MY UNCLES

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Route 1, Box 39, Frederic, Wisconsin 54837

Arvid and Gunard Friberg were my favorite uncles. They were
brothers that were interested in threshing and subscribed to
‘The American Thresherman.’ Occasion ally the relatives
gathered at my mother’s home place where her brothers lived. On
those Sunday gatherings a cousin of mine, Bernard Carlson and I
would rummage the piles of papers in the woodshed, in pursuit of
American Thresherman magazines and threshing literature.

About the year 1915, Arvid and Gunard had somehow obtained an
old return flue steam engine, which they belted to their homemade
‘pea and bean thresher.’ (See Photo #1.) During the World
War I years many farmers raised a patch of navy beans which were
stacked on bean poles and later threshed. During the winter months
our family would spend occasional evenings around the table hand
picking over the beans which in turn were traded at the local West
Sweden store for groceries at about . 10 P a pound. Photo #2 is a
close up of the first bean thresher they made after its trial run.
Gunard is on the left holding an oil can, and Arvid holding a
concave. Note the machine was mounted on sleds at that time.

 But steam was just a trial run, too. By 1916 they bought a
25 HP Anderson tractor with a single rear drive wheel. This was
used to do custom bean threshing and in 1917 they purchased a
28′ Case hand-feed thresher with slat stacker and did custom
grain threshing, which in time got to be a big run. Photo #3 is
Gunard plowing with the Anderson when new.

This tractor, however, had a tendency to tip when moving over
roads and shortcuts of those days. The following year they
somewhere obtained a rear wheel to match and made the tractor shown
in Photo #4. This picture was taken on the move, going by the
West-Sweden store. The proprietor, Carl W. Peterson, can be seen
behind the hood of the tractor. This building has been gone since
1960, and only a stump remains of the big oak behind the thresher.
Here Arvid is driving, with Gunard to his right. Riding on the
thresher is Evald Olson who was one of the spike pitchers at that
time. You will note by this time they had installed a self feeder
and blower.

Number 5 photo is a view of the rig at work on the ‘the old
Biederman place.’ At that place and for many years later the
grain was most often carried to the granary and often upstairs. I
recall when I too was drafted for that job with half a dozen grown
men. Carrying the grain with plenty ‘trade help’ was done
for the simple reason very few farmers had a team of horses that
were cool enough to work close to the machine. Likewise very little
shock threshing was done. My dad was a good grain stacker and to
set up six or eight grain stacks was just routine, and the thinking
was you always got better grain after it had ‘sweat’ in the
stack, so there was no hurry to thresh. Yes, threshing made men out
of boys in a hurry. My oldest brother was only 17 the first year he
went with my uncle’s rig as a spike pitcher. It wasn’t
until after I got married that I went with the rig for four
consecutive years…1936-40. This improvised tractor was used thru
1916 and later sold to Henry Peterson who used it for running a
sawmill. If my memory serves me correctly they had replaced the
Anderson tractor motor with a 40 HP Waukasha perhaps about
1920.

In 1927 they purchased a 22-36 McCormick Deering tractor with
special road wheels. These wheels had twice as many spokes as
normal. (See Photo #6.) These wheels were finally cut down too and
put on pneumatic tires, as was the thresher. This photo I took in
1938 while I was with the rig threshing for Raymond Larsen. By this
time Fribergs had a Chevy truck used to haul fuel and supplies. It
was unloaded and farmers used it to haul grain in sacks to the
granary, a fringe benefit. Although that 22-36 and the thresher are
still in this area, neither one has turned a wheel for some 20
years.

When threshing for Conrad Nero in 1930, this tractor set fire to
a setting of stacks. It seems the stacks were set in a row of six
pairs and the length of the drive belt left the tractor too close
to the stacks, and the exhaust being from the side, and wind just
right, a small spark made a big fire. Effort was made to save the
thresher by pulling it with the drive belt, but the pole ran into a
stack and the machine was a total loss. Arvid got burnt about the
face so he was unable to shave for a month, and his right hand was
in a sling for some time. The fire department was called and using
chemicals stopped the fire, but how much of the grain was salvaged,
I don’t know, but in a matter of a couple days another Case
thresher was obtained, and back to the run. No doubt the gas rigs
had some advantages, but I’ve always had a yen for steam power.
After working on the Lindblad Brothers Steam Rig 1940-45, that did
it. In 1946 I bought an old 28 x 46 Case and got a small run using
my 10-20 McD. By 1947, I was doing Custom threshing with a 28 x 50
Case thresher and a 50 HP Case engine and had a run for 10 years.
But that is another story, for another time.

By Clarence G. Lintz, Hydro Glen, Freeland, Maryland 21053

For a long time I have been thinking of writing of my
experiences with Thermoil engines as a boy. I am now 69. This might
be of some interest to Mr. Charles C. Allen of Estherville,
Iowa.

We had much machinery for the times on our farm. Included in
this were 3 Thermoil engines, a 2 HP, a 5 HP and a 7 HP. The 2 HP
was used to run a concrete mixer and a few other odd jobs. The 5 HP
was used to run the Empire milking machine and the 7 HP was used to
grind feed and cut fodder. This was my Saturday job while home from
school.

My father would start the 7 HP for me and then go on with other
work. It was his habit in wintertime to start the engine and then
fill the water hopper. One Saturday he forgot to put the water in.
After grinding a while, I noticed the engine was not running right
and walked back to see what the trouble was. In order to stop the
engine as soon as possible, I shut off the fuel and grabbed a crow
bar and put it under the flywheel. It caught a spark and caught on
fire. Since it was in the middle of the barn floor, I was plenty
frightened. Luckily the bucket of water to fill the hopper was
there and I used it to put out the fire.

These engines, like many diesels were quite economical on fuel,
but the early ones like we had, had many faults. The 5 HP which we
used every day soon developed serious problems. First the studs in
one of the main bearings snapped off. Next the flywheel came loose
and we never could keep it tight, so we had to replace it with
another engine. I do not recall what happened to the 7 HP. I had
left the farm when I was 20 and it was sold.

When I came back to that part of the country some years later, I
decided to see if I could find the little 2 HP Thermoil. After
talking to the farmer I found it just where I had left it and the
owner gave it to me. After overhauling it, new rings etc., I hooked
it to a generator. For a while it ran fine. Then I noticed a crack
where the cylinder was attached to the base. I repaired that and
used it a short time when the crankshaft broke. That was it.

To the best of my knowledge the color of the early Thermoil was
dark green, very similar to a Hercules. The later Thermoils, which
were much improved were red.

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