I had been looking forward to attending the 2014 Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion since the beginning of the year. I attended the show for the first time with Chas and the girls in 2012, and had hoped to go last year but we were still in Oregon during the show. I arrived at the show grounds on Tuesday night, I managed to get the bus parked and crash for a good nights sleep.
I walked through the Sand Box (the area of the show grounds dedicated to antique construction equipment) Wednesday morning, and noticed some activity around the steam shovels. It was great to see the HUGE Marion-Osgood shovel fully assembled and painted, it was still in pieces in 2012. The first picture is from our show adventure in 2012 when the shovel was still in pieces, the second picture is during the 2014 show.
Walking through the Sand Box, I ran into Harvey Pelley, one of the ring leaders for the Kentucky group of Steam Shovel Engineers. I mentioned I had previous experience operating steam equipment, and asked if they needed any help during the show. He introduced me to the crew and put me to work right away. My first task was to climb to the end of the boom on the “Mary Sue” shovel and grease it, I was in heaven and ignored my aversion to heights. Mary Sue also inspired me to write a poem about her, I read the poem on the video below the pictures.
I spent most of my time on the Osgood shovel, the “Sandra K”. I started out firing it the first day, and fired it for the entire show. Getting to the shovel around 9:00 AM and building a fire to get ready for the day, I had a lot of time to think in the quiet about what it must have been like to actually use these shovels to work. They were state of the art machinery, able to move an incredible amount of dirt, sand, rock, or gravel in a single day. Even though we were just playing and using the shovels for demonstration, it was a very tiring day and I looked forward to my nightly nap. The last day of the show, some of the crew had gone back to Kentucky, so I decided the show must go on even though we were short staffed. I had only a couple hours of operator time on the shovel, most of my time was spent keeping the steam pressure in the correct range. I managed to both fire the shovel and operate it most of the day by myself, and had a blast doing it. The video below included some footage of the big shovel in operation, along with my operation fun with the Sandra K.
At the end of the show, I managed to get a picture of The Scholl Bus beside the big shovel. For anyone that has seen our bus in person, this might give you a better idea of the size of this beast.
After the show this year, I had enough hours in to qualify for my Minnesota Steam Engineers License, so I hope to go back to the show grounds Fathers Day Weekend 2015 to take the test. I have already talked Chas and the girls into going back with me in 2015, hopefully I can get my dad to go too.