Smoke & Gas Fumes

1 / 2
'READY TO GO'. W. F. Steuck pulling out in the Season of 1938. The men in the picture are L to R W. F. Steuck, Dixon, E. Larson, J. Geerdes, Arnold Steuck.
2 / 2
18 - 36 Rumely, Oil Pull in 1916 and No. 3394. Picture taken: in 1934.


Primghar, Iowa

Separator men Because of my peculiar threshing methods. I hired
only inexperienced, reliable young men to work with me at top
wages. I instructed them well (although I made or supervised all
separator adjustments personally), then I promoted them to my
second outfit. My son Fred, started at 15 in 1930, was with me 3
years, then operated the second Oil Pull until he graduated from
Iowa State as electrical engineer in 1936. He is now a professor,
instructing seniors at California State Polytechnic College.

1927Although a little late in the game, on Sept. 13, 1927, I
bought another Oil Pull, this time a Model F-18-35 H.P., one
cylinder No. 6818 from the Pedelty Thresher Co. (Tony Rubus, mgr.)
of Spencer, Iowa for $50. And, on Oct. 12, 1927, I bought and Avery
separator 36′ by 60′, No. 3394 (no date stamp), from Bill
Maurer Co. of Spencer, Iowa for $200 minus blower spout and grain
elevator. Then, I bought a blower spout from Harvey Hadden for $5
and a grain elevator from Sachse Bunn Co. of Cherokee, Iowa for $15
and lengthened the Garden City feeder to 10 ft. Otherwise the
separator was overhauled and repainted. The tractor was completely
overhauled and repainted in my shop, gears were built up, piston
was regrooved and ringed with McQuay Norris step cut rings. I was
familiar with it’s Winnepeg performance. Yet, this tractor soon
developed uncanny compression and power. Under load, it’s
exhaust with the small radiator muffler could be heard for miles on
a quiet evening. It had two gears. One of my engineers said it
moved 10 ft. with every shot in high gear. It was economical in
fuel and upkeep. Although operated with hired labor, this rig did
quite well. My records for it’s 14 seasons (1928-1942) show it
threshed 264,520 bu. of oats, barley and rye from 8,041 acres in
1,338 hours, averaging 18,894 bu. per year from 574 acres at 198
bu. and 6 acres per hour.

The separator, No. 3394, had no date stamp age unknown to me.
It’s now going to ruin in the grove. I sold tractor for $80 in
1945. This I have regretted. Combines retired this outfit in 1942.
The days of record runs were gone forever. Now I was back to my one
old faithful rig again, averaging only 410 acres per year until
it’s final run of 320 acres in 1949. It was the last big rig
shut down hereabouts. The combine era was here. What will be

My Avery separators were remarkably long-lived, clean threshing,
big capacity machines. I had only one grievance, namely, the
short-lived grain pan and straw rack boxes and the demountable
crank shaft pit mans. I remedied both. As to feeders, I had Heineke
crank type and Garden City rotary type side by side on my 2 Avery
36′ by 60′ separators. I serviced and studied both. I
preferred the Heineke. It fed grain higher and more evenly by and
over it’s revolving tooth comb allowing good cylinder teeth to
thresh grain before straw hit concaves, (I used one row only for
oats) creating a peculiar cylinder whine all it’s own. The
crank type band cutters definitely required more servicing (oiling,
for instance,) however, I preferred them for they were a bit faster
gathering in fluffy, overhanging bundles and they loosened and
spread the straw a little better.

My barley, flax and timothy threshing had it’s reputation.
For barley, I used 2 rows of concaves with a speed combination low
enough to prevent hulling and tipping. Then return the remaining
bearded grain until properly cleaned, which, under damp conditions,
was heavy.

Good threshing and cleaning begins at separator cylinder teeth.
The quicker the grain gets to the grain pan the better, which
requires good teeth and open grates. I was a crank about teeth. I
bought only teeth with hardened face running close to shank. Then I
ground off and polished all roughness and sharp tips. Later on, I
did my own hard facing, which was really tops.

Long feeders came before I bought my own rig, however, an old
thresher-man and machine salesman friend told me that I would
thresh faster with a short feeder with average furnished pitchers.
I reasoned if that was true, a speeded up feed should also work. It
did. Invariably pitchers tried to keep the table covered. I
demanded 12 teams wherever possible to avoid help getting too tired
and crabby when running late to finish a job. My home rig demanded
14 on long hauls. This ended with War II and help shortage.

1918My Cornshelling Career I missed the long threshing seasons,
however, not so in corn shelling. There was oodles of corn and a
profit in shelling at 3c per bu. I kept investments to the bone by
buying used repairable equipment, I rebuilt, used and sold as per

First Sheller On Oct. 17, 1918, I bought a 6 hole sandwich
spring Sheller and a 12 HP. Associated single cylinder portable gas
engine from Albert Schroeder for $200. I completely rebuilt and
readied it for the new crop (1915 and 1917 crops were very poor).
Sheller’s were scare. I was soon in demand and shelled every
day from dawn until dark, even in snow storms. This was rugged work
moving and setting with horses and jacks. Early snows and storms
forced me to mount rig on sleds. The top heavy engine was a
problem. I left the rear wheels on and positioned sled runners 2
inches above bottom of wheels. This steadied the top heavy engine
over bad snow stretches ad helped us over bare spots. We removed
and loaded shell corn and cob elevators on extra sled with drags.
We used 3 and 4 teams to move. One, etc., for Sheller and sled and
up to two teams on the heavy engine. Once, because of a farm sale,
we were told to be ready at daybreak, which we were. To our
surprise, a long line of teams were already waiting. Everybody
wanted 1st load. We got them all off in time for sale. In 1919, I
built a long feeder which lowered drag feed head 2 ft. and doubled
ear corn divider length and capacity. Now I had the biggest
capacity (500 bu.) spring Sheller around. But, the engine was now
overloaded in tough corn.

1920 Bought Parrett Tractor I needed more power for shelling. In
spring of 1920, I bought a 12-25 HP. Parrett tractor from Ford
Agency for $800. Ernest Sunkenberg bought it in 1919 for $1900 and
lost it after plowing 80 acres. The Parrett Company of Chicago was
way ahead of public concept and went broke because it was
impossible to meet the competition of much cheaper built tractors.
It combined the very latest of everything on the market, namely:
12-25 HP. drilled crank shaft, pressure oiled Buda motor, with the
best governor and Borg and Beck clutch, steel cut 3 speed
transmission running in oil, S. K. F. and Hyatt bearings
throughout, large Perfex copper radiator, best general design and
out performed all others. It’s large front and rear wheels
could take snow roads impossible for others. I knew about and
studied this tractor very carefully at the Cedar Rapids tractor
fair in 1917. I built a fine cab on it. Now shelling time and labor
were cut in half. Still, I was the busiest Sheller around. There is
a picture of this tractor and Western Sheller.


Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment