After 21 Years A Thank You To All From Cattail Foundry


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167 W. Cattail Road Gordonville, Pennsylvania 17529

Greetings! and hello to all of you out there! Now, a few of you I have met in the foundry and other places, like steam and gas shows.

It almost does not seem possible that 21 years have come and gone since we poured our first iron. Now don't get the idea that we are something big, we are not, but have learned a few things in these years. We try hard not to get too big, but we have a few boys working for us that are fine workers, so we can get away with some iron. So, I want to thank all of you that have brought things here to cast, also those who sent their things by mail or UPS. It has been a pleasure to us, because you are a good and trustworthy group of guys; very few have let us down with their money.

Now let me write a few things that brought this progress about:

First of all, my grandfather, David M. King, is responsible for some of it, as he was a very dedicated thresher. He moved to the farm where we still live, already having five children in 1916, and having five more here on this farm, my father being born in 1920. About that year Granddad bought his first steam engine in co-op with his brother. It was an R Peerless, which they drove home, a distance of about 20 miles, right through Lancaster Square! They took the job of running a threshing machine for Reuben Stoltzfus, who had another rig consisting of engine, thresher and baler. So after a few years of running Rube's machine, Granddad and his brother John bought it, also got a bigger engine, a TT Peerless. After a year or so, Granddad wanted a baler to go along with it. John, not ready to invest in a baler, sold his share to Grandfather.

This is the engine that Benjamin L. King bought in 1962: E. J. King's 9 x 10 Frick, threshing July 6, 1993. (My son Aaron is on the seat.)

The TT Peerless had a small leak in the mud ring, so about 1925, he traded the TT for an 8 x 10 Frick. This engine did lots of threshing and silo filling for him. My father and uncles used to be along threshing for about nine weeks. Sometime in the mid-thirties, he bought a 40-62 Huber, which proved to be a very good tractor and we still used this tractor in the 70s. We then sold it to a Paul Seacrist from Quakertown, who still has it!

Now with the Huber to go threshing this left the 8 x 10 Frick with only one job, steaming tobacco beds. My father bought the Frick from Grandfather in 1942 (the year I was born), so I grew up with this engine till I was nine years old.

My father, Emanuel F. King, farming on this same farm, wanted to do without a hired man when I was nine years old, but steaming the big run of tobacco beds in the neighborhood without a hired man, would not have worked. So Dad sold the Frick to his brother, David, who had big boys old enough to go steaming beds. This made me very upset, so I made Dad promise that if Uncle David would ever sell the Frick, that I would get a chance! Well, in 1959, at age 17, I bought it back.

Now by that time tobacco was a big thing. I was steaming from two to three thousand pans a year. Going to Young's Shop in Kinzer for supplies, I took notice to a 9 x 10 Frick No. 21978 sitting there, which seemed in very good shape. After staying on their heels for about one year, they sold it to me. They put new tubes in it for me. At that time Arthur S. Young Company had new grates in stock, as they had their own patterns at a foundry. So I bought four extra grates from them for $15.00 in 1962. By 19641 was steaming about 3000 pans. I was also married that year and then went carpentering until 1970 when I started farming.

About 1974 it was necessary to use the last grate that I had gotten in1962, and also other people were looking for grates. By this time Young's were out of business and the foundry had burned down, including their pattern. I had one new grate left and so I started looking for a foundry. After lots of trying, I found one that said they could do the work but I must have a pattern made. Walter Horst had just retired from pattern making at Sperry New Holland, and made my first pattern in his basement.

In 1975 I went back to this same foundry with a pattern for 9 x 10 grates. When I got there all the windows and doors were boarded up. What a letdown! Well, a man working on his truck across the street told me where the man lived who owned the foundry, or used to! I looked him up and asked where to go now for casting. He did not know where to send me with a loose pattern. I asked him if I could make them. After a long look at me he said, 'Yes, but' (so on and so on). So I asked, 'Would you help me get started?' He said yes, and I could come to the old foundry the next Saturday and he would give me a bunch of stuff. So my fire was lit!

