R. D. -B. 3A, Yacolt,, Washington
During the summer of 1905, I was engine man for the Advance Threshing Machine Company working in and out of the branch on Hast Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon. My chief job was to unload threshers and engines from the factory and reload outfits sold to customers in Oregon and Washington.
I was asked to get a used 12 hp engine ready to ship by rail to an eastern Oregon town. In doing so I noticed many holes drilled through the face of the drivers. Upon inquiry I found this engine had been fitted with wide bands over the drivers to make it suitable to be used on the sand banks of the Columbia River near Astoria, Oregon, for dragging out seines in Salmon fishing-operations. If you have the right. Advance catalog, one prior to 1905, you may see a picture of this engine in operation.
The 12 hp was found to be OK and I pushed it on a fiat car and made it secure for the trip. My pushing power was a 6 hp Advance engine, one built. before friction clutches.
It was always a pleasure to use this little rig. Unloading one of those 35 hp Advances it about reached its limit and in reloading one the process was much like a battering ram.
I was pleased when told I was to take the train to Elgin, Oregon, and to unload and deliver the engine some 40 miles east of the town. On approaching the terminus I had some misgivings. Those rugged mountains to the east looked very big to me.
In the hurry to get the engine on its way the water was not drained from the boiler. So my work of unloading- was of short duration. However, I often wondered if someone ever objected to paying the freight for hauling that water some 300 miles.
Early on the morrow we pulled out. My draw bar load was a wagon with tank for water and fuel. Most of the fuel was gathered along the partly timbered road. My helpers were two young fellows with team, wag-on and duffle. They were much interested in being cow boys. Their dress and manners were familiar to me as but a few years before I tried out for the cowboy life which did not stick.
At the first steep hill encountered a steam chest cover leak developed and no amount of tightening the nuts would stop this leak. So I walked back to town where I got two sheets of thin packing-and some door screen. This applied, with screen between the packing sheets stopped the leaks. No more trouble was had with the engine on the, trip.
After the hill we had several miles of soft, road so I put that little engine to the limit of speed. Controlling it by the throttle as I never use the governor while on the road.
In time the good road turned bad, that is for an engine. Rocks, solid roadbed of rocks was now evidently our lot. We were approaching the rim of a deep canyon. I stopped the engine and walked over to take a look and found a river below, a mile below. The grade three times in sight as it descended to the river. I was getting scared, very scared for a tumble off the road meant almost a vertical fall to the bottom.
Much of the grade was cut out of solid rock and experience had taught me how easily a steering chain could snap and quickly turn the front end, perhaps over the bank.
I went back to the engine and proceeded knowing that my safe descent would be had only at the minimum speed. The grade was so steep I had frequently to pull back the reverse lever to check the speed.
No steam was used on that 3 miles and no trouble with the fuse plug. The Advance engine with water bottom had a tight draft door and the fire smoldered.
I was pleased and over my fright when I pulled up beside a log cabin on the liver bank. It was the river Miaam. At another cabin we learned we could get cats and for sleep we had all the out doors.
It was declared a day and with blankets furnished by my helpers I made my bed beside the engine. Seeing a bridge near by I decided to investigate. Soon my previous fright was far surpassed when I went out on that old 100 foot span with the swift cold water some 00 feet below.
Sleep I knew was out until T had that engine across the bridge. So I walked on to locate a parking place. It was my intention to move the engine over at once. In a quarter-mile walk beyond the grade I found no such spot so returned but with no desire to eat as the one thought in mind was the possible plunge into the river with the engine on top.
It was a serious young fellow who retired, but not to sleep. To add to my troubles a thunder storm suddenly broke and I made an unsuccessful attempt to keep dry under the tank wagon the rest of the night.
Morning did come at last and half dead I got ready to move. At the bridge approach I dropped the tank wagon so as to have a minimum of concentrated load, explaining, as I thought, to the boys that we would pull it over later by hand.
With the slowest speed I could maintain I proceded, hoping and watching the tie rods as they tightened and loosened as I moved on. While in this stress I happened to look back and to see the boys pulling the tank wagon as close as if the tongue was attached to the drawbar. What a look and yell I gave them to stop in their tracks.
The June-Wood Engine
Coupled up again we were off on an easy grade and arrived in the Wallowa Valley which is bordered on the east by the Wallowa mountains described as the Switzerland of America.
At the town of Wallowa, 15 miles from the bridge, my job ended and I turned over my charge to which by this time I was very much attached.
After a restful sleep at the hotel I boarded the old time Stage Coach with its six horse team and returned to Elgin and the train which took me back to the city of Portland and my job.
This all happened in the Centennial Fair year of the Lewis and Clark trip out West, year 1805.
For some unknown reason we got mixed up on the data on one of the pictures in the last issue. On page eight of the March-April 1952 issue the man to the left of Jesse Hoke is Mr. Parker of Pontiac, Ill. According to our informant of this error, President Dan Zehr, Mr. Parker is very much alive. We are sorry for this misinformation.
In the March-April issue of the ALBUM I was especially interested in the writeup of the , but it did not tell how Wood Bros., started to build steam traction engines. I am enclosing a photo taken in 1917, of my first threshing outfit when I was 28 years old. This is the forerunner of the Wood Bros, traction engines.
It is an 18 hp D. June and Co., 'New Champion' with locomotive type boiler 81/2x10 single cylinder with piston valve, Arnold type reverse gear, forty six 2 inch boiler tubes. In 1907 Wood Bros., bought them out and their first engines were similar to the June, such as curved spole fly wheel, smoke box door without ring, star in center of smoke box door and special style diagonal type mud lugs.
L K ROY BLAKER. President
National Threshers Association, Inc. Alvordton, Ohio