The Russell Ring-Balanced Valve

The Russell Ring-Balanced Valve

Laurence J. Hathaway

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Ever since receiving your letters I have had it in mind to write you, but being 67 years old, I find it very hard to keep up with the things I like to do and the things I have to do.

You spoke of being amateurs in the publishing business, but I don't share this view, as I think you are doing a swell job on the ALBUM magazine. I too, like it's informality and I should be a fair judge as I edited a small magazine for 14 years and we weren't too formal, either. I am surprised to learn of your losing so many magazines in the mailing. Seems something is wrong someplace. Have you taken it up with the proper authorities?

I fell in love with steam at the age of five when my uncle gave me my first toy steam engine for Christmas. This was of course, followed by othersa toy pumping engine that would put out a sizeable fire if given time, a pile driver that would drive match sticks into soft ground, toy steamboats, stationary engines, a steam locomotive with cars and a circular track, etc. Then another uncle built me a beautiful model mill engine, 11/8' bore and a 2' stroke and what a time my friends and I had with that. We gave it all sorts of jobs to do until it just bogged down and refused to pull the load. Then my father gave me one Christmas (I was 13 or 14 then) a 1 hp. marine engine with oil fired water tube boiler, and that laughed at everything we gave it, including a wood lathe used to make me breathless from pedaling it. When I had this set up (in an old chicken house), I used the model engine to drive a small dynamo that lighted a 6 candlepower light by steam and water gauges-just like the big ones. Then I went away to school and then into Nordberg's shops as an engineering apprentice, which put an end to things at home. Nordberg's were building steam engines then, mostly beautiful Corliss and Poppet valve engines; also quite a low big pumps, air compressors, and mining hoists up to the largest ever used up to that time. My health gave out and the doctors ordered me outdoors, so I got into construction work, running steam pile drivers, steam rollers, pumps, etc. This was around Milwaukee and Evanston, Illinois. In 1914 my health became so bad that I returned to my native country.

I thought I never wanted to see a steam engine or other piece of machinery again, but a good friend told me the old love would return in time. He advised me not to sell my tools. I took his advice and long years after, about 1930, I began to feel the old love coming to life again, so I set about finding an engine and boiler from a Stanley steam automobile. I had trouble at first but in the end I found ten, in four different sizes. I wanted only the smaller ones, so I gave three to the National Museum in Washington, traded one and sold two for more than the whole ten had cost me. This leaves me with two of the smallest sizes 2x3 and two of the next larger size 3'x4'. I have picked up quite a few other engines since then, and a fine boiler with about 400 half-inch copper flues. I stored it all in my garage and attic waiting for a place to set it up and play with it (we were living in the suburbs of Washington then), but since moving here in 1948 there have been so many things to take time, money and energy, that the steam power has had to wait. Last fall I put up a little shed to house the stuff in and nowwe'll see.

Keep up the good work, it is nice to know we have a good Christian man at the helm. More power to all of you.

LAURENCE J. HATHAWAY, Easton, Maryland


Thank you very much for your recent letter. Since then I received the May issues of the ALBUM, all of which have been distributed. We, over here are delighted to know that we are still going to get it regularly and several have written me expressing satisfaction when they heard this.

We had a grand reunion 3 weeks ago at And over, 17 engines were there and over 2,000 of good folk. Not a lot by your standards perhaps, but a good gathering here where the idea is only now catching on. Some brought their engines long distances, in steam, to be there. One was brought single handed 74 miles, with trailer behind, all in one day and arrived without lights having driven the last 4 or 5 miles in the dark.

Several more rallies, as we call them over here, are planned for later in the summer but I doubt if I will be able to get to them as I keep a shop and Saturday is the best day for trade. These are all arranged for Saturdays (pity me).

I was glad you had room for two photos from England in the last issue and it is realized here that not all issues can contain pictures from here but we do like them more when they do. It seems to bring us into the family, if you know what I mean.

Will be sending you some photos and catalogs in a few days.

R. G. PRATT, 'Wentlea' Chapel of St. Marys, Ipswich, Suffolk, England


Enclosed find my two bucks for this wonderful ALBUM. I have received more pleasure from this magazine which encourages restoring those 'OLE TEAKETTLES' which I used to operate and did so for a number of years.

