2016 Awards For Red Combines 1915-2015

Red Combines Wins 2 Golds and a Silver
post by
Lee Klancher
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Red Combines 1915-2015 won three book awards–two Benjamin Franklin gold awards and a gold IPPY. Thanks are due to the talented team that built this book, some of whom are listed below. Every single person listed put forth an extraordinary effort, and the result is something very special.

I believe a large part of the book's success stems from the drama captured in the the story of the creation of the Axial Flow combine. This was one of the most important ag innovations in the 20th century, and the story is told with day-by-day drama and intrigue. I was able to write the story in detail due to extensive first-person interviews conducted with the people who are still around today. I was also able to tell the story clearly because of the incredible records kept by the engineers who developed the original Axial Flow combine. This dedicated crew started in the late 1950s on the task, and knew the significance of what they were trying to accomplish. During more than 20 years of development, the engineering team in particular kept copious notes and records. Chief Engineer Don Murray later wrote a detailed account of the struggles they faced making a rotary combine, and current Case IH engineer Dave Gustafson saved every image, test document, and scrap of information that crossed his desk. Mel Van Buskirk also put together a hand-written summary of all the testing done with experimentals, showing where they were and what they discovered.

Many others saved and recorded information, and this level of detail gave us the opportunity to tell the Axial Flow story in a dramatic fashion. Good historical stories come to life with gritty detail, and the Axial Flow story had extensive records chronicling a secret garage visited by only a few, people going to extraordinary lengths to conceal experimental machines, and rival companies battling it out to rule the harvesting world.

The detail provided by the people who were there gave me the opportunity to tell the story in dramatic fashion, which is what I believe led to these awards. I'm humbled to have had the privilege to work on the material, with this team, and with the hard-working people who continue to build red combines today, and I'm tremendously proud of the book that resulted.

A GOLD Benjamin Franklin Award in the Professional and Technical category.
A GOLD IPPY Award in the Transportation category.
A SILVER Benjamin Franklin Award in the History category.

The Benjamin Franklin Awards are sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Assocation, an organization dedicated to helping independent book publishers succeed. They have more than 3,000 member publishers, and offer training, advocacy, and many more important resources to help publishers grow and succeed.

The IPPY Awards are sponsored by Independent Publisher, a monthly digital publication that covers independent book publishing. They are based in Traverse City, Michigan.

Lee Klancher, was the leader of the team and also wrote the chapters dealing with the history of the IH and Case IH combines and photographed many of the historic machines.

Gerry Salzman worked with IH and Case IH combines for four decades. Ths retired Case IH executive lived the history of the Axial-Flow combine, and his input shaped the entire project from start to finish. Dave Gustafson’s archives are amazing. The Case IH engineer appeared to save every interesting scrap of information about combines ever created. Retired chief engineer Don Watt was also an extremely helpful resource and his straight-shooting answers were a tremendous help. The memoir written by the late IH engineer Don Murray was vital to this book. I believe he understood that he and his team were making history, and he detailed the creation of the Axial-Flow with an extensive memoir that proved invaluable.

Thanks to all the people who took time to be interviewed for the book: John Aaskov, Bill Baasch, Cameil Beert, Will Bushell, Jose Camargo, Randy Cochrane, Chet and Dan Eyer, Rick Farris, Don Fast, Red Gochanour, John Hansen, Gerald and Ed Heim, Len and Gerald Hergott, John Hinkle, Rob Holland, Charlie Hoober, Jamie and Steven Horst, Ken Johnson, the late Dr. Glenn Kahle, Mitch Kaiser, Andreas Klauser, Kelly Kravig, Christian Lancestre, Dave Larson, Steve Lee, Edgardo Legar, Patrice Loiseleur, Jim Lucas, John Machin, Rich McMillen, Trevor Mecham, Jim Minihan, Gregg Montgomery, Dave North, Ed Powell, Cyndi Punke, Steve Puscher, Geoff Rendell, Mirco Romangnoli, Jon Ricketts, Carlos Rosa, Jay Schroeder, Eric Shuman, Tom Sleight, Rick Tolman, Steve Tyler, Jim Walker, Pedro Valente, Jose Veiga, Jose Vengrus, Don Watt, Nate Weinkauf, Gary Wells, Terry Wolf, and Weihong Zhang. 

Photo researcher Gregory T. Smith did a terrific job digging up images from the McCormick–International Harvester Collection housed at the Wisconsin Historical Society, which is located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. Thanks to Sally Jacobs, the new archivist for the McCormick–International Harvester Collection, for her extraordinary efforts getting us the right images on time and the ability to laugh even when things didn’t go quite as planned. Thanks to contributors Ken Updike, Sarah Tomac, Jean Cointe, Mattias Buschmann, and Ron R. Schmitt. Gregg Montgomery supplied terrific drawings and photographs from his archives as well as some words for the book. Thanks to editors and proofreaders Karen O’Brien and Leah Noel for their careful work, and to designer Tom Heffron for making the book’s cover and interior look great. Also to print buyer Joe Sita who made certain the manufacturing quality was as high quality as the rest of the book.