Past and Present

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Brown Photo #1 (top): A Minneapolis threshing machine sitting in a field in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Dave Brown is seeking information on the machine.
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Mix Photo #2 (below): Dave’s 30 HP Advance.
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Brown Photo #2 (above): The nameplate for the Minneapolis threshing machine, no. 21232.
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Mix Photo #3 (above): The gang that was present for the threshing day.
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Mix Photo #1 (left): Dave Kemler’s 21 HP Port Huron threshing oats.
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Nick Photos #1 and #2 (far left, top and bottom): A Messinger 35 thresher, built in Pennsylvania.
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Mix Photos #4 and #5 (right): Dave painted the water tank and fuel bunkers on his 16 HP Advance straw burner himself.
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Clarke Photo #1 (left): Arthur Clarke is looking for information on this engine at Angels Camp (Calif.) Museum.
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Vaughn Photo #3 (below): The Atzinger ladies cleaning the flues on their family’s Reeves engine.
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Vaughn Photo #2 (right): Mr. Ploeger on his John Deere crawler during the tractor pull at the Pioneer Engineers 58th Reunion in Rushville, Ind., held Aug. 4-6, 2006. Crawlers were the show’s feature.
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Vaughn Photo #1: Engine row at the 2006 Pioneer Engineers 58th Reunion.
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Yaeger Photo #6 (left): A catalog cut of Minneapolis specifications for simple and compound engines.
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Yaeger Photo #1 (right): A catalog cut showing the separators offered by Minneapolis.
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Yaeger Photo #2 (inset): A rear view of a Minneapolis engine.
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Clockwise from top right; Yaeger Photo #5: A Minneapolis engine with a tandem compound engine.Photo #3: A Minneapolis engine just like Ray Lightfoot’s grandfather’s engine shown in Steam Traction in the Spring 2007 issue.Photo #8: A postcard Gary Yeager bought on eBay showing a Minneapolis engine.Photo #7: The Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. logo from the catalog cover.Photo #4: A side view of a straw burner Minneapolis engine.
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Hofer Photo #1 (top): A model steam engine built by Melvin Hofer, Freeman, S.D.
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Harris Photo #1: Ron Harris would like to know if anyone can identify the engine in this photo, which was labeled as showing a Froelich tractor in South Dakota.
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Hofer Photo #2 (above): An Ajax model steam engine built by Melvin.
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Corson Photo #1 (right): Harold Stark, instructor, giving points during the Pawnee Steam School held in Portland, Ind., on March 24-25, 2007.
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Corson Photo #2 (far right): Joe “Mr. Case” Graziana explains the inner workings of an engine governor to students during a steam school class.


Dave Brown, 50 Saddlemead Way N.E., Calgary, ALB Canada T3J 4J5; (403) 273-9081 (e-mail:, is seeking information on a threshing machine. Dave writes:

I am with the Saddle Ridge Community Assn. located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The photos are of a piece of equipment that sits in a field in our community. My research tells me the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. went out of business in 1929. I was wondering if any of your readers might be able to enlighten us as to what exactly the equipment would have been used for, and I am assuming the number on the plate represents a model number.


Larry G. Mix, 2075 Coburn Road, Hastings, MI 49058 (e-mail:, continues to keep us abreast on Dave Kemler’s Threshing Day held on his farm near Stanton, Mich. Larry writes:

Here are some photos I took at Dave Kemler’s Threshing Day in November 2006.

Photo #1: This is Dave Kemler’s 21 HP Port Huron on the separator. We were threshing oats. Photo #2 is Dave’s 30 HP Advance on the separator, which had plenty of power. Photo #3 shows the gang that was present for the threshing day.

Photos #4 and #5: I took these photos of Dave’s 16 HP Advance straw burner. Dave painted it himself and I think he did a fantastic job. Dave is quite the artist, as you can see. I’m lucky if I can print my name so you can read it!

We had seven engines fired up that day and each took its turn on the separator. I sure had fun and I am looking forward to this year’s threshing day.


Alex Owen, 288 Allesley Old Road, Coventry, England CVS8GH, has a few questions to ask about steam engines in America. Alex writes:

Is there a register of traction engines preserved in the U.S. and/or Canada? Is there a site on the Internet where I can find out about preserved engines and museums in the U.S. and/or Canada?

Editor’s note: To our knowledge, the majority of the engines that are registered are those of a specific brand name, i.e. Case, Reeves, Advance, etc. There are individuals or organizations that are brand loyal and might have a registration list. Here are a few organizations’ websites to try:

To answer your second question: As for an Internet site listing the restored engines in the U.S. and Canada, we are uncertain. We don’t know of a specific site dedicated to this type of function, but it’s a great idea.


Nick, Morris, Pa. (e-mail: or, is looking for information on a thresher built not far from where he lives. Nick writes:

Here are a few photos of an old Messinger 35. It was built about 200 miles from where I live in Pennsylvania. I have not been able to find much about the machine. I have gotten some history on the company, but that is about all.


Arthur Clarke, 43 Meadow Ave., Wakefield, RI 02879, is wondering if anyone can help him in his search. Arthur writes:

The enclosed photo, from May 1990, is a portion of a steam engine located at Angels Camp Museum, Angels Camp, Calif. The drive wheels are over 7 feet in diameter! It had a sled on which logs were loaded to be hauled from forest to mill. I would like to know the age and manufacturer of this machine.


