Author Photo
By Lewis Ii. Cline

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Courtesy of Mr. W. C. Wally Getman, Rt. 2, Box 622, Washougal, Wash.
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Courtesy of Mr. W. C. ''Wally Getman. Rt. 2. Box 622. washougal. Wash.
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Courtesy of Henry L. Abels, Rt. 5, Clay Center, Kansas 67432
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Courtesy of Mr. W. C. Wally Getman, Rt. 2, Box 622, Washougal, Wash.
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Courtesy of Mr. A. R. Mittan, Carpenter, Wyoming 82054
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Courtesy of Mr. A. R. Mittan, Carpenter, Wyoming 82054

1102 West River Road, Hal lie Creek, Michigan 49017

You asked for more material to print in your fine magazines.
Here is a bunch of more or less disconnected memoirs as I remember
them which happened down through the years from about 1912 to 1944.
I never have owned a threshing rig nor operated one, but have done
about all sorts of work around them, both Steam and Gas (or
Kerosene) while they were in the neighborhood; I was a farmer for
more than 3D years near Union City. Started tending bagger when
about ten years old. I like your two magazines a lot and wish to
see them continue to be successful. I want to do my part, thus this
and the previous articles that I’ve sent in.

One of the upper crust citizens of my home town was on Ins way
to (he county seat in his brand new Buick and chanced to overtake a
steam threshing rig, just as he got even with the separator the
hunting pole, (a six-teen foot pole about six inches in diameter,
used to move separator into barns and older tight places) loll oil
the separator across the hood of the Buick, mashing it down Hat on
the engine. Accidents will happen you know.

A thresherman was moving his rig lei another job. He had a
Nichols and Shepard 25-50 2 cylinder kerosene burner and the fuel
line broke and it took lire and was starling to go up in smoke,
when who should just happen lo come along but a lire-extinguisher
salesman who immediately gave a free demonstration, where upon the
thresher man bought lour of his lire extinguishers.

At a neighbor’s place a horse’s tail was caught under
the main drive bell, jerked out by the roots, way up into the
horses back, the horse went down, paralyzed, bleeding lo death,
blood squirting in every direction, and of course had to be shot.
Its mate was terrified and broke the tongue out of the wagon.

My dad brought home a load of coal, unloaded it back in the
field next lo where he wanted the threshing done, about a week
ahead of time. When the machine came the coal was all gone, stolen;
and there were no fresh tracks of wagon etc.. someone must have
carried it all nearly half a mile to the road and certainly must
have earned every bit of it. Beats all, the length some people will
go to break the law and ten commandments. A neighbor told of theft
of stove wood in neighborhood where he used to live. Some holes
were bored in the remaining wood, filled with gun-powder and then
plugged. About a week later, half a mile away, while the folks were
eating breakfast, their cook-stove exploded, the kitchen windows
were broken out, the stove lids went right up into the ceiling, and
of course the man found out where his wood had been going.

This is only one from the large collection of gas rigs owned by
Mr. Clarence Harsch, 8713 Frederick, Spokane, Washington. It is a
like new 20-40 Rumely Oil Pull.

This is a 5 H.P. Fairbanks-Morse engine mounted with pump,
probably used one day for irrigation. It is owned by Mr. M.
Beerbower, 11750 – 19th. Ave., N. E., Seattle, Washington.
‘Slim’ has many very nice restored gas engines.

Here is Tom Graves and his 20 HP Fuller & Johnson engine as
he found it at Astoria, Oregon. Engine was complete with magneto
and Havana friction clutch. Pulley part had been removed and
sprocket installed to power pile driver. It originally was used for
power boat factory 40 years ago at Astoria. The engine runs and
looks like new and is at Tom’s place, 14020 S. W. River Lane,
Tigard, Oregon. Tom has about 50 restored makes of gas engines and
is quite an authority on the subject.

Our old mother cat gave birth to a litter of kittens right back
of our Delco plant. It was a nice warm place much of the time, and
those kittens used to play around it while it was running, not a
bit afraid of all the noise and vibration.

