The 1968 Antique Engine And Threshermen’s Association Show

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Courtesy of Helen Ward Rennie, Montezuma, Kansas 67867. Gerald Wright doing the pyramid stunt.
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Courtesy of Helen Ward Rennie, Montezuma, Kansas 67867. One of the threshing sessions.
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The line of engines on display.
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Courtesy of Helen Ward Rennie, Montezuma, Kansas 67867. Steamers lined up for one of the races. Ernest Brubaker's Nichols-Shepard in foreground.

Montezuma, Kansas 67867

For several years, the steam engine and threshing machine
enthusiasts of Mid-America gather at the Roy Kite farm for an
annual reunion. In the northwest corner of the state, the show is
located 1 miles north and 3 miles east of Bird City, Kansas, just
off U.S. Highway 36. The 1968 show was held October 3-4-5;

The first show, planned by Roy Kite, his wife and mother in
1951, has grown to a well known gathering; one of the better known
steam shows. Mr. Kite was Case dealer in Bird City for over thirty
years. Both he and his mother are now gone, but his wife, Leone,
still owns several engines and takes an active part in the
festivities each fall. The show is now sponsored by a very
enthusiastic organization. At the ending of each show, each fall,
the group starts again on extensive plans for the next year
reunion.

For the three days of the get-together, wheat is threshed
several times daily , using first one and then another of the
entries. Various tractors furnish power, both gas and steam for the
twelve bottom plow. Slow races, as well as speed are entered by
nearly all the steam engines. There is Prony Brake and Baker Fan
testing. All entries, both steam and gas, line up and parade around
the grounds while a running fire of description as to ownership,
characteristics, era and origin, comes over the microphone.

Home cooked food is dispensed by the different lady’s groups
of Bird City, and long lines of hungry, thirsty guests are served
daily. One day is dedicated to the Flying Farmers and a special
program is planned.

New models are on display by dealers and any type of old farm
machinery or gas models find favor with the many people who come
year after year. I am deeply indebted to Mrs. Ernest Bressler, who
was our hostess for the data on the engines. Ernest has long shown
his ancient gas models, but just this year purchased a 2 cylinder
Nichols and Shepherd that had been shown before when it was a
Brubaker entry. He wasn’t able to get it completely restored
before the show this year, but expects to do much more work on if
for the 1969 display.

One of the engines on display, Fred Brubaker’s
‘Russell’, was manufactured in Massillon, Ohio and
purchased by a group of farmers in College Springs, Iowa for
threshing grain only. Brubaker purchased the engine, No. 16917 in
Savannah, Missouri in 1953. The Russell People went out of business
in 1927, but parts were available from other companies until 1942.
This engine weighs, without water tanks or side tanks, 17,350
pounds. It has an 8 by 10 cylinder. With two inches of water in the
glass, the boiler carries 225 gallons, side and rear tanks, 330.
This engine will travel seven miles on the water in the tanks.

The single cylinder Nichols and Shepherd on display was owned by
Chet Sawyer. It was rated 25-85 HP, and is one of the latest models
built. Shipped from the factory in Battle Creek, Michigan, it was
first purchased at Farnham, Nebraska. Then it was sent back to
Missouri, and later returned to Nebraska. It has survived a tornado
and came out with only one small dent. Chet Sawyer bought the
engine in 1966. Assisted by Al Deerk, Maynard and Gerald Wright, it
was restored for the Bird City show in the fall of 1967.

Melvin Wright’s 50 Hp Case was built, in 1916, bought as a
company machine and used for threshing only. Chet Sawyer bought it
from a junk dealer in 1954. He and his son, Kent, painted it
especially for the Kite show at Bird City. It was the first steam
engine painted, to show. Melvin Wright bought it in 1963, reflued
it, repainted and stenciled it.

Ed Nelson displayed a Case that had been built in 1911. It rated
15 Hp on the drawbar and 45 Hp on the belt. It was the first engine
that Case built that had a long smoke box. Mr. Nelson bought it in
1952. Rebuilding it was tedious, as the engine had been badly
treated on a sawmill and threshing oats. Mr. Nelson, experienced in
steam, began running a steam engine when he was but fifteen years
of age. In 1910, he and his brother, Lawson, threshed with a
Minneapolis for four and one half cents a bu.

The Advance, tandem Compound, owned by Maynard Wright, was built
in 1913. It was 21 horsepower, and originally cost $2,100, as it
was customary to charge one hundred dollars per horse power. It
came from McCook Nebraska, and was brought to Bird City by Ed
Nelson. Maynard Wright bought the engine in 1966 and he and his
sons Gerald and Donald, did additional restoring. Maynard Wright
did free hand drawing of the pictures and stencils used in the new
paint job.

There were many others: fourteen conventional steamers and 3
smaller steamers, thirty or forty gas engines, threshing machines
and farm tools, including a Sandwich Horse Power, used before steam
power. One of the smaller steam engines was built by Mr. Lucky of
Stockton, Kansas. It is a very handsome 2 cylinder engine. Although
it is not a copy, some features of familiar makes are noted here
and there. It was not complete when first displayed in 1967, but
this year was finished – a very fine piece of work.

Mr. Ed Jacobs of Smith Center, Kansas displayed another of his
many scale models; this year a Buffalo-Pitts. He has made several
different models, all built to scale. He brought a full fledged
threshing machine, complete with weigher, a Case that performed
perfectly. Men like Mr. Jacobs are in big demand at shows of many
kinds. Wherever he appears, he and his displays are always
popular.

So for three days each fall, people from all walks of life,
wallow in chaff, coal dust, nostalgia and smoke. Every one loves it
all. A large tent is erected for the comfort and convenience of the
guests. Between events, people who share common interests have an
opportunity to visit and exchange experiences. Not all of the crowd
is of the genera-when big steam engines were used. More often than
not, the big monsters are piloted by young people; both boys and
girls. Many youngsters have become intrigued with the romance of
steam.

One of the most enjoyed features of the show is the pyramid
stunt. This is best performed by Gerald Wright. He is able to place
his big old Case one cylinder, atop a wooden pyramid, then lower it
a few inches on either side of the wooden stack and atop it;
denying the dead center tendencies of his engine. Gerald is a
member of one of the most enthusiastic families who take part and
plan the displays each year. A community project, the show is
brought about by fine dedicated people.

Farm Collector Magazine
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