Box 167, Starks, Louisiana
I attended the first Threshermen’s Reunion ever held in this
state last October 8th. This was put on by Crowl Bros. at Welsh,
Louisiana. About one thousand people were there. The rig was a 20
hp Minneapolis engine (I believe No. 8351) fired with crude oil,
and 28 inch Case separator.
The rig was in like-new condition. They threshed a few loads of
a 12 acre field of heavy bundle rice that day but rain in the
afternoon stopped them and they finished the entire job two days
They plan another threshing this fall with more machinery,
including a fine 25 hp Russell, No. 16810, from nearby Jennings.
There is a 25 hp Robinson engine near Welsh that could be
I threshed my own rice December 4th, and a little next day, with
20 hp Minneapolis No. 8265 and Case 32′ separator. The straw
was nearly tough enough to lace a belt with but the grain was in
We fed from both sides with the bundles just touching and it
gave the Minnie (which blows off at 135 lbs.) a good load-but it
had ample power.
The engine used 125 to 135 gals, water per hour pulling this
load and we burned only one cord of wood in a day and a half under
steam but only a few hours actual threshing. It was, however, good
dry pine and half of it was very rich in resin and turpentine and
is equal to an oil fire. The difference in dry and green wood is
very great since green wood (or most of it) is about half water by
I have always found every Minneapolis engine that I’ve ever
handled or knew to be a crack thresher engine that is hard to beat
– but there are plenty of other good ones. I worked two long
seasons with a 22 hp Avery Undermounted pulling double the above
load on almost exactly 160 gals, of water per hour, fuel in
proportion, but it was a new engine and carried 150 lbs. steam. I
have run six different makes of engines and different types of the
same make including single, double and tandem compound, all good
engines, and have been in the field with a good many others and I
have never known an engine that beat that Avery – and my experience
includes a tandem compound carrying 175 lb. pressure and under a
lighter load than the Avery.
The largest engine I ever ran myself was a 30 hp compound Gaar
Scott. I have nothing but praise for any engine I ever ran or was
in the field with but just the same – the double simple of nearly
any make is my favorite for threshing. They respond to the governor
under a sudden load quicker than the best single of the same power
ever built and the latter is superior to the compound in this
respect. However, either of the above is entirely satisfactory if
they have a good excess of power.
In my book, a clean boiler and plenty of cylinder oil is the
stuff. I am strictly current on steam and use it the year around. I
never did claim to be an expert and am not too smart to call on a
machinist or boiler maker when I need help but if I took an engine
out in good shape and it wasted all the water and fuel that I could
get to it, I would shut it down or get someone else to run it.
Cause and effect are all that I recognize in steam engine work,
but at the same time I have every respect for the opinion of anyone
else as long as it does not violate common sense or is based on
prejudice or a zeal to discredit something or some one.
There has been a lot of baloney kicked around in recent years
about this or that engine taking a great deal more fuel than
another, etc. In the actual rough and tumble conditions of
threshing there was nothing like the difference we hear about.
True, there were hard and easy steamers but they were very often of
the same make and size – the condition of the engine and boiler,
the kind of fuel and water, and the skill of the operator accounted
for much or most of the difference.
In the days of steam power on the farm I never heard even one
farmer from here to Dakota complain about the fuel the engine
burned, but they would kick quick and hard about breakdowns and
poor threshing that would cost them far more than the fuel bill
which was always a small fraction of the cost.
It has often happened that one man would condemn an engine as
being no good and someone else would have no trouble with it. In a
case like this anyone can draw their own conclusion as I draw