1121 Hilltop Lane Modesto, Calif.
It is past time that my annual steam report and it will include some gas engines, too, was being sent in. I did very little steaming in 1969 didn't pull a single throttle and in general steam on the west coast was for the most part, rained out or no shows held for public.
I will start out with the WSFA bimonthly meeting, which was held in St. Paul, Oregon, with Mr. and Mrs. Carl Kirsch as the hosts, the weekend of April 26-27, during which, on Saturday afternoon, the Kirsch-Herman 75 Holt, newly restored had it's official showing for the public and WSFA members alike. It was on display and operation along with Carl's 45 Holt and newly restored and rare Caterpillar Ten in the widegauge model. A few gas engines were brought in and a model steam traction engine was in operation around the grounds. Carl put the 75 through her paces out in the lots behind his home in St. Paul, including the famous 'front end rearing' stunt with the front wheel off the ground. This tractor came from near Williams, California, was driven onto the lowboy that hauled it to Carl's home and then driven off under it's own power. When restoration started, it was found that 3 of the 4 cylinder heads required replacement or rebuilding. To the rescue came Mr. Hobart Corliss, of Trowbridge, Calif. He knew of 4 good Holt 75 cylinder heads, exhaust manifold and first motion chain that were for sale at a reasonable price. He notified Carl back came the word to Luy and ship to St. Paul the Holt was on it's way a new gasoline tank and radiator shield were made otherwise tractor was in very good condition. That evening, a dinner was served to about 105 members and wives in a hall in St. Paul no one walked away hungry that night!
Over the past year and a half, a friend of mine who moved into my home area with a nice collection of gas engines had purchased and nearly restored a 1925 model Sixty Caterpillar tractor since I had known him for several years and have also been collecting gas engines, we got together and added some more to the collection. So, after contacting a number of other interested gas engine collectors in the state and inviting Tom Graves, of Tigard, Oregon, and F. L. Williams, of Sebastapol, Calif., and formerly of Cordova, Ill., a meeting was held at the R. A. Squires farm near Hughson, May 19th, and Branch No. 6, Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association was formed.
A crowd of about 100 people was present and of course, Glenn Weagent of Stockton was present with his portable steam electric generating plant, furnishing juice for the coffee pot and steam for various model engines. About 35 gas engines were on exhibition and at least 30 of them were in operation. I had my IHC 3-5 LB engine belted to a 6-inch IHC burr grinder and the 2-hp KA Stover pulling the corn sheller and 3 hp ZC F-M engine belted to a rotary water pump in operation. Corn was shelled and then ground and a nice, old Famous 4 hp International portable engine was belted to the buzz saw buzzing up wood during the day at various times. Tom Graves was keeping the Wade drag saw in operation, and it took a man with 2 pairs of hands and 3 feet to keep up with it! Cliff Hardy, of Woodland, had his 3 hp Samson, 3 hp Nu-way and 4 hp Cushman upright belted to his old washing machine all in operation and holding up well in his own corner. Alton W. Rexin, of Hughson, had a nice 3 hp Fuller & Johnson newly restored had make and break ignition with coil and battery and mounted on a 4-wheel truck. This was a fine looking and running engine. Then there was a number of Fairbanks-Morse Z of different sizes and models, John Deere 1 hp, a F & J pump jack engine, Monitor pump jack engine, Stover, Ideal, Aermotor pump jack engine and many others represented. The Noeller brothers had a 2-cycle upright California-built engine forget the make right now, but nicely restored and my McCormick-Deer-ing 10-20 tractor which is undergoing restoration was on display as was my 10-inch Letz burr grinder with the nice, big balance wheel. It is now restored, with new, sharp burrs, coat of orange paint on hopper and blue paint on pulley, flywheel and frame. I managed to get all new parts needed from the Letz Company, through local John Deere dealer and some parts are still available, if anyone wishes to restore one of these fine old burr grinders. I hope to use it later this year when the 10-20 is ready to run again.
June 1st, we again drove to Me. Cloud, Calif., and took the annual steam train ride behind Prarie type 2-6-2 oil-burning steamer, last of the once large McCloud Lumber Company's large fleet of steam locomotives. I rode the cab of the engine entire trip of about 100 miles back into the beautiful mountain country east of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen, well away from any well-traveled public highways. My wife and boys rode in the train and took pictures of the various run-bys. I went up to the shop, rode back with the engine and the friendly crew, and after locking couplers with the train and making the regular air test, we were again off on a rare, beautiful trip into the green timber with it's quiet solitude, shattered only by the piercing whistle of the locomotive and the cracking exhausts as they started out, heavy and then shorter and quicker as the engineer hooked 'er up with his reverse lever. I took all water used on the entire trip, which was the first time I had done this since November of 1956 on a steam locomotive, and water was taken 3 times during the day, twice from the same tank and once at another location, where the train stopped for lunch at noon at Pondosa, a former logging camp that was also a reload area in the days of steam. Train was turned here on a balloon track and then headed back to McCloud at Bartol, we backed up another branch for about 10 miles where we stopped for a picture of huge and beautiful Mt. Shasta and other surrounding scenery you have to ride the train to get into this locality for the shot. I also fired the engine for a while and sanded out the flues as necessary they had the old sand scoop in the sand box as it should be. On the return trip to McCloud, we saw deer, a bear and other game truly a nature's paradise.
On the way home, we stopped by Corning to look at an undermounted Avery traction engine owner wasn't home, but guessed size of engine to be 18-20 hp. and in fairly good condition. Loren Wade told me it had been sold at San Jose in 1915, new and was taken over to Nevada where it stayed until owner died last year and nephews who inherited brought it to Corning. Hope to see it operate in the future.