Brian Vaughn, 3260 S. County Road 250 W., North Vernon, IN 47265; (812) 346-7640, reports on their past year’s show event. Brian writes:

The Pioneer Engineers 58th Reunion, Rushville, Ind., took place on Aug. 4-6, 2006. The Porter family operated the only known complete Robinson threshing rig with Lawrence Porter’s 20 HP traction engine, Robinson water tender and “Moneymaker” threshing machine.

A 15 HP Case, owned by Eric Hurst, made a good first impression at our show. Steve Zehring brought his newly restored 20 HP Rumely plowing engine and Bruce Atkinson brought his 12 HP Russell traction engine, having just transferred all the machinery over to a newer 12 HP Russell portable boiler. Between sawing, threshing, block races, Baker fans and steam engine pulls, we had plenty of steam activity.

We also had a fine turn out of crawler tractors, ranging from a Cletrac HG to a Caterpillar D-7 with many other sizes and brands in between. We had a field full of wheel tractors from IHC, John Deere, Allis-Chalmers, Minneapolis, Oliver and more. Numerous drag saws, buzz saws and chain saws showed how much wood cutting has changed. With three days of fine weather, our reunion went quite well.

On Aug. 3-5, 2007, the club celebrated 50 years at the Rush County Conservation Club. At this, our 59th Reunion, we featured the people who worked hard to bring us this far. Although steam engineers started our club, over the past 59 years many people with a wide range of interests have added more than I can name. And we now have several generations involved in our club such as Porters, Maples, Moormans, Liggetts, Schranks and the list goes on.

However, we have also started work on our new home 3-1/2 miles south of Rushville and 1 mile west of State Route 3. We had maps and tours of the new place at our 59th Reunion. The first full weekend in August 2008, the Pioneer Engineers Club will hold its 60th Reunion at Caldwell Pioneer Acres. Named in honor of Luther Caldwell, one of the club founders, we will have a modern rest room building with showers, over 100 camping spots with 30 amp electric service, a sawmill, a plowing field, and plenty of shade for gas engine, tractors and other displays.

If we can raise the money, we plan to move a 50-foot round barn to become our museum and entertainment building. In the future, we also plan to add a line shaft shop with both wood and metal working machines, a storage building to keep equipment on the grounds, and much more. In 2009, our 61st Reunion will host the J.I. Case Heritage Exposition.

Please pay us a visit in 2008 at the Rush County Conservation Club for the 60th Reunion. For more information about our club and our activities, call (812) 3467640, or visit our website at


Gary Yaeger, Kalispell, Mont. (e-mail:, writes in to support Ray Light-foot’s identification of an engine in a photo Ray submitted last issue (Steam Traction, Summer 2007, page 5). Gary writes:

I scanned a few pages of my old mouse-eaten circa 1899 Minneapolis return-flue catalog – I have forwarded this to Ray. Anyway, this is my proof I didn’t think I had! Senility is such a waste.

Photo #1 is a listing from the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. catalog of the different size separators offered by the company. Photo #2 shows the rear view of a straw burner and Photo #3 is like Ray’s grandfather’s engine. Another view, the side view (Photo #4), of a straw burner. Photo #5 is another like Ray’s grandfather’s, except this has a tandem compound engine. Photo #6 is the specifications and I was horrified to see all of the horsepower options they had available. Photo #7 is a close-up of the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Co. logo from the “mouse gnawed” catalog cover.

I’ve included a postcard (Photo #8) I bought on eBay a couple of years ago, showing the same basic engine. The smokestack in the Steam Traction photo has the coal and wood smokestack and the postcard has the straw-burning smokestack. It also mentions “Canopy extra.” The wheel hubs of a Minneapolis return-flue are a dead giveaway … every time.


Ron Harris, 2802 50th St. S., Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494; (715) 421-4113 (e-mail:, is doing some fact-checking to republish a book and has a question for our readers. Ron writes:

This photo is labeled as John Froelich in South Dakota, supposedly using his newly invented gasoline-powered tractor. I am no expert, but it looks to be a steam engine running the separator. Can anyone help with identifying the engine in use and any other observations?

I am in the process of re-issuing the History of Froelich, Iowa by Marian Beimfohr and I am doing some fact-checking before the final draft. Perhaps the photo was taken in South Dakota, but not of Froelich’s machine.

Thank you for printing the other engine photos in the Spring 2007 issue, although no one was able to identify the engine with the buzz saw on the front.


Melvin Hofer, 312 E. 3rd St., Freeman, SD 57029; (605) 925-4732, has built several model engines. He sent a few photos of his collection to share with us.

Photo #1 is a model steam engine with boiler, water pump, jack shaft, Emery wheels, generator and light bulb. Melvin finished this engine in 1993 using P.M. Research plans.

Photo #2 is an Ajax model steam engine from Tony Powers Inc. plans, built in 1998.


Mark Corson, Crown Point, Ind., sent a few photos from the Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Assn.’s Pawnee Steam School held March 24-25. The 2007 school was held at the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Assn. grounds in Portland, Ind. Visit the steam school’s website at

If you have a comment, question or reminiscence for Past and Present, please send it along to: Steam Traction, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265;e-mail:

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