Mt. Pleasant, Iowa – Old Threshing
Although the Mt. Pleasant show is noted more for its steam
engines than its stationary engines and tractors, this is a
fantastic show for stationary engine fans. Rain has hit every show
I’ve gone to this year, but the weather in Mt. Pleasant for the
August 30-September 3 Midwest Old Threshers Reunion was nothing
less than spectacular. Finally, blue skies, moderate temperature,
and no rain.
Mt. Pleasant, if you’ve never been before, is a beautiful
little town situated in southeastern Iowa, and the show is held at
the fairgrounds on the south side of town, only blocks from
downtown. And while the Mt. Pleasant show doesn’t compare to
Portland in terms of size, the quality is certainly there, and
there are lots of gas engine to see. I should note here that when I
called the Midwest Old Threshers to get a final attendee count, the
number given was 113,000, quite a few more than the count given by
Alvin Confer for the Portland show. For anyone attending both
shows, there’s no question but that Portland feels the larger
of the two, and I can only imagine that there were more people
making a short trip of Mt. Pleasant versus the massive camp out in
Zachary Tuller explains the inner workings of a Hercules
hit-and-miss. This little guy was impressive; he could describe and
explain all the parts that make an engine run.
Some of the first engines to catch my eye were exhibited by Russ
and Marilyn Rieder, Newhall, Iowa, who brought not one, but two
Plunket Jr. HP engines, both of 1909 vintage. Small and simple in
design (Plunket’s are headless), Russ said both these engines
were originally used to power sewing machines. It’s not known
how long the Chicago-based J.E. Plunket Company was in business,
but it’s thought to have only been a year or so, making these
engines very rare.
Sitting next to the Rieders was the Tuller family, from Mt.
Pleasant, Iowa, and Three Way, Tenn., who brought a variety of
engines, including a stunning 1914 1 HP Brownwall. The Tullers also
oversaw the exhibition of a 1 HP Hercules that had been carefully
cut down the right side to expose the hopper, the upper part of the
cylinder barrel, and the combustion chamber and valve gear. This
was a great exhibit, allowing anyone unsure about how an old
stationary engine works the chance to spin one over and watch the
interplay of the various parts of the engine. The exhibit also
included a schematic of a single-cylinder engine printed on heavy
card stock for attendees to take home, a nice little reference
source on the inner workings of a gas engine. A great exhibit.
Scott Wiley, Marion, Iowa, had a 1910 20 HP Clinton marine engine
on display. Built by the Lamb Boat & Engine Co., Clinton, Iowa,
this four-cylinder engine spent its early life powering a ferryboat
on the Mississippi. Ernie Ledger, Brighton, Iowa, had an IHC LA on
hand, running a mud pump to show attendees the sort of duty these
engines were designed for. There was also a nice, circa 1907-1908 6
HP sideshaft Abenaque on hand, courtesy of Denny Puck and Bob
Ellsworth. Made by the Abenaque Machine Works in Westminster
Station, Vt., these are fairly uncommon engines.
An unknown: C.H. Wendel, who brought this two-cylinder opposed
twin, says this approximately 18 HP engine was built sometime
between 1914 and 1920. It looks similar to engines built by the
Phillips Engine & Motor Co., Chicago, III.
Denny Puck and Bob Ellsworth’s circa 1907-1908 Abenaque 6 HP
There were also some pretty impressive tractors on hand,
including the 1912 IHC 25 HP Titan belonging to Jerry Shahan,
Brashear, Mo. Sitting next to Shahan’s Titan was an equally
impressive 1922 Aultman & Taylor 30-60, owned by Ron Magnuson,
Good Hope, Ill.
All told, a pretty fantastic show. The weather helped, of
course, but even so Mt. Pleasant combines a unique mix of old
equipment. Even with as much old iron as there is to see in Mt.
