Steam threshing rigs

Lloyd Burr, right, Judges the old iron horse as he and Museum owner go over it for brand marks of identification in vain. So, pictures of both sides were taken and brought back to B. B. Brown, 66-year-old steam thresher expert for Aultman-Taylor and Advan

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Here is an interesting article by the greatest living Farm Equipment Historian, F. Hal Higgins. It is somewhat unintentionally belated but it is good anytime. Ed.

REMEMBER THAT OLD steam traction engine that the Angels Camp Museum had rounded up and given a pedigree that cast considerable doubt on its ancestry? Well, B. B. Brown, veteran ex-Aultman-Taylor, ex-Advance Rumley, ex-Cat and ex-Canadian steam thresher expert, had looked at the picture of it as put out by the museum and said it looked more like an Owens, Lane and Dyer engine of the 1870s than anything else he had ever seen. After my letter appeared with picture in the IRON-MEN ALBUM, another old-timer down in Florida put the OK on Brown's first look. So, just to try to officially pin it down to that or some other manufacturer, the writer journeyed up to Angels Camp one day last September with big Lloyd Burr, who took his Saturday off for the trip. At the last minute, B. B. Brown couldn't make it on account of some U. S. Navy work he was on. But he phoned his regrets and promised to give our pictures close scrutiny to determine if this mystery steam tractor at Angels Camp was what he had first concluded it to be. So have a look at the pictures Burr and I got up at 'Angels', as the natives call it in deference to the past '49-er Gold Rush residents. It is Mark Twain Jumping Frog capital, too, and has an annual day to celebrate that tall tale of the ex-Missourian.

The little old steam engine in question stands out in front of the Museum within a few feet of the road leading into Angels. It stops the tourists, too, as we noted in the hour we were there looking over this engine. We also saw a big 110 hp. Best that had been brought in from an old logging job and parked on the back of the lot. While it was a dull day, I shot the engine from both sides with Burr in conversation with the owner of the museum, an ex-Oklahoman who started his museum just because he thought the old engine and other pioneer tools and gadgets should be saved while there was time and opportunity.

Says Brown: 'As we check our material on the old engine at Angels Camp and compare data, we find the following points check exactly:

Smoke stack hinge same; bracket on dome for supporting stack is identical.

Brackets on front end of smoke box the same; box section from front axle under boiler identical with all my pictures of Owens, Lane & Dyer.

Wheels have been re-worked but show indications of basic design.

Flywheel between drive wheels and boiler has been done to narrow overall width to use engine on rails as shown.

Cylinder, same position. However, they were built on both sides of boiler.

Same valve reverse (link) shown on all my data.

Governor and weights show same.

Valve mechanism on outside of crank disc, two eccentrics to drive link reverse valve.

So, my view of all points of similarity, I still say that the old relic is an 1876-78 Owens, Lane & Dyer engine. We had contacted some fellows who claimed to have much old material on this engine. However, they did not show me the courtesy of a reply when I wrote them.' 'B. B. Brown'.

Left side of the 'Old One' at Angels Camp on a dull day with the sun hitting on the opposite side. See F. Hal Higgins article.

The big boy Lloyd Burrwhips out his rule and measures this old one cylinder steam engine to figure whether it had more than the one horse power he was hunting for to take home, clean up and put to work on one of his pet steam projects. This old item was turned out by the Century-plus old Angels Foundry sometime since that little world-shaking affair known as the Gold Rush of '49. The old foundry could and did build anything wanted by gold miners, loggers or freighters in its halcyon days when 'Gold was the incentive,' it took too long to wait for sailing ships to carry an order 'round the Horn and bring back the bigger and better machine needed by the boys in the Gold Bush. Hence, the wages of the young skilled mechanic, foundry man, wheelwright and blacksmith were the top of the world and no order was too big or impossible of filling, practically speaking. See article by F. Hal Higgins.

Early threshing scene showing Owen, Lane & Dyer outfit at work. Furnished by the Modern Company Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton and the Burr had two or three little visits on his holiday program. So we lunched in Angels Camp with his boss and wife and then drove out to the edge of Angels and stopped at the century-plus old foundry while Burr looked over the old scrap piles for a small one-cylinder steam engine he sought for powering some of his hobby jobs back home. The snap shows him carefully measuring the old steam engine built at the Angels foundry a half century or more earlier. It was just a mite too big, he decided. Some of the old machines in this 1849 foundry came round the Horn more than a century ago, and anything and everything needed by miners, loggers and freighters was turned out here steam engines, pumps, wagons, ore crushers, gold pans, shovel, water wheels, turbines, etc.

The day was still young, so with a glance at watch and the mileage sign that pointed toward Murhpys, we climbed back into Burr's Plymouth and went over to see Matt Manuel, now at the ripe retiring age but full of recollections and with photos to show how his father and brothers logged in ox-horse and steam days.