I was 14 years old when I started and used to fire with straw. I never had a separator man wait on me. I have done everything these old engines could do for besides pulling a separator I have plowed many sections of land in the Dakotas and Montana, as well as Canada. I used to ride a bicycle from Watertown, South Dakota, to Galveston, Texas, where they threshed rice and peanuts. Then hit for the grain belts in Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and then Canada. I have threshed every kind of grain and grass seed, not having operated all kinds of engines but a lot of them. My favorite was the J. I. Case, then the Port Huron, Gaar Scott, N I S, and the old Starr.

I am going to make the harvest again this year but won't go too far south. I will start in Kansas and go on to Montana but I won't ride a bicycle. I travel by car in which I cook, eat and sleep. I have many invitations to return to places I have been in the past and perhaps I will have some pictures later on. Best wishes to all



Will take time off just to tell you what I think of the ALBUM. To you steam 'NUTS' that read this little paper and think it will help you get the fever down to normal, have a guess a coming yet.

That's exactly what I tried, but here's what happened instead. After reading all the advertisements in every issue for the past eight months, I realized all at once that my fever was up to about 106 and something had to be done at once, so I made a hasty trip out to Minnesota. Results: Came back with a lot less dough and two of them big black things they used to call Case Steam Engines, one a 50 and one a 65. They are dandy engines and lots of people ask me, 'Where did you get those new engines?' In coming to a close I will do as Ralph Koon says, 'I'll lower the boom' and send you check for the following.

LEVI J. STUTSMAN, Fredericksburg, Ohio


Notice that the steam pressure is going down again, so I had better get my two bucks to you at once as losing one issue of the ALBUM would be a tragedy to me. Might even end up in divorce as I might be hard to get along with for awhile. Hope to see more articles like the N & S and Case histories, also letters and pictures from the old-timers.

By the way, I have always wondered about a machine built during the early 1900's. I understand it was built by a man who had lost his arm in a threshing machine accident and as a result he built a machine without belts and named it THE CRIPPLES REVENGE. Wonder if any of the old timers recall it or if anyone has a picture of it. My father, who operated a rig during those years, told me about it and I believe I saw it advertised in the American Thresherman. Although he may have seen it at some thresher show. Hans Anderson mentioned it also in some correspondence with me so I guess there was one built by that name.

Oh yes! And how about some more of those classy articles by Marcus Leonard? I have enjoyed every one of them, even though I did not get to subscribe to the ALBUM until after he had written some of them. I would like to buy, borrow, or beg copies of the ALBUM for summer and fall of 1948 as I missed those articles by him as the first copy I received was Winter 1949 and it contained just part three of an article written by him.

Enclosed is check to keep the steam up for another year. Best Regards

RAY DOUBRAVA, Lorraine, Kansas


I am 60 years old and can remember the 10 horsepower separators, but the two-horse treadmills is or was before my time.

I have seen quite a few of the large outfits plowing in Saskatchewan. And many of the Hart Parr gas tractors came out with their 20 or more dry cell batteries, such as were used in the old wall telephone boxes. When we boys were young and herding the cows on horseback, we often carried batteries from one outfit to another for they just got new batteries to replace the old ones, or to pay back some fellow from whom they had borrowed a set. Since it was level country just slightly rolling, we could see many outfits around us and I knew most of them by name. You just can't imagine how I felt when I heard the good news that we would be able to see those fine old steam engines once again.

CHAS. F. PETZOLD, R. D. 3, Cuba, Missouri


Enclosed find check for my renewal. I can't afford to miss a single copy. I have a J. I. Case and drove it in a Centennial Celebration at Warsaw, Indiana. I never saw such interest in engines in my life. We were protected on Federal Road No. 30 which is a very busy thoroughfare.

I am 72 years old and have run engines all my life. I sure got a big kick out of that event. I also sold machinery for many years.

I. D. HARMAN, Etna Green, Indiana


In the Sept.-Oct. issue I saw one of my letters in print. Was my face red when I saw that I made a statement limiting Port Huron and Gaar Scott as the only makers of a double tandem compound engine. In the same issue was reference to the same type made by Minneapolis T. M. Co. I owe an apology for that mis-statement to my contemporaries and fellow members of the fraternity. Best wishes.

