A Brief Word

| October/November 1997

There have been some impressive engine and tractor shows this year...the Ageless Iron Expo at Ankeny, Iowa ranking among one of the largest. By the time this copy is in your hands, sometime in September, the 1997 show season will have passed its zenith, after countless large and small shows, tractor pulls and small exhibits. It is interesting to note that numerous small shows have emerged simply from a few folks taking a few engines and tractors to a county fair, a local big day, or some other activity.

Recently we were guests of Patrick and Kay Farrell at Otsego, Michigan. They have gone with us on most of our overseas tours, and we were amazed at the size of their tractor collection, numbering into the hundreds. What a joy to spend a couple of days visiting and looking over their large collection.

We also visited Krause Publications at Iola, Wisconsin; they have just recently completed our new Encyclopedia of American Farm Implements. Chet Krause, the founder of this firm, has a substantial collection of vintage tractors, plus a large number of military vehicles and automobiles in the area. Much of this equipment is on display when Krause Publications puts on their old car show, and their military vehicle show at Iola at various times of the year.

The grim reaper continues, and we were saddened at the death of our long -time friend, William H. Lemke of Waterloo, Iowa, who died on July 17, 1997. Many of you were acquainted with Bill. He didn't collect engines and tractors, but instead collected literature about them, and was a walking encyclopedia of farm equipment development. His specialty was the development of the mechanical corn picker, although he was an expert on many different phases of farm tractor development, particularly the John Deere.

Thanks to John Hamilton, 461 Algonquin Place, Webster Groves, MO 63119 for sending along a large copper electro showing a Leffel portable steam engine. The latter is quite a rare steam portable, and although it's got nothing whatever to do with gas engines, we'll beg your indulgence by pulling a proof as soon as possible and illustrating it in this column. Old printers cuts of vintage engines and tractors are becoming very hard to find, and if one is not into letterpress printing, it's not so easy to get a proof. Thanks to the Hamiltons!

Recently we came across a little booklet from the International Flax Twine Company at Chicago, Illinois. Some interesting historical information can be found in this booklet of about 1910. For instance, at that time, over 100,000 tons of binder twine was produced annually. Back in the 1890s Wm. Deering sought to develop a flax twine, with International Harvester Co. producing several tons of it in 1905. The International Flax Twine Co. had its plant at St. Paul, Minnesota; the latter was owned primarily by the major stockholders of International Harvester Co. The company occupied the plant of Walter A. Wood Harvester Co. at St. Paul. This firm was not connected to Walter A. Wood Mowing & Reaping Machine Co. at Hoosick Falls, New York, but a few of its stockholders were connected with the St. Paul and the Hoosick Falls firms. The St. Paul Wood Co. absorbed the Minneapolis Harvester Co., and later this became the Minnie Harvester Co., a firm organized to make the Minnie grass twine binders. Minnie Harvester didn't last long either, and about 1905 the International Flax Twine Co. was organized. History has shown that the latter didn't last more than a few years.


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