Farm Collector

Report From The West

1121 Hilltop Lane, Modesto, California 95351

Well, the time has once again come to send in my annual report
of steam comings and goings out here on the west coast as I took
part in or had some word of. And by sending into all three
magazines, will insure adequate coverage to all the steam men in
the country.

To start things off with, I started the 75 Holt crawler tractor
out at Miller’s a few times during the summer and during the
year, I added 2 more gas engines to my collection a 1 hp
Fairbanks-Morse type Z, with open crankcase, Bosch high tension
oscillating magneto high tension ignition with spark plug, a 3 hp
FM-type Z, style C self oiling, with enclosed crankcase, FM high
tension magneto ignition with spark plug and a single cylinder
Magtag hp Multi-motor 2 cycle which is now in the shop being put in
running order. Parts are still available from the Maytag factory
for both the old single cylinder and later double-opposed piston 2
cylinder 2 cycle engine, for those collectors who have these
engines and wish to restore them. I filled the Aultman-Taylor
boiler for firing, but when leaky flues developed, drained the
boiler and just left it set in the shed until proper repairs are
made I am no boiler-maker.

Loren M. Wade did a lot more restoration work on his 50 Case
engine during the winter. A new crankshaft was made, the clutch was
rebushed, new eccentric made, bottom strap and top bracket complete
were turned out in his shop together with some other minor parts. A
new wrist pin was made, new brasses for it and new crankpin brasses
were turned out this engine now runs like a fine watch. Outside of
a good cleaning and painting, I know of nothing more to be done to
this engine to complete restoration.

In May, we went up to G. A. Humann’s at Gerber, and helped
out with the 2-foot gauge steam locomotive during his annual spring
model railroad show one Sunday. This is a fine-running engine with
Walschaert valve gear and steams easily on wood fuel. I miss the
air brake on it when running it. During the month of July, Godfrey
and his son Paul, moved a 20-foot side-hill Harris from the ranch
of the owner about 22 miles from their home, near Chico to the home
place with the Russell 16 steam engine. The Russell was hauled on
low-boy to the location of the harvester, the Case tank wagon was
on hand with a team of mules and driver to supply water and Mrs.
Humann drove the truck with wood and extras required. Wilbur A.
Skaar also assisted in the long move, which commenced at 7:00 AM in
the morning and they reached Los Molinos, about 3 miles from the
farm about 9:00 PM that evening. They moved along back roads where
possible and then along highway 99 balance of trip to Los Molinos.
Next morning, they had to move the outfit over the Sacramento river
at the Tehema bridge. With an 8 per cent slope on each approach and
the bridge having overhead cantilever construction with side angle
braces, this presented mainly a problem of clearance and holding
back on the descending approach. With Wilbur guiding in the center
of the bridge and Highway patrol and county personnel flagging, the
move was made successfully by the afternoon of the second day and
all was safely home. The harvester was built in Stockton in 1930
and used last by the former owner in 1957. It is ready for service
now, if needed. The exhaust stacks had to be removed to clear the
bridge superstructure! A most unusual undertaking in this day and
age.

In August, we headed for Oregon by car for the annual WSFA
business meeting and the Mikkelson threshing bee. Enroute, we
stopped at McCloud and found former Santa Maria Valley railroad
2-8-2 locomotive #21 in the McCloud shops having the super heater
units removed preparatory to complete refluing of boiler and a
general overhaul of the running gear. The locomotive will be stored
here and used on excursions during the summer months according to
future plans. Night found us in Yreka, where we stopped in and
visited with the general manager of the Yreka Western railroad.
They still have 2 serviceable 2-8-2 locomotives, #18-19 that are
used on excursion trips and he stated that they had extra parts on
hand and would maintain steam as long as the boilers could be made
pass ICC inspection. A new engine-house was under construction
which would house both the 2 steamers and 3 diesel locomotives of
the railroad. There will be steam around this part of the country
for some time to come from all that I could learn.

