Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff

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The morning line-up firing up. Courtesy of J. F. Mermoud, 835 Westwood Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63011.
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Case engine meets Case separator Keck Gonnerman engine meets Keck Gonnerman separator in a dual grain threshing demonstration. Courtesy of J. F. Mermoud, 835 Westwood Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63011.
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Another view of Keck Gonnerman Threshing Outfit (rig). Courtesy of J. F. Mermoud, 835 Westwood Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63011.
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Another view of Case threshing outfit (rig). Courtesy of J. F. Mermoud, 835 Westwood Drive, Ballwin, Missouri 63011.
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Jack W. Beamish and his 75 Case, serial number 25289. My 75 Case which I acquired from my Uncle in 1969. Notice I left a 3 foot opening around the bottom of the shed to prevent rust deterioration. Courtesy of Jack W. Beamish, Box 271, Hamiota, Manitoba,
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I acquired this engine from the St. Cloud Hospital recently. The engine is Steam, 4 cylinder, 12'' pistons by 14'' stroke, connected to a 300 K. W. Generator which furnished power for some years from 1946 and after that was used for standby. Overall heigh

According to the latest news from the city of Dayton, Ohio, it
appears that a new gang has taken over the control and ownership of
the city transit system. We speak of ‘gang’ meaningfully,
in that it looks like the next step will be to get rid of the
wonderful electric trackless trolley system throughout that city.
It just looks like these so-called modern ‘engineers and
experts’ simply can’t be happy with something that’s
already tried and true, clean and economical to run, as well as
almost fool-proof in operation and maintenance. Although we did
hate to see the wonderful old electric street cars go, that ran on
the tracks with a nostalgic clickety-clack, some years ago, the
fine electric trackless trolleys are at least next best. They are
silent, have the fastest get-away of any public conveyance I ever
saw, and the sparks from their overhead trolleys and electric
motors actually put out the element of ozone which purifies the
city atmosphere. Besides, the electric trackless trolleys don’t
have the extra parts the diesel busses require, such as
transmissions to replace, etc., etc. They are simple, powerful,
speedy, and clean the very finest thing in this age of so-called
ecology. And yet, in an era when political ideologists are crying
their eyes out for pure air, if we are to survive, the new Dayton
Rapid Transit Authority ‘take-over’ is already planning to
scrap the fine machines for diesel busses that will further pollute
the city atmosphere. Those opposing this move have even revealed
that the new ruling transit body has gone to such extremes as
destroying all parts-replacement sheets and data pertaining to the
electric transit trolleys, in a secret maneuver to prevent repairs
of existing equipment and hasten conversion to the diesel

Even though the city of Dayton already has the expensive
overhead trolley system in working condition, they still prefer to
rip all this fine transit equipment out for something that’s
worse, noisy and dirty and, in performance, can’t equal it in
any way, shape or form.

Modern politicians keep crying for some kind of mass
transportation, as a needed solution to solving our overcrowded
highway dilemna. Yet none of these super politicos ever seem to be
historically cognizant of the fact that we once had in America the
finest mass transportation systems in the world when the rest of
the nations were still travelling by canal boat. We had the complex
system of steam passenger trains, keeping schedules no diesel has
ever matched yet. And the sleek, comfortable, fast and clean
electric interurbans which served the smaller towns and country
between the larger cities. What our modern politicos should really
be crying about is that, years ago, other fellows like them had all
these advanced modes of mass transportation torn up by the roots
and covered over so completely that no trace is barely left to
remind us they were here.

When my ‘Mommy’ took me several times to the city of
Dayton, Ohio, on the big electric interurbans, the thrills of the
wide curves over the beautiful countryside, the swishing of the
electric power poles past the car window, the climbing up over the
tall wooden trestle, the rumble of the inter-urban air-pumps and
the plaintive wail of the air-whistle, all lent memories that haunt
me to this day. And I never have forgotten the thrills of the big
red and green cars that arrived in my hometown of Union City, Ind.,
which I paused many a time with my wagon or on my bicycle just to
observe. To the south of the interurban lines, running down the
main thoroughfares, there were the many steam trains arriving and
departing on schedule. We had sights and sounds, the perfumes of
ozone and coal smoke and cylinder oil all about us. And no one ever
got lung cancer from it all. The kids of today never had it so
niceor so thrilling as did we. Railroad historians, looking back
nostalgically, sum it up in only three words-they call it ‘the
glory days’.

