Kettlersville, Ohio 45336.
I got an early start with gas engines. We got our first engine in 1900. It was an air-cooled 1? HP engine. In 1906 I got started in threshing and sawmilling with steam. In 1910 I bought a 12 HP gas engine for wood sawing, corn shredding and field cutting and in 1915 I bought my first tractor. It was a 10-20 Mogul and it was a big change, being self-propelled.
When the farmers began to replace their windmills with gas engines there was plenty of trouble ahead. Most did not know anything about a coil or carburetor or ignitor...so I was called many times to get these engines started. They were mostly small troubles...empty tanks, stuck valves, coil trouble, loose wires, switch problems...all kinds of troubles, some funny ones. Here is one of my own troubles for being a thresherman.
It is a wood buzzing experience. Our section of the county is timberland country. Every farmer had a woods and every farmer used wood for fuel. We were kept busy buzzing wood all through the winter. It was some life, getting around in the woods with a steam engine. We would get wired down, stuck or everything would freeze up. We had to work hard to keep up steam.
In 1910 I bought a 12 HP United gasoline engine. I mounted it on a high wheeled farm wagon and the saw brush put on a two-wheeled trailer. I hooked it up to the back of the engine. Now we were really set to buzz wood. We could go anywhere. If two horses could not get us there, four could. There was no water tank to drag around, no water to haul, no more pump and pipe freeze. ups.
However, our troubles were not over. We did not have a Chevy or Ford to run home every night so we stayed with the farmers all week. There were no homes with hot air furnaces; the best they had was a
cooking stove and wood-heating stove. Most of the farmers had their spare beds up in the attic under the rafters. And there was no deluxe innerspring mattresses to lay on. You slept on a sack filled with straw or corn husks. We covered with a feather blanket and oh, those darn feather ticks. Many a night I slept with a coat on and woke up with snow on my head.
My gas engine had a make and brake ignition run with four dry cell batteries. On cold mornings the spark would not be too strong. We would heat the carburetor and really get warmed up swinging flywheels until it finally took off. By this time, I found out that ether was highly explosive and if you gave the engine a slug of it it would go or else...
So I got me a bottle of ether. I did not know how much to use so I gave it a big slug, turned on the switch and gave the flywheels a twist and bang, boom, it took off with a loud bang. Loud enough to be heard in the next county. Now we had our starting troubles whipped.
So then I heard that this ether was the same stuff they used on people when they wanted to put them to sleep. Why won't that work for me in those cold attic beds? So I took my bottle of ether along to bed. Right before I got into bed, I took half a dozen or so good whiffs of the bottle and jammed the cork back on, dove into bed, pulled on the covers and 1..2..3..4..5..6.. gone. Oh what a beautiful night's sleep.
I did not have to worry about waking up early enough in the morning. The farmer would take care of that. He would be there at 4:30 to get us out. Then we got up and went out gave our faces an ice water shampoo. Then three or four slugs of whiskey, light the pipe and sit by the heating until the good farmer's wife called us to breakfast...fresh buckwheat cakes with molasses and good hot coffee as thick as soup.
Then the pipes were lit again, we left for the woods, gave the engine a slug of ether and the flywheels a twist and bang, we were off for another day of buzzing wood.
Pictured is a Model T Ford tractor attachment built by Standard Detroit Tractor Company. The 1917 model is called the 'Tracford.' There were two in our neighborhood. It would pull a small disk or harrow, would get red hot and burn the transmission bands up in a hurry.