New Rockford, North Dakota
New Rockford Flying Service
Since I do not often see letters from up this way, I am writing a few lines.
I am not a 'Johnny-come-lately' as a steam 'nut'. My first memory of steamers dates back to about 1907 or 1908 when I was four or five years old. A rig pulled into our pasture to do some threshing and I can still see the bright red wheels of the engine and the separator, bright red with yellow wheels and trim. It was a Gaar Scott outfit, nearly new. A little later I was allowed to get real close to the rig while they were threshing, and that was really a thrill. The engine puffing up the stack and rocking a little with the motion, the gurgling hiss when the fireman started the injector (of course I did not know what it was then), the smell of hot oil and smoke already fascinated me. Of course the engineer was the most important man there to me.
I am not sure if my ambition to be come an engineer started right then, but at least that soon became my ambition. My dad knew everything and could do anything, almost, but even he did not run an engine. Somehow several thresher catalogs came into my possession (I still have them) and I really studied them, when I was older I often took them along on horseback while herding cattle and sometimes would be absorbed in one of them while the cattle got into something I was supposed to be keeping them out of.
Well, I first operated an engine in about 1920 (steam was already on its way out). The engine was a 36 hp. M. Rumely double built in about 1909. We fired straw, my fireman was even younger than I was. We managed to do a fairly creditable job of keeping the engine running. I must have put in about twelve seasons on this engine sometimes running others when our run was finished. In 1924 I put in 25 days on an old Case in Saskatchewan. I still have my provisional engineer certificate. Altogether I run engines eighteen seasons till in 1939 flying became my business instead of the sideline it had been up till that time.
Now, in the hopes of starting some interesting discussions I bring this up. I have heard engineers say it is not advisable to 'hook up' the reverse lever when the load permits because of the possibility of wearing shoulders on the valve seat while on short valve travel. I had always assumed that these men were misinformed and I still think so in most cases, but recently I have been informed by an engine man who I am sure knows engines, that he had run into this condition. Any valves and seats that I have seen or seen pictured were made so that as soon as the valve starts to admit steam at one port, the other edge of the valve passes over the edge of the seat, thus preventing the forming of a shoulder. This principle is used in the cylinder, where the piston ring is allowed to enter part way into the counter bore, and in the guides the crosshead shoe goes part way over the ends of the raised parts of the guides. I think most of those old engines were well designed, and it seems I mean that anyone that could design a good engine otherwise would see the need of making the valve and seat that way. Even with a fixed cut-off if the valve did not pass over the edge of the seat shoulders could be formed and any adjustment or taking up of lost motion might cause the valve to strike one or both of these shoulders.
I think possibly that some engineers who think they are having this trouble might possibly have a valve leaking because of being scored from lack of lubrication some time, and a link adjusted too tightly might pinch the block when the lever is in the corner notch, which might give the impression that the valve was striking a shoulder.
I would like comments by experienced men on their opinion of the Advance straw burner with the water-leg in firebox. Also their experience with leaky staybolts in any kind of firebox, burning coal as compared with straw burning. How much oil should a 25hp. single or double engine have in a ten-hour day, for the cylinder 1 mean? And of course there is always the subject of which is the best valve gear, and is compounding worth while?
A few issues back a man writing an article gave his choice of an engine and separator. I must disagree with him on his choice of a feeder he liked the Ruth feeder. I think the Garden City or any of the later feeders were much better. Our 41x62 Buffalo Pitts Niagara Second Steel Frame had a Ruth we replaced it with a Garden City and I am sure it took several horsepower less to pull the separator and the straw came out of the blower in a steady stream instead of in bunches like it had before. The Ruth was run by a six-inch belt and it had to be very tight. The Garden City used either a four or five inch belt and did not have to run too tight.
I attended the Mt. Pleasant Reunion part of two days in 1953. Did not get there in 1954. But I took in a one-day reunion at Rollag, Minnesota last October. By the way, I do not think I have seen a writeup on that in the ALBUM. I thought they had a very nice show and they had a good crowd. Also while vacationing near Little Falls, Minnesota, with the family, I met Mr. H. M. Jones. He has ten or twelve engines. One day we steamed up two of them and put in several hours threshing. I really enjoyed that and meeting Mr. Jones.
I have a 26hp. Advance. Last Labor Day I steamed it up the first time in fifteen years and run it to the airport from the farm eleven miles out.
I saw Rev. Ritzman at Mt. Pleasan and I meant to talk to him but wa : there only a short time and when I could take my eyes off the engines for a few minutes I could not see him. To tell the truth I was more enterest-ed in the engines than in ministers anyway, meaning no disrespect.