Rumely Oil-Pull

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana 47390.

Joe Fahnestock

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Dayton Daily News & Radio's 'Joe's Journal'

You can't argue with this fellow-he's too good natured. And he's probably liable to smile at you with a warm, ear-to-ear grin that'll disarm you anyway so that you forget what it was you were arguing about. Then you wind up agreeing with him, especially if it's about Rumely Oil-Pulls because you've found out he knows more about them than you do. (Unless you're Ralph Horstman who made his climb the steepest hill at Wauseon.)

Wherever there's an old-time tractor meet in the Buckeye-Hoosierland area, you'll see him--somewhere over by the Rumelys, looking over the oiler, or listening to the stack music while tinkering with mixture of oil and water till she barks just right. Whether it's at his home-plate show of Rushville, Ind., where he takes his fleet of four Oil-Pulls, or later at Georgetown, Ohio, the Miami Valley Threshers at London, or Tri-State at Portland--he can be both seen and heard lining someone's big Rumely up to the fan belt to stir up the afternoon breezes with a little demonstration of Oil-Pull horsepower.

The first time I ever met Jack Maple he was carrying a bundle of Rumely Oil-Pull decals under his arm, striding among the line-up of old tractors with his wife, Hazel, on the National Threshers grounds at Wauseon, Ohio, several years ago. The friendly smile, the weather-worn face, the dark brown eyes underneath that broad-brimmed straw hat reminded me of the proverbial farm boy who had grown up, still loving the things he had aspired to in his youth.

Ambling up to an old Rumely nearby, he spread out one of his decals to show the improvement it made on the original antique product. And it did, adding a couple hundred dollars to the appearance.

From then on, wherever I'd attend a steam engine--gas tractor reunion, there would be Jack and Hazel Maple some-where in the crowd, milling about the internal-combustion segment. For they are of the friendly kind of elbow-rubbing farm folk who like to congregate around the engines, talking engines, working on engines and/or running engines whenever the occasion demands. And, for all the many other little chores a man can't do, like peeling apple schnitz at Tri-State for apple butter, helping with the Sunday morning Bible classes at the Darke County Threshers, or the thousand-and-one odd chores at their Rushville, Ind., reunion, Hazel Maple, leaving Jack with his Rumely, always rushes to fill in.

It was several years ago that Hazel Maple began gently prodding the directors of the Pioneer Steam Engineers Association at Rushville, Ind., about the need for some kind of pictorial history of that organization. From hundreds of old farm family portraits and threshing scenes, taken by box cameras years ago throughout the area, as well as pictures taken later during the shows, Hazel spent many a mid-night hour compiling the historical booklet which she edited into a photo journalistic record of the Pioneer Steam Engineers Historical Organization over the many years of its existence.

But, not to be outdone by Hazel, Jack Maple, despite his mild-mannered ways and winning smile, could be prodded to stand up on his hind legs and fight for the rights of antique tractor and gas engine exhibitors whenever the occasion called. For, as in most steam and gas engine shows, the time had arrived when some of the Pioneer Steam Engine men argued that, since the show started from a steam engine nucleus, it should remain therefore steam only. But, just as stubbornly, Jack Maple, a director devoted to the historical impact of internal combustion, argued back that the gas tractor and gas engine was a part of the evolution of agricultural mechanization on the American farm scene too.

Thus it is that, in addition to the hard-core nucleus of steam power that annually makes up the agenda of horsepower action at the Rushville Pioneer Engineers Show, there is also an impressive line-up of antique gas engines, gas tractors and, last but not least, the Rumely Oil-Pulls, which came along after steam left off. And contributing most to latter is the Maple fleet of foursome Oil-Pulls in the Rumely line, the largest and latest of which is the huge 10-ton Model F one-cylinder Rumely Road Roller of 1911 vintage.

Note that infectious smile of Jack's--the first time I met Spark Plug Jack Maple and wife Hazel, was at National Threshers, Wauseon, Ohio, some years ago. And Jack had an armful of Rumely Oil-Pull decals, one of which he held up onto an old Rumely to show how much it improved the old engine. (Despite her black glasses, Hazel can see right through Jack's antics around the reunions).

