40 Hp. Geiser

The big 40 Hp. Geiser was owned by my late senior friend, Mr. J. B. Boston of Versailles, Kentucky who many years ago was a thresherman macadam road builder and large farm operator. He was a fine man and an interesting conversationalist. He passed away a

Forrest Cunningham

Content Tools

Courtesy of Donald Madison

ATTENTION: Young Engineers Wherever You May Be

Hi There Young Engineers!

By the time you out there read this most steam shows will be in progress. I do not believe that I will be able to travel to the shows this summer. Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to and this is one of those times for me.

My Grandfather, James C. Madison, of Alexandria, Virginia, suffered a heart attack this past winter. He wished that I would spend my summer vacation with him. He has quite a bit of work to be done on his property. Even though he has a small lot it is wooded and he needs my help to clean it up. I could not refuse him and I am sure you will understand.

My friend Sheldon will have to do without my help this summer which I regret. He will gather information for me and I will write the articles from this. I hope to have a report on one of the steam shows in the next article. I will miss coming to the shows and seeing all of you. I love the smell of smoke and engine oil. It creates an exciting atmosphere at the shows. We burn maple, cut in small pieces, in our model boilers and it produces a smoke which is good smelling. This adds to the realism; of the models. At the writing of this article I have just gotten out of school for the summer, but when you read this it will soon be time to return. Where did the summer go?

I think Sheldon is getting some stationary model steam engines ready for the shows. Without my help this summer he will be behind in his work and unable to travel to as many steam shows as he wanted. Not everything works out the way you want it.

For the past eight months Sheldon has had to neglect his model engines and Torque Power in order to help his father in the production of hardware for guitars. Sheldon's father helped him get up his shop and in return he is helping out his father. I am going to buy one of his father's guitars at the end of this summer. Sheldon now has his shop set up to do light machine and foundry work. This has taken a great deal of time and money which he had not expected. But, he says its all worth it.

We are putting a map of the United States on display at Torque Power. On it there will be a pin placed where each young steam engine, and other, enthusiast is from. I thought this would be interesting to all who visit Torque Power. Each pin is numbered and a matching card is placed in a catalog of everyone who writes to me. I have received many nice letters and I enjoy them very much. The age range of enthusiasts so far is eleven to twenty-six. I have even received a letter from a girl. So come on you girls, get on the ball and let's hear from you, too. Here below are some of the letters I have received.

Dear Mr. Madison: June 10, 1969

I guess you will be much surprised to receive a letter from me for I am a girl, age 14, and am very interested in steam and gasoline engines. I am enclosing a picture of myself and the steam traction engine my father built and which I like to drive very much. You can hear the whistle blow for four miles. The engine is 6 horsepower, it runs good and drives fine. I have two sisters younger than I and sometimes we almost come to blows about who is going to drive (ha!). Sometimes I help my father rebuild old gasoline engines, he has 22 of them now and most of them are restored to running condition.

I sometimes read my father's copy of 'Iron-Men Album', when I can get it away from him long enough.

I wish to compliment you on the nice article in the July-August Issue of 'Iron-Men Album'. I guess I caught this hobby from my Daddy and it sure is interesting. I like to see the wheels go round on antique machinery. Also, I am always glad to hear from someone interested in the same hobbies as I am.

Sincerely, Martha Ellis, Route 2, Kevil, Kentucky 42053

Don: June 14, 1969

I got my Iron-Men Album today and was surprised to see your article in there. I am looking forward to future articles you may write. I would like to suggest that you try to put in articles that are educational - by that I mean articles that give a young fellow a real good idea what makes such things as injectors, pop valves and other things associated with steam engines and boilers tick and how to adjust and fix them.

I am 27 years old and own a 50 hp. Case traction engine. I was always fascinated by steam engines but I never expected to own an engine. I started collecting a few things here and there to build a model. Then a 50 hp. Case came up for sale in this area. It was reasonably priced and I decided if I was going to own a steam engine I'd better get busy while the getting was good. I built a building last fall and put it inside. I worked all winter and am still working on it. It was missing a few parts but, with the help of a lot of good people all over the U. S. A., I've got about all the parts I need. I expect to have it all fixed up and painted by next spring. Everything I ever learned about engines was from hanging around and listening, but a lot of times a young fellow doesn't know exactly what is right as there are a lot of pits with the peaches - if you know what I mean. Some real good informative articles would sure be welcome.

