I Am Concerned!

Content Tools

Route 3,Sterling, Illinois 61081

I am concerned, I have seen no comments or letters on the hysteria on so called air pollution, nor: have seen any partitions circulated for the protection and preservation of our American way of life and heritage as concerns our steam shows. Looks as though they are on the way out and fast, especially in some states. Next comes the big law, then we will have both state and federal laws to contend with.

I believe that only a very few people will be able to afford the expense of converting their engines to an approved gas or oil fired system.

Unless something can be done to help our cause people will lose interest, museums will be filled to overflowing, very few will be able to see the old steamers in real operation. Possibly many will find their way to the junk pile.

Even now there are elements at work trying to stop some shows. For instance during a local show someone called the state division of boiler inspection and told them we were operating engines without inspection. This of course was not true as all engines were inspected and passed with all credentials displayed. So! that did not work. Wonder what they will try next?

This is not going to be so much fun when they start slapping injunctions on automobile racing and banning non-essential pleasure trips by automobile. No more bonfires. Trash, brush and other debris will have to be hauled to an approved community incinerator on which a fee will have to be paid. This is because an approved incinerator will be so expensive that the average citizen cannot afford to privately own one.

Friends, it is not the smoke that is causing pollution, but carbon monoxide is the real killer. Smoke can be gotten rid of but the carbon monoxide still remains. You can't see, smell or taste it but it is still there and will be as long as we have internal combustion by explosion. When any two or more elements combine there must be a by-product as it is a law of nature, you can't get something for nothing.

In our town there are still several steam locomotives in use as switchers and there has been several complaints, but what they don't realize is that one diesel locomotive passing through pushes more carbon monoxide in the air than a whole yard full of steam engines. It's the smoke that worries them.

I lived through an era when all industry, homes and factories, burned coal and I never heard of anyone being poisoned by carbon monoxide from the smoke. What would happen if they had to go back to that period.

Is there an answer to the carbon monoxide problem? I think there is. The modern steam powered automobile and steam power plants in farm tractors. I have read articles where it is claimed changing to steam autos would eliminate 80 to 85% of pollution, but because of the great impact the change would have on the petroleum industry plus the many, many, less parts required; the auto industry would hesitate to retool. Among some of the excuses that have come up is that the public is not ready to accept it. The public should not only accept the change but demand it. In fact, the public has not been too well informed. The modern version of the steam auto is a far cry from the old steam car of yesteryear, especially the lately developed Freon version which operates from external expansion as steam and has a sealed system and can run many miles without any addition using the Freon over and over. 

It seems as though the contenders are frightened by what they can see, such as smoke and dust; not the lurking killer, carbon monoxide, they cannot see.

I would like to relate a little incident which was just a little amusing. At a local steam show a man and his son came up on the deck of my engine and asked me to explain the operation of the engine, which I immediately started to do; but with handkerchief in hand, he kept wiping and saying, 'Son do I have any specks of soot on my face?' He was so busy wiping and worrying I don't think he heard a word I said.

I would be pleased to see articles in the good old Album concerning this matter and what is being done, if anything, to keep our shows alive.

This is one man's opinion and I do not intend to enter into any controversy in this matter, however, any legitimate letters concerning the effect on the future of our hobby and shows will be graciously appreciated.

Friends, pause one moment and think! remembering that without fuel the steam goes down fast.