Tag Archives: tractor

Red Power Roundup – 2017 Hit-or-Miss Corn Sheller

Teardrop Trail Log: June 16, 2017

I always look forward to seeing the “latest” in really old technology at the ‘Roundup, and this year encountered a great display of International Harvester model LA “hit-or-miss” engines shelling and grinding corn, as well as pumping water. I’ve mentioned them on the blog before, but this was unique. Over a half-dozen beautifully restored engines, all running, and many connected to applications with canvas belts like a McCormick/Deering Corn Sheller, a small grain mill, cob mill and a well-pump.

In order to show the entire workflow, small, functional elevators lifted the corn kernels from application to application. Best of all, a supply of dried corn — complete with cob and husk — was provided so observers could try it out. Passing children at the ‘Roundup were fascinated as they fed shucked corn into the sheller via a pipe and could watch the result. Several club members were running the exhibit; keeping the machines serviced with water and fuel and answering questions.

These small engines were common back in the day, and provided vital extra power before rural electrification. They could pump water, grind corn and lift grain into bins and cribs — saving farm families from much difficult work. I still remember the well pump on my grandparents farm, electrified by the time I came along, but no doubt once powered by one of these versatile engines.

photo of presenter and Irma Harding

Femineering, My Irma Harding Presentation

Teardrop Trail Log: June 15, 2017

graphic of Irma Harding with "They're Femineered"

They’re Femineered

I can still remember meeting Lee Klancher from Octane Press and discussing food and cookbooks. Sometimes the universe can create amazing opportunities. I was delighted when Lee introduced me to Irma Harding and invited me to write Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding. It was a great project that has put me in touch with so many wonderful people. Octane Press has hosted book signings and my presentations at each of the Red Power Round Ups. I always love to meet Irma’s fans and enjoy hearing people share their personal family stories about relatives who canned as well as how they started preserving food.

It has been fun being “Irma’s ghost writer” and telling her stories as well as the stories of the home economists who took Irma’s message to the women of the Mid-West farm county and taught them how to freeze food. This year’s topic was Femineering, a term developed by International Harvester to highlight and honor the unique contributions of the women who helped develop the refrigerators and freezers. One of the old newsletters describes how the “feminine eye continued watching, spot-checking the production lines and testing performance under laboratory conditions.”

It was nice to see several friends from previous presentations. I had met Marsha Corbin, the Executive Director at the Old Trails Region in West Central Missouri at a past Red Power Roundup. She had invited me to share one of my Irma Harding presentations for the Missouri Cattle Women. After the presentation ended, Travis Loschen and his wife Meghan stopped to say hi. They had seen several of the Irma presentations at the last few Red Power Roundups. They have an incredible Irma Harding Collection in the garage of their home in Royal, Illinois. Check out the video. Irma’s fans are a dedicated group!

photo of presenter and Irma Harding

Femineering in action

Red Power Roundup 2017 Walkabout

Teardrop Trail Log: June 15, 2017

This was my fourth experience with the Red Power Roundup. Huron, Sedalia and Union Grove had been memorable, but the Iowa State Fair was the largest layout I had ever seen. Previous attendance had been between 15,000 and 25,000, but the estimate for this gathering was 50,000. This was going to be special!

Marilyn safely ensconced with her adoring public at the Octane Press booth, I set out for a quick tour of the nearby environs. The vendors, including Octane, were mostly located in the “Varied Industries Building.” I spent about and hour in its air-conditioned interior and headed outside.

I was immediately introduced to the “Machinery Grounds,” and beautiful red tractors were visible in every direction. Not surprisingly, much of the grounds were large concrete lots. But a pleasant wooded park was also nearby and crowded with the fascinating machines. In one curious display, 15 progressively-sized tractors — both toy and real — were connected together end-to-end. I couldn’t help wondering what the point of that was, but I would find out while watching the parade a couple of days later.

I enjoy looking at old machinery, in part because my grandparents were farmers and I had free reign of their place on summer visits as a child. There was plenty of old machinery there to look at and play with, and the fascination was born. As mentioned in an earlier post, my morning walkabout ended by meeting a new friend, Ron. The young man with the pedal tractor Marilyn and I had encountered earlier in the day (and would see again later on) made a cameo appearance also.