Then came the modern age ripping up the interurban tracks,
tearing down the fine overhead trolley system, the historic power
stations, the little village depots and finally selling the big,
sleek interurban cars as common junk. Gone was a great and glorious
era of superb mass transportation, only to be followed a few
decades later by the scrapping of the wonderful, powerful and fast
steam locomotives. The planners of this new and
‘unexciting’ age made quite sure that no remnant of those
great days would remain to remind us of the grandeur and glory that
was. They dismantled the trackside water tanks, razed the
picturesque village and country depots, wiped the slate clean,
making dead sure that the ghosts of the electric and steam
transportation systems would never rise again. Next came the
diesels, polluting the air, killing fruit trees along the way,
spewing oil and setting fires in wheat fields for miles and

They all said, ‘If we could eliminate the dirty steam
locomotives and pull the trains with diesels, we’d clean up the
country.’ Now they are crying their eyes from their sockets,
begging for billions for some kind of effective mass transportation
system to decongest the highways, while the ecologists weep over
the fact that the air has become so foul that man’s survival is
at stake.

One wonders at the wisdom of modern civilization. After years of
occidental medical science, which we prided in as the world’s
best, we now are looking to ancient oriental practices, such as
acupuncture in a desperate attempt to seek cures for some of the
human ills we’ve never been able to cure. I’ve just been
reading recently about a very old Asian method of healing, called
Zone Therapy. It treats human ills and diseases through the soles
of the feet. The charts show that every spot on the bottom of
one’s foot is intricately connected by its nerve ends and the
lymphatic system, to related parts of the upper limbs, trunk,
shoulders, neck and head throughout the rest of the body. The
suggestion is made that one person can treat another, by having him
remove his shoe and sock, and probing the bottom of the foot with
the fingers, using a pressure similar to pressing a thumb tack into
soft wood. Trying it out, we discovered that, from day to day, one
can find a spot or spots on the bottom of another’s foot that
will cause great pain. The point of pain locates the center of
disturbance which, if gently and thoroughly massaged, will bring
relaxation and healing to whatever is wrong throughout the rest of
the body. And we found that it really works. One spot that will be
sore, is directly related to trouble in the digestive system,
another spot on the bottom of the foot, being sore, will effect the
eyes, the neck, or vertebraes throughout the spine. The relief and
improved feeling one may experience from only a few minutes of this
Zone Therapy, even practiced by an amateur, can produce wonders
quite rapidly. I never have forgotten what my mother once said. She
suffered from foot trouble so much. And she often made the
statement that, ‘When your feet hurt, you hurt all over.’
How her words have rung true, since I’ve been reading and
practicing Zone Therapy in only its simplest stages. How she would
have loved to read of this ancient, but effective method of
massaging one’s feet for healing. And lately I’ve often
thought of how soothing and helpful it would have been to her.

Whenever one is plagued by any bodily pain or ill, it often
becomes such a preoccupation, such an obscession, that he will do
almost anything to alleviate it. In fact, it will often determine a
person’s thinking to the point that they weave a sort of
philosophical web, like a caterpillar’s cocoon around their
misery in order to survive and live with it. Such is the importance
of finding true methods of genuine healing, whether it comes from
modern medicine and science, or some ancient, almost forgotten
culture of the past.

While attending the engine shows this summer, I often was in
deep thought about a big job that lay ahead of me. When I built my
depot shop, I had gotten a little hasty and moved a lot of
‘stuff’ into the building without finishing the overhead.
Suddenly the awful thought came to me that I sooner or later would
still have to wrestle with the problem of putting up some kind of
ceiling. And with all my junk now in there, how was it ever to be

Deciding I wanted tongue-and-groove barn siding, as the proper
decor for my ceiling, I at once ordered sufficient footage of
16-foot tongue-and-groove boards to cover the 40 by 28 space
overhead. The big stack of lumber that I had now added to my shop
floor, for seasoning this summer, didn’t in any way alleviate
the congestion. How was

I ever going to get all those big, long boards nailed up
overhead? That was my big problem, as I buried my chin in deepest
contemplation of my portending dilemna. I had never before put up a
ceiling. Now and then I would pose the question to some of my
‘friends’ at the reunions. But they all begged off as
‘not being very good at nailing boards overhead.’ I caught
their hints, and never asked again.

It was just before Tri-State at Portland, Ind., that I thought
I’d try to nail the first board overhead, as a trial. My good
wife, though patient and willing, gave out after trying to hold a
couple of those heavy 16-footers in place while I tried nailing
them up.

I managed to get two rows of boards up on my ceiling. Then we
had to take off to attend the big Tri-State Gas and Tractor Show,
the last few days of August. My wife had to start school the very
next day after that show ended. But the following week we tried
again, and finally wound up nailing the sixth row entirely
exhausted and very discouraged.

