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James Russell's Baker engine.
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Willis Pierce's photo: After we quit threshing, my neighbor wanted me to thresh wheat. This was my thresher. That is me feeding it.
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Pictures of a mill built by Willis Pierce.
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Willis Pierce, Sr.
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Willis Pierce: ''I bought the irons to this mill built in 1929. I had this mill in 1934 and my 13 HP Peerless.''
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Pictures of a mill built by Willis Pierce.
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Engine made by Ted Gowl, couresty of Wil Reeling Photography, Owings Mills, Maryland.

Here’s a picture we received some time ago from JAMES W.
RUSSELL of RR #3, Box 538, Oblong, IL 62449. ‘This is a picture
of my grandad’s Baker engine, which he used to run his sawmill.
Before this engine, he also had a 12 HP Russell. The mill was
operated by my grandad, dad and uncles, then was operated by Dad
after Grandad’s health failed. We currently have a 50 HP Case
engine. We’ve met a lot of wonderful and helpful people in this

WILLIS PIERCE, SR. of 11865 County Road 2030, Rolla, Missouri
65401, sent us a long letter and a lot of pictures. He writes,
‘My Dad was a blacksmith. He could make anything. It had to be
right when he did a job, in fact perfect. He taught me the trade
and I have a big shop. I took over his shop. I have my shop in
Rolla. I am rebuilding some mills now.

‘I am 87 years old and still healthy and working. I am
sending you some pictures of the mill I owned and the Peerless
traction steam engine that I bought in 1928. The steam engine had
wooden spokes in the hind wheels.

‘In the sawmill pictures you can see me sawing; my dad,
James Wesley Pierce off baring; and my Uncle Edd Drew. My Uncle Edd
was a steam engine man. I bought irons off an old sawmill and
rebuilt it. I sawed with the engine for five years. We had to move
the mill different locations, so we used gas power.

‘In 1929 I bought a Peerless thresher. It was hand-feed with
a web stacker. We used bushels to measure the grain. I threshed
five seasons with it in our neighborhood. I used my Fordson tractor
on the thresher.

‘The first engine I ran was when I was 13 years old. It was
a big return Huber. We graded roads with it. It had sten guide. I
redid a 65 HP Case for a man and ran it at a show in Vichy,
Missouri. It belonged to George Carney in Rolla, Missouri.

‘I have built many houses, rebuilt many sawmills. I’ve
done lots of wood projects: cradles, high chairs, folding wooden
baskets, cedar chests and other things. I’ve gone to many craft
shows over the years. I’ve traveled many places and seen many
things. I’m busy doing something every day. I’m always
working on something.

‘My youngest daughter and I are currently working on an
autobiography of my life. It should be interesting to see my life
on paper.’

Now this is a little different it’s a message we got via
‘e-mail,’ over the Internet. If this is YOUR preferred
method of communication, you can reach Stemgas at the address The message was from CURTIS COOK, 3500 Martin
Johnson Rd., Chesapeake, VA 23323, who is responding to the
May/June issue:

‘In reading this issue, I liked Scott Thompson’s note as
well as the note from Ken Hough from an earlier issue. My partner
and I own a 1913 8 x 10 Frick traction engine which is another
story for another day. We too believe in looking the part. A good
friend of mine in Canada once said ball caps and tee shirts
weren’t even around in the early days. My partner Charlie Mayer
and I wear bibs, light blue work shirt, engineer’s hat or straw
hat and have our red and white bandana handy. The shirt is also
long sleeved and not short sleeved. We also have our watch fob and
pocket watch. It does really make for a better presentation when
you look the part. What would a Civil War reenactor look like in a
ball cap and tee shirt?

‘In reference to using a modern flair-box wagon for grain.
We use my Farquhar thresher which is hand fed, and you have to use
a bushel basket to catch the grain in. So, you have to do
everything the way it was done to make it work, but this puts on a
great show for the public.’

TED GOWL, 2913 N. Wind Road, Baltimore, Maryland 212341134, sent
us some photos. Ted, who is 96 years young, says that this is an
engine that he made, and in the picture of the engine with the two
men, Ted is on the right.

Long time IMA subscriber QUENTIN SHULTZ of PO Box 83,
Griswold, IA 51535 sent a note with his recent renewal. ‘For
some time now I have been searching for information on the 10′
x 10’ 60 HP Case. What year was production begun and when did
it end? I do know that there was the old style and the new style.
Also, why did its production overlap the 65 HP engines when their
specs overlapped so closely?

‘I have been a subscriber since June of 1954. Recently I
have dug out these old Albums and am rereading them. The
stories of the ‘old timers’ who lived the Steam Era are
sure interesting. Now they are about all gone. Yes, I am a
johnny-come-lately, but have owned a 50 HP Case since 1952. I
threshed for 16 years on the old Eshelman Show, near Grant

‘I haven’t had the Case out of the shed since 1990.
Maybe I should pull it out this summer and play with it again. The
only problem is that all of the old steam threshermen in this area
are all gone. I have a friend at Avoca, Iowa, who owns a 60 Case,
but he’s is in the same boat as me, Father Time has about run

‘So, if there is anyone out there who has knowledge of the
60 Case, drop me a line.’


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