Past Operators

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Sawing in the Dowdy Woods, south of Dresden. The McCoy's outfit around 1900.

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

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

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

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.

Farm Collector Magazine
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