G. A. Humann, of Gerber, held his semi should say bi-annual model railroad show weekends in May and then had steam threshing for school children in November I had wanted to help out, but rain kept me away and very nearly put an end to the whole operation lucky enough, with Leonard Miller's help, they finished up in fine .
Harvey Mikkelson held a get-to-gether for the WSFA members at his farm near Silverton, Oregon 3rd weekend in August this is his regular date. The annual WSFA business meeting and threshing bee usually held with it was held in Winlock, Washington, Aug. 31 - Sept 1st, if
I have my dates correct. All necessary business was transacted that came before the meeting with Al Herman being elected President and the other officers being elected or re-elected as required. The threshing was rained out completely on Sunday and that ended the annual meeting. The North Marion County Fair was held in Woodburn, Oregon Sept. 12-15th and the WSFA members had several steam engines, a threshing machine and other equipment on display and in operation. Harvey Mikkelson brought in his 50 Case, 12-36 Russell, 18 Case portable Russell water tank and 22 x 38 McCormick-Deering separator. Bill James had his 45 and 50 Case present, along with 25 single simple Gaar-Scott. George Walton had his 12 Russell and Willis Smith had his Westinghouse 15 hp. engine boiler had new flues in it, and engine was built in 1885. I went up on the train and stayed with Tom Graves, while helping out with the fair Tom loaded his 20 hp. Fuller & Johnson on a trailer and took it over to the fairgrounds but outside of some threshing done on Friday afternoon, the entire fair was completely rained out. On Sunday, while Glenn Weagent, who had been there since Friday with his steam generating plant and keeping things warm during the rain with his boiler; in fact he was the only steam in operation continually during whole fair. The fellows fired up their engines in preparation to loading them on low-boy trailers to move them to their various homes. They got stuck and Carl Kursch who had his 75 Holt present, hooked onto them and pulled them out that day gas had the last laugh. Al Herman was also all over the grounds with his 25 Best it was a good situation for the ducks. Oregon's unusually wet summer and fall kept the steam threshing down to nearly nothing in the Willamette Valley.
While at Tom's, we took a little drive about the country and he took me by the light plant in McMinnville they had 3 huge Busch-Sulzer diesel engines coupled to generators both 2 and 4-cycle engines. It was in beautiful condition and the chief engineer said the whole plant could be brought up to full capacity in about thirty minutes now it is only maintained for stand-by purposes. This is the light plant that T. H. Krueger, of San Antonio, Texas had instruction in while attending school in Portland years ago.
In October, besides getting a 2 hp. Stover engine restored and running, R. A. Squires, A. W. Rexin and myself drove up to Sebastapol one day to see F. L. Williams and pick up a couple of old gas engines. We had a nice visit with him and his wife he has a huge collection of just about anything you can think of in steam and some in gas engine line, too. A few days later, the same 'three musketeers', drove up north of Sacramento to the Corliss farm to pick up my 1 hp. McCormick-Deering gas engine which he had hauled down from Tom Graves for me. On the way, we stopped in and saw one of the few complete and original 75 Best crawler tractors left in operating order. The owner had passed away in June and grandson said estate would probably sell off the machinery this spring. We also looked over a 15 hp. Samson gas engine in very good condition had a very unusual valve operating mechanism, and the whole engine is fairly large with heavy flywheels. We then proceeded over to Cliff Hardy's west of Woodland where we saw his collection of gas engines and then onto the Fred Heidrick farm headquarters to see his fine, well-restored collection of about 30 tractors, mostly Best and Caterpillar, with Holt 75, 45 models, another fine 75 Best, Best 60,40, 25,Holt 45 (without front wheel), 2 ton, orchard and conventional 30 Cat., 10, 15, 22, 28 and a very nice Oil-Pull light weight about 20-35 size, 6-cylinder Avery, several Fordsons, cross-motor Case, early Allis-Chalmers and Monarch crawlers, Bates Steel Mule crawler, McCormick-Deering 10-20, 15-30, Farmall 12, 14, Regular and F-20 models, to mention a few. Also is restoring a nice 16 Russell traction engine and boiler was getting new flues at that time. It was quite a day and then finding two 75 Bests about 30 miles apart besides.
The fall meet of Branch No. 6 EDGTA was again held at the Squires farm and this time 41 engines turned up about same equipment in operation as before, and Cliff Hardy added a 25 type H Y F-M hot head engine and an old 2 hp. International belted to a line shaft pulling an ancient washing machine and a clothes mangel. The spring meet will be held at Cliff's place May 4, 1969 west of Woodland. Fall meet was held on November 10th.
In December, I went up to Gerber to help Godfrey with his late fall plowing. So, on the 7-8th, I operated his 1934 McCormick-Deering 22-36 pulling a 3-14 IHC bottom plow, Godfrey was driving his 1939 IHC TD-35 crawler pulling a 5-14 bottom Little Genius IHC plow and his son Paul was plowing with a 1923 or 24 Holt 2-Ton crawler pulling a 2-14 Little Genius plow. We laid over quite a strip of land around the field each trip and this was first time I had plowed for real in over 20 years but the 22-36, newly restored ran as only these fine tractors can and did in past years burned about 3 gallons of gas per hour, but never faltered on the plow. These old tractors were not taking a back seat to any modern-day power as far as quality and quantity of work turned out. Now, he is restoring a 1938 Model D John Deere which will probably find it's way into the farming operation in the future.
And, this winds up my year of activity hope more steam in 1969. Keep up the good work.