We arrived in Silverton, Oregon on the 18th and settled in the
motel. Then out to Harvey’s to get ready for the show. The Case
60 had just been reflued by Roy Heinrich, of Hillsboro and a
helper, and with the 12 Case and fine butt-strap boilered 50; plus
the 16 Russell, and 2 12 hp Russells, the steam power was in
readiness. Grain was stacked some in shock and some in loads on
bundle wagons, to give everyone a variety of olden times. Harvey
had acquired a type H, style Y Fairbanks-Morse 2-cycle oil 25 hp,
engine 8×9 Ingersoll-Rand air compressor and air reservoir from a
cement plant over at Dallas, if I remember correctly and set the
whole thing up on a large frame. It used about 2 gallons of diesel
fuel oil during both days of the show and it was in operation most
of the time. A shingle splitter powered by a 2 hp upright Greyhound
gas engine was brought in and in operation during the show,
splitting shingles for demonstration. Mr. Cole brought in his 90
year old French stone burr mill and set it up to grind threshed
wheat into flour, powered by Harvey’s late John Deere
‘D’ tractor. At ten cents per pound, the flour was a sell
out large quantity was sold. Over under the trees, a number of
models were set up and in operation. The Case portable 18 hp had
been used to saw up wood for the engines steam does all the
necessary work for threshing; then was set up under the walnut tree
to furnish steam for small stationary steam engines brought in by
Dr. Denieor, of Grants Pass and another whose name I do not recall.
Mr. Robinson, of the Robinson well drilling service in Salem, had
restored a 1908 Star #21 steam-driven well drilling rig completely.
It required all new timbers, most of which were sawed out in a
local saw mill to special order, as some of the timbers were nearly
30 feet long and 6-8 inches thick, by 8-12 inches wide. The boiler,
which is of the combination type, has a portion which is
horizontal, uses 2 inch flues, of which several were replaced, and
has an upright portion with a shallow dome on top I am told it is a
low-pressure type for about 60-80 PSI. It had new grates cast and a
special rope, as used on this rig years ago, was obtained through
the Star Drill people from the original source in the east, @ .81
cents per foot350 feet was purchased from the manufacturer who
still had about 3,000 feet of this rope in stock. The rig is
powered by an eleven horse upright steam engine of what make I
don’t recall, with Stephenson valve gear on it. This rig was
restored from the original specifications and was in operation both
days demonstrating how it worked in old days. A shallow hole was
dug and it could be used again, if needed. It is one of the very
few in the entire country in existence.

Tom Graves, of Tigard, has his steam boat set up and in
operation during the show. It has 2×22 inch double cylinders with a
boiler psi of 115 pounds. It is of the stern wheel type with boiler
built to Tom’s ideas and burns wood efficiently. It is a show
stopper. Saturday, Roy Heinrich and I pulled out with the 50 Case
and 22×38 Red River special machine, set up and threshed the loads
off the bundle wagons and one small stack of grain. The wind
changed shortly after belting up and for a while, had trouble
keeping the drive belt on but managed to finish up without
re-setting. This was a common occurrence during threshing days with
a wind suddenly switching after setting the machine.

Due to the high boiler inspection fee charged by the State of
Oregon, only the 6 engines were under steam, rest were available
for display. Saturday evening, the annual WSFA business meeting was
conducted after a fine dinner in the Silverton High School. All
business brought before the meeting was disposed of and election of
new officers are as follows: W.E. Richardson, president; Hilman
Lovelien, vice president; John Berry, secretary-treasurer and rest
of board of directors was retained. Rodney Pitts was appointed as
chaplian.

