FRED LAWRENCE WRITES

Fred in bridge

Fred in bridge, 1895. Got $125.00 damages from County

FRED M. LAWRENCE

Content Tools

Rockford, Illinois

Just received my copy of The Iron Men Album and is a very interesting magazine. I am on my 86 birthday in April and have had 54 years of running engines of nearly all makes and plowing and threshing in North Dakota and most of time in Winnebago County. The first engine I ever ran was a Stillwater I think with upright boiler with a chain drive at the age of 18. I had quite a few pictures where I went through old wooden bridges but don't know where they all went to also went through one bridge with a steam roller which I operated for a number of years for the township. I operated the first traction well drill in this state owned by a Mr. Earl Dickerson. I had a picture of a J. I. Case engine that exploded while threshing in a barn throwing engine upside down, coming down on top of coal wagon. They had a three quarter nipple by two inch nipple in with a cap on it for a safety plug. Crown sheet was torn to pieces like a piece of paper no thicker than a silver dollar. I also saw a new Rumely that exploded when I was running engine up in North Dakota. Had no safety plug in.

All the years I ran an engine I never had such luck but had to stop a few times to get water going in before it got too low. I was pulling to another job early one morning crossing the Northwestern Railroad when the left rear wheel of separator broke through a small culvert and before I could get the thing jacked up and off a west bound freight came along knocking off the Satley Stacker.

The last year that I threshed I ran a Port Huron and was the nicest running engine I ever pulled a throttle on and had run a lot of new ones as I was agent for three different companies and we had the first Port Huron outfit in Winnebago Co. and was a dandy.

I ran a Garr Scott engine for a friend of mine for eight years not knowing what danger I was in when crossing old wooden bridges until a friend of mine who was running one for some one in or near a little town called Byron, Illinois, one Saturday evening he was moving to another job crossing abridge which was about twelve feet across and quite deep. A dry run when the engine broke through and platform folded up on him pinning him and another helper up against the boiler breaking water gauge glass and other pipes as engine was standing nearly on end and they were yelling for some one to knock them in the head but hot water and steam was flying all ways so no one could get near them.

I went down where it happened and the flesh was cooked right off their bones. Worst sight I ever see in all my life and never want to see another.

Everyone worked faithfully and were happy. The ladies were the same when we went in for a wonderful dinner. Their faces were beaming with smiles. It made me think of the earlier years of my life.

Well the Gar Scott I was running had a very poor head in it and the last few days that I ran it I had to be very careful not to let the steam above a hundred and twenty pounds or it spring enough to burst the water gauge glass so I told him I wasn't running the old thing anymore.

When I put an engine away for the summer I would take about three quarts of steam cylinder oil mix in about two gallons of kerosene pump the boiler full of water and put in my mixture warm it up a little and let stand a few days then draw it off. But wash out boiler and get mud and lime out of bottom first.

I was called one time about 20 miles south of Rockford to see what was leaking in the bottom of the firebox. I got in firebox with hammer and a small punch and could drive the punch through the bottom anywhere he had left water in firebox too long with wet ashes. I used to give boilers the cold water test when they wanted their boilers tested and is a good way I think if the throttle or valves don't leak.

I was called one time to test two A very return flue boilers one time and one of the old engines I could put my hammer through shell anywhere. But one was pretty good shape.

I have put in stay bolts where they have been pulled by letting them freeze up with the mud in bottom many of them.

I was called down near the town of Byron, Illinois where a fellow was working on the highway with his 20 horse Garr Scott run into a big hard-head and wheel came down so hard that it pulled the threads off the stay-bolts in firebox. The only way I could make a quick repair job was to drill a small hole in center of stay bolt and expand it in the sheet. But it held O.K.

Could name a lot more but this I think is enough for this tune.