31 Years of Power

Check out these photos from the 31st annual Prairie Homestead Power Show & Market 2021, with engines from Monitor, John Deere, and more!

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by Christine Stoner

“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.

young boy sitting in a chair next to a blue cooler bare metal gas engine on wheels

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.

corn sheller with corn running through it and a person standing behind it red gas engine

view of a corn sheller with corn in it from behind

“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.

green gas engine on wheels

close up of the front of a green gas engine

close up of a green gas engine

green gas engine

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.”

tall gray gas engine

right side of a tall gray and red gas engine

left side of a gray and red tall gas engine

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.

close up of a gray sign reading Monitor in black text

close up of the flywheel of a gray monitor engine

close up of the serial plate of a monitor engine

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.”

green engine on a black wheeled cart

front view of a green gas engine

close up of a black and gold plate on a green gas engine

right side view of a green gas engine on a black stand

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.”

written instructions printed on white paper framed by green paper

black and white illustration instructions for a kerosene engine attachment

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.

back side of a red gas engine

top view of a red gas engine

left side view of a red gas engine

right side view of a red gas engine

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.

purchase certificate for Busy Boy gas engine person standing over a rusty red engine

black gas engine from the back

Stadtlander’s 101-Year-Old Engine

close up of the flywheel of a white gas engine

silver plate on a white 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.

back view of a white gas engine

close up of the left side of a white gas engine

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.

wide shot of a white gas engine with a trailer attached

man leaning on a white gas engine

two men standing behind a white gas engine

-Connie Mattison

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red book cover with a green gas engine on it

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