Sunday, the engine crews were on hand early to fire up the
engines and get ready for the parade after dinner and
afternoon’s threshing. I fired up the 50 Case, George Walton
was running the 12 Russell, Bill Hermans was on his regular 12
Russell engine and Leonard Miller, of Santa Rosa, Calif., was
running the 12-36 Case. A Mr. Peterson was on the 20 Case and
Walter Mehmke was on the 16 Russell engine. Clarence Haarsch was
running the 15-30 Oil Pull, Carl Kirsch of St. Paul had his 45 Holt
in action and then last but not least, Al Hermans, of Portland, had
his 25 Best tractor all over the grounds. Mr. Percy Dezotell had
his 1929 12-24 Hart-Parr there, and this tractor is a beautiful job
of restoration, complete to decals and paint job. Ed. T. Currans
assisted by Harvey Lively and one of my boys for one day, sweated
and labored over getting the 29 radiator sections soldered up for
the 30-60 Oil Pull’s radiator. Sunday, they got things together
and then only a pop and snort from the tractor when they tried to
start it. Monday, after cleaning spark plugs and changing magneto,
it took right off. What luck! Over in the machine shed, Carl
Carlson and several of the fellows finally got a 10 hp Root &
Vandevoort gas engine with make and break ignition started after I
loosened up the frozen ignitor and the fuel pump was worked over.
Brass tag said made for John Deere Plow Co. The sidewalk chiefs
offered plenty of advice, but none of it seemed to work!

After dinner was served from the hamburger stand at noon,
presided over by Mrs. Mikkelson and her capable staff of sisters
and friends, the whistles blew both at 12:00 noon and again at 1:00
PM, the parade passed in review with all engines and equipment and
the announcer commented on them as they passed by his station.
Then, the 22-inch McCormick-Deering separator was pulled over to
one stack by Bill Hermans on the 12-36 Russell engine, set up and
threshing started. Roy Heinrich and I set up the 50 Case engine and
Red River Special machine with Leon Gifford as separator tender at
the other stack and commenced threshing. Other engines and tractors
ran a-round and belted up to the fan to test their power. Only
thing that happened out of the ordinary was blowing a fuse on the
transformer and for a while, the crowd was out of drinking water
engines had plenty! The stand then really sold pop and soft drinks.
The entire show had hot, dry weather, just right for threshing and
the crowd totaled about 6-8,000 people. All events went off without
a hitch and by 4 o’clock in the afternoon, the threshing was
finished, belts thrown and rolled up and machines and engines
headed for their big sheds. By 6 o’clock, all the engines were
put away for another year and such cleaning as remained to be done
was done next day by Ed Currans, Guy Kyler, Harry Fisher, myself
and few others who helped with the final work. When we finished,
the place was nearly back to normal again. Another show is hoped
for next year. We then headed for home. During the show, my wife
and boys rode on a steam-powered excursion train on the SP-&S
branch between Banks and Vernona, west of Portland, and then took
movies and taped the train by ‘chasing’ it.

The G. A. Humann show was set for Sept. 3-4, so loaded up the
pickup with the 6-inch burr grinder, LB 3-5 hp gas engine, tools,
belts and took off for Gerber with one of the boys the 2nd of the
month. We arrived and after settling in our motel, went out to the
farm and found things pretty well organized, with a number of
displays already on hand. There were an 18-32 cross-motor Case,
Yuba Ball-Tread, two Fordsons, an 1875 McCormick reaper in running
order, 105 John Deere self-propelled rice harvester, large Case
4-wheel drive tractor and a new Oliver self-propelled combine.
There were 7 or 8 gas engines in operation. Harold Squires of
Oakland had his 1 John Deere with make and break ignition and 1 hp
FM Z with magneto and high tension ignition. Jack Lucas had his
Novo, LB 3-5 hp IHC engine and 20 hp FM type H style Y hot head
engine mounted on a trailer and in operation. A 4 hp Cushman
mounted on original skids and entire engine original was running.
My LB IHC 3-5 hp and the 6-7 hp FM Z style C gas engine, which was
belted to my 6-inch IHC grinder grinding shelled corn both days.
The 2-hole Marsailles corn sheller was belted to a upright
stationary steam engine with steam supplied from the Advance 20
boiler when in operation.

