our farm from the freight station in Allegan.
In those days as I remember kerosene was about 12 to 15 cents per gallon and the Standard Oil Polarine lubricating oil about 50 cents per gallon or so, of #60 grade. It took about a gallon and a half for an average day's work, between chores of caring for a herd of Jersey milch cows, horses and pigs, etc. Around 15 gallons of kerosene and a similar amount of water for the tractor's fuel needs over such a day, as I remember.
Our Lord be praised for the privileges of cherished memories; how about yours?