Photo of the Iowa State Fair Varied Industries Building interior

A Day at the Red Power Roundup

Teardrop Trail Log: June 15, 2017

photo of vendor with IH Curios

IH Curios

Marilyn had duties in the Octane Press booth, so I decided to see how much of the fair I could survey before lunch and her afternoon Irma Harding presentation.

photo of negotiation at Red Power

Driving a Hard Bargain

The vendors were mostly located in the “Varied Industries Building.” and it took about an hour to look over the displays. You tend to see the same folks year after year. It’s always interesting though, and fun to catch up with the folks you know from previous ‘Roundups.

photo of a Red Power Clown

A new friend

After the vendor displays, it was time to venture out. The Fairgrounds are huge, and there were tractors everywhere. I started on the “Machinery Grounds” and spent the rest of the morning looking over the assembled equipment. As I was shooting a tractor, a fellow struck up a conversation. We had both noticed a youngster peddling a toy tractor down the sidewalk, and I mentioned that I had seen this hard-working lad earlier. As we talked, Ron told me about his years of farming, love of cows, work with animal breeding and avocational clowning. Quite an interesting fellow. We exchanged business cards and said we’d keep in touch. You just never know who you’re going to meet at a Red Power Roundup.

photo of Lunch at Red Power

Lunch at Red Power

 

It was time to prepare for Marilyn’s presentation. We found her hall along one side to the Varied Industries Building and with the help of Lee’s staff, got the projector set up. Hungry with plenty of time for lunch, I wandered over the the food concession. Hamburgers and fries were the delicacy of the day, and we chowed down.


Marilyn’s presentation went perfectly (see separate post), and the afternoon was ours to explore. I took her around Machinery Grounds for a little while before we decided some air-conditioning would be nice. The “4H Building” was relatively close, so we headed there. Inside, we discovered ranks of Cub Cadet garden tractors and IHC Autowagons.

In one corner of the building, they were setting up the annual auction and I noticed an enormous chest freezer. It was immaculate, and the owner was supervising the load-in. Inside, there were packages of mock food all wrapped in authentic Irma Harding freezer paper. We chatted with him for a few minutes before he had to go out for another load. We both wondered: did he realize that the Irma Harding paper he had used was more valuable than the freezer itself?

On the way out of the building, we spotted the toy tractor operator. It looked like he was done for the day.

photo of boy with toy tractor resting on a bench

That’s enough for one day

photo of One of the consessions and the Sky Glider in the distance

Checking in at Red Power Round Up

Teardrop Trail Log: June 15, 2017

On the first morning in the campground, we decided that it would be best to head down to the main part of the fairgrounds and get breakfast rather than cook in camp. We had been able to explore a bit as we drove in, but the sheer size of the fairgrounds was challenging. We ventured down the campground’s rolling hills taking in the sights. It’s always fun to see the trailers, tents and other rigs and how people set up camp.

photo of Breakfast at Red Power

Breakfast at Red Power

As we walked though the fairgrounds, I began imagining what it would be like when the Fair was in full swing. Over a million people from around the world attend the fair during its 11-day run. We went by the various buildings, exhibition halls, the Sky Glider, Giant Slide, rides, and other popular attractions. Over 70 types of food on-a-stick are available during the Fair, I was imagining all the tastes and smells but sadly those concessions were shuttered.

Tractors began to appear from all directions, heading for the start of daily parade. We found the Varied Industries Building where many of the events and exhibitions were being held. The booth for Octane Press, the publisher of my cookbook, Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding was in that building. We checked in with everyone and then went off in search of breakfast. At Barksdale, next to the famous chocolate chip cookies, we found an amazing breakfast croissant, with bacon and egg. For a few seconds, I thought about cookies for breakfast. Yum! A great way to start the day.

