MENNO L. KLIEWER, 43138 Road 52, Reedley, California 93654
writes: ‘I read with great interest my friend Scott
Thompson’s article in the May/June 1997 issue of IMA and wish
to fully support his views and feelings.
‘As we continue to host threshing shows let us do it as much
as possible in the image of dress as was worn by threshermen in
their heydays. I, for one, am still young enough to have
participated with genuine threshing on the Nebraska and Kansas
farms prior to World War II.
‘Mr. Thompson referred to the ordinary dress of the
thresherman who came to perform a hard day’s work and dressed
accordingly. These old threshermen did not come to work (as we so
often see at shows) wearing shorts, sandals, T-shirts with fancy
pictures, bare headed, or wearing a silk cap with a soft drink
advertisement, carrying a can of soda while unloading bundles as we
so often see today.
‘A typical thresher man came dressed wearing a pair of bib
overalls, a straw hat, a long sleeve blue denim shirt with sleeves
rolled up, and a heavy pair of leather work shoes, all suitable to
perform hard work. The steam engineer usually wore a blue denim
jacket underneath his bib overalls in order to endure the extreme
heat from the steam engine and had a red handkerchief around his
neck to keep out the dust and chaff, and often the separator man
did the same. This dress will provide a genuine threshing scene and
add camaraderie to the show for the spectator to enjoy, for after
all, he paid a hefty gate admission fee for himself and his
‘As Scott also mentioned, it would be great if the bundles
could be brought in with a team of horses pulling a steel wheel
bundle rack, as was always the case, and not with a modern truck
with an air conditioned cab, having the bundle man sit in comfort
while waiting to unload his rack. Furthermore, it would also be
ideal if the grain could be hauled away with a team of horses
pulling a 50 bushel high wheel grain wagon. Let us not forget to
place a couple of crock jugs filled with cool water on the shady
side of the steam engine or tractor. If a three or five gallon jug
is available, be sure to place a tin can along side, as these jugs
were usually too heavy to lift up and drink out of.
‘Now I fully realize that all such machinery and equipment
will be impossible to obtain for a threshing show, but let us at
least make an effort to make the show as original as possible. As
he mentioned, it would also be nice if a binder could be
demonstrated, plus shocking bundles and loading racks, if the
threshing is featured near a grain field. Let us remember that the
present generation has never seen these acts and they would
certainly appreciate knowing how it was done during those heyday
‘I have been to many threshing shows the past 20 years and
whenever possible I ask to pitch some bundles into the threshing
machine feeder as 1 did during the 1930s. As long as my 75 year old
body will permit me to climb on the bundle racks, I want to have
the opportunity to again relive the old days of enjoyment and pitch
some bundles into the feeder the proper way, with the heads first,
one bundle overlapping the other. If only I could turn back Father
Time into the 1930s and relive those threshing days, it would bring
joy into my heart. However, I know that this is impossible, so I
will do the next best thing, which is to visit summer threshing
shows and spend evenings reviewing and writing articles about those
GOOD OLD THRESHING DAYS of long ago.
This photo from Thomas Stebritz shows his father, F. T. Stebritz
with his new 1913 60 HP Case, #29816. His Aunt Teenie is looking
around the driver. She died in 1918 from the flue.
THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 E. Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511
sent us some pictures for the last issue and we’re using some
more of them this time. The one on the previous page shows F. T.
Stebritz on a Huber engine built around 1897. The photo on this
page is also of Thomas’ father. We’ll use more of these
pictures in future issues.
STEVE AND SALLY DAVIS, RD 2, Box 842, West Winfield, New York
13491, sent us this, ‘Shortly after we received the last issue
of the IMA, we visited the Henry Ford Museum. We expected to see
the lineup of steamers pictured in the last issue of
‘However, the agricultural section is being pared back, the
steamers are moved and roped off, and much of the machinery has
been moved out. The resulting space is to be used as a Detroit
ninth grade classroom and lab.
‘Therefore, I would recommend contacting the museum as to
the status of the agricultural section.’
We’ve just heard from STANLEY H. OLSEN, 639 N. Morrison,
Coos Bay, Oregon 97420, who sent this wonderful photo and says:
‘This picture is of my father’s steam engine. His name was
Carl J. Olsen and the picture was taken about eight miles south of
Cando, North Dakota, about 1925. The engine was a Minneapolis and
the separator was an Avery yellow fellow, 42’ cylinder. I
don’t know the horsepower of the engine, but I am sure some of
the readers would know. He used 12 bundle teams plus one team to
haul water, with another hauling straw to fire the engine.