One of those kittens, a few years later, grown up, after we had
gotten the high line at the farm, used to, in cold weather, in the
cow barn, while I was milking, get up and sit on top of the motor
driving the milker vacuum pump, he had found a place to sit where
it was warm and liked it. I was afraid he would get his tail under
the belt, but he never did.

When I was about eight years old a steam rig pulled into our
yard on a Saturday afternoon too late to do any threshing and of
course they let the steam go down till Monday morning when it was
fired up again. My dad got me up when the engineer came about 4:30
to see him fire it up and of course I stayed around all day long
and took in everything that went on. That noon one of the bundle
pitchers came up from the field and his pipe had plugged up, so he
took it apart and held it on one of the test cocks of the boiler
with a pair of pliers, blowing it out good.

I stood there and laughed at him, I suppose he thought I was
just a silly kid, but I knew something he didn’t. That morning
before the engineer fired up the boiler he removed the hand hole
plate above the fire-box door and took a scoop shovel and went into
the horse barn, getting some (you know what), which he put into the
boiler. The flues had been leaking and he said that would stop

I’ll never forget that, and wonder what his pipe tasted like
after that.

One of the threshers had false teeth, and when he had finished
his dinner took them out putting them in his glass of water, shook
it up to rinse them off, drank the water then returned them to his
mouth. My mother saw that happen, right at the dinner table and
nearly fainted.

My brother-in-law is an inspector for what is known as F. I. A.
(Fire Insurance Association) a group of fire insurance companies
which provides insurance for industrial companies in this locality.
He told me this one.

As the story goes at a nearby town the boiler inspector years
ago came to make his annual inspection. He crawled into the man
hole (quite a tight fit) and looked things over. When it came to
getting out he couldn’t make it, the edges of the manhole were
turned inward and it looked like he was in there to stay.

They didn’t know what to do and called up a doctor who said
to lake off all his clothes and grease him up good and then they
could pull him out. So they did that and got some good old black
grease and tried it, but it didn’t work. They called the doctor
again who this time said he was all excited and tense, to get a
pint of liquor and get him good and drunk then he would be relaxed
and that certainly would do it.

Here is a picture taken in 1918 south-west of Burns, Wyoming. A
20-40 and 10-20 Case tractors plowing.

American Saw Machinery Engine Model T, 3 H.P. 2 Cycle. It has a
cast iron box type water hopper bolted to the side of the cylinder.
Oil is fed by drip oiler instead of mixed with gasoline. Not yet
restored but in very good shape.

Here is a picture of a Minneapolis 17-30, type B and a 30-60
Aultman Taylor plowing west of Burns, Wyoming in 1928.

So they did that, but to no avail, and had to get a welder who
cut the man hole out making a bigger opening and at last got him
out, making big expense to the company for boiler repairs.

At a neighbor’s farm, years ago they were threshing with
steam power, and it was late afternoon, they had only about half an
hour’s threshing yet to do.

They ran out of coal and started burning wood. The separator was
in the barn driveway. They were threshing out of the mows where the
bundles of grain had been stored. The barn was very large, I’d
say about 40 x 100 feet and had a roof of wooden shingles. One
neighbor was standing right next to the engine and saw a large
spark from the engine land on the barn roof which almost
immediately took fire. They could not get to it in time to put it
out, and in five minutes the roof was all on fire. They hooked the
hay rope to the separator tongue and tried to pull it out, but some
bundles of grain blocked one of the wheels and ran it into the side
of the mow. It was about the worst fire any one had ever seen.

At our farm the threshers were coming and there was a bumble
bees’ nest in the hay mow where the threshers would want to
sleep and my dad was going to pour some hot water on it. I was just
a little kid at the time and was terrified, thought it would set
the barn on fire.

A silo filler was set up at a neighboring farm and the first
load of bundle corn drove up. The operator put it in gear and in
went the first bundle. Seemed like it sounded funny, and all of a
sudden the blower pipe plugged up. They opened the housing and
there was a chewed up mess inside, they cleaned it out and tried
again, same result the second time. Then someone found they had
been running it backwards and had the feed table in reverse.

Published on Sep 1, 1966

Gas Engine Magazine

Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines