On the Saturday before Easter, in 1920, 17' of wet snow fell on the Salina territory. The snow fell so fast about 4:30 in the afternoon, a Mo. Pac. engineer, pulling his train into Salina from the east, over-ran the Salina Union Station. That snow was beneficial to the growing fall wheat, and Kansas harvested a good crop in 1920. That was the only time in my life I saw lightning and heard thunder during a snow storm.
Wheat grew more than sufficiently tall that year, in the fertile Smoky Hill valley, south of Salina, where Will and Lew Streckfus lived, to bind and shock well, and it was in the fields of shocked wheat, Will and Lew streckfus tried out the new Nichols & Shepard Red River Special separator.
Will and Lew streckfus had threshed with the separator before I drove to see it that morning. A gentle breeze was blowing from the south, and the straw was being blown north. The gauge hand on the old Rumely pointed to 210, and the engine was backed into a 160 ft. 10 in., 6 ply rubber belt so tightly, the belt was very nearly straight from the cylinder pulley to the band wheel of the engine. The feeder carrier and low extension were 1 mg enough to permit 3 racks on each side to unload at the same time. Twelve men pitched bundles into the carriers. The pitchers did not walk and carry the bundles, pitched down and not up. The work was easy and those men pitched bundles!
Belts were tight on that separator. I stood on the east side of the belt about half-way between the engine and the separator and could see both. The old engine was loaded, used from 10 to 12 tanks of water a day, and the cylinder wavered from one side to the other. Every straw seemed to come from the wind stacker chute that could pass through it. So much grain was fed into the cylinder, as I stood there, I expected every second to see the separator stop, but the cylinder continued to hum and the straw fogged from the wind stacker chute.
Ed J. Streckfus was threshing a few miles from there and I drove to his machine. The first thing he said to me was, 'How are the boys getting along?' I replied injudiciously, 'You should go and learn to thresh.' Those words hurt Ed J. Streckfus and I have been sorry ever since that I uttered them.
Will and Lew held an advantage over Ed or any other operator who hired a separator man or an engineer. Both were interested in the machinery.
The day I was at the Will and Lew Streckfus separator, I did not go to the engine as I usually did before I drove away, but told Will and Lew Streckfus, 'The engine was loaded heavily.'
Will and Lew Streckfus did not thresh fast that morning, to put on a show, and the pitchers did not pitch to choke the separator, to get a rest, as they did sometimes. They threshed fast all the time.
Crops were short about half the years I sold machinery, but I sold about 400 separators, saw many of them and other makes of separators, with good operators, thresh, and I thought in 1920 and think now, the Will and Lew streckfus Nichols & Shepard 36-60 separator, threshed faster, the morning I saw it, than any of the other separators.
The load was too heavy for the old 25 hp Rumely and before the 1920 season was finished, the crank pin broke at the disc wheel and a cracked cylinder head stopped the piston.