Sometimes finding water fit for the boiler was a problem. Many more
horses were needed to haul away the grain.
‘On a still morning in the fall one could see plumes of
smoke from other engines around the countryside, and sometimes hear
their whistles. After dark, burning straw piles could be seen for
‘ The two young ladies on the right in the picture, were the
cooks. The neat man to the left was my father (wearing a hat). The
third man was the fireman, Henry Foss. Many of the men who worked
for my father came back year after year. Some followed the harvest
all the way up from Texas. They were an interesting and colorful
group. We were the last stop for the season. Sometimes, before all
the fields were harvested, it was getting late in the year, and
rain would come, holding up the operation. Feeding 25 or more
people, not being able to thresh in the rain, ate into the profits.
By 1930 or so, the combines were starting to take over and that
pretty much ended the steam outfits.’
This is from TELLFORD EGLAND, PO Box 157, Cylinder, Iowa 50528:
‘Our town, Cylinder, Iowa was named for a government sawmill
cylinder rolling off a raft on a creek nearby our town. Can anyone
tell me anything about what this cylinder may have looked like?
This afore-mentioned incident took place in 1853 as government
troops were moving from Fort Clark, Iowa, to Fort Kedgely,
Minnesota. I am looking to possibly purchase a discarded cylinder
like it, whatever it was, to put in our newly formed museum. Any
help will be greatly appreciated!’
FRANCIS A. ORR, 1617 32nd Street, Anacortes, Washington
98221-3382 tells us about a recent accident on a steam locomotive
which he thinks should be shared with all steam hobbyists: ‘I
feel that one of the goals of the magazines serving the steam hobby
is the promotion of safety. Things happen around the hobby that do
not come to the attention of concerned people outside of the local
area of the happening itself. I have been well pleased with the
articles that IMA has published on boilers and some other safety
aspects of the hobby and hope that you continue.
‘In Washington State, a man was badly scalded and later died
while working on a steam locomotive. As well as can be determined,
a valve came apart under pressure. The valve was on the fountain, a
major steam distribution point located on top of and at the rear of
the boiler, a hard to get at spot. The locomotive was a saddle tank
type with a closed in cab. The valve was on the steam line to an
injector and pipe wrench marks on the valve stem would indicate
that the man was trying to open a stuck valve. However, instead of
turning the valve open, he unscrewed the hub of the valve which
came off, enveloping him in high pressure steam.
‘The point to be made to the steam hobby is that there are
two types of valves: one with the hub screwed into the valve body
and one with a union ring holding the hub to the valve body. The
first type may be cheaper but they are no safer. Full boiler
pressure can be held with the hub engaging only one thread. Opening
the valve can also unscrew the hub from the valve body. With the
union ring, the hub can turn in the ring without further loosening
of the valve. Also, the union type valve is more likely to have
indicating leaks once the union ring is loosened.
‘A final point of caution. Whenever a valve is disassembled
for repair or regrinding the seat, it is very important that the
valve handle be turned to the fully open position before
reassembly. If this is not done, it is possible to have the valve
disc contact the valve seat earlier than it should and prevent the
hub from being fully seated.
‘The facts included in this letter were obtained from people
that were on the scene of the accident and from talking with our
State Boiler Inspector. The interesting part of this tragedy is
that it was predicted by our previous (now retired) boiler
inspector who always suggested the use of the union type
We received notice of a new museum that’s going to open in
California in September. The Heidrick Ag History Center in
Woodland, California, will celebrate its grand opening on September
13. The Fred C. Heidrick collection of antique agriculture
equipment will be the cornerstone of the museum, and antique trucks
will be featured as well.
The museum is located at 1962 Hays Lane, Woodland, CA. For more
information call 916-666-9700.
Another friend from the west coast, AL CROPLEY of 10780 Myers
Way South, Seattle, Washington 98168, sent us a picture of the
first annual Pacific Coast Hot Air Gathering that was held July 13
and 14, 1996. People from eight states and Canada attended. This
year’s show was held July 12 and 13.
‘The BIG hot air engine show is at Lake Itaska, Minnesota,
in August each year, ‘ he writes. ‘It is always the third
weekend of August. Olaf Berge of Cass Lake, Minnesota, runs the hot
air reunion at Itaska.’
One final note we had a very cordial call from a subscriber in
Indiana who thinks it’s time to hear from non-Case collectors!
He thinks we need to hear more from collectors of other steam
traction engines. So, we hope that you collectors of ‘the
others’ will do some writing and send us some pictures!
Steamcerely, Linda and Gail