DeKalb County Snapshot

Threshing bee marks 58th anniversary with steam power display

SYCAMORE – The Northern Illinois’ Steam Power Club’s Steam Show and Threshing Bee was Aug. 14-17 at the Taylor Marshall Farm at 27707 Lukens Road, outside Sycamore. About 25 steam-powered engines at the show burned through 10 tons of coal over the weekend while visitors perused antique threshing machines, balers, wheat grinders and more than 275 gas engines. A bevy of food and other vendors filled the rest of the show.

This year marks 58 years for the show, and the first appearance for a 1916 steam engine made by the Illinois Thresher Company in Sycamore. Of the 63 that were manufactured, only six still exist and three still run, said Dave Stevens, one of the show’s directors.

Club members bought the 20-horsepower traction engine in 2003 for about $20,000. Stevens, 54, of Sycamore, spent at least 12 hours a week for the past two years restoring the engine with custom parts before it was ready for its show debut.

Altogether, the club spent more than $20,000 to restore the machine.

Club member Jason Capra, 34, of Geneva, believes anyone who’s fascinated by things mechanical will enjoy walking through rows of steam engines and threshing machines. He grew up in Chicago without any connection to agriculture, but the machine caught his attention around 2005 when he started working at Stevens’ mechanics shop.

“After you see it, you can’t help but be drawn to it,” Capra said. “It’s a giant tea kettle that makes more torque than a top-level dragster.”

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