| November/December 1966

1121 Hilltop Lane, Modesto, Calif.

On this anniversary of the great Blizzard of January 12, 1888, many older people who went through this terrible experience so many years ago, will no doubt be telling the younger people of their connection with this great stormy late grandfather had such an experience and he told me of it many times. With this thought, will send in my annual west coast steam report as I took part and saw things happen. First of all, the year saw the new magazine, 'Western Engines' off to a successful start and now from all reports, is starting off the second year with the promise of much material and pictures to assure continued publication, plus new subscriptions together with renewals from older subscribers.

I believe the first steam doings of any extent last year was the first steam threshing at the annual Frog Jump at Angels Camp, Calif. This affair held in conjunction with the annual spring fair draws huge crowds over a 4-day weekend and Loren M. Wade of Tracy, was asked to bring up his 50 Case engine and pull an old Case 18 x 36 hand feed machine and thresh some grain. So, after working over the valve gear on the engine, replacing pins and the sliding block and lubricator, the engine was pronounced in top condition and off it went on a low-boy up into the famous Mother Lode of early gold-mining days in the Sierra foothills. The fair manager had located an old 18 x 36 Case steel hand-feed machine with slat straw carrier in an old barn, not far from Angels Camp. It was built in 1913, serial number 62070, and had been used for threshing up in the hills for a number of years and was powered by an 8 HP gas engine. It was last used in 1926, according to writing on the side of the machine and had sat in a barn all this time.

The machine was in fine condition and has the big Case decal on the right side of the machine. The belts run slightly different than on the later machines and it has the complete set of original tools with it. It had been pulled from job to job with a team of horses and the engine was probably a portable, too. The rig was set up down on the flat in front of the grandstand and belted up. I tended machine most of the the time and Wilbur A. Skaar, of Alameda, fed the machine L. D. Graves came up to supervise the operation, it seemed and help out wherever he could. Wilbur fed the machine like a veteran, using baled oats for grain and the machine had a double-spouted sacking arrangement that would also register sacks as they were filled. We got some fairly good quality grain and the slat stacker certainly added something to the operation. I noticed that this machine ran much quieter than a rig equipped with blower and self-feeder. Never had helped around a hand-fed machine before. We had the rig in operation two days and fair manager told Loren, who was running his engine all this time, that the threshing exhibition drew the most favorable comment and largest crowd of any event at the fair, next to the frog jump. It is planned to have the rig in operation again this spring.

In June, I again moved the P.A. Miller 16-48 Aultman-Taylor engine out of the shed for the summer months and it performed with it's usual fine sound. In May, should say April, we went up to G. A. Humann's and helped out with an engine during his annual South Shasta model railroad layout spring showing and pulled a couple of flat bed wagons with the 16 Russell engine, giving people rides. They rode out from the house behind the little steam locomotive running on 2-foot gauge track steam out and back! In late July, we again went up to Mr. Humann's and helped out with his shake-down threshing to test the equipment before his show in September. He added a good 22x38 Red River Special separator to the collection and after a little work, and belting the 16-30 Oil Pull to it, threshed right along. Everything was pronounced ready for the threshing bee in September.

I went north to Oregon Aug. 20th, to attend the annual WSFA dinner and business meeting, which was held in the high school in Silverton, Aug. 21st. After a fine dinner, the meeting was called to order by president Rodney M. Pitts and such business was taken care of as was brought before the meeting. At the annual election of officers, Rod was re-elected president and John Berry, of Albany, Oregon is the new secretary-treasurer. The rest of the slate of officers and directors were re-elected for another year. Entertainment was also provided after the business meeting. While in Oregon, spent a night and most of one day with Mr. and Mrs. Tom Graves, of Tigard, Ore. We played around with his gas engines cranked up a 5 HP Foos and after cleaning out the gas tank, gas line and carburetor seems some WSFA members had been playing around with this particular engine a few weeks before and I believe the reason it was hard to start might be laid on their doorstep! Anyway, we got the Foos started, together with a Novo, a 5/8'ths HP 8 -cycle Dumpster engine, used for pumping water a most unusual type, and one more, make escapes my memory now. Tom has his big 20 HP Fuller & Johnson running right out in the front yard, fully restored and ready to go anytime. It it hopper cooled and he moved it home in pieces in his VW micro-bus. I spent another night and part of a day before coming home with the Carl Kirsch Family, at St. Paul. And here again, there is always something going on, whether it be with Carl's Holt 45 or Best 25 or diving into the old desk over in the corner and it's contents of Cat. Holt and Best literature of all types and models. Next day, we moved the two Cats, a D2 and D6 from one farm to another along with a disc and two plows; a field was opened up into lands for plowing, the D6 pulling a 7-16 bottom plow and really cutting a wide swath. I went home on the train that night. At Harvey's this year, there was an informal gathering both Saturday and Sunday, with 3 or 4 engines steamed up and running a-round and some of the fellows played around with Hilman Lovlien's 20-40 Rumely Oil-Pull tractor that he acquired last year. It has much of the original paint and looks to be in very good mechanical condition. With some cleaning, painting and tuning up will run and look like new. I was only there on Saturday and saw most of the regulars in attendance or else at the meeting that evening. Harry Fisher, of Pendleton, Roy Heinrich, Bill Hermans, Jim Clark, of Junction City was there, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Richardson, the Kirsch family, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Graves, to mention a few. Guy Kyler was out to Harvey's said he had sold his model steam engine and has another one planned. We also got Harvey's type Y Fairbanks-Morse 2 cycle oil engine started Tom Graves put the finishing touches on this process and it runs nicely makes quite a noise, though. I only knew of one steam threshing held in western Washington and that was near Winlock, on the Borte Brothers farm. I am told it drew a large crowd and was most successful. Perhaps more will be forthcoming in 1966.