WEST COAST REUNION REPORT


| May/June 1963



1884-15 hp Westinghouse engine

1884-15 hp Westinghouse engine pulling22 x 38 McCormick Dearing Machine at Mikkelson's Aug. 1961. Mr. Merle Beerbower of Seattle looking on. This is a well restored and very rare engine, owned by William Smith of Springfield, Oregon.

Modesto, Calif.

Now in the new year, it is time to send you a report of what has happened out here on the West Coast during the past year. It has been a most active year in steam and gives promise to be the same the coming year. Last winter, I took the throttle valve off of Mr. P. A. Miller's A-T engine and sent it up to W. E. Richardson, of Scotts Mills, Ore., to have it rebuilt. He did an excellent job on it, and brought it down last spring while on a visit to see his son in the Bay Area and friends in Arizona. After putting the valve back on the engine and steaming up, it worked fine. I belted this engine up to an old 36X60 wooden Advance-Rumely separator, turning only the cylinder and it looked very good in the belt. Ran this engine several times last year before putting the outfit away in the shed for the winter and draining the boiler.

Last August, the highlight of the WSFA of course, was the annual meeting held at Silverton, Oregon, in conjuction with Harvey Mikkelson's 8th annual threshing bee. Earlier, in August, Rodney M. Pitts, of Canby, who seems to specalize in raising long oats, held a small steam threshing, with just local Steam Fiends helping out, using his 32X54 Case and 2 steam engines, 12-36 Russell and 16 Advance for bundle hauling and threshing power, respectively. The faithful began to converge on Silverton about the 18th or so of Aug. I went up to Salem by train, and was met there by Mr. A. C. Wallis of Tracy, who works out of the same terminal for the SP as I do, as a locomotive engineer. He had driven up and brought F. Hal Higgins, our great agricultural historian now of University of California, at Davis, with him. We were guests of the Carl Kirsch family of St. Paul, Ore.; here we had a fine time with most excellent hosts. They make you feel right at home. Carl has sold his little 6 hp Russell engine to Mr. Paulson and Mr. Fischer of Pendleton, and purchased an 8 hp Russell of a later year from Dr. Mitchell, of Eugene. He has rebuilt the engine; new canopy top, ladder, rebored the cylinder and made new piston and rings, refaced both the valve and seat and other improvements on it. However, as he had just obtained and restored a fine 1918 Holt 4T crawler tractor, he had it at Harvey's this year instead of the Russell. I played around with both the Best 35 and Holt 45-both have only one friction steering lever and are quite different from the present day Cat Diesel crawlers.

Saturday was spent in getting the equipment snd engines ready at Harvey's for Sunday's performance. Harvey had 2 of his engines and separators in Silverton in the annual harvest festival parade and Carl also drove his Holt, pulling the little 21-inch sterling hand-feed separator that not belongs to Al Hermans, that now belongs to Al Hermans. More people arrived and dropped in to look over the growing list of equipment, especially gas engines and a W-30 IHC tractor has been added during the year, together with a 12-20 Hart-Paar 2-cylinder tractor.

Sunday, things started off with a lot of smoke, steam and the shrieking of whistles. I fired the 22 Advance for C. D. Kruse and took pictures when time permitted. Around the middle of the morning, Bill Hermans coupled up the 12-36 Russell to the 22x38 McCormick-Deering separator, pulled out to one of the stacks of wheat, set the machine, belted up and threshed out a stack before lunch. Rodney Pitts and his brother Dick were on the 20-70 Nichols & Shepard as usual, Roy Heinrich and Leon Gifford were there. Leon tending separator; W. E. Richardson had some flue trouble with the 50 Case but finally overcame it and was surrounded by student firemen and engineers all day, Walter Mehmke, of Great Falls, Montana was there on the 16 Russell and Chris Busch was down from Colton, Wash., along with W. 0. Druffel, WSFA secretary-treasurer. Willis Smith and his son Robert, of Spring field, had their fine 1884 15 hp Westinghouse engine there and it certainly is something to behold. Elmer Keyser had his model Case outfit set up under the trees in his regular spot and was ready to thresh anything that came his way. Norris Young, of Wilsonville, and his fireman coupled up the 16 Russell tandem compound to the 22x36 Red River Special machine and pulled out to the stack and set up for business-then time for the whistles at noon and lunch at the hamburger stand, tended by Mrs. Mikkelson and capable staff. At one o'clock, all whistles again sounded and all the engines lined up for the parade by the public address car, operated by Amel Almquist who gave a brief history of each engine and the names of the crew as it passed by. Then threshing and trying out their ability on the big fan again commenced. Clarence and I belted up to the big fan and it was interesting to compare tachometer readings between various engines on it. Carl belted up his 45 Holt to it-made her bark and and he also threshed some, but otherwise, steam was king. The engines took turns threshing, and during the afternoon, the Westinghouse was belted up to the 21-inch Sterling hand feed separator-here was really an old outfit! There were 3 machines in action most of the time. Harvey's uncle had a fine team of work horses pulling a bundle rack, hauling in bundles from the field as in the old days. There was a crowd of about 8,000 people present and the weather was a perfect day for threshing. So, about 5 o'clock, the grain was all cleaned up, the belts were thrown and rolled up on their reels and the engines and separators headed for the big sheds. Six o'clock saw all of the equipment put away for another year and then visiting occupied some time. Another successful threshing bee was history. We are all looking forward to the one to be held this coming August.

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