STEAM THRESHERS 2012
I had the pleasure of attending the Forest
Ontario Steam Threshers meet. I have included
my highlights that I know aren't necessarily
yours. Hopefully though you can enjoy these as
I have. My obvious favorite this year was
not a tractor but the ca.1926 Ford pickup
truck. I do really like all sorts
of vintage cars and tractors but it is indeed
the early trucks that do it
for me. (Why is that?)
Sadly there was not as many Steam powered
tractors as in other years.
These machines are very time consuming,
laborious and costly to maintain. However the
men that do keep them running and love them
seem to disregard the negative aspects and are
driven to keep these mechanical Goliath's
alive. If you have any
local Petrolia or Lambton vintage tractor and
especially steam pics send
them in and I'll include them here. For more on the
Canadian Group here is their website
Please enjoy this
look at the Forest Ontario meet. W.O.S.T.A.
(Western Ontario Steam Thresher’s Association) All of the pics and videos on
this page were garnered with my iphone!
John Phair Thanks to John Phair for
snapping this shot of your Editor beside the
editor's collection Closeup of the ca.1926 Ford so
that you can see the credits
editor's collection An early Case tractor
More early Case tractor
1939 John Deere (see the
description above right)
Rear ca.1939 John Deere
Side ca.1939 John Deere
An early Steam Roller (more
detail later,as I lost my notes at the meet
ca.1929 Rumley Model X
(see description lower left)
Yes there was steam. This
ca.1913 20hp Sawyer Massey was parked
right at the gate to get you tasted up right
from the start.
There were several rows of
tractors just like this.
Short video of a steam tractor
More video of a steam tractor in
Video of a steam tractor running
Video of small steam tractors
running a wood saw.
Video of a huge steam piston
A small thresher(in action
) specially made for Fordison being run by a
small Ford tractor.
City Thresher: "Made for the Fordson"
by John Phair
One of the more
interesting exhibits at this year's
Steam Threshers' show was Keith Ireland's
Belle City Thresher.
Strathroy-area collector put on
a threshing demonstration with the machine
and smoothly threshed a load of
grain much to the interest of the many
vintage equipment enthusiasts present.
machine, which Ireland says he
can't date exactly but believes it was
made sometime in the 1920s, is not only
interesting for its excellent condition
and the ease with which it threshes
grain, but also for its unique history.
the small, affordable gasoline
tractor made its debut on the farm during
the early days of the 20th century it
signalled that the epoch of the steam
engine, that smoking, puffing behemoth
which had driven saw mills and threshing
machines for years, was drawing to an
with change comes
opportunity, and a Racine, Wisconsin farm
equipment manufacturer identified a
niche market for small threshers, ones
that could be driven by the less
powerful gasoline tractors that would soon
dominate the farms of North America.
origins of the Belle City
Thresher Company date back to 1878 when
the company manufactured feed cutters
and other related farm equipment.
then as the Belle City
Manufacturing Company, it was a major
manufacturer of silage and feed cutting
equipment which were powered by a
in 1893 the company decided
to enter the grain thresher market and
began with the manufacture of a small,
stationary thresher called the Columba.
company could have manufactured
larger threshers but decided to home in on
the market for smaller threshers,
thinking there would be less competition
from the larger manufacturers such as
the J.I. Case Company.
1896, the company was
manufacturing 175 to 200 Columbia
threshers per year and had also expanded
other lines such as harrows, hay forks,
feed carts and other implements.
1909 the company entered into an
agreement to build threshers for the
International Harvester Company, which did
not have a thresher of its own.
agreement proved beneficial for
both companies, particularly for Belle
City because it gave it access to IHC's
network of more than 500 dealers and
City then put out a line of
five different size threshers under the
Brand name of New Racine.
its emphasis on the small
thresher market put Belle City and IHC in
a very favourable position at the end
of the First World War when the gasoline
tractor was beginning to an appearance
on North American farms.
the tractor that
revolutionized farming and changed everything was the Fordson,
which was much
smaller and lighter than the behemoths
being produced by other companies such
as the HartParr and the Mogul which often
weighed three times as much as the
Fordson was also released at a
price of less than $500 which provided
small farmers an affordable alternative
to working horses.
advent of the Fordson suddenly
made Belle City's small threshers highly
popular, particularly as the company
continued to make innovative changes to
them such as adding an air-blown straw
stacker and other improvements.
in 1926 IHC decided to
manufacture its own threshing machine and
Belle City, realizing it was losing
the benefit of IHC's huge dealer network,
quickly inked a deal with the Ford
Motor Company to sell its Belle City/ New
Racine thresher through its network
of Ford dealerships.
began to claim that the "Belle City/New
Racine thresher was the universal
thresher ideally matched to the
Fordson--the universal tractor."
the slogan, "Built
for the Fordson" appeared on the side of
Belle City threshers, as it does
on Keith Ireland's machine.
was built strictly for
Fordson," said Ireland, who noted that the
machine was all original right
down to its drive belts.
bought it at an auction
about four years ago and the belts and
everything were still on it."
added that his father had always
lectured him not to leave the belts on a
machine when he had finished threshing.
roll them up and put them
away where it's dry," he said.
you never leave them tight
if the machine is outside and it rains."
noted that the Belle City
thresher has a 20-inch cylinder while most
full size threshers have a 36-inch
or some even a 40- inch cylinder.
Fordson didn't have enough
horse-power to drive a full-sized machine
but it could handle the Belle City
machine quite comfortably," he said.
a retired truck driver who
spent more than 40 years driving the big
rigs, said he has always been an avid
collector and restorer of farm equipment
but has concentrated more on the hobby
since his retirement.
guy but I collect everything," he said,
adding that he hopes future
generations continue to collect and restore
farm equipment as a way of
preserving the country's agricultural
one of the reasons I
collect this stuff, I just hate to see these
old threshers bought for junk and
hauled to the scrap yard."