“We’re back better than ever!” was the slogan this year at the 31st annual Prairie Homestead Power Show & Market. Following the disappointing cancellation of 2020, the planning committee – led by Jerry Holmes – was committed to providing the community with an improved show. Held August 20-22, just north of Belmond, Iowa, the show took place at the Jenison Meacham Memorial Arts Center and Farm and featured Oliver tractors and Monitor engines.
Power wasn’t the only thing being demonstrated. Attractions included daily tractor parades, tractor and truck pulls, a freewill hamburger and sweet corn supper, a corn maze, plowing exhibits, oat threshing, corn shelling, sawmill demonstrations, and corn picking.
Children joined the fun with a petting zoo and wooden train play area. Youngsters were also invited to help with the potato harvest, and Karen Stadtlander provided homemade burlap sacks for each child to take home a few freshly dug potatoes. “The kids think potatoes are just French fries,” Karen laughs. Karen and her husband, Tom, have volunteered as a team at the farm for 30 years, planting and harvesting the potatoes.
Tom brought his 101-year-old 5hp Monitor engine. He used it to cut wood into souvenir slices for onlookers. The engine and saw were purchased new by Tom’s grandfather, Ernst Stadtlander, and shipped in the 1920s by rail to Belmond. The Monitor has seen six generations. Tom has been using it for over 30 years. His grandfather earned money using the saw to cut wood for heating cookstoves and homes in the local community. “It was essential that ladies had wood small enough to fit into the oven for cooking,” Tom says. Immigrants of Germany, Tom’s grandfather and great uncle came over in 1882 and eventually made enough money to send home and bring the rest of his family to the U.S.
“It’s still in its original shape after running and working for 101 years. Machines from that era were built to last,” Tom says. Some challenges he has faced with this engine were locating the coil and batteries and finding someone to sharpen the blades. He has had to do a small amount of work since owning the engine. Tom added poured babbit bearings to the saw blade shaft and put a new babbit bearing on the crank shaft. The Monitor is started using a manual hand crank.
Among the exibitors was young enthusiast John Dvorak from Chelsea, Iowa. Now 18 years old, John attended his first engine show as a toddler with father, Kevin Dvorak. He began collecting engines at age 8 and now has seven in his collection. “My favorite engine is my 2hp Waterloo Boy because it was a local engine that my dad and I rebuilt,” John says.
Mark Evans operated his McCormick Deering one-hole corn sheller. The sheller is belted to a 1-1/2hp Economy hit-and-miss engine dated 1916. The engine has a Webster ignition with igniter and was not originally on a cart. “It was purchased through a friend. It came from Wise and was delivered to the LeSueur Swap Meet in Minnesota. I pretty much bought it sight-unseen,” Mark explains. He says vintage power can still be useful. “Anything you do now with electricity can probably be done with an engine, big or small.”
Also purchased at the Le Sueur Swap meet in April 2020 was Bob Gorman’s 1-1/4hp Monitor nearly in its current condition. “It was like it is now, a good oil change and cleanup is about all I have done.” The Monitor was originally used to pump water in North Minnesota. It’s started by a crank flywheel and has an upright piston.
Bob’s 1-1/4hp Monitor features spark plug and buzz coil ignition. It’s water-cooled with a spring/latch-out governor and was built in 1939. The bore measures 3-1/2 inches and the flywheel width is 2 inches with a diameter of 18 inches.
Bob also brought a trio of John Deere engines. Co-owned with Terry Johnson, an impressive 6hp stands out with its impeccable restoration. The engine was purchased at a garage sale in Elkorn Heights/Raymond, Iowa. At the same sale, they also discovered a 3hp John Deere and a Waterloo Boy/John Deere cart.
“The engine has been entirely gone through, front to back. We have Kipp Maggert in Matlock, Iowa, do our machine work,” Bob explains. “The engine was stripped of paint, primed, and completely repainted, getting whatever it needed.”
It was designed to grind feed, saw wood, pump water, or power various grinders. It has to be primed and has a petcock to help start it. It’s started with a cranking handle mounted on the flywheel. To begin, the operator must check the oil, then check the gas and turn it on, set the fuel mixer and crank — it usually starts within six turns of the flywheel.
“This engine was purchased not knowing what to expect or what was wrong with it,” Bob says. “It took almost a year to complete while working on it part time.”
Ron “Fuzzy” Miles previously sold his engine collection and was out of the hobby for 20 years. He got a new garage and had nothing to do in it. “I about went crazy that first winter,” Ron says. He started collecting again three years ago when he found his Root & Vandervoort at an auction. He now has 10 engines. He brought three from his lot: a 1910 2hp Root & Vandervoort, a 1-1/2hp
Associated Johnny Boy, and a 1-1/2hp Associated Busy Boy.
The event was blessed with perfect weather. What tops off a perfect summer experience better than homemade ice cream? Dave Fuhls loaned two International Harvester engine setups belted to ice cream makers, and the local Trinity Lutheran Church raised funds selling cups of the icy treat to attendees.
Logs 4 Heroes was at the show carving up impressive works of art to benefit veterans, as well as a wide variety of other vendors. Between the power displays, the live music, the market and the vast array of delicious food, the show made good on its slogan.
Stadtlander’s 101-Year-Old Engine
In 1920, Ernst Stadtlander purchased a Cordwood saw with a 5hp Monitor engine made by the Baker Manufacturing Co. in Evansville, Wisconsin. His grandson, Tom Stadtlander, inherited the saw and has been using it for more than 30 years. Tom recalls his grandfather would fill a Mason jar with coffee when he went to work in the morning. He put the jar in the reservoir on the motor to heat his coffee to drink later in the day.
Ernst’s objective for buying this saw was to provide a much needed service for neighbors. Everyone owned cookstoves that required wood.
Ernst traveled during the week to area farms with his saw. When he arrived at a farmstead, the farmer would have already cut the trees down and prepared them for sawing. Ernst’s job was to cut the tree trunks and branches into uniform small logs that would fit into the cookstoves. He often stayed overnight with the family if the job couldn’t be finished in one day.
Moving from farm to farm during the week, Ernst would borrow a buggy from the farmer to head home for the weekend, taking his saw blades with him to sharpen. Ernst used his saw for custom work for 20 years, until 1940.
Tom still has the repair catalog that came with the saw when it was new. He has been demonstrating the saw for 31 years during the annual power show. “The saw has always been stored inside,” notes Tom. During the power show, “Two guys cut,” says Tom, “one person tosses the cut log to another guy to stack.” Tom works all three days of the show, some days beginning at 6:30 a.m. He also cuts small slices of wood for kids to take with them as a souvenir.
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