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Tractor Talk Discussion Board

Re: Threshing with Steam

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Posted by Hal/Eastern WA on August 08, 2012 at 13:20:58 from (

In Reply to: Threshing with Steam posted by Badger08 on August 07, 2012 at 20:11:14:

Neat! About 100 years ago, my grandfather owned a steam engine and threshing machine. He made a good part of his living by moving it around North Dakota threshing other people"s crops.

I never got to see his machines, since he died when I was a toddler, but my Mom talked about his operation.

My grandfather"s steam engine was usually fueled with straw, at least while they were threshing. He would fill the fire box with straw at night and then sleep for a while with his hand in the fire box. When the fire got close enough to his hand to wake him up, he would fill the fire box again, all night. This had to be done by someone to avoid the long delay heating up the steamer if it ever got cooled down. As fast as straw burns, I would guess that my grandfather got fairly little sleep! I suppose they used wood or coal when they were moving the equipment from place to place.

They must have worked incredibly hard, but a steam powered threshing machine was SO much more efficient than doing all the work by hand or animal power. It was a link in the chain of progress that has led to the combines of today.

Thanks for the photos. We should not lose the memory of how to do things the old ways. We might need that knowledge sometime.


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