Norman Watry

Courtesy of Gil Johnson, Route 1, Frederic, Wisconsin Dennis Andres at controls. Norman Watry checking hose connection.

Gil Johnson

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This episode is just picking up some 'loose ends'. On the Johnson place, choring with cows gets to be a routine, sometimes I think monotonous. Like one man said, gotto milk cows every day and twice on Sunday. An occasional steam up and the field work takes up the more interesting slack. One thing can be said of steam, it is versatile . To find a steam-engine in a milk plant of today would be most unusual, and yet to find a plant without steam would be impossible. Steam cleans and sterilizes dairy equipment like nothing else, and heats the building to boot. In a small way I too find my steam 'jenny' applicable to our dairy set up; and of course gives me a good excuse to steam up first thing every spring and last thing every fall. On one occasion Dennis Andres and Norman Watry from the Duluth area stopped in shortly after I had filled the boiler last spring. By the way, they were both driving compacts, Dennis a red domestic with air cooled motor in rear and rear wheel drive, Norman's a black foreign compact with liquid cooled motor front mounted and front wheel drive. It was an interesting contrast to me. We had one thing in common, a desire to steam up. Thus the boys fired up the 50 Case and I fetched some steam hose and fittings to steam clean the vacuum pipeline for the milk machine. In one picture Dennis is at the controls and Norman is double checking the hose connections. My job was to manipulate the stall cocks to permit passage of steam in the process of doing a thorough job in a short time. (See picture taken in barn). Dealers that sell and service milk machines are available to do this cleansing job but they use a pump and lye solution in water that takes a couple of hours at a cost upwards of $8.00. With steam a quick job and no mess, a dry pipeline and no cost. We are paid a 70 premium per cwt. on low bacteria count milk so I find it a very worthy incentive. I believe it is possible to start a 'steam cleaning route' using an uprite portable boiler.

In my collection of clippings I have a picture of Stanley Brandenberg of Serena, Ill., using a 'steam jenny' to improve sanitation and save time and cost in cleaning hog houses. I have known of turkey raisers who also use steam boilers for the same reason. Steam has many other uses like cleaning out fertilizer attachments on grain drills, and corn planters. Some years ago we steam cleaned a Titan tractor prior to painting.

On a trip into eastern Wisconsin back in April 1958 we found Carl Kleinsmidt of Merrill making maple syrup. He was boiling down maple sap by use of steam through copper tubing in the sap pan, piped from a Nichols Shepard traction boiler. He explained by the use of this method there is no danger of ever scorching the syrup.

In May 1961, we had the pleasure of a trip to Durward Steinmetz at La Farge, to witness the steaming of tobacco beds, using his Advance engine. I have also noted several sawmills up north that saw through the winter months using a 'hot pond' which is heated by steam. Logs are dumped in these concrete vats to thaw out prior to sawing. This not only removes grit from the bark, but speeds up sawing and cuts saw maintenance to a minimum. Sawing frozen timber is timely, tricky and often expensive.

The group picture was taken last July 4 when we belted up the 50 Case to do some corn shredding. On the engine is Gary Schacht and his dad Harry from Eau Claire, who belted up the engine. Gary fed the shredder. Other visitors are Mr. and Mrs. Allen Foltz and their three boys Floyd, Guy, and Wayne. The 'boy' in the hat is great grandpa John Foltz, all local people. Next is Joe Pangerl and his grandson Dennis Olson from Pine City, Minn. John Foltz and his brother

Joseph owned a woodworking plant at Norborne Missouri in the early 1900's. They used an Erie stationary engine for power and John still maintains there is nothing quite like steam. Joe Pangerl has had steam engines for threshing and sawing since 1916. He too still loves and talks steam.

The threshing scene was taken Aug. 16, 1965. Jim Johnson from Park Ridge, Ill. is the engineer. Note, he is burning cull yo-yo's for fuel. To the right is our Titan belted to the 24' Huber thresher, a dandy little machine. Pictured with the Huber is Mrs. Susan Christner from whom I bought this thresher. She was glad to find a home for it and I was very glad to get it. The final picture is our good friends from La Crosse, Ind., who happened along the day we threshed. They were enroute to Minn, on a fishing trip. Frank Miller is explaining to his grandson Michael 'Sputnik' Muffley how the tally box for the Huber works. 'Sputnik' is a born engineer and has talent for such at that age.

