Trails And Treasures Of An Iron Man


| May/June 1969



Woods Bros. Thresher

Courtesy of William Lowden Box 74, Downs, Kansas 67437.

William Lowden

Box 74 Downs, Kansas 67437

As I enjoy the letters the old timers write in IRON-MEN ALBUM, I thought I would try my luck either for it or the waste basket. Some boys want a dog or a pony but it seems I was interested in nothing but steam. When I heard the first steam thrasher, it was to thrash for a neighbor and I wanted to go with Dad but he knew that I'd be better off at home. As I heard him drive out of the yard, I grabbed my overalls and caught him down the road, missed my breakfast, so got home for breakfast at ten that night. The man running the Huber did not look back and as the farmer had pulled in behind him with the coal, he used both the wagon and the coal for steam.

The Burlington railroad went only a block from the school and as there were wooden shutters to keep the tramps out, the teacher kept mine shut so I wouldn't watch the engines go by. Her boyfriend was a brakeman on No. 5 and she raised her window and waved at him standing out on the vestibule. She got her man and I got to be an engineer, so guess she knew what she was doing.

Dad let me stay home the day we shelled. Mr. Shore was alone and as the ears were so big for a spring sheller, he showed me how to operate the injector on the twelve horse Westing-house so he could push feed them through. Don't think many are living now who ran a Westinghouse steamer.

Then I got a job hauling water and worked three days when the boss wanted to go home since it had rained a little. He told me to build a fire at eleven o'clock the next day and blow the whistle at noon so they would know that we were to thrash. It was one of those mornings when the smoke came out of the fire door and ash pan on the Huber. A man came along and noticed the water was dripping and shut the bottom valve (unknown to me) on the water glass. I had asked the engineer how so much water got into the glass the day before. He said that it was expansion and since the glass was full, I knew it was the reason I didn't get steam, so I opened the blow-off. But, it was still to the top of the glass. I had enough steam to whistle as he said, but let out some more water. Then, when the mud came, I knew what I had done. I pulled the fire and shut up everything tight. The only harm done was the soft plug and since he had one on hand, we started to thrash at one-thirty.

A near neighbor moved away and didn't want to take the thrasher with him and wanted to sell it to me. I was 19 and had just bought horses and implements to farm with. I said I couldn't buy it but he said to take it and send him $700.00 when I got the money. When I got started, another neighbor wanted to sell me a nearly new Reeves No. 12 corn sheller the same way. I would like to hear from any old timer who had a No. 12 Reeves as it would shell sixty bushels a minute. The first job was on a 1000 acre farm and all the cribs were full of corn; when it rained, we shelled. Wheat, oats and corn finished, I had the cash and sent it to them.