Dave Mensch, RR2, Box 70, Freeman, South Dakota 57029,
RR #2, Box 70, Freeman, South Dakota 57029
There are times in every collector/restorer's life, I suppose, when you think you've gone and bought something you shouldn't have. Although the Avery thresher I bought at an auction cost me less than a poor 1V2 engine, that feeling of 'What have I done?' crept over me. I had it hauled home and backed it into the Quonset. I started scraping dirt and grease off one back corner, soon to realize that this would take a lot more than a couple of Sunday afternoons.
This job turned out to be too big for a summer project, so work was stopped until we finished our insulated shop building. In the meantime, I was able to purchase a second 32' Avery Yellow Fellow, made only one month after the first one. This second Avery was badly rotted and we completely parted it out in the fall of 1989. All the good pieces of wood and cast iron were saved to fix up the other one.
The shop was finished the winter of '89-'9O, but no time remained to start work. Since the good machine had a 36' Garden City Feeder, we decided to remove it and rebuild the feeder from the parts machine. This was completed by the fall of 1990.
The wife and kids knew something was up when I pulled the Avery out of the Quonset and backed it into the shop just before Christmas. Yes, Christmas vacation would not be the same this year! Just after Christmas I herded everybody to the shop and handed out the grease scrapers and putty knives.
The thresher was stripped of every part that we could get off. The straw walkers were removed to put new side curtains on the grain pan. Raccoons ate part of the straw rack, so this too was repaired with parts. The Avery IXL straw device was lying behind the shed of the previous owner, rusted tight. I was able to get another IXL and made one good one and put it back in the thresher.
Both axles were bad, so these too were replaced. The high Dakota loader was removed and replaced with an Avery Peoria loader, and conveyer with a Hart weigher, all overhauled.
All in all, there was hardly a part that didn't need some sort of work, and after that, there was all the painting to do. I believe now that the paint cost more than the machine itself.
By March I was beginning to wonder if we would be done by Spring field work. Just as things were looking grim, Rueben Zeeb of Menno, South Dakota, volunteered to help me finish it. Rueben, a man of 80 years who once threshed for my grandpa in his younger days with a 20-40 Case Regular, did a lot of painting and helped with the repair of the external parts. I also would like to thank Forest Pence of Harvard, Nebraska for giving me a number of parts I was missing; Ray Albrecht of Marion, South Dakota, for lending parts from his Avery so I could make some parts; and Donald Hinds of Centerville, South Dakota, for lending an Avery catalog with a color picture of an Avery Yellow Fellow.
Most of all I thank my wife, Glenda and daughters, Dawn, Paula and Crystal for sticking it out.
All in all, the project was both rewarding and fun. We had the opportunity to do a lot of things that we have never done before. I think, though, that it'll be a while before I buy another one.
Specifications: Serial #9001,1913 Avery Yellow Fellow, 32' cylinder, 54' separator, 6' Avery feeder, extra wide wheels, Avery Peoria elevator and conveyor, Hart weigher.
The Avery Yellow Fellow can be seen steam threshing during the fifth annual Menno Pioneer Power Show, Menno, South Dakota, September 14 & 15, 1991.