At first sight, the big Rumely Road Roller presents an outline that is both impressive and overly ambitious for such a big hunk of machinery. Like a teenage boy, bedecked in his first pair of long trousers and man's hat, ready to meet his first date, the high front and unusual slant could mislead one into believing it was done to lend a sort of power juggernaut aura coming down the road. But such was not the case. For, as the story goes, this was the first and only road roller ever built by Rumely Oil-Pull and therefore necessarily a bit experimental.

'The first roller they mounted under the front end was too small in diameter and the mud and dirt piling up on it caused it to slide,' is the way Jack Maple tells the story. 'So they had to mount a larger roller and this hoisted the front end higher.'

But every time the Rushville Pioneer Engineers hold their daily parade, it's always the big Rumely Road Roller that Jack Maple hops up onto--like a boy rushing to play with his newest 'toy'-- throttling it around over the parade route nestled down in the natural ravine, sounding more like the rest of the steam engineers on their iron horses than that of internal combustion.

Following the big Rumely Road Roller on my Joe Dear, whether in parade or over the grounds, I soon became lured into the thrill of listening to its rythmic, single-cylinder exhaust from the huge stack. Surely, in days gone by, if a farmer had to give up steam, this would have been next best in way of substitute for farm power and road work. True there was no whistle cord to pull on, even if Jack Maple might reach for it by way of habit. But the sound of steady power was evident on this rolling juggernaut whose mighty piston never missed a beat, jostling Maple like a 'Jumping Jack' way up there on his seat.

Spark Plug Jack Maple's latest 'toy' is this big one-cylinder Rumely Oil-Pull of ten tons and 1911 vintage. It was the only one made by Rumely who later installed a larger roller which hoisted the front end a little extra. Jack says, 'It runs and sounds like a big steam engine. I love it.' (As if we didn't know, because he's still smiling).

It looks like the fleet's in. At the close of this year's Rushville Pioneer Engineers Show, Jack Maple turned the big flywheels and got all four Rumely Oil-Pulls running at the same time to line 'em up to have their 'pitchers took'. Left to right, Rumely Model F Road Roller, 10-tons, vintage of 1911, 20-40 Model G 6-tons, 1920, Model Y 30-50, 6-tons, 1928 and Model G 20-35, 4-tons, built in 1925.

'A fellow gets about as much kick out of running this as any steam engine,' muses Jack. 'I just love it.' And, to prove he loved it, Jack

Maple later came 'round to the STEM-GAS MAGAZINE subscription stand to complain of an injury he had just received on his 'throttle hand'.

Jack Maple heads a tandem of Rumely Oil-Pulls at O. V. A. M. Show, George-town, Ohio. Maple is an expert at 'doctoring the medicine' into a big Rumely.

'I just burned my hand,' he said, trying to sound hurt and sad as he flexed his 'injured paw' which exhibited a very slight scar. His dark brown eyes underneath the wide-brimmed straw hat betrayed a mixture of pain and joy coupled with a slight smile he tried to camouflage from his wife, Hazel, who was chatting with us at the time.

'Oh, Jack,' she sighed. 'I suppose you think that's going to get you out of work for the next two days so you can run the engine. It's a wonder you don't lose your job, always finding excuses to lay off during these reunions.' Hazel's eyes also betrayed that rare mixture of reprimand with an understanding of hubby's hobby cultivated over years of experience.

'Well, you can see how my hand's injured,' pleaded Jack, rubbing his hand to allay the 'pain'--trying desperately to stifle his smile long enough to gain a little sympathy from the all-wise Hazel. 'I'll just have to show them the scar and tell them I won't be able to work this afternoon.'

'Jack, they're wise to your antics by now,' summed up Hazel with that knowing look. But Jack Maple won out. He was back at the Pioneer Engineer's reunion that afternoon, running his Rumely with his 'injured throttle hand' all over the grounds.

Although Jack Maple spent most of his time running the big roller, he also had his three other Rumely Oil-Pulls on the grounds--a 20-40 Model G, six-ton of 1920 vintage, a Model Y 20-50 of six-tons built in 1928 and a 20-35 Model G, four-ton, turned out from the factory in 1925.