Ten acres of good wheat had been cut with an 8-foot John Deere
binder and stacked into 6 stacks. Two stacks were threshed during
the show with a 22×36 Red River Special belted to a 16-30 Rumely
Oil Pull tractor. The three steam engines, 16 Russell, 20 Advance
and 20-60 Gaar Scott threshed the rest of it during the show. Glenn
Weagent set up under the walnut trees with his steam generating
plan the had his own crowd around all the time. The 1929 GP John
Deere tractor was belted to the 6-inch IHC hammer mill, grinding
wheat was sacked up in small sacks and the meal sold both days.

Saturday morning, the Gaar Scott threshed one stack of wheat,
followed by a team of mules baling straw with an old horse-powered
hay press. This was followed by a kind of progress of plowing, lead
off by the mules pulling a walking plow, followed in turn with the
Fordson tractor pulling a 2-bottom plow and the Gaar-Scott steamer
pulling a 5 bottom plow and really socked down in the ground to
make the ole’ engine work. I ran the Russell both days. George
Sheesley fired the Advance and Leonard Miller worked on the 20-60
Gaar-Scott. In the afternoon, after dinner the whistles were blown,
the parade was held of all equipment and all the parade of harvest
progress lacked was men carrying a hand sickle and a cradle; the
progress was represented by the old reaper, binder, threshing
machine, pull harvester and then the self-propelled type. Threshing
again commenced with the Russell engine in the belt then more
plowing and corn shelling and grinding of it wound up the day. Both
schedules were the same during the show and everything went off in
fine shape. Les Boulden and my son Richard had charge of the 2-foot
gauge Koppel steam locomotive giving people rides constantly both
days and in the evenings, movies and stories were shown and told.
The machines worked well, but the Case plugged up several times on
dry grain, of all unusual things. Next year, Godfrey says he will
plant another variety of wheat. A huge straw pile was left, as both
machines threshed into the same pile. The fine team of mules also
pulled the Case water tank around supplying the water for the
engines as needed. They added a great part to the entire
proceedings. The work was done by mostly WSFA members and another
show is planned for next year. The crowd was about 2,000 people
both days and there was an old 1935 airplane taking off and landing
periodically. 2 old fire trucks were on display and some old Model
T Ford cars were present and in operation. It was a most successful
show.

I went down to the Arthur Bright farm near LeGrand. He farms
2,000 acres in this area including a large nursery, hog raising and
feeding operation, cattle feeding and he has a herd of 23 longhorn
cattle! The stock came from the game preserve in Wichita, Oklahoma
and the herd steer has a horn spread of 6 feet. He started
collecting old gas tractors and engines 2 years ago and now his
collection numbers 200 items, including a 12 hp Advance steam
traction engine and a fine 25-75 Case traction #27154 which was
purchased up in Canada last June and hauled home. He also has a
36-56 Aultman-Taylor wooden threshing machine that needs a little
work and a set of belts to make it ready to thresh and a lot of old
gas tractors, some early Holts and gas engines. This collection is
another story in itself and I will only mention briefly here that
he plans a steam threshing in another year or so when he gets
things lined out. He is a fine fellow and I hope to have him in the
WSFA shortly. That’s all for this year.

The hobby magazines are doing their usual good jobs and were
joined by the Gas Engine Magazine, published by Rev. Elmer Ritzman,
publisher of the original steam magazine, Iron-Men Album magazine
and it, too, fills in a gap heretofore lacking a publication as is
specifically is a gas engine-gas traction publication. Mrs. Smith
deserves a big compliment by making available to we collectors good
reprints of old machinery catalogs that otherwise might be lost
forever. So keep up the good work. Pictures of the shows will
follow.

  • Published on Mar 1, 1967
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