613 8th Avenue, Charles City, Iowa, 50616
1987 was a good year for Cedar Valley Engine Club's annual Threshers' Reunion. As usual it was held on Labor Day weekend, which next year will be September 3 thru 5. We had good weather for this year's show, a little rain on Saturday night that didn't amount to much. There were good crowds all three days. We had people attend from all across the United States, from England, Canada, and I don't know where else.
This year the Cedar Valley Engine Club hosted the Prairie Gold Rush Club which is a group of Minneapolis-Moline collectors from the midwest & mideastern U. S. and Canada. We had a good turnout from them-there were around 75 tractors and 35 other pieces of equipment of the M-M line which made a good showing. Many of their members were here, although for some, it was too far to bring anything. A Prairie Gold Rush Club banquet was held Saturday at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Charles City with 225 in attendance.
All in all it was a good year for us. We had about 400 gasoline engines and about 100 tractors of various makes. Of course, being close to Charles City, there is always a good showing of Hart-Parr and Oliver equipment. A 1930 Hart-Parr 30-60, a 12-24, an 18-36, and 28-50. There is also the usual line of later Oliver tractors-the 70's and the old Row-Crops with the skeleton tip-toe wheels. We even have an Oliver 900 which was built in 1946. These are somewhat rare as there were only about 290 built. We have a lot of Farmalls and John Deeres too, of course. Then, there were a few Cases, a Silver King or two, a Massey-Harris and some others; I can't quite remember them all. Mr. Harold Swartzrock has a rare Case 12-25 tractor that was built in 1914 or 1915. It has a 2 cylinder opposed engine, runs good, has never been repainted and still has the original decals on it. They are getting somewhat faded, but you can still see them.
We usually thresh three loads of bundles each day with the threshing outfit. We saw lumber with a big sawmill and there is a scale model sawmill that saws a lot of lumber, too. Roger Byrne from Racine, Minnesota brings his undermounted Avery which is a ? scale model of a 40HP undermounted Avery. This year, he also brought an 8-16 Mogul tractor which he put on the shingle mill; it is a real showpiece. We also have a 2-hole custom corn sheller which is running most of the time, powered by a somewhat rare 8HP Waterloo Boy. There are usually some other small shellers around the grounds running, shelling a little corn, grinding a little feed. This year, we also had 2 corn shredders, we ran one of them one day and the other the next day. One is a McCormick-Deering and the other is a four-roll Rosenthal that was given to us this past year. We generally use a 10-20 McCormick-Deering to run them. All in all, we do have a lot of stuff and most of it is actually running during the show.
We had another new feature this year: we finally got the Nordberg steam engine/air compressor running. The Allis-Chalmers Company gave this to us from the old Rumely factory at LaPorte, Indiana. They tell us it is the only one in existence. There were three of them made and this is the only one that was ever installed. It is now in a new 40x60 building and the boiler is in a lean-to along the side. We were fortunate to get a like-new, oil fired boiler from Racine, Minnesota.
The steam engines at our show consist of an 80HP Case, a 75HP Case plow engine, and a 65HP Case. We have a 65 HP Port Huron engine and a 90HP Rumely engine which is a 2 cylinder engine. We generally use the steam engines on the threshing machines and on the sawmills.
Our ladies always do a good job of serving meals and homemade pie at the lunch stand. There are usually quite a number of people who just come out and sit on the bleachers to listen to the old time music. Every year, we have a lot of good old time music. We never know who's coming to play and we invite anyone who can play or sing to just come and join in the fun. There is a drawing for door prizes at 4:00 p.m. each day. This year, our grand prize was a chest made from cedar and butternut wood. It was engraved with a threshing scene on the front and growing wheat on the ends. This was made and donated by a couple of our members from Osage, Iowa. The drawing always helps keep the crowd there. Soon after the drawing, most of the people go home and we get cleaned up and prepared for the next day.
