Archive for Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Antique engines revving up for McLouth Threshing Bee

July 30, 2003

B.J. Robinson will be up to his ears in his favorite sounds this weekend.

Robinson, one of the organizers of the McLouth Threshing Bee and Steam Engine Show, plans to spend the weekend within earshot of about a half-dozen fire-eating, smoke-billowing, whistle-blowing steam engines.

Nostalgia creeps into Robinson's voice as he almost tenderly describes the hum and tick of the antique engines.

"The old engine when it's on the sawmill, it really gets to talking to you," said Robinson, who is 72. "They've got a sound like nothing else."

Along with the display will be Robinson's own farm machinery, including his 1919 Advance Rumley. This is the very steam engine used in the first threshing bee, which was held at the farm home of Slim and Myrta Watson 46 years ago.

In the old days, the threshing bee was more farm-oriented.

Today, at the bee's 60-acre tract of land in McLouth, the event includes the old and the new.

One of the most popular events is the hot rod tractor truck pull, sponsored by the Northwest Missouri Tractor Pulling Association.

"These are the big guys," Robinson said. "They're fast."

This event, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, includes trucks and hot rod tractors.

"They're fast on the track," Robinson said.

While the other events, which are listed on pages 6A and 7A of this week's edition of The Mirror, are going on, of course the heart of the threshing bee, the steam engines, will still be on display.

And, during daytime hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors just might catch the engines working. For instance, Robinson's 1919 Advance Rumley will thresh grain. Another engine will power the sawmill. And another engine, one housed permanently at the bee, chugs away, showing visitors what makes a steam engine work.

And, for those who want the big picture, Hetrick's Air Service offers plane rides. The planes take off and land at the Threshing Bee Airport. Although the 1,600-foot grass runway is adequate for most planes, bee workers take down a neighbor's fence, and mow another 200 feet of runway.

"That's so that they've got an overrun in case the pilot doesn't get her down quick enough," Robinson said.

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