Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion

My wife and I just before take off for Mt. Pleasant, Iowa to attend the Old Settlers & Threshers Reunion which I have attended every year. Yes, I have made them all and hope to make a few more. Courtesy of E. R. Dugan, 436 N. Library, Waterloo, Illinois.

E. R. Dugan

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E. R. Dugan writes.........

You've heard it said, 'close the door. Where were you born - in a saw mill?' Well, that's about where I came from. At the age of eleven I chopped slabs and fired a 13 hp Scott behind the saw mill. Dad ran the saw mill when the slabs were green and water soaked and I had a hard time keeping up steam until one day we got some coal to fire with the slabs. Then I made the little 13 hp Gaar Scott bark like a grey squirrel.

When spring opened up we graded roads. Then came threshing and clover hulling.

We lived on a farm near the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. There was an old locomotive engineer called Jim on this railroad that could quill the whistle like I never heard before or since. He could make it talk or cry. We used to receive a newspaper from the Nichols Shepard Threshing Machine Co. In it I saw a picture of a threshing outfit owned by Charles Harmon of Buffalo, Oklahoma. I wrote to him and asked him for a job running his engine. He replied, 'come on, the job is yours. We have a wonderful crop this year.'

One nice morning in June I heard old Jim coming up the railroad whistling as usual and I said to Dad, 'I am going to the Pan Handle to run a black monster.' That whistle of Jim's got me in a roaming mood.

I was seventeen years old then. I met Mr. C. Harmon at Buffalo, Oklahoma and ran his 25 hp Nichols Shepard for several seasons. That started the ball rolling. I slept in every straw pile and hay stack from the Pan Handle to Moose Jaw, Canada. I followed this for about twelve years, and I have run them all.

I was running a 25 hp Reeves at Pettibone, North Dakota, for Ernst Hornung. Finally, I took his daughter and left. Now we live here in Waterloo, Illinois. I have an airplane to fly as a hobby and fly to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa every year to the Old Settlers and Threshers Reunion. I have made them all and can't wait until September to attend the next Mt. Pleasant reunion.

Elmer, if you remember, you rode around in the Cavalcade of Power with me. I was running Wm. O. Saters' return flue Avery. I am sure if all my old steam buddies could hear old Jim quill that whistle once more, they would all agree we could float away into space on the vapor of that whistle to a new planet of steam engines.

E. R. Dugan, 436 North Library, Waterloo, Illinois

Muron Tombaugh writes.........

I was born in Livingston Co., I11. in 1880. The first steam engine I remember used in threshing, was a Monitor, 6hp with vertical boiler, operated by George Koontz, a life-long machine man. This was in the late 80's.

I started firing a steam engine in 1903. Some of the steamers we have worked with are the Advance; Aultman-Taylor; Case, single; Case, tandem compound; Russell, compound; Avery undermounted and Reeves, double.

In 1914 I owned an Avery, return flue engine and Avery Separator 40'.

In 1917 I organized a company, known as the 'Sandy Ford Threshing Co.' of Grand Ridge, I11. I was engineer for both our Case '60' and new Case '50' pulling a 32' Aultman-Taylor separator. Bought my first gas tractor, an Avery 12-25 in 1913 and have been operating tractors continuously until 1959.

My father J. L. Tombaugh was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1840, bought his farm in Illinois in 1870 and died 1919.

Muron Tombaugh, 124 W. 14th, Lamed, Kansas

W. J. Kaufman writes.........

Here is a picture of myself and the 3' Case engine which I built in my basement. I started on this a little over a year ago and finished it last spring. It is a model 3 inch to scale of the 65 hp Case. I have also completed a one inch case of which I may send a picture of at some later date.

I purchased the castings for the 3' Case from Mr. C. E. Jack) Kauer, 2511 N. Waco, Wichita, Kansas. And just one word about Jack, I have found him to be one of the nicest men that I have ever dealt with, he is honest and dependable, and a very fine machinist, I would suggest any one needing model castings to see Jack.

Well, so much for that, and now back to the engines. It has been a nice pass time job working in my basement. The 3' boiler I built 1\4' coded firebox steel, I have given the boiler a 400 lb. hyro test. The water to the boiler is fed by a pump or a 1\4' Penberthy injector which works very well, the whistle is one that I patterned after a large one which I had.

I and my boys enjoy running the engines and have many compliments on them and even though I am a jeweler by trade that does not keep me from taking time out for building and enjoying the model engines.

W. J. Kaufman, 3330 E 4th., Hutchinson, Kansas

From Yarbrough's Machine Shop . . .

The Album brings to mind many events of days gone by. Not that they were all enjoyable events, but it takes us back to a day when people had time to live and a little time to spend with and for one another.

