My Mail Order Rumely


| August/September 1996



16-30 Model H

The first run of the newly restored 16-30 Model H. The smoke is due to a bad scar on one of the cylinders (now being fixed). I'm at left in the Oil Pull shirt, Barry Gillis next to me, and his brother Lee Gillis at right.

5231 Wasena Avenue Baltimore, Maryland 21225-3119

I always took great interest in the threshing runs of the first half of this century, and not just the machines, but in the way of life in rural America. Growing up in Washington County, Pennsylvania, I was lucky to get a part-time job working on a sawmill owned by Robert Livingstone. The mill was a 00 Frick. After school and on Saturdays I worked for Bob. He worked for one of the area steel mills and cut wood on the side. Sometimes I wonder if the sawmill did more to relieve stress than earn extra income for me. The big plus working for Bob was the Frick traction engine he kept in a shed by the sawmill. In September we would give the steam engine a good going over for the Hookstown Show and the Canfield, Ohio, Fair. When working on the engine, he would tell of the threshing rig that came to the farm he grew up on. At the Hookstown Show he would run a shingle mill with the Frick engine.

After the show one year, he took his engine to the Gillis farm in Beallsville, Pennsylvania, where we threshed their wheat. I could see why older people talk of the excitement they had as kids when the threshers came to do the threshing in their area. As a teenager in the 1970s with advanced airplanes, trucks and construction equipment, the sight, sound, and smell of the engine and thresher in the fall operation had me spellbound.

After I graduated from school I joined the Army and moved away from home in body but not in spirit. After my discharge, I ended up finding a job in Baltimore, Maryland, and marrying a girl from back home. Working and starting a family took most of my time for several years. I still went to shows when I could, especially the National Pike Steam and Gas Show at Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Bob Livingstone, the Gillis family and the Weaver family started the show on land donated by Bob Livingstone.

I bought a few gas engines and several tractors of row crop design. I would always end up leaving my engines sit when at the National Pike Show to help with the threshing and baling.

A little over two years ago, the Reynolds Museum of Alberta, Canada, had an ad in one of the hobby magazines and was selling many steam and gas tractors. The prices were in my range, so I called and talked to them. I was like a kid in a candy store trying to decide what tractor to buy. I always liked steam and still do, but I wasn't sure I had the money or knowledge to do a major boiler reconstruction. So, I narrowed it down to an Oil Pull and an Avery tractor. The museum sent pictures of both tractors to me and a description of their condition. The Rumely Oil Pull really caught my eye.