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Restoring the past through generations

Attendees of the threshing show in Hanley Falls carry on a tradition started by their fathers and grandfathers

August 6, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

HANLEY?FALLS?- The Pioneer Power Threshing Show in Hanley Falls features a lot of antique farm machinery in perfect running order, thanks to a band of dedicated restorers.

"It's a hobby like golf," said Ron Lund of New Ulm on Saturday. "I'm third generation. My grandfather threshed with these. I used to follow the harvest from Oklahoma to North Dakota. My third son is on the Canadian border right now combining wheat."

Another of Ron's sons, Jeff, was at the threshing show helping start Earl Gustafson's 65-horse power 1916 wood burning Case tractor. Jeff Lund helped Gustafson restore the antique he's owned since 1979, rebuilding the boiler from scratch.

Article Photos

Photo by Steve Browne.
David Bestland points to the igniter of a seven-horsepower Stickney gas engine from his collection of restored gasoline engines at the Pioneer Power Threshing Show in Hanley Falls on Saturday. Stickney was a firm based in St. Paul that made engines that were once commonplace before rural electricity reached farms.

Jeff Lund took a piece of sheet metal and rolled it to make a boiler and cylinders. The nearly 100-year-old massive tractor runs well enough to do the work it was designed to now.

"People don't realize, threshing machines started out large and became smaller," Ron Lund said. "Combines went the other way, they started small and got bigger."

David Bestland likes restoring the smaller gasoline engines that were once ubiquitous on farms. Among the machines he brought to display were three Stickney engines built in 1912, and two built in 1913, ranging from one and three-quarter horsepower to seven horsepower.

"I can remember when my grandfather had one to run the pump," Bestland said. "I started out with John Deere but I wanted these Stickneys because they were built in St. Paul. The seven horsepower ran a sawmill, the five horsepower ran a feed mill. They used them for so many different things."

Bestland said the difficult thing about restoring old machinery is if there is a part missing. Then the restorer has to find someone who has the same part and borrow it so it can be duplicated in a machine shop.

Dick Bosch brought a collection of restored gasoline engines from Kandiyohi, one attached to a washing machine.

"The gas engine I bought about 1970 from a place north of Willmar," Bosch said. "It's from about 1915-1920. The washing machine about three years ago in an estate sale near Willmar."

Bosch had help putting his machines back into working order. He has three sons and a grandson involved in restoring.

"I don't know why I got into this," Bosch said. "When I was a kid I was always interested in old tractors in books. Restoring them is more enjoyable than showing them. It's real fun taking an engine from the woods that hasn't run in 50 years and repairing it, then taking it to a show and having someone ask, 'What the heck is that?'"

Bosch explained that small gasoline engines were once seen everywhere on farms because until after World War II most farms didn't have electricity, so everything had to be done by hand or with small gas engines.

"They wound up being used for everything," Bosch said, "washing clothes, sawing wood, churning butter."



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