Compound Engine & roller shredder

Millin Bros. 26 Compound Engine and 12 roller shredder, both Advance of Patch Grove, Wisconsin. I am the only one of the brothers left. Retired at Hudson, Wisconsin, at the age of 78.

Mr. L. C. W

Content Tools


May I offer some information in reply to Mr. William Ree's letter in your May-June issue. According to Mr. R. B. Gray, in his excellent book 'Development of the Agricultural Tractor in the United States', the Van Duzen tractor was built in 1894. It was similar to the Froelich (1892), in fact, the Froelich was powered by a Van Duzen gasoline engine.

The first Hart Parr was built in 1902 and in 1906 they were the first to use the word 'tractor' instead of the longer term 'gasoline traction engine'.

Mr. Gray's book is a wonderful source of information on tractors. It covers their entire development from the beginning up to 1950.

THOMAS KEMPLING, Box 700, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada


Model steam engines and separators and old gas engines heralded in the coming of spring at a meeting of the Illiana Steam and Hobby Club at Pine Village, Indiana, Sunday afternoon, April 30th. The old timers were glad to welcome Clyde Johnson and Gene Philips of Valparaiso with their gas engines.

One of the largest displays was an exhibit by the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Tippecanoe featuring guns used in the battle and arrowheads. Three people in the dress of 1811 were there to explain the articles. Among the other exhibits were a large collection of cross-stitched aprons made by Mrs. Wilbur Collins of Pontiac, Illinois. Also shown were quilts, afghans, stamps, whittling, leather work, paintings, and ceramics, featuring mugs with a snapshot fired on of a Case 40 hp and Leonard Mann, Ernest Cox and Merlin Warwick standing by.

After a delicious chicken barbecue supper Mr. Wilbur Graham of Lafayette invited the Club to participate in the big Fund Raising Event for the Home Hospital, September 15, 16 and 17.

Mrs. Margaret Horn and Mr. Thomas Lock told all about the celebrations to be held commemorating the Battle of Tippecanoe. The Battle was small, but it was the keystone in the settling of the United States.

Mr. Eiffel Plasterer of Huntington, Indiana, assisted by his son Bill, gave a splendid illustrated lecture on 'The Grand Old Steam Engines'.

He showed the evolution of the methods of threshing and of steam engines, showed engines at work and at the reunions. Our memories of the engines and the friends made at reunions are very precious.

By MRS. LEONARD MANN, Otterbein, Indiana


Iron-Men Album for May-June carried an article written by me about Model Building. I am not what you would call a modest fellow, so I feel free to say it is fun to see something one has written in print. Thanks so much for printing it. The Case Engine (pictured with this article) was built by Eugene Dawson, 5700 First Ave. South, Seattle, Washington, not by me as stated. I doubt that I could build so fine an engine as this one and Mr. Dawson should have the credit.

C. E. (JACK) KAUER, 2511 N. Waco, Wichita 4, Kansas


I was somewhat intrigued by Mr. E. G. Benson's request in the May-June issue of the Album, for indicator cards taken at one of the so-called 'Economy Runs of Steam Engines' at one of the steam shows of last year. I can assure Mr. Benson that such a request is tantamount to requesting a symphony orchestra conductor's score sheet of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony from an ear-playing country fiddler. I attended the two steam shows last season where such tests were simulated and the only steam indicator at either show (I am positively sure of this) was the one (which was not used) that I had in my own collection. I might state further that I have never yet seen an indicator card of a steam traction engine.

While these tests are very commendable, as far as they go, yet much significant and meaningful additional data could have been acquired very easily that was completely overlooked. In addition to the data that suggested by Mr. Benson, I would suggest a logical method of procedure should be followed whereby the boiler and engine of the traction engine be considered as two separate entities, and the performances of each be considered separately instead of combining all results of both entities as being concomitant and in effect issuing from a single operational unit. For instance, it is quite possible to have an efficient boiler in combination with an inefficient engine, and vice versa.

In reference to the boiler only, in addition to what Mr. Benson suggested it would be absolutely necessary to state in each individual test the amount of grate surface, the amount of heating surface, and whether the boiler is jacketed. The earliest traction boilers, at which time when most traction engines were of the 10 h.p. and 12 h.p. class, boilers were not jacketed. However, as grain separators passed out of the hand-fed type, separators became larger with greater threshing capacity and equipped additionally with such power-consuming accessories as self-feeders and wind-stackers, thus requiring greater demands for operational power. As larger and more powerful engines were necessary to supply the greater power demands, the matter of operation economy, in the power department became a noticeable and sizeable factor that was previously quite a negligible consideration in the smaller power units, and jacketing the boilers was a practical and an efficient means of reducing considerably the heat loss due to the greater radiating surface of the larger boilers. And like many other beneficial changes, at first, there was some opposition to the jacketed boiler among some of the farmer thresher engineers. Through some kind of curious reasoning , it was claimed by some that a jacket on a boiler tended to cause the boiler to 'burn out.' But as traction boilers tended to become increasingly larger, to help meet the increasing power demands, there was an increasing tendency to have the boilers jacketed.

