MY UNCLES

THERMOIL THOUGHTS

a good grain stacker

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Route 1, Box 39, Frederic, Wisconsin 54837

Arvid and Gunard Friberg were my favorite uncles. They were brothers that were interested in threshing and subscribed to 'The American Thresherman.' Occasion ally the relatives gathered at my mother's home place where her brothers lived. On those Sunday gatherings a cousin of mine, Bernard Carlson and I would rummage the piles of papers in the woodshed, in pursuit of American Thresherman magazines and threshing literature.

About the year 1915, Arvid and Gunard had somehow obtained an old return flue steam engine, which they belted to their homemade 'pea and bean thresher.' (See Photo #1.) During the World War I years many farmers raised a patch of navy beans which were stacked on bean poles and later threshed. During the winter months our family would spend occasional evenings around the table hand picking over the beans which in turn were traded at the local West Sweden store for groceries at about . 10 P a pound. Photo #2 is a close up of the first bean thresher they made after its trial run. Gunard is on the left holding an oil can, and Arvid holding a concave. Note the machine was mounted on sleds at that time.

 But steam was just a trial run, too. By 1916 they bought a 25 HP Anderson tractor with a single rear drive wheel. This was used to do custom bean threshing and in 1917 they purchased a 28' Case hand-feed thresher with slat stacker and did custom grain threshing, which in time got to be a big run. Photo #3 is Gunard plowing with the Anderson when new.

This tractor, however, had a tendency to tip when moving over roads and shortcuts of those days. The following year they somewhere obtained a rear wheel to match and made the tractor shown in Photo #4. This picture was taken on the move, going by the West-Sweden store. The proprietor, Carl W. Peterson, can be seen behind the hood of the tractor. This building has been gone since 1960, and only a stump remains of the big oak behind the thresher. Here Arvid is driving, with Gunard to his right. Riding on the thresher is Evald Olson who was one of the spike pitchers at that time. You will note by this time they had installed a self feeder and blower.

Number 5 photo is a view of the rig at work on the 'the old Biederman place.' At that place and for many years later the grain was most often carried to the granary and often upstairs. I recall when I too was drafted for that job with half a dozen grown men. Carrying the grain with plenty 'trade help' was done for the simple reason very few farmers had a team of horses that were cool enough to work close to the machine. Likewise very little shock threshing was done. My dad was a good grain stacker and to set up six or eight grain stacks was just routine, and the thinking was you always got better grain after it had 'sweat' in the stack, so there was no hurry to thresh. Yes, threshing made men out of boys in a hurry. My oldest brother was only 17 the first year he went with my uncle's rig as a spike pitcher. It wasn't until after I got married that I went with the rig for four consecutive years...1936-40. This improvised tractor was used thru 1916 and later sold to Henry Peterson who used it for running a sawmill. If my memory serves me correctly they had replaced the Anderson tractor motor with a 40 HP Waukasha perhaps about 1920.

In 1927 they purchased a 22-36 McCormick Deering tractor with special road wheels. These wheels had twice as many spokes as normal. (See Photo #6.) These wheels were finally cut down too and put on pneumatic tires, as was the thresher. This photo I took in 1938 while I was with the rig threshing for Raymond Larsen. By this time Fribergs had a Chevy truck used to haul fuel and supplies. It was unloaded and farmers used it to haul grain in sacks to the granary, a fringe benefit. Although that 22-36 and the thresher are still in this area, neither one has turned a wheel for some 20 years.

When threshing for Conrad Nero in 1930, this tractor set fire to a setting of stacks. It seems the stacks were set in a row of six pairs and the length of the drive belt left the tractor too close to the stacks, and the exhaust being from the side, and wind just right, a small spark made a big fire. Effort was made to save the thresher by pulling it with the drive belt, but the pole ran into a stack and the machine was a total loss. Arvid got burnt about the face so he was unable to shave for a month, and his right hand was in a sling for some time. The fire department was called and using chemicals stopped the fire, but how much of the grain was salvaged, I don't know, but in a matter of a couple days another Case thresher was obtained, and back to the run. No doubt the gas rigs had some advantages, but I've always had a yen for steam power. After working on the Lindblad Brothers Steam Rig 1940-45, that did it. In 1946 I bought an old 28 x 46 Case and got a small run using my 10-20 McD. By 1947, I was doing Custom threshing with a 28 x 50 Case thresher and a 50 HP Case engine and had a run for 10 years. But that is another story, for another time.

By Clarence G. Lintz, Hydro Glen, Freeland, Maryland 21053

For a long time I have been thinking of writing of my experiences with Thermoil engines as a boy. I am now 69. This might be of some interest to Mr. Charles C. Allen of Estherville, Iowa.

We had much machinery for the times on our farm. Included in this were 3 Thermoil engines, a 2 HP, a 5 HP and a 7 HP. The 2 HP was used to run a concrete mixer and a few other odd jobs. The 5 HP was used to run the Empire milking machine and the 7 HP was used to grind feed and cut fodder. This was my Saturday job while home from school.

My father would start the 7 HP for me and then go on with other work. It was his habit in wintertime to start the engine and then fill the water hopper. One Saturday he forgot to put the water in. After grinding a while, I noticed the engine was not running right and walked back to see what the trouble was. In order to stop the engine as soon as possible, I shut off the fuel and grabbed a crow bar and put it under the flywheel. It caught a spark and caught on fire. Since it was in the middle of the barn floor, I was plenty frightened. Luckily the bucket of water to fill the hopper was there and I used it to put out the fire.

These engines, like many diesels were quite economical on fuel, but the early ones like we had, had many faults. The 5 HP which we used every day soon developed serious problems. First the studs in one of the main bearings snapped off. Next the flywheel came loose and we never could keep it tight, so we had to replace it with another engine. I do not recall what happened to the 7 HP. I had left the farm when I was 20 and it was sold.

When I came back to that part of the country some years later, I decided to see if I could find the little 2 HP Thermoil. After talking to the farmer I found it just where I had left it and the owner gave it to me. After overhauling it, new rings etc., I hooked it to a generator. For a while it ran fine. Then I noticed a crack where the cylinder was attached to the base. I repaired that and used it a short time when the crankshaft broke. That was it.

To the best of my knowledge the color of the early Thermoil was dark green, very similar to a Hercules. The later Thermoils, which were much improved were red.