(See page 14 May-June IMA 1965 where Michael drives the Townsend).

In Vol 20 #2 IMA Page 39 I was glad to note a response from our British steam friend R.G. Pratt. Thank you. It was in reference to a suggestion that a group of Am. Steam Fans make a trip to take in some Britian Rallies I would like to pursue this possibility a bit further, even if I would not be fortunate enough to go along. A round trip to Norway via air in '62 was in round figures $700 FOB Minneapolis. In as-much-as we have a volunteer reception committee, our next move is to gather more facts and prospects. What are some pros and cons lest I get carried away? 'Nothing ventured, nothing gained.'

George says it takes 3 Swedes to pop corn, one to hold the pan, two to shake the stove. Then too; If a man answers a telephone, he takes along a pencil; if a woman answers the phone she takes along a chair.

Some years ago a steam friend of mine had been told there was a steam engine setting out on the barrons south and west of Grantsburg. It seems some deer hunters had come upon this 'hidden treasure' but my asking steam men and sawmill operators failed the slightest clue. In probing for the Crex article (last issue) I was again confronted with a similar statement of an engine being mired at the edge of a swamp adjacent to a so called 'pine island' and that it was now almost overgrown with alder brush. This time I was dealing with facts, with people who had seen this engine and knew its location, in fact by using my Burnett County Platt book I was shown just where to find it, though it envolved a mile hike through swamp and timber. With these directions 'you can't miss it' I was told. You can well imagine my anxiety doubling every minute. Fortunately, Ronnie Gjerning was ready and willing to accompany me in persuit of, not only a good story, but perhaps tonnage of good loot. It was a clear cool day at Christmas time, ample snow for good visability and not too much for walking. Driving as far as roads permitted we then set off on foot, pockets full of cameras and films and a note book. Our 'chart' was coincident of the layout, at least down past the hunters shack and the trail leading thence northwest. We were almost on the run at times, a sort of competitive 'I spy' game, guessing as to what make and how to get it out. Sure enough it led to a swamp and more high ground. More swamp and brush and jack pine, scrub oaks and poplar. Deer tracks perforated the snow cover, ravens flew overhead, a porcupine slowly making his way up an oak tree. Blue jays and squirrels but no evidence of 'old iron'. We split up and circled around, one could under these circumstances get lost quick but with snow cover we could back track of need be so we took the chance. We never did find the big white pine that were to be so 'prominent' on 'pine island'. We covered a lot of territory and finally somewhat disheartened gave up the chase. There is a lot of state land out where we Were and we only know a very small part where 'it ain't'. I am now seeking more information and perhaps contact Cliff Young to fly hisplane over those barrons before the snow goes off and before leaves obscure the vision. Now it all seems like a dream, but some dreams come true, or don't they? More on this illusive steamer may be forthcoming.

Very recently I received a copy of the booklet published by the Northeast Montana Threshers Assoc. It is filled with historic Montana pictures and to me a real collectors item. Available at a buck a piece from their Sect'y and Treasurer E.A. 'Nute' Anklam, Culbertson, Montana.

A short time ago our good friend from Caldonia, N.D. paid us a visit. Gustav A. Hagness resides in Traill county but his address is Shelly, Minn. His father had a Case engine and threshed many years in the Red River Valley. Gustav has two model engines that his dad built and owns two Case tractors.

Somehow I keep thinking that the steam car will stage a comeback. Units are now available that can be installed in most any modern car, and by turning on a switch glide off under steam power. Hardy Lindblad and Wm. Hanson have got their heads together in hopes to bring up something from the drawing board to a steam car reality. Norman Lindahl from Pine City, Minn., who has built a model Minneapolis engine is now in the process of building a double cylinder simple, double acting engine to power his steam car. Perhaps the desire for something different is not as important as solving the smog problem in congested areas. Came across this verse by Willa Hoey,  LET ME TAKE TIME TO LIVE Let me take time to live along the way, And see the beauties of the world each day; Forbid a pathway hedged by earthy things, Hamp'ring the flight of thought on lofty wings; Rather an open road beside a stream, Where I can walk with God and sometimes dream.