WEST COAST REUNION REPORT

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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.
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Looking down the drive belt of Lorem M. Wade's Case outfit, October 1961 at his place near Tracy, Calif. We thresh with steam in California too.

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 22×38
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 22×36 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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