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Working the old-fashioned way

John Kopacek threshes wheat on Aug. 25, as part of the the Donnelly Threshing Bee. Sue Dieter/Stevens County Times 1 / 2
Darin Schaffer, inside the cab, and Joe Fults try to start a 1916 Aultman-Taylor Tractor Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Donnelly Threshing Bee. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 2

Luella Mack sat in a lawn chair under a canopy and waited for to hear the sound of a 1916 Aultman-Taylor tractor to start.

"I just keep saying 'Run for Stanley, run for Stanley' but it quits. It's probably tired out from all these years," Mack said.

Stanley is Mack's deceased husband who died several years ago. Stanley owned the big tractor for about 35 years.

"This was my husband's pride and joy," Mack said. "It was his baby."

Mack's grandson Darin Schaffer operates the big tractor now. The tractor weighs about 24,000 pounds and the rear wheels are about 90 by 24 inches. On Saturday, Aug. 25, Schaffer and Joe Fults were trying to get the tractor started. One person must be at the controls in the tractor cab while a second person turns the crank of a wheel that triggers the starting mechanism. It's a big lever crank and wheel that takes some effort.

But, Mack has turned that lever and wheel. "I started it once. I turned it, accidently I guess," she said with a smile.

She's also driven the tractor. "It's slow," Mack said. Turning the wheel, "Like this," Mack said as she created a big loop with her arm, and "it goes about this far," she said with her hands spread about a foot apart.

The starting process took time as the tractor sputtered to life only to stop after a few seconds. The workers were distracted by two mice who decided it was a good idea to sit inside the tractor body during the process. Eventually, the tractor started late in the afternoon. Those working on it had to make a few adjustments first.

For a video from the threshing bee, click this link:, for more photos, click this link: