Threshing The Wheat From The Chaff


| July/August 1973



J.I. Case traction engine

Pictured above is Willis with his J.I. Case scale model steam traction engine. He spent many months building it, but has been rewarded for his efforts as he received a ''Gold Hammer Award'' and the ''Bench Award'' for excellence. The gold hammer is shown

Willis Wilcox

Sometimes my desk gets piled high and, more often than should, letters have a habit of slipping down into the 'stack' and getting lost. By the time I get around to answering the mails no letter, no return-address to write to. Then the folks at the other end of the line think Joe's got the swell-head and is too stuck-up to write.

I'm thinking of those good people in England - I'm still hunting for their letter - who wrote last summer, asking about the true, original colors of the old Case Tractors. I laid their letter aside to attend the big Tri-State Gas Engine & Tractor Show in Portland, Indiana. Some of the 'Case Experts' there told me that Russ Flora's big 20-40 Case of 1917 vintage had the original colors. Knowing that the Englishman's terminology for color shades and names no doubt varies from that of 'us Yankees', I though the only way to be accurate would be to take a color photo of the Flora Case. Which I did, but, as mentioned above, couldn't find the letter and address from England in order to send it. So, if our good English brethren still want a reply to that one, if they would please write again, I might still be able to furnish an answer.

Also from Herbert Reese, author of SEVENTY YEARS DOWN THE ROAD, we heard several times, concerning his most interesting book. We've been reading it, now and then. I often wound up reading portions to my wife, so graphic were some of the paragraphs and stories which she got a bang out of, too. For those who like reading about the Good Old Days when traveling in old vintage Over lands, Model-T's and the like, over our hazardous early-American mud pikes Herb Reese's book is a must. Herb tells it like it was in a hard-working, get-the-job-done way, as only an enterprising Yankee can do. The many rough engineering jobs Herb tackled, his up-country hunting experiences, sleeping outdoors beside the broken-down jallopy along a lonely country road, cobbling a burned-out rod that enabled his party to limp on to the next village garage - all these make interesting experiences in a day long before the AAA, the paved super-highway, and the Highway Patrol.

Just one episode alone, where Herb shot a deer and stuffed the 'dead' critter into his car trunk to fetch home, only to have it jump out very much alive at him after he arrived and unlatched said trunk - is enough to send the shivvers up and down the human spine. If you like good, rough-and-ready reading about the days when iron men drove wooden-wheeled jitneys to do big jobs of road grading and early-day paving the Herb Reese book will furnish some mighty good entertainment.

We have been hearing from J. Scott Campbell, Director of the Elwood Historical Club, Inc., held each summer at Elwood, Indiana. Mr. Campbell has been urging all good steam engine lovers who endear the steam traction and threshing engine, to write to their congressmen, asking that our government issues a special commemorative stamp in honor of that great iron horse. O, better still, if thousands of our readers would write to the Office of the Postmaster General, Washington, D.C. 20260 as suggested to Mr. Campbell by our Secretary of Agriculture it might help get the job done. Wouldn't it be a thrill to lick a postage stamp that had a picture of a beautiful Case Engine, or some such American engine on it! But, if you're like me, you'd probably buy all that the local post office would sell you, just to keep stashed away as a collector's item. Many times, when I go to the post office for stamps, they tear off some beautiful commemorative stamp which I prefer to keep and this could be another reason why I don't get all my correspondence answered on time, if at all.

We did hear, only yesterday, from friend Milo Blauvelt of Bremo Bluff, Virginia. Milo wanted to tell me how he liked reading about the 'Joe Dear' in the GEM. (Pardon me for mentioning a gas engine magazine in a steam magazine column. But I couldn't get around this one.) Milo writes, 'Dear Joe: I've heard you mention several times in the pages about the 'Joe Dear', but now I was able to see it in your article. I built me a small tractor, several years ago, using a 9 - 12 horsepower Wisconsin Engine. It has plenty of power.'