GORDON LEE, 632 No. Mission Rd., Los Angeles, California


I read your January-February issue with much interest and am indebted to Mr. Roy E. Potter of Sask. Canada, for sending me a copy. Am enclosing money to cover a years subscription. I also noted with much interest the pictures of the exhibits of the Sask. Western Dev. Museum.

This museum is greatly in debted to above mentioned Mr. Potter for the really great collection. He served as secretary of the organization without pay to get it started, also located and collected many of the best exhibits which is a no small chore in a country where most of that class of machinery was nearly decimated by the scrap iron drive of the war years. Also his unsurpassed knowledge of all early engines did much toward their restoration., even to having them painted in their original colors. I myself had a small part in locating and getting donated a few small items, but nothing at all compared to the work of Mr. Potter. He is by trade a city policeman in charge of maintenance of motor vehicles of the force.

The accompanying snapshot is of a steam model built by me three years ago. The picture is somewhat misleading as I got up real close, lying flat down with the camera to get the picture. Not being a photographer, I surprised myself. The actual size is as follows: bore, fifteen-sixteenths inch; stroke, 11/8', overall length, 21'; height to top of spark arrester, 17'; diameter of boiler, 3'; boiler pressure of 100 lbs. per square inch; Wolf valve motion and reverse gears; plain D valve; alcohol fired; water supplied by pump driven from countershaft. The model is destined for my brother, a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army, S. W. Andrews, of Sunland, California. He of course will not trust to have it shipped and will at some future date come up here for it. Should you see fit to use the snapshot and information, I would appreciate your sending him a copy.

My parents immigrated to this district in April 1903 when I was three years old. My youngest brother returned to the states and enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps and served all through the late war on both fronts. My other brother, whose wife was Texas born, returned there in 1934 and I am the only Canadian left in the family.

My father, now deceased, and two neighbors bought the first threshing outfit in this district in 1905, a Case 25 hp. simple engine and a 36x58 Wood separator. I note in your classified ads one by Ray W. Kuntz; a 38x58 Case steel separator. It is a small matter but Mr. Kuntz is mistaken, as Case Co., never built a 38' steel machine-36' and 40' but not a 38 inch.

You will probably take my model for an Advance and there is a very close resemblance, but it is an American Abell 30 hp. with trade name 'KING', built at Toronto, Ontario. Of course I mean the original engine. They were later bought out by M. Runaley along with several American firms, Aultman, Gaar-Scott and Aultman Taylor being the ones I remember. This was about 1913 or 1914. The company was then known as the Advance Rumley Co., and active manufacturers of American Abell was discontinued but sold all A. A's. on hand as well as parts. While in active manufacture, the American Abell and Battle Creek Advance Co's. both had the same board of directors and their separators were identical. The engines differed somewhat in boiler construction, though both with the same idea of flues running back half-way in the firebox, but the American Abell did not use the LaFever Patt nor in later years, the Marsh reversing gear. A few engines were turned out at Toronto that bore the name Advance American Abell, though how this came about I do not know.

I have also built an American Abell rear mount 28-80, 1910 to 1912, but have not at the moment a snapshot of it. I could get one if you care for it. This model will be on loan to the Museum this summer, then it is to be sent to my older brother in Texas. It is a much heavier model and uses wood for fuel. I am a farmer and only work at modeling in my spare time in winter.

I think your ALBUM is splendid and fills a long-felt want. Here's wishing you every success in the future. I would also like to say I had no specifications to go on when I built these two models, they are of necessity entirely from memory as there are now few left and nons around here.

J. ARTHUR ANDREW, Sivin, Sask., Canada.


I see your front names used so lightly that I take the liberty of doing so myself. You asked for some testimony so I will tell you how I feel.

I just recently learned there was such a paper, the March issue was my first issue and I think it is a well done and very interesting paper. Keep it up.

I was to a Blow Off of the Old Time Threshers & Sawmill Operators near Ft. Wayne, and was well pleased. One thing I saw that did not go without being noticed was the fact that there had been arrangements made for respectable toilet facilities.

Wishing you continued health, happiness and prosperity and to Elmer and his bride THE BEST OF GOOD WISHES FOR A LONG AND HAPPY MARRIED LIFE.

JONAS H. WILLIAMS, 134 N. Varsity Dr., South Bend, Indiana