Midwest Old Threshers Reunion Report 2012


| 9/10/2012 4:35:00 PM


Tags: show season 2012, mt pleasant, midwest old threshers,

Well, now I can say I’m been to a large steam show – The Midwest Old Thresher’s Reunion in Mt Pleasant, Iowa, over Labor Day weekend was a blast, even as it was overwhelming in the scope and number of old iron attractions to be seen.  

I arrived in the middle of the wet – Hurricane Issac’s contribution to the weekend was a steady rain for much of Friday and Saturday, which meant that most collectors and exhibitors were keeping their engines, tractors and steam displays under tarps and tents, with few working demonstrations. But the rain wasn’t a complete dampener to the show festivities: There were a few collectors who braved the rain and were nice enough to tell me about their collections (thanks Brad!) – and the sporadic drizzle gave me a chance to explore the permanent displays during my forays from the Farm Collector tent. 

Midwest Old Threshers Reunion Report 2012 
Brad Churchill and his brother had a few engines on display despite the rain, including this Keller engine and pump setup (that's Brad in the background). 

My first stop was the stationary steam power museum, which contains a great display of large-scale stationary steam at work. The two most arresting displays (set on either side of the door), are huge engines, with flywheels at least double my 5-1/2-foot height. The first is an Allis-Chalmers steam-powered water pump commissioned by the City of Marshaltown, Iowa, to pump filtered, treated water from a million-gallon reservoir into the city water main. Engine speed depended on the pressure in the water main and could vary from 8 rpm to 36-1/2 rpm in a single day, with a maximum capacity of 6-3/4 million gallons per day at 150 psi water pressure. The original cost is listed at $37,700 dollars (about 516,400 in 2012). It was donated to Midwest Old Threshers in 1970 and first operated at the club grounds in 1973. 

Midwest Old Threshers Reunion Report 2012 
The Allis-Chalmers steam water pump. Members of Midwest Old Threshers spent over two years creating a foundation and getting the engine into full working order. 

The second engine is a Murray “Special” Corliss steam-powered generator manufactured for the Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute by Murray Iron Works, Burlington, Iowa, in 1920. The generator supplied all of the Institute’s electricity through World War II.