'There's still one more big Rumely I want. I don't want to feel like a hog on these things, but I really think I should have it,' explained Maple, momentarily forgetting his 'painful' hand to smile again. (Collecting Rumelys, like getting out of work, can become a disease too, eh, Jack?)

And then there's that additional Rumely which Jack owns, way up north six or seven hundred miles, which he slips off to run now and then and 'check over'--as a legitimate excuse to take Hazel on a vacation trip to get away from his other Rumelys. Like our city mail carrier who rests his tired hoofs by going to square dances in the evenings, so Jack Maple hops from Rumely to Rumely for his relaxation and recreation. And here I thought our service station mechanic was nuts, working on cars all week then going to the Sunday races for quiet meditation and solitude, as his method of 'soul searching' to keep the Sabbath holy.

Indeed, it is the same sad state of affairs for Jack Maple not to be up on the throbbing deck of a Rumely Oil-Pull as for a fish to be out of water, our mail carrier having to entertain his Mother-in-law instead of going to the evening square dance or the garage mechanic having to go to church on Sunday because the races were cancelled by rain. And that's exactly the dilemma that faces Jack Maple, after the reunions are all over, his throttle hand is all healed over and he has to check into the factory come Fall. (So he can earn more money to buy more Rumelys.)

Threshing time at Rollag, Minnesota.

At top left is a 1917 20-40 Case tractor. Center photo is a 1915 Wallis Model J Cub Jr. and at right is a 1915 Wallis Cub. Bottom left is a 1920 Samson Model M. Center shot is of a 1920 Wallis Model K, 1915 Cub Jr. Model J Wallis, 1913 Wallis Cub, 1912 Wallis Bear and on right is a 1917 Heider 9-16. All these photos taken at Portland, Indiana Show in August of 1972.

But somehow we love Jack Maple for just the way he is--and Hazel too, for seeing through Jack so expertly and tolerating all his foibles and weaknesses-- so that he can somehow get out of work and get in all his play with the Rumelys, come summer reunion time once again. For without such as Jack Maple and his like at the engine rallies, running his Oil-Pulls, and Hazel, and her like, keeping hubby in line and happy at the same time--well, where would this crazy human race end up anyway?

As Spark Plug Joe King once said, upon first meeting our latest Spark Plug--'That Jack Maple is tops. He's one of the finest, nicest fellows I've ever met. And he really knows his old-time tractors. It's a pleasure to know him.'

For those of us who have met Jack Maple, and those of you who haven't yet but will be wanting to meet him, we chorus the same refrain. 'A real guy who gets under your skin--solid, dependable, like an old Rumely Oil-Pull, which has sort of become the Maple trademark at most Hoosier-Buckeye area engine hootenanies. For the nomenclatures, Jack Maple and Rumely Oil-Pull have become synonymous at the reunions here of late.

For your tireless efforts at searching out and preserving the noble line of old Rumely Oil-Pulls, for laboring lovingly over them at restoring them to original power and dignity, for rightly mixing fuel and water to make 'em perk at peak performance--we invite you, Spark Plug Jack Maple, (and Hazel to watch him), into our growing Hall of Spark Plug Fame. May your supply of Rumely decals suffice to be plastered onto every old Oil-Pull bearing the famous name, that the history and glory of the power that was, and is, shall ever be--for future generations to see.

Keep the big one-lung O. P. Road Roller a-runnin'. And someday I'll challenge you with the Joe Dear, to climb the big Rushville hill. Chug, chug!

2 cyl. Edwards engine, owned by Art. Erickson of Pontiac, Illinois.

This 50 bottom Oliver Plow was demonstrated at Purdue University in 1911 pulled by 3 30-60 Oilpulls. I do not remember the date. I remember when it occured as it was some 60 miles from where I live.

I thought you might be interested in these pictures of an old Coldwell lawn mower I found last winter. I don't recall ever seeing one just like it. The engine is hit and miss governed, hopper-cooled and has battery ignition, using a buzzer type coil and 1/2 spark plug.

The drive to both reel and propelling roller is by heavy roller chain, with separate clutches for both.

I have only partially restored this mower, but it seems at best operating it would have been a real mans job, since there is no reverse and only one side of the roller is driven.

This is a very heavy machine and made a good load for the pickup truck I hauled it in.