Airplane rides over Jefferson County

Airplane rides over Jefferson County

Airplane rides over Jefferson County

Airplane rides over Jefferson County

and conversations about old tractors were only two of the many activities Saturday at the 43rd annual Steam Engine Show and Threshing Bee in McLouth. Visiting near a line-up of John Deere tractors are Wendell Terry, Lawrence, far left, and, to his right, Bill Jones of Atchison. The threshing bee continues today.

Airplane rides over Jefferson County
Airplane rides over Jefferson County
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August 6, 2000
By Mike Belt

Steam-engine fans thresh it out in McLouth

For the first time in several years Rodney Kunard found himself Saturday back in McLouth walking among old wooden threshing machines, steam engines and tractors.

"I haven't been here for about eight years, but I really enjoy looking at the old farm equipment," the 30-year-old Manhattan resident said. "My dad used to tell me stories about what it was like for him working on a farm."

Kunard was among many from throughout the area who stopped off at McLouth's 43rd annual Steam Engine Show and Threshing Bee this weekend. The event began Friday and continues today until midnight.

Some pieces of machinery were fired up for demonstrations, such as the 1910 Advent steam engine owned by Doug McQuitty of McLouth. The massive engine's power was used to operate a nearby threshing machine. The power was relayed through a series of conveyor-type belts connecting the machines.

"Keeping the right pressure in the engine is one of the most taxing jobs there is," said McQuitty, who has owned the rebuilt engine for 25 years.

Maintenance on the engine, which fits into a frame that looks like a giant, old-fashioned tractor, is time-consuming and labor-intensive, McQuitty said.

"If anything breaks you have to find a friendly machinist who doesn't mind making a part for you," he said. "You can't get parts for them anymore."

McQuitty, 66, who worked on a farm as a boy, enjoys reliving farm history.

"I enjoy going back to the way it used to be done on a farm, although we never had a steam engine," he said.

Charles Luse, 54, Easton, turned his interest in farming to collecting old tractors and fixing them up. Several of his Farmall Cub tractors from the 1950s are on display. So is a 1930 Rumley Six, one of only about 800 ever built, he said.

"I've just farmed all my life and I've always liked doing something different," he said of his hobby.

Among the other activities Saturday was a children's tractor pull contest. Instead of horsepower they used old-fashioned pedal power.

Jordan Karr, 12, Paola, took first place in the 11-12 year-old category. He pulled 150 pounds.

"I think I could have pulled more," he said.

Among the events today is a draft-horse pull at 5 p.m. Visitors also can enjoy a flea market, petting zoo and blacksmith shop, as well as machine displays.