A Brief Word

| February/March 1998

By the time this copy is in your hands, probably in January of 1998, many of us will have put our engines and tractors into hibernation, although for this writer, it's nice to have a heated shop so that we can occasionally start up an engine or two for some light entertainment. The thought of 1998 becoming an immediate reality also reminds us that in just a few months, we'll be off on our grand tour of Germany, Austria, and Holland. We've mentioned this trip several times, and registrations are moving along nicely, but if you're interested in signing up, but have been procrastinating, our clock will soon be running down. We'll probably close out our tour signup in April or May, since the tour will leave in early July, unless of course our maximum of two coaches is filled, in which case tour signup will end at that time. So if you're interested in accompanying our jolly group, let us know!

Recently, our friend Walter Reiff of Stuttgart, Germany presented us with a copy of M-A-N Motorpflug and M-A-N Traktoren 1922-1963. This book, written by Peter Streiber, is a beautiful title depicting the development of the M-A-N motor plows and tractors in Germany. A number of excellent titles have emerged from European collectors in recent years, demonstrating that engine and tractor collecting is indeed a very popular hobby there. Fortunately, our 1998 tour will take us to the H. M. T. Show in Holland, which is Europe's premiere show, with attendees coming from great distances to display their restorations.

An interesting sidelight to the M-A-N tractors is that they were early to use a front-wheel-assist to some extent, doing so some years prior to their becoming popular on American tractor models. Especially after World War Two, many German tractors were available with special fender seats so that the entire family could climb aboard and go to church or take a Sunday drive. At the time, the family tractor was often the only means of transportation.

As we prepare this copy in early December of 1997, we're delighted to have finally gotten caught up on orders for our new Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements. Initially, the book was delayed due to some technical problems, and when it arrived, ye olde Reflector found himself in a happy, yet somewhat embarrassing, position. Orders for the new book went far beyond our expectations, and we soon found ourselves in stacks of orders way beyond what we had anticipated. Our small operation was completely overwhelmed! In summation, we're happy that the new implement book has sold so well, but we're quite unhappy that it took us so long to get all the orders sent out to people.

Recently we were asked to appraise a small homemade steam engine dating from the 1890s. Capable of only 1 or 2 horsepower, it was built for the express purpose of running small household appliances including a sausage grinder, a corn sheller, and some woodworking tools. It was built almost entirely by hand, plus the benefit of a small treadle operated lathe. We're always amazed at the ingenuity and patience of those early inventors. Having almost nothing to work with as compared to today's tools, they nevertheless built machines that did their job, did it well, and lasted far beyond their time. In fact, this little steam engine is still operable, even though it has easily reached the century mark.

While reminiscing about the past, it's inconceivable to ye olde Reflector that we've been writing books and articles about vintage engines and tractors for almost thirty years! That's almost half of our lifetime! Quite often we're asked how we ever got into writing. It's quite simple. At the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in 1969, this writer, along with Harold Ottaway from Wichita, Tom Graves from Oregon, and a few others, were gathered together one evening, talking about the many different engines that came from the factories at Waterloo, Iowa. Because many of them were so similar, there was a question of their origins. Someone even suggested that there was probably a big factory with a dozen different doors, all carrying a different name.


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