| May/June 1962

Primghar, Iowa

(In 3 parts - Part 3)

A Day in My Days

In closing my Life's Chapter of Steam Engineering, I will quote my article to Iron men Magazine, Nov. '52, 'A Day In My Days', of which I would like to tell you. I had switched from steam to oil-pull power in 1919, which from a business angle I never regret. But, that is another story. I had run steam too long to lose the sensation and thrill which steam men cherish even to the smell of smoke and aroma of frying cylinder oil. So it was, when some years later, a thresherman friend was quitting his 22 HP return flue Minneapolis engine for a gas rig, I asked him for permission to once again steam her up. He assured me it was a pleasure and he would leave the water in for me. Great was the anticipation of again starting that fire, readying for a trip, to hear the simmering of water which turns to singing in my ears, to see the gauge needle moving away from the pin and above all, to open cylinder cocks and gently open the throttle. So it was, during the latter days of that year's threshing run, my faithful 30-60 Oil-Pull sort of lost its appeal to me, but I did as usual after a season run, cleaned her of grease and grime and shedded her. Then, finally, it came to pass on a nice, mild September morn, I loaded wood and coal and started for the old shed where I had steamed up before. That was a thriller for me. After I got her out of the shed, I could not resist to pull the whistle, the old familiar way. Then I started out for home, parked her in the shade of a tree and just relaxed. Later, I steamed off my mounted cylinder corn sheller and Farm-All tractor. Mid-afternoon, I made the return trip to the shed. I backed her into the close quarters by throttle as of old (as some may recall, this engine had a quick throttle). A forlorn feeling came over me as I drained the pipes and boiler and finally closed the shed doors. I presume this all makes sense and is understood only by those who have gone my way. A few weeks later that same engine came by for the last time. Dan Cooper had bought it and used her only a few years before moving to California, where he died in 1950. I wish I had that engine now. It was one like I had run as a young man.

1919 - My First Threshing Outfit

I was 26 when my long cherished ambition to own my threshing outfit materialized in 1919. Plagued with debts, I reasoned it would be folly to buy a new rig, a new separator cost $1,500.00 and a new big tractor from $3,000 to $3,500. On June 30, 1919, I bought an 8 year old Avery separator 36' by 60' - No. 7944 from Pedelty Thresher Co. of Spencer, Iowa (Charley Gray, mgr.) for $350.00. At the same time I bought an 8 year old Rumely Oil Pull tractor 25-45H.P. Model B, No. 2576 from Wm. Krueger of Harris, Iowa, for $800, which was originally bought by John Einen, also of Harris. That was $1150 for the rig, $3850 less than a new outfit. In June, 1920, I bought a new 12 ft. Heinke feeder with crank shaft type band cutters for $253.45 from Sachse 8s Bunn Co. of Cherokee, Iowa, and S. K. F. ball bearings for cylinder and blower fan shafts. This was the only major expense I had in its 31 years of service for me. Besides giving it diligent care, I made many labor-saving and life-prolonging improvements.

I personally operated this 8 year old outfit (1911) in the same neighborhood for 31 seasons (1919-1949) located between Primghar and Hartley in C'Brien County, Iowa, where outfits were plentiful, runs-jobs and crews were generally small, especially after 1938, the only 2nd run hereabouts was just West of me. I threshed this 2nd run (685 acre avg.) for 5 years (1919-1923) until they became a 1st run, which my second outfit took over in 1928. In 1929, and 1930 I again had a good 931 acre 2nd run at Lake Park. In 1931 I once more threshed the West run as a 2nd run (my second outfit moved to a larger run at Hartley ), this terminated 2nd runs forever.

I started threshing a little late and was the last large outfit hereabouts to shut down after 1949. This cut my acreage and bushel per hour average.


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