photo of the Octane Press at Red Power 2017

Octane Press at Red Power 2017

photo of the Darst International Harvester Museum

Darsts’ International Harvester Museum

Teardrop Trail Log: June 23, 2016

movie of Tracto, the Talking Robot

Tracto, the Talking Robot

Next stop – the Darst International Harvester Museum. One online source describes a visit to the museum as a history lesson because the couple, Darrell and Kevin, have a story to go with each item. We met Darrell at our very first Red Power Round Up in 2014 at the State Fair Grounds in Huron, South Dakota. Last year, we had the pleasure of stopping in Madison and seeing both Kevin and Darrell as well as their amazing collection of tractors, thousands of IH keepsakes and memorabilia. Darrell is the editor of Harvester Highlights, the quarterly publication of the International Harvester Collectors Club that provides for the preservation of International Harvester history, products and memorabilia. Tracto, the 8-foot talking robot, built from 227 tractor and implement parts, greets visitors at the museum like he had done at county fairs, state fairs and special events for 60 years. Darst had known Tracto since he was 13 when he met the robot at a corn picking contest and now has lovingly restored him.

Kevin has been described as the queen of IH refrigeration and freezer collectables. She has a corner dedicated to International Harvester refrigerators, freezers, documentation and mementos. My publisher, Lee Klancher introduced us as I began working on Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding, the IH “Betty Crocker” spokeswoman for home refrigeration . Kevin had known many of the IH home economists from the promotional team and has letters describing the role of these women in the company. It was good to see the Darsts again as we started discussing another book project.

photo of Marilyn and Kevin with Irma Harding in the Darst Museum

Marilyn and Kevin with Irma Harding

photo of the 120U Farmall Tractor

Steiger and Friends

Teardrop Trail Log: June 18, 2018

Saturday dawned clear and bright and I set out on my morning constitutional. The fair grounds were mostly deserted since the gates had not yet opened to the general public and most were just starting their day. Case/IH corporate offices are located in nearby Racine, Wisconsin, and they had provided models for display at the ‘Roundup. I had never seen this many current Case/IH tractors in one place before, so I stopped to look. They were impressive in the early morning light.

Many vehicles have what look like “faces”, but as I looked at the assembled horsepower, they seemed more exaggerated in their anthropomorphic details. High “foreheads” and curving hoods lent a childlike quality in spite of the size and apparent power. The line was very consistent in its styling as well — a far cry from the unstyled tractors of the pre-World War II years. There was something else — I was reminded of a cartoon aspect similar to the Disney/Pixar movie “Cars.” It wouldn’t have been surprising if they started talking.

One of the largest models, “Steiger” even had a name worthy of a cartoon superhero. In fact, the Steiger series comes from an American tractor manufacturer purchased in 1986. Founded by Douglas and Maurice Steiger in the 1950’s, they were some of the first to bring large horsepower and four-wheel drive to farms with their lime-green machines manufactured in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Quite a linage for the inviting giants of the farm greeting me.

photo of the Modern 7140 axial flow combine

Modern 7140 axial flow combine

photo of the car and trailer with semi-trailer trucks

On to Union Grove and Red Power Roundup

Teardrop Trail Log: June 16, 2016

We were back on the Teardrop Trail, headed toward Red Power Round Up in Union Grove, Wisconsin. Just a quick stop at Wisconsin Welcome Center to pick up post cards, we parked the Ambassador with the big rigs. He was finally running with the big dogs. After locating the Racine County Fairgrounds, we pulled around to our camp site. This would be our third Red Power Round Up where collectors, vendors and members of the public gathered to celebrate the history of International Harvester and explore agriculture-related memorabilia. There was an impressive selection of tractors, engines, trucks and equipment. The exhibitions included household appliances, farming equipment and toy collections.

photo of Red Power Roundup camp

Red Power Roundup camp

I had reserved our campsite at last year’s event and we were conveniently located just outside the exhibition building where my publisher, Octane Press had a booth and where I would be signing copies of Canning, Pickling and Freezing with Irma Harding. We backed the Ambassador into the space, and set up Camp Red Power complete with the canopy over the galley. This would be home for the next few days.

Jim has always enjoyed coming to Red Power for the tractors, like the IH tractor his grandfather had on the farm. His cameras come out and he is in tractor heaven. Every year he buys a raffle ticket for an IH tractor. So far no tractors have followed us home.

photo of Jim photographing red tractors

There’s a few tractors over there