Saturday, August 30, 2003 - I attend the the Western Minnesota Steam Thresher's Reunion in Rollag with my father Ray, and his his cousin Duane Maas. We arrived early for the Thresherman's breakfast and then watched the parade. Rumely Oil Pull tractors were the featured manufacture this year.
Duane wanted to be on a slope so he could hear the steam tractors work. The tractors weren't that loud, except for the steam whistles. The engines had a good beat with the pistons and valves creating a syncopated rhythm while chugging. Duane is a treasure trove of information about antique tractors and he was fascinated with everything and his enthusiasm was infectious. Duane isn't shy about asking questions- he would find someone working and start chatting them up. Each building we visited had a larger engine until by the end of day we were looking at a 600 hp Snow Engine with a 18-foot flywheel.
We took an 8-mile bus trip to the Rumely Oil Pull 50-bottom plow demonstration. It was a recreation of a similar demonstration 80 years ago with three tandem tractors at Prudue University. Every time I look at Duane he seems enthralled- if not enveloped in a cloud of dust! Duane is running across the freshly turned earth in his dress shoes and pants like a kid.
We looked at more static engine displays, and I photograph the tractors Ray and Duane drove on Walt's farm. Everything was shutting down for the day- time to walk out. Duane asked if I could find our van. "I think so. It's sitting by itself on top of that hill with a big yellow flag behind it," I laugh.