To judge the economic performance of the engine of a traction engine solely on the basis of the quantity of its power output at the belt-wheel, and the sharpness of its exhaust bark, would be to assume a proper distribution of steam operating on each side of the piston with an adequate and proper amount of expansion on both sides of the piston. But empirical assumptions cannot be substituted for absolute facts, and absolute facts are not obtained and substantiated by mere conjecture. Of course, the amount of lap (inside and out) is a factory determinant. However, some types of the better and more scientifically designed valve gears will permit an increased expansion by decreasing the valve travel without changing the valve's previous motion pattern relative to the piston motion. This shortening of relative valve travel, wherever it is feasible, is accomplished by what is commonly known as 'hooking up' the reverse lever.

To obtain a true picture of what is actually taking place within an engine cylinder, a steam indicator card is absolutely necessary. The steam engine indicator is virtually the steam engineer's stethoscope whereby he is enabled to obtain the 'heart beat' of a steam engine in a recorded form from which data he can arrive, through correct interpretation, at definite conclusions, thus enabling him to make whatever amends that seem practical and justifiable.

To recount, in general, some of the information that can be obtained from an indicator diagram, without going too deeply into specific details, it is well first to note the general shape or form, of the indicator diagram so that one may recognize it upon first sight. The shape of the diagram suggests the appearance of an old comfortable shoe, and this type of figure is known mathematically as a closed curve. However, if the diagram accurately represents pressure at every part of the stroke on each side of the cylinder, some quite varied and valuable information is obtainable:

1. It tells if the valve motion is doing its duty, admitting steam just before the beginning of the stroke, cutting off without too much wire drawing, releasing well before the end of the stroke, and cushioning at the proper place to completely absorb the momentum of the reciprocating parts at the end of the stroke.

2. If the maximum pressure is very much les s than the boiler pressure, there could be a pressure loss due to a too-small supply pipe, or a loss due to an extreme length of supply-pipe not properly jacketed. In the case of a throttle governor (with which all traction engines are equipped) due allowance must be made for boiler-pressure reduction by the operation of this accessory.

3. If the pressure in the back stroke is not nearly atmospheric, the exhaust passage is not large enough, or else there was much steam condensed during admission, which is now boiling away during exhaust, and so maintains a high exhaust pressure. Those traction engineers that have a yen for a sharp exhaust bark and a restricted exhaust nozzle to obtain this effect, do so at a cost of a possible lower power output and the unnecessary waste of extra fuel consumption.

4. The shape of the expansion curve in the diagram provides much valuable information, especially if it should deviate too radically from the standard adibatic curve. The numerous data resulting from the varying aberations of this curve are too voluminous to be considered here.

5. Last, but not least, the indicator diagram enables one to calculate the indicated horsepower of the steam engine, and by a comparison with the brake horsepower we are able to obtain the mechanical efficiency of a steam engine which can be expressed in terms of a percentage. I might add that this list is only a few of the important items about which indicator diagrams can contribute a great deal of useful and important information that takes place within the cylinder of a steam engine.

ORRIN G. SEAVER, Ypsilanti, Michigan


I have enjoyed the last 'Album' as I do all of them. I am at loss to give you much information about the engine and thresher on Page 6 of the last issue, but it would be my guess, an early Gaar-Scott. I hope some other old timer can give us a sure answer to this one.

Being a Case fan, I was interested in the photos of the two Case Compounds plowing in South Dak. on Page 10. How about those rear wheels looks like they (the extensions) were made of wood and cement, Huh? As you will note the front engine has one of the old Case plow engine tenders. I have a 1904 Case plow engine catalog that shows this tender. It held about 8 barrels of water and a coal bunker on top, and had sort of a triangular frame around it to hitch the plows to.

I enjoyed Mr. E. J. Mathews letter on Page 9 too as I too had some experiences with those old two wheel Case engine tenders. We had one on an old Case 15 H.P. 1905 and then, after trading the Case for an 18 H.P. Huber, we put the tender on it, and if you didn't keep those steering rods and chains singing tight, it was sure a job to back an engine with it. We also had a Parsons tender, made in Newton, Iowa. It was a half round wooden affair and was as hard to handle as the Case. The only difference in the two was, the Case we had, had a straight axle and the steering chains had to be crossed.

The Parson's had an axle like the front wheels of a car and used straight chains. Backing that old Huber around to line up, the tender wheels would sometimes plow furrows a foot deep, and the Huber with its little 59 inch rear wheels, was pretty clumsy without the tender. We finally gave up and took the thing off.

HOWARD MOYERS, 309 East 7th Avenue, Cheyenne, Wyoming


860 N. LaMay Avenue, Ypsilanti, Michigan

I really don't have too much information on the pictures of Mr. Purcell but am lucky enough to work with his son who permitted me to take the pictured and have copies made. Mr. Purcell died quite a few years ago and his son was young then and he doesn't remember much about his Dad.

As I remember the old N & S engine on the one picture, it was built in 1898. Anyway it threshed and shredded corn, threshed beans and clover seed, filled silo until 1927. The lugs wore off the wheels and they thought they needed a different engine, so for 1928 they got a 20 hp Port Huron with a cab, but most everybody started hollering. They didn't want to get coal to thresh with, so they traded it for a 40-60 Huber tractor.