Box 167, Starks, Louisiana
The steam traction engine had a comparative short span of life on American farms in view of the great amount of work that it did so well. Not more than about fifteen years marks its heyday and period of greatest use. But even in that short period the impact of its mighty tread as we turn back a page in the great book of years is felt until this day.
I believe every well known make of engine would do the work that it was built to do, and also, there were some real good engines built by smaller shops and not so well known.
There were a good many splendid belt engines that were not at all suited to heavy drawbar work because their transmission and draw works were not intended for that work, but for just hauling the separator or such and doing belt work.
My favorite for any work is the undermounted type. Some claim that dust and dirt cut them out but years of use proves that is not true. If it was, then the countershaft and differential gears that are bolted to the front of the fire box on Advance and many others, so mounted would cut out as fast as they could be replaced. In much experience with both under-mounted and top mounted, I have found the undermounted Star collects less dirt and is much easier to clean and and care for than any top mount and I stand second to none in my liking for any good top mount.
The crankshaft on the Star has 4 bearings and was never broken in many years of heavy use. It is built up of 3 straight shafts with side crank type discs pressed on and is practically a double side crank. Should it break, any good local machine shop could replace the broken part. In my opinion, the Star crankshaft is better than any forged center crank ever built. A forged center crank breaks where the shaft is bent to form the crank.
However, all Avery crank shafts did not break by any means, but some did, especially in the 7 x 10 engines. There were only 2 sizes of Avery under mounts, the 7x10 and the 6 x 10. I have heard in recent years that the welding of an additional cross member under side of Avery frame would always prevent crankshaft breakage. I have no personal knowledge of this.
If bearings on all shafts are kept full of oil and the oil wells full of waste and the lids closed, no dust can get in the bearing. I do this on all engines. Dust never cut out an Avery shaft except in case of gross neglect.
Our friend, Lyle Hoff master, discussing Springer valve gear in his letter in the January-February Album, asked, in effect, if a swinging arm valve gear does not give the same action as the Springer with sliding block. The answer is no. If Lyle will put his Baker on dead center and move the reverse lever back and forth, I think he will find that the valve stem moves, therefore, the lead and admission is not the same at all points of cut off. The Woolf Springer and other slide block types are the only traction engine valve gears that I know about in which the lead is absolute at all points of cut off.
The Baker is a good valve gear but lets keep the record straight.
I have been running a Minneapolis engine several years. No valve gear is easier to keep in order than a Woolf type, nor does the sliding block take a sharper angle even in full gear than does the swinging arm type.
The old nominal horse power rating of engines was absolutely without meaning except for the purpose of identification.