This man's name was Ed Stahl and his son's named Ashley. He worked at a foundry supply and brought me information about a Speedy melt Gas Furnace, which we bought in March, 1976. We used it to melt our first iron, and used it after that for five years; and still use it to melt aluminum and brass. The first five years I used to think that after we finish this batch, surely there'll be no more, but, you guys kept right on coming; plus a good friend started making stoves, D. S. Stoves, by name. Another one by the name of E.L.S. started making manure spreaders; another one I & J Manufacturing, started making other farm machinery; also S & S Stoltzfus wanted sewing machine wheels and treadles.

In 1981 our good friends Ed and Ashley Stahl helped us pour our first iron with a small cupola made with 55 gallon drums. This proved to be a better way to melt iron than the gas furnace. We used this little cupola for eight years. My sons, Emanuel and Reuben, started taking iron away from this cupola when they were 14 and 15 years old. This little cupola would melt at the rate of half a ton an hour. In those days we'd pour about 1 ton per heat.

Then in 1988, we made a cupola four feet outside, but I bricked it down to about 30 inches. This thing seems to like to melt 'em down. We have put whole baler flywheels in it and they went to pot! This one melts at the rate of about 1 or two ton per hour.

In 1990 I gave up the paperwork to my oldest son, Emanuel. Also in 1990 my other son Reuben took over the farming and dairy, leaving a little time for me sometimes in the evening or early morning, so that I got to finish (or almost), the scale Frick that I started 14 years ago.

Since I was a small boy, I always wanted to make a model engine of a Frick. I made a wonderful working model ( scale of a 9 x 10) when I was in my teens. Later, with us being involved with making patterns and castings, I got to thinking about making a scale of a 9 x 10 Frick. A good friend who makes boilers, under the name of Benson Mountain, made the boiler, which I may run at steam shows. I took it to R & T the last two summers. I made some ice cream with it, which was not hard to get rid of (Ha!). I also made ice cream a few other places last fall.

A very good friend of mine, Raymond Martin, was in the pattern business 25 years ago, had his own shop but, business being slow, he took another job until he retired two years ago. So, now he's back making patterns for us and others. He also enjoys taking the Frick and me to these places with his pickup and small trailer, to make ice cream.

Last fall he made a rather big pattern for us. He even had to put extensions to his lathe. This turned out to be a pattern and core box to make Case smokestacks, which he took pictures of, also he took a few pictures of us, pouring one, and a few of the furnace (or cupola).

I would like to express myself about this work that we got into (not ourselves, but you fellows out there), since it's about impossible to get the bigger foundries to use a broken part to make a new one, or even a loose pattern, it has given us a good feeling when you picked up the new casting with a smile! Therefore, we hope to continue and, Lord willing, to make those hard to get or needed parts. But, no production unless you have a good pattern.

Thanks again, and let us give praise to the One on High who lets these things happen. We are pouring about every two weeks, making molds most of a week, then getting a few neighbors to help the two hours pouring about 3 to 4 tons. We like to have seven boys or men for the two hours while we pour. Then it takes about a week to clean up again! We get to pay them back at hay making, silo filling and threshing time.

Oh yes, don't forget there's another man doing our type of work in Indiana, Charley Simson. I would like to see his operation sometime. I think the furthest that we sent steam engine grates was Port Orchard, Oregon.

Now to finish up this letter. Just a few lines about the engines here. We fixed up a 1910 UU Peerless 10 years ago with at least 140 new castings. We used it to thresh and fill silo several times. We have been threshing with steam about every year again since 1983, and most years fill silo at least one day, most times with the 9 x 10 Frick which I let my son Emanual have a few years back. He takes very good care of it. He also has a 10 x 12 portable Frick that took lots of work, as it was on skids. This engine is now about like new, and is at R & T's sawmill since last summer.

Also, here on the farm is the 8 x 10 Frick that Granddad King got in the 1920s. Benson Mountain has agreed to make a new boiler for this one. Emanuel has one more on the back burner that we are making some new castings for, like a new hub for the back wheel. This one is also a UU, 60 HP Peerless with a high pressure boiler and on springs. A man by the name of Sam Osborn got his engine at a sale in Missouri in 1984 for parts.

I'll close, hoping you'll keep us in business, but won't flood us! I am sending a few pictures along that friends have given to me. Well, that's about enough steam blown off!