Threshing Reunion in Shawville Quebec

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Eric Campbell's 45 HP Case portable.
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Portable Sawmill: 36'' bottom saw, 18'' top saw with slab saw and saw dust carrier.
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McCormick-Deering 1949 22''-38'' separator with feeder-weigher and blower.
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1896 Sawyer Massey portable, 17 HP engine with 13 HP boiler, tandem compound, owned by Eric Campbell. Keith Miller, engineer.

RR3 Shawville, Quebec J0X 2Y0

Since we’d set the date for the 22nd of August and the
summer so far had been one of the driest in recent memory, we
expected the grain should be good and ready. But then, nature has a
sweet way to let us know who’s in control and we were glad that
it did rain. Since the gang of men were on their way, and my wife
along with the ladies had food prepared from the day before, I had
to think fast. So I went to the other farm at 6 a.m. and lit the
fire in the engine.

We had planned to saw lumber later in the day following the
threshing, but the rain changed the order of things for awhile. A
good skid way of logs cut a month before was just the thing the
gang needed to make them enjoy their lunch. Steam was up in the 45
Case portable built in 1911. This was the first time we belted this
engine to my portable sawmill. She had been a sawmill engine before
retirement, twenty years ago. News came around that an engine might
be for sale, but that it needed some work and even then, quite a
few steam buffs suspected it could not be restored.

This is when experience comes in. I had had a boiler repaired
before; my Sawyer-Massey needed some tube sheet work and this was
the same situation. So, I acquired the Case in the fall of 1990,
restored it last winter and now, here we were belted to a 36 inch
mill with an 18 inch top mill just take the slabs from one end of
the mill to the other into the firebox door. Now show me some
cheaper way to saw lumber!

With 120 pounds pressure and between the downpours, a couple of
fine meals and not enough pie, we managed 3000 feet of lumber. The
men sawed ’til dark, while I milked my cows. And when the
harvest moon came up, a flat hay wagon with a good floor was
hastily drawn into place, a couple of jacks to steady it and the
fiddlers, and the step dancers jumped on to stomp until
midnight.

Everyone said they’d come back for the threshing once the
weather agreed. We went ahead on the 26th of August. Not a cloud in
the sky and you could tell it was going to be hot at 6 in the
morning. This time it was the Sawyer-Massey we belted up. A 17 HP
portable you could bring up to steam with a handful of wood chips.
It’s an 1896 tandem compound with no steam dome, serial no.
2104. Now if anyone could make boilers, it was Sawyer-Massey. They
used a mud ring instead of the more common knife edge joint of the
firebox as in the Case engine. My question is, how do you clean
them out well enough to avoid corrosion? In fact, I’m convinced
this Sawyer engine and boiler would not have lasted so long, if it
weren’t for this mud ring. Just consider that this engine built
in 1896 worked ’til 1941 and had been sitting since then until
the summer of 1988. Merely a week’s worth of labor, and we had
the pop valve blowing off at 120 lbs. The barrel is 26′ in
diameter with 36 2′ tubes one inch short of 6 feet. Dry wood, 1
inches of water in the glass, the damper shut and the injector
taking on water; two men forking in sheaves, I walked over to Keith
Miller, our engineer for the day. He says with the water going in,
she’s sizzling at the pop set at 120 lbs.

Boy, is this engine easy to fire, and running a 22′
McCormick-Deering separator is hard to drive for its size. In fact,
I believe the 28′ McCormick is easier to drive. Earl Kelly of
Gatineau was with this engine back before 1941, working at
threshing and filling silos with corn. The threshing mill used was
a 36-50 Sawyer-Massey hand feed with a gang of 18 to 20 men. He
also says during the days of barn threshing this engine carried 135
lbs.

That day we threshed 788 bushels of oats from 9:30 in the
morning to 4:30 that afternoon with a crew of 16 and having lots of
fun. The sheaves were big and the half-bushel dump on the mill was
going steady.

They talk of the Case engines being good hill climbers-well,
this one is not too good at this. A 45 portable fitted with 6′
tires, she must have been quite a draw for a team of horses and
possibly four. And even at that she sure would tighten the skin on
their foreheads going up hills. And going down must have been quite
a trick without brakes! Now I’m sure some were ordered with
brakes but this 45 never had any.

I’d like to comment on the quality of the Iron Man Album,
simply the best magazine about steam that’s printed. Threshing
stories from different parts of the country often turn out to be
the same, the only difference is the number of bushels
threshed.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Arlo Jurney of
Calgary, Alberta. He sure sent in a lot of fine photos over the
years and kept steam alive by his contributions to what built our
two countries. And by the way, to help the young engineers out
there, some inspector fellows out there should send in some stories
about boiler repairs. Our welding is done by ticketed welders, but
we need pointers and experiences from more steam men.

Well, as I close: a funny thing happened to me cutting grain
with the binder one year not too long ago. I first went to help an
old neighbor stook or shook. He had the field about half cut, but
he had the slowest team I had ever seen.

I said to him, ‘Why don’t you put that young team of
colts (about three years old) on the binder?’

He said, ‘Every time I hitch them up they just run away with
the whole blasted thing!’

Then I suggested, ‘I’ve driven a lot of horses in my
time and I wouldn’t mind giving them a try. This way we might
get the field done today.

So away we went and hitched them up and headed down to the field
next to the lake. Wouldn’t you know it (and I can just hear you
horsemen out there) they started to run. I thought I’d stay
with them but the next thing I knew we were headed for the lake and
I couldn’t stop them, though I was doing the best I knew how.
Well, I let them go and in the lake we went: horses and binder,
with the old farmer running and yelling after me thinking I’m
going to drown his horses. We came out on the other shore and there
were what amounted to three bundles of catfish on the sheaf
carrier!

Steam’s up boys, let’s get at it!

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