COOPERSTOWN — As a youngster, Roy Post was enamored with his grandfather’s McCormick-Deering threshing machine.
“I still remember when I got to grease it one time,” the 79-year-old Post said with a smile.
“When I was a kid I would climb up it when they were running the machine. Boy, if you did that today they’d put somebody in jail for that. But it was something I did that was fun.”
Those fond memories inspired Post to create a roughly one-eighth scale working model that keeps yesteryear alive and pays tribute to his grandfather, the late Gustav Dahlke.
“I always wanted a toy threshing machine when I was a kid, so after I retired I finally made one,” he said.
Post recently celebrated the 15th anniversary of completing the model, although he acknowledges “it’s never really finished. There’s always something to tweak on it.”
Post spent parts of five years single-handedly building the working model, which is about two feet long and typically is displayed on a homemade stand.
Beneath the platform is a motor that enables a scale-equivalent, modified Minneapolis-Moline U model tractor to feed a belt to the nearby metal model, thus illustrating how the process worked.
“Two of those years were just trying to get all the belts to stay on,” he said half-jokingly. “It took a lot of patience. Still does.”
Once or twice a year, Post showcases his creation at select area farm toy shows, inevitably eliciting curious onlookers’ questions of whether it’s for sale. The answer: No.
“The old guys like to look at it and smile, but I want to hang on to it,” Post said. “It still has some sentimental value.”
Post last saw his grandfather’s McCormick-Deering threshing machine after graduating from Kewaunee High School and before he headed off to join the U.S. Air Force. When he returned four years later, the threshing machine that usually was kept at his grandfather’s Luxemburg-area farm had been sold to Amish farmers.
Post based his creation on photos and dimensions acquired from a person in Luxemburg who has a similar threshing machine.
His wife, Donna, said she didn’t mind the hours he put into building the model, noting with a chuckle: “At least I always knew where he was.”
The couple have lived in their rural Manitowoc County home for 53 years. Post proudly maintains four Minneapolis-Moline tractors, staying true to a brand his father preferred.
Post was born and raised about six miles west of Kewaunee on his parents’ dairy farm, where they milked about 30 black and white Holsteins. Donna grew up near Luxemburg, where her family raised about 50 dairy cows.
However, Post was more interested in machinery than cattle, so after his military service concluded he spent most of his working days as either a mechanic or truck driving, often hauling milk. His grandfather also hauled milk.