Courtesy of Peter Bitzan, 521 5th Ave. East, Alexandria, Minnesota 56308
521 5th Ave., Exist Alexandria, Minn. 56308
As a subscriber to Gas Engine Magazine and also the Iron-Men Album for some years, I will say-they are very interesting magazines. Even if I am 73 years old and retired, I still like to read what other gas engine and tractor and steam engine men are interested in. I worked around threshing machines just about all my life.
My father bought his first threshing machine in 1887, a J.I. Case 32 x 52, hand-feed and run by horse power, with twelve horses. When I was about nine years old, my father put a box on the foot platform for me to stand on so I could reach up to the feed table to cut the bands on the bundles for him to feed the machine. As I remember, this was a very dusty job. Then in 1908, I started pitching bundles into my Uncles Minneapolis steam rig. In 1912 I hauled water and in 1913, I was fireman on the Minneapolis steamer and in my spare time, I built my homemade tractor. In 1914, I went out threshing with my own rig, a 20 Hp. Witte engine on 16 Hp., old steam engine wheels and 26 x 46 Case machine. Also, in 1914 my father bought a 6 roll Appleton Corn Shredder and a 9 x 30 in. Roller Feed Mill which I ran with the homemade tractor for eight years.
In 1922, we bought a 16 x 30 Oil Pull tractor which was for custom threshing until 1967. So, you can see I have to go to the Threshermans shows at Rollag and Dalton, Minnesota to smell the smoke and dust every year-otherwise, I don't feel too good.
As my hobby is gas engines, I must tell you I sold gas engines for the Witte Engine Works for Kansas City, Missouri getting 10% on all orders I sent in. When my neighbors and friends had old engines to trade in, I took the old engines as my commission and rebuilt them and sold some, but in 1930 when the REA electric line built in, the engine business was out.
I had about thirty used engines in my sheds until 1960 they started selling good. I've saved about half a dozen to take to Dalton, Minnesota to out Threshermen's Reunion Show.
16-30 Hp. Oil Pull owned by Peter Bitzan. Bought from Alfred Evavold and used on the Bitzan farm for lumber sawing. I sold it to David Hansen and will be at the Show about the middle of September every year at Dalton, Minnesota.
Fifty year old homemade tractor, owned and operated by Peter Bitzan. In 1913, he used 16 Hp. Minneapolis steam engine wheels and a single cylinder 20 Hp. Witte gas engine. Used in the Millerville area for threshing, silo filling, custom feed grinding, corn shredding and some lumber sawing. Still in good running condition and is at the show each year at Dalton.