Pleasant, it all feels accessible, and I can’t wait to go back
Ottawa, Kansas – 7th Annual Power of the Past Antique
Engine & Tractor Show
Even though the 7th Annual Power of the Past show held at Forest
Park in Ottawa, Kan., Sept. 7-9, was the smallest of the three
shows, it was, in some ways, my favorite. In some measure
that’s probably due to its proximity to me; this was the first
show of the year I could get to in less than 30 minutes. But more
than that, 1 think its because some of these smaller shows, such as
Ottawa’s Power of the Past, capture the essence and the early
spirit that drove and indeed drives the old iron hobby and its
Anyone looking for a new project didn’t have to look hard at
this year’s Ottawa show. Plenty of engines were for sale and
waiting for a new home.
According to Lee Gottschamer, Power of the Past club member and
one of the organizers of this year’s show, about 2,000 people
attended the show, and that’s not bad considering this was only
their seventh year. This year’s show was definitely an
improvement over previous years, Gottschamer says, owing in large
measure to a change in venue from the open ball fields on the other
side of the Marais des Cygnes river to tree-filled Forest Park, a
few blocks from downtown Ottawa. Attendance likely would have been
higher if not for the gale-force storm that swept through the area
on Friday night, the first day of the show. But thanks to Forest
Park’s topography, with gentle, sloping rises and honest
drainage, the show was free of the muddy quagmire that usually
follows a heavy rain.
This is a decidedly tractor-driven show, and featured tractors
this year were Massey-Ferguson. In keeping with a tractor show,
exhibits were setup around Forest Park to show attendees how
farmers used their tractors to get their work done. Among the
exhibits were threshing operations, a shucking rig, two balers, a
working sawmill, and a rock crusher, all of them belted to
exhibitors’ Massey tractors for power, of course.
For those interested in gas engines, a respectable selection was
on hand, although Gottschamer says he thinks the rain kept some
exhibitors away. Even so, there were some great exhibits, such as
the one put on by Elouise and Bob Alexander, Lompoc, Calif. The
biggest draw of the Alexanders’ exhibit was a New England Butt
Braiding Machine, circa 1899, powered by a 1 HP Gilson 60-Speed
Elouise tended the braiding machine while Bob tended the variety
of engines they brought, including a 3 HP Samson running a pump and
a 1 HP Fuller & Johnson Model NB belted to an antique corn
sheller. This really was a great exhibit, themed toward the
tremendous utility and purpose gas engines provided farmers early
in the 20th century.
Leonard and Vicki Walburn, Humansville, Mo., brought their
extensive collection of Maytags, including a relatively rare 1936
Model 92 short base, deep tank, an engine used exclusively for
Model 19 washers.
Bob Alexander, Lompoc, Calif., gets ready to start his 3 HP
Samson, one of several engines he had on hand and belted to a
variety of implements.
Maytag fans didn’t have to go farther than the exhibit
staged by Leonard and Vicki Walburn, Humansville, Mo., which
featured several Model 92 engines, including a relatively rare 1936
Model 92 short base, deep tank, an engine used exclusively for
Model 19 washers. Curiously, the biggest showing of Ottawa engines
(which were manufactured in Ottawa, Kan., starting around 1907 and
continuing into the mid 1920s) was brought from Blain, Pa., by
collectors George and Helen Myers. Ottawa fans to the core, they
had five engines on hand.
This was a show you could pretty much take in over the course of
morning, provided you didn’t mind missing some of the scheduled
activities, of which there were plenty. Hardcore engine fans I
talked to said they’d like to see more gas engines, but most
were satisfied with the selection on hand, confident that as the
show builds it will attract a larger number and a greater variety
of engines from around the area. Special thanks to club president
Richard Mullins for putting on a great show.
Putting their backs into it: Club members thresh for attendees,
complete with a period 1934 Ford pickup receiving the grain. Once
they were done threshing they put the straw through a baler located
behind the thresher.
Five-year-old Charlie Backus found his favorite tractor at the
Ottawa show, a 1951 Farmall H belonging to Lee Gottschamer,
Three weeks, three shows, and three very different experiences,
all of them great. It’s kind of sad to think that this
year’s show season is over, but as we all know, there’s
always next year.
Contact Gas Engine Magazine editor Richard Backus at:
(785) 274-4379,1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, or email