Steam Became A Family Affair

| November/December 1993

  • Reeves.
    The Brodbeck family poses in front of their 32 HP Reeves. Right to left, Shirley, Roland, Barb, Beth, Ken, and Marvin.
  • 32 HP Reeves

  • Reeves.
  • 32 HP Reeves

Treas. National Threshers Assoc. 7873 Yankee Road Ottawa Lake, Michigan 49267

Steam engine fires were allowed to die but the spark of an idea to have hometown threshing bees stayed alive with many people who attended that first threshing meet on the LeRoy Blaker farm in Alvordton, Ohio, in June of 1945. Do you, or your show, have roots in the oldest organized steam show in the United States, The National Threshers Association? Then come on home to the 50th Reunion June 22-26, 1994, and tell your story. In the meantime, I'd like to tell you my story and why I'll be looking for you.

Do all children like trains? Mine listened for the whistle of the switch train at the local grain elevator, played with toy trains, and now they've run a steam train at the county fair and have grown up on the Port Huron steam traction engine from the sawmill of LeRoy Blaker, founder of The National Threshers Association, Inc. Today, Roland is a director, Beth is secretary, Ken and Barb visit and help out, husband Marvin is president, and I'm the treasurer of that same organization.

Being farmers, we were always supplementing our farm income with off-farm trucking. Somehow Percy Sherman of Palmyra, Michigan, knew of our lowboy trailer (he also sawed lumber for Marvin's father's house), and when Hugh Driggs stopped hauling his and Percy's Russell engines to the NTA, Percy asked if we'd do it. Well, anything for a buck, and we began many loads of steam engines and such. It was hard work getting planks lined just right and blocked strong enough for those heavy engines to climb. Quite a skill to drive up and drive off, without falling off.

John Limmer of Perrysburg gave us many pointers on proper loading and tie-down of each precious cargo. It wasn't long before we were hauling six to eight engines to NTA's annual June Reunion. We had a converted school bus camper, and the children, aged 6, 8, 10, and 12, soon learned how much fun a steam show was. They took to hanging out on Percy's Russell with the flags and bull on the front. They listened respectfully to old timers tell stories of the threshing rings and just what made each engine tick. We even bought a collection of back issues of The Iron Men Album magazine and read them from cover to cover. Little did we suspect that one day we would sit on our very own engine.

In 1976 we had a special lowboy trailer made to haul our trenching machine. It turned out to be the cat's meow for hauling engines, and our list of engines grew to include pickups in seven midwestern states.


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