Three Weeks, Three Shows

Portland, Indiana Mi Pleasant, Iowa Ottawa, Kansas


| November/December 2001



1/2 HP Plunket Jr. Engine

Nameplate on Russ and Marilyn Rieder's 1909 1/2 HP Plunket Jr.

Mt. Pleasant, Iowa - Old Threshing Reunion

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 Portland.

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.