MY THRESHING AND SHELLING EXPERIENCES.
'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.
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 next?
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 record.
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.