My Blossoming Interest in Steam

| July/August 1997

5681 Juhls Drive, Boulder, Colorado 80301-3010

I've been a subscriber to Iron-Men Album since 1957. So, as you keep asking for articles, I thought I might try one, although I don't have any great experiences to relate as many of your readers have submitted.

My first interest in steam began when I was growing up in the early Thirties on a diary farm we rented on shares from my grandparents in the township of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Grandpa's home was about three-quarters of a mile north of us on the same road. My bachelor uncle Adolph who lived with Grandpa and Grandma had two steam traction engines: a 16 HP Gaar-Scott single cylinder which was used mostly for silo filling, and a 20 HP Nichols and Shepard double which was used for powering the big Russell separator with twin wing feeders. This Russell separator was stored, when not in use, in a shed on our farm. So, it was a special day when we heard the whistle of the Nichols and Shepard as they left Grandpa's farm to come for the Russell. They would then take it back to Grandpa's farm to thresh his grain first, then my Uncle Johnny's next, who lived on the farm just north of ours, then ours last. I always enjoyed the threshing time of 'thrashing' as we call it because of the exposure to machinery, as our farming was mostly horse powered. I especially enjoyed when the time came that I was big enough to be sent out to neighboring farms for trade help. I loved 'pitching bundles.'

Then in September, we began silo filling with the 16 HP Gaar-Scott and a Gehl Brothers Manufacturing Company cylinder cut ensilage cutter. First Grandpa's, then ours. Uncle Johnny had his own 'Blizzard' ensilage cutter, which he powered with his 10-20 McCormick Deering tractor. The 16 HP Gaar-Scott was a very smooth running engine and from early on I thought someday I would like to build a model of it.

Even though it was hard, sometimes dirty work, my two favorite times on the farm were thrashing and silo filling.

Uncle Adolph purchased a used Geiser sawmill in the mid '30s, which he used to build a shed for the Russell separator and a sawmill shed on Grandpa's farm. He also, at that time, did some custom saw milling.