The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Tim Myers has been fascinated by farm tractors since he was a young boy.

Myers, 38, of Genoa, owns a truck driving business and he also owns a unique piece of farm equipment - a 1916 J.I. Case steam traction engine. Every year, Myers loads up the 15,000-pound engine, also known as a steam thresher, to put on display at the Five Point Steam Threshers Reunion.

This year's 49th annual event, hosted by the Five Point Steam Threshers Club, was held July 19 in Perrysburg Township.

"I've been going with my dad (Gene) since I was a kid," Myers said. "My grandpa had always farmed and I was raised on the farm, so I've always been infatuated with tractors and going to shows with my dad. My grandpa never owned a steam engine but he always talked about a threshing rig coming into his area to thresh some wheat.

"I thought some day I needed to have one. I purchased this one in 2000 and got it finished in 2002. It took me two years to restore it. I got a lot of help from friends."

Since the early 1980s the Five Point Steam Threshers Reunion has been held on the third Sunday in July, on the farm of Lee and Barb Lashaway on the corner of Five Point and Lime City roads in Perrysburg Township.

"The Reunion has always been held somewhere on Five Points Road," Lee Lashaway said. "Many years ago the farmers who started it were area farmers, and there aren't many of them left anymore. We probably had 1,000 (people) show up this year. It was the 49th (Reunion) and it was a great success."

The Reunion featured displays of antique tractors, steam engines and gas engines, as well as wheat threshing, sawmill and plowing demonstrations throughout the day.

Lashaway said the Reunion is held "to show people how things were done in the past."

"That's our goal of doing it," he said, "to keep the way it was done years and years ago alive and to show people what farmers had to do to make a living. It was a lot of hard work. It's interesting and people come to see it to see the large pieces of equipment and see what they do."

By definition, a steam thresher is an engine that converts the heat energy of pressurized steam into mechanical energy, especially one in which steam drives a piston in a closed cylinder.

"They used steam engines for a lot of different things back in days when they were using them,"
Lashaway said. "In our area they were used for thrashing, like for wheat on Sundays. They thrashed wheat, clover, any kind of grain. The separaters were built so you could change the screens to separate any kinds of grain.

"People who had sawmills, there were a lot of those around and they would run a sawmill with a steam engine. The other thing they used them for was road construction. They would use steam engines to pull the road graders and the scrapers to make the road surface. There were steam engines built to be road rollers. Instead of having wheels on them, like ours do now, they had big flat rollers."

Lashaway owns a 23-90 Baker steam thresher engine; in fact, his two sons, Steve and Jim, and his grandson, Drew, also own steam threshers. Steve owns a 1913 Port Huron traction engine, while Jim has a 30-horse Russell and Drew has a 12-horse Frick engine.

"My wife's great uncle and her granddad used to run a threshing rig when they were still doing threshing," Lee Lashaway said. "They had a steam engine and a separater and they went around to farms and started separating grain for people. After the combines came around, this great uncle was still interested in the steam engines. He kept a couple and purchased one."

Lashaway said the old steam threshers can be valued at monetarily "depends on who's looking at it."
"On the open market, they're good for whatever somebody wants to pay for them," he said. "Other than that, they're good for scrap. They're a lot of steel. During the second World War, a lot of them got scrapped because of the shortage of steel. There's still a lot of them around. We have a lot of them right here in our area."

When Myers' J.I Case engine came up for sale, he couldn't resist the opportunity to buy it.

"It's not something I had set out to go find," Myers said. "A friend of mine latched me on to it and we went to Cynthiana, Ky., on a Fourth of July weekend and decided it was worth buying. It was in good shape, it was just all in pieces. It was literally in boxes when I put this thing together. A lot of times I put it together and then took it back apart."

Myers loads his seven-ton thresher on a specially built trailer in order to show it off at various steam threshing reunions.

"There are a heck of a lot bigger ones than I have," he said. "It's not exactly a cheap hobby to be involved in. You mostly do it because of the other people involved in it. The social gathering makes it fun. I know people all over the country who have engines."

Myers joked that there are hazards to owning a steam thresher.

"I get burned probably twice a day when I'm running it," he said. "I have one on my finger right now I've been nursing. But, it's like when you're playing sports and you get knocked on your head. You get right back up and you go back and play again."

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