ENCOUNTERS WITH STEAM

Double Uniflow ice machines

Double Uniflow ice machines I helped to build at York Manufacturing Company. Courtesy of Lester L. Lehman, R. D. 2, Red Lion, Penrsylvania 17356.

Lester L. Lehman

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R. D. 2, Red Lion, Pennsylvania 17356.

My first encounter with steam began in 1903 at age fourteen. I helped fire a vertical boilered steam traction engine threshing wheat on my father's farm. I don't recall the name of the engine.

A little later I had the pleasure of riding in the cab of a small saddle back locomotive hauling stone out of Small's quarry near York, Pa. Chester Kauffman was the engineer.

In 1910 we threshed using gasoline power, a 6 H. P. battery ignition Flinchbaugh engine running a threshing machine built by Samuel Leiphart of Hellam, Pa.

About a year after this I started working at A. B. Farquar Co. York, Pa., in the boiler room where I stayed for two years. During these two years the management put together an experimental gasoline tractor. Due to the time and work spent in developing, changing, trying and testing this tractor, it was taken apart and put together so many times, the threads were worn out on the bolts and studs. (That's the way I heard it anyway.)

Once they tried to pick up a very large piece of machinery and overloaded the crane. It stopped the big Farquar steam engine and generator.

One old timer's only job was chipping keyways in shafts with hammer and chisel. Day after day he would do this. To break the monotony he would let out a whistle every time the hammer hit the chisel. This way the boss knew when he was working.

I got interested in motorcycles about this time and purchased my first one by mail order from New York. It was a single cylinder engine and did not have a clutch. Not very practical for todays riding. I paid $75.00 for it. My second motorcycle cost $250.00 and was purchased from Frank Reiff's Indian Agency, York, Pa. I did a lot of riding and all on dirt and gravel roads. Even coast to coast Route 30 was gravel and a toll road.

In 1913 I went to Titusville, Pa. and worked as a boilermaker. We made many types of boilers including some for the Reeves steam tractors. During work at the Titusville Iron Co. a worker bet the operator of the steam hammer that he could pull his finger out from under the hammer before he could catch his finger. Needless to say he ended up with a smashed finger. The management put a guard around the hammer after that allowing no one but the operator at the machine. The railroad from Titusville to Oil City was being built during this time and when I had time I watched the steam shovels and other steam equipment at work.

I met my wife to be, Miss Grace Litsinger here in Titusville and we were married in 1915 and soon after we moved back to York.

I began working at York Manufacturing Co. They built ice manufacturing equipment for cold storage plants, packing houses, dairies, ice cream plants etc. They also built air conditioning systems at a later date. These were powered in the early days by steam engines, vertical, slide valve, Corliss and Uniflow. These engines were from 15 to over 600 H. P. They were used to drive refrigerating machines up to 600 tons. I helped assemble, set valves and test all types of these engines. I enjoyed this work very much. We did lots of hand scraping and filing on these engines, scraping piston halves steam tight and filing to a line cylinder blocks to crosshead guides etc. I worked for this firm 33 years although not on steam engines in the later years.

I am retired for 18 years now and last Dec. we celebrated our 57th wedding anniversary. I spend my time building miniature steam engines, small air compressors and reading the Iron-Men Magazine which my son passes on to me. I enjoy very much reading articles from the old timers.