Here is a picture of a Case Engine that blew her crown sheet with not over 90 lbs. of steam, killing my cousin, Louis Yarbrough, who was trying hard to get her hot; and before you readers say what I know you are thinking, a witness says there was water in the glass. This engine blew the dry ash pan off, the rear end went over the front and came to rest on the sawmill it had been pulling. You will also note in the picture a man standing between the belt wheel and the drive wheel, the position he was in when the steam began to clear away. He is Fred B. Yarbrough, who was off bearing at the time and had just returned from a trip around behind the engine with a load of firewood. The old wagon, used to haul the sawmill from one set to another was sitting in the background and probably proved to be the fatal instrument for my cousin. When he came down out of the air, of who knows where, his head struck a belt in the tongue of this wagon. This accident happened in February, 1926 in the vicinity of Strafford, Missouri.

We attended the reunion at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in 1961 and were reminded of this accident when we stood near an old Russell that was leaking at the seams and spewing hot cylinder oil on bystanders and the exhaust sounded like the blower was on. However, the engineer kept her popping off and, in our opinion, was not promoting safety. Don't mean to be digging the owner, but the time for safety is before, not after, the explosion.

Frank Hamata writes.........

Last August I attended 1-1/6 Traction Engine Rallies (what we call reunions) in England. I started at Bletsoe which is north of Bedford and was scheduled to be a 3 day show and by the display on the first day it should have been a good show, but the fellow in charge of the 'rain' department had other ideas. I stayed about a half a day, part of that time under a tent, after I decided I was wet enough I returned to Bedford.

The next day I proceeded to Ross on Wye and the Hackett farmstead. On Monday we drove to Church Stratton about 52 miles from Ross where we had a good day for the show. By mid-afternoon the grounds were crowded with enthusiastic visitors and the drivers put on a good show. There were three showmans engines nicely restored and well kept. In the afternoon two of them were connected to a showmans fair organ. There were other exhibits such as small models of stationary engines, model locomotives and miniature traction engines. There were one or two steam lorrys (trucks to us), antique automobiles, including g an expertly restored 1912 model T Ford. There were also old time motorcycles and ladies handicraft exhibit. The army also provided an exhibit.

Engine number 10, which is a Burrell, is unusual in that it is a compound with both the high pressure and low pressure cylinders side by side. Both piston rods are connected by a bar which in turn is connected to the crosshead. Both pistons travel together in the same direction at the same time. It appeared that the Stephenson link was the only valve gear used on English traction engines. I don't recall seeing any side crank engines in England. Their engines are more like our center crank and cross compound types. The cylinders are mounted over the center line of the boiler and a jacket in the cylinder casting serves the purpose of a 'steam dome.'

Mr. Hackett has other engines including an 1881 Marshall portable fully restored and now has a like new appearance. He has a Horns by Traction, 8 HP, new in 1889. This engine appears to have been exceptionally well cared for. Then there is an Eddington Portable which required the 'magic touch' of Bishop Bros, of 'Burley, who do some of the world's finest restoration work on neglected and worn steam engines.

There are a number of old time gas tractors in the Hackett collection. These are mainly English makes and English versions of the U. S. makes. All of the Hackett collection has cover except the Eddington Portable which up to the time of my visit had to 'roost' under a tarpaulin.

While at Bletsoe I met Mr. Fred Rice of London and I learned that he had spent 16 years in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the steam era. He is a 'dyed in the wool' steam fan and has a broad knowledge of steam engines.

Also I met Charlie Olson of near Mt. Clemens, Michigan. Charlie is stationed in Holland with the U. S. Air Force. He went over the Channel and 'over several hills' to take in Bletsoe Rally. It was a pleasant surprise to meet a steam fan from the U. S. at an English Rally.

Mr. Frank Hamata, P.O. Box 431, Schuyler, Nebraska

J. Rex Haver writes........

I am enclosing a picture of a small air-cooled gas engine I found in a junk yard near Bellefonte, Penna., October 19, 1963 All of the parts were there except the fan and gas tank. After putting it on the truck and doing a little tinkering I had it running. You can get some idea of the size of the machine by the ruler under the cylinder.

See Mr. Haver's letter.

Hope someone writes that he has a catalog I can buy!

A friend of mine found one at a farm sale near Carlisle, Pennsylvania about the same time. His is a size smaller than mine.

J. Rex Haver, 643 Bellefonte Avenue, Lock Haven, Pennsylvania

Ray Harmon writes.........

I would like to add a few shovels of coal to Mr. Blaker's views on the Woolf Compound Port Huron Engine. I was in threshing for 17 years. We had Russells, Advances, J. I. Cases, Bakers, Peerless and Robisons. Regardless of the different engines, I have run the Russell, Case, Baker, Advance, Port Huron and my favorite engine is a Port Huron. The first two Port Huron engine, 19 compound, came in our neighborhood about 1908 and were so economical that in about 10 years we had 8, 19 Port Hurons in the scope of 20 miles, which I think was a pretty good record for the Port Huron Compound, all 19hp. But two, one was a 24 hp and one a 22 double which was a peach to run.

I think what made the difference with the 19 hp Port Huron and the others was that I could do a hard days threshing on two 8 lb. tanks of water, while pulling a 32x56 Advance Separator, where it took 3 tanks with the other 18 and 20 hp engines. That was why the boys went for the Port Huron Engine.

Ray Harmon, R. 2, Box 325, Elkhart, Indiana