On Saturday evening we had about .4' of rain which made the ground slippery. A man with a motor home had wanted to leave but had gotten stuck. He also had a 2-wheel trailer behind it with a couple of gas engines on it. I arrived at the show grounds early Sunday morning and he was looking for the owner of a 4-wheel drive tractor who was there. He didn't think a 2-wheel drive tractor could pull him out. I have a 22-36 McCormick-Deering tractor on the original steel wheels with six inch spade lugs. I drove down to the parking lot, backed the tractor up to the motor home. He asked me if I knew how heavy that motor home was. I said, 'I don't care how heavy it is, get the chain hooked'. So he hooked the chain and I told him, 'You leave your outfit in neutral because I wouldn't want your wheels to catch and run up on me and then spin out and jerk it and break something'. But he didn't think we were going to go anywhere. Well, I fooled him. The man who owned the chain was from Waverly, Iowa, and I said to him, 'You want to bet that I don't pull him out of here in 2nd gear?' He said, 'No.' I have had experience with that tractor before. I put it in 2nd gear, tightened the chain up with about half a throttle, and, she began to buck a little. I reached down and pulled the throttle wide open and at the same time took my foot off of the clutch. I never looked back until I had him out onto the highway. He was a surprised man. I wish he would write to me if he reads this. I would like to hear from him. You don't want to belittle the old 22-36 McCormick-Deering with the spade lugs. They are a lot of power and a lot of weight. This was an ideal condition for a steel wheel tractor to show off. I have a lot of fun doing that. Every once in a while I can take a steel wheel tractor and pull out someone who is stuck in the mud where a tractor with rubber tires won't do it because it is slippery on top.
This past year, we visited a small show up at Racine, Minnesota the last of July. In August, we always go to Wheaton, Illinois and visit our son there and take in the show near Sycamore by the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club. These are both good shows. I have a video camera and I videotaped parts of these other shows plus most of our own show. It is all on one tape now and I have made some copies. I don't have tapes to sell, but I would rent them for a small amount plus postage if anyone would be interested.
This past fall, my wife and I took a trip out to western Montana. We visited Charlie Hart's grandson who lives in Anaconda, Montana, and Charlie Hart, Jr. in Missoula, Montana. (Charlie Hart, Sr. was one of the founders of Hart-Parr.) On the way there we stopped and spent a day at Billings, Montana and visited 'Oscar Cooke's Dreamland.' It is a place every one of you should go and visit. I have had correspondence with Oscar for close to 20 years and I believe he has the biggest and best collection of tractors and steam engines and other things that there is any place in the world. I saw a 40-72 cross motor Case which I didn't suppose I'd ever see because there were very few of them made, and he has one of them. I believe the biggest share of his tractors will run. He has them in a big building, with steam engines in a lean-to along the outside. He has a 'grave yard' too, as he calls it.
On the way home, we came through Yellowstone National Park, then through the Black Hills and the Cosmos. If you ever get out that way, you should go and visit the Cosmos. It is quite an interesting little place and worth the money.
Here is something a good friend of mine told me. When he first started working for Oliver (now White Farm Equipment) here in Charles City, Charlie Parr (the co-founder) was still working there. This friend of mine was in the experimental department and one day they got Charlie Parr to reminiscing about the days back when they built their first tractor and the problems they ran into. He and Mr. Hart had gotten the tractor all built and they said to each other, 'Do you suppose it'll run?' You always had to prime these old engines, so they primed it, put gasoline in the tank, turned it over, and it took right off the first time over. Then he started laughing. He said, 'It went right through the building. You know, we forgot all about putting a clutch on it to stop it.' So, it went out through the side of the building and they had to run out and get it stopped and then design a clutch for it. My friend told me this and he laughs about it yet. He thinks of Mr. Parr and how he got to laughing, how they forgot they needed a clutch on it.
We hope to see a lot of you next year. If you want to bring something to exhibit, you'll be welcome. We'll make room for you. We have a nice camping area and we all have a good time. There's a lot of other things to see around the Charles City area. There is the Floyd County Historical Museum here in Charles City which has a lot of artifacts. There is also the Little Brown Church at Nashua with a museum next door, the Chicksaw County Historical Society. So if you have an engine or a tractor or something else you would like to bring, just bring it and show it to us. Come a few days ahead of time and we will put you to work or you can visit some of these other places. If the factory is building tractors at that time you can get a tour of the plant. You can either contact me or you can contact the personnel office at White Farm Equipment. They like to be notified first so they can provide a guide to take you through the plant. The factory stands at the same place where Charlie Hart and Charlie Parr started the first successful business that was just building farm tractors. So we hope to see all of you next year!