Finally, Omer Swartzendruber, an Iron Man I had written up
earlier this spring, came by and saw my dilemna. He was the only
man I didn’t ask to help. But he volunteered to come over and
hold the big boards, if I would saw and nail them in place.

When he arrived a few days later, he was carrying something like
a big wooden cross. As he came climbing up over that hill, carrying
his ‘cross’, he looked like an angel in overalls to me. He
said the big, wooden contraption was a ceiling leveler he had made
just for this occasion. He then went back to his truck and fetched
a couple of heavy floor lights he had also made out of engine
gears. He even bought a new hammer for me to pound the twenty
pounds of nails with, plus various kinds of nail-sets which I found
to be most helpful. And last but not least, he carted up two heavy
yellow pine boards and set them up on wooden trusses for

Swartzy said, ‘Joe, I’ll hold the boards and help all I
can, but you do the sawing and nailing. That way, if there’s
any mistake, you can’t blame me for it.’

I replied, ‘That suits me.’

We started setting up our equipment, and began laying out the
boards. I did the marking and sawing and nailing as agreed, while
Omer helped hold the boards in place. More than that, he handed me
every tool, hammer, square, pencil whatever I neededright on the
split second. He helped move my junk from one side of the shop to
the other to make space for our work as we went. He moved the
lights as we needed them. I kept sawing and hammering nails, and
marking new boards which he promptly handed me as we proceeded. And
we went right to town. In a few days we had most of the ceiling
nailed up. It seemed like a miracle, to be able to look up and see
that ceiling overhead. And all the time, whenever the work got
hard, and our spirits would dip low with the problems at hand,
Swartzy would start singing some religious hymnhappy as a lark. He
lifted my spirits as we dragged along. Anything I needed, while
working overhead, Omer Swartzendruber would hop up and down, at 77,
on those scaffoldings, like a cricket. (Gobbles vitamin pills till
he rattles.)

When the job was finished, I asked Omer what I owed him for his
help. He replied, ‘I told you that all I wanted in pay, was for
you to come over and learn to run my steam engine.’

I haven’t gotten over to his place yet, to ‘pay him’
by running his steam engine. But his help was so great that I
forced him to take some pay, which he promptly reminded me would go
into his missionary work.

Is it any wonder my wife and I call Omer Swartzendruber our
‘Angel in Overalls.’

I have been reading a story about a 78 year old man in Texas who
has spent the last ten years helping poverty-ridden people in his
area. Daily he takes his old truck and gathers surplus food from
the stores and markets, clothing and other needs, to help the poor.
One store manager said, ‘We know what that old fellow does to
help people. We save our second-day bread and other food for him.
We give him wood scraps and cardboard boxes, which he uses to
repair old houses for those who can’t afford the help.’

One picture shows him building a coffin for some poor
family’s child that had just died. Each year he arranges for
sick folks to get operations from cooperating doctors, with the
help of whatever financial donations others might give.

The local radio announcer said, ‘He’s the nearest thing
to a holy man we have in these parts. God is using that old

Like Omer Swartzendruber, he is busy helping others at an age
most people retire and sit in chairs and complain about how lonely
life is. Like Omer Swartzendruber, he is also a religious man.

When interviewed one day for a news story, his only reply was,
‘I do what the Bible and Jesus say we should do.’

Helping others to have a fuller life, can make our own lives
fuller. Jesus said, ‘I have come that you might have life, and
have it more fully.’

Reams of sermons have been pounded out from pulpits, telling of
the complicated things us sinners must do to come into God’s
grace. But the Good Book doesn’t preach it that way. Need is
crying out for our helping hands, everywhere we turn. We
needn’t travel by way of expensive cruises to the Holy Land and
fondle the ancient scripts in order to be holy. When life becomes
empty, bore some, painful, the Kingdom of God is within and around
us to sustain and redeem us.

This poor old Texan is a man of poverty himself, yet he shares
what little he has to bless others. It is estimated that he has
enabled three hundred poor little children to get operations to
correct hare-lips and cleft palates alone.

Think of the blighted lives he has helped to restore, by helping
these maimed kids, not to mention the other families he has kept
from starving.

What a blessing only one poor saint can become! And then, when
we become discouraged and start to complain, let’s think of
what we could be doing instead with the spirit of God moving in our

It could help you in deciding whether or not to buy that next
Cadillac. But remember if you do decide to buy it, the world
won’t read about your doing so. Instead, people will still be
marveling how one poor old man, nearing the end of his earthly
life, allowed God to pick up the pieces and put them back together
into one grand experience.

‘I was hungry and you fed Me naked and you clothed Mesick
and you visited Me. Whatsoever you did to the least of these you
did it unto Me.’

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