I also collect old gas engines and have a couple rare and very old engines. I like them also, but once you get a little coal smoke and cylinder oil on you you're done!

It is nice to visit with a young fellow interested in steam, but you rarely run into one. It is too bad a lot more young guys are not interested. They just don't realize the real fun they are missing. I'd like to wish you all the success in the world with your articles. Good luck and so long for now.

Don Messing, Route 2, Box 30, Sidney, Nebraska 69162

Dear Donald Madison: June 16, 1969

I am a young enthusiast (15 years of age) and approve of what you are doing. I come from a family that is not interested in steam engines. I cannot remember how I became interested in steam traction engines as I have never been in close contact with anyone who has. Living in Kansas (wheat country) occasionally pictures of old threshers would appear in the paper where they were promptly cut and filed. My father is in a farm related industry (tires) and first heard about the Iron-Men Album from an old farmer who took it. I obtained the address and subscribed. I read the magazine faithfully but still was of contact with any real 'engineers' and equipment. I managed to get my father to take me (reluctantly) to the McClouth Kansas show. I have learned all I can out of books and magazines but remain out of touch. My main pitfalls in my hobby are a busy non-enthusiastic father and unavailability of equipment. It is not too far out of range but my father has trouble making time to take me.

From my interest in steam tractors I have become interested in other types of steam power, including cars. Yesterday, by chance, a man pulled in across from my father's store who was traveling from Kansas City to Tuscon, Arizona (I think) to the steam meet (cars) there. He was going all this distance in his Model E (I think) 1926 Doble Steamer. If you know anything about this car you would understand my amazement and delight. I barely got to meet the gentleman but hope to stay in contact with him. There is also a gentleman in Hesston, Kansas (about 90 miles southeast) who owns a car museum with a Stanely Steamer.

(I finally got my father to take me once.)

I would appreciate your correspondence as a young engineer and would appreciate any information on enthusiasts in this area and wish to know of any other steam engine periodicals other than the Iron-Men Album and Light Steam Power. I am familiar with the Clymer Publixhing firm also.

Sincerely yours, Richard L. Friedeman, 2603 Forest, Great Bend, Kansas 67530

Dear Donald: June 23, 1969

My name is Kevin Earley. I am fourteen and my interests are steam engines, old water mills and motorcycles. I have a motorcycle and a model steam engine. I thought you had a very good article. We have a threshing machine and enjoy it very much. I have been planning to build a model traction engine but am kind of slow. Well I guess that's all I have to say.

Sincerely yours, Kevin Earley, Preston, Minnesota 55965

I hope you have enjoyed reading these letters. In the future I hope ,to be able to publish more of the letters I receive and hope they will be of interest to you. I hope to have a report on one of the shows in my next article. My address is: Donald Madison, Torque Power, Live Steam Models, Firetower Road, Hyatts-town, Maryland 20734


Herman C. Watson who was born in Leavenworth Co., Kansas, July 12th, 1892, and passed away March 7, 1969 at the age of 76 years, at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas following a stroke.

He lived in Leavenworth Co. all his life and was a farmer. He was a charter member and organizer of the Antique Steam Engine and Model Association Inc. which was held on his farm for seven years.

He owned his own threshing rig, a 22 H.P. Advance Rumely Engine and 32' Case Separator, threshing grain for his neighbors in the past for many years. And it was with this threshing rig he started the Threshing Bee in 1958.

Due to a stroke four years ago the Assn. purchased land at the edge of McLouth, Kansas, where the show is now held.

Herman enjoyed getting ready for the show each year, also attending others and helping out where he could, and meeting old friends and making new friends. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Herman is survived by wife, Myrta of the home, daughter Mary L. Hinds of Falls Church, Virginia and three grandchildren.

Sent in by Mrs. Herman Watson.

Charles G. Armagost passed away May 7, 1969, at the age of One-Hundred Two. He was active and alert and was in the process of gardening at the time of his death, which was sudden from a fall. Mr. Armagost owned and operated threshing rigs for 40 years, his first engine being ten horsepower Case. Refer to the Nov.-Dec. 1967 issue of Iron Men Album for picture of Mr. Armagost. Sent in by H. W. Schermerhorn Lena, Illinois

May 24th was a sad day for members of the Stumptown Steam Threshers Club, including the immediate Family and others, as our former Secretary and cherished member was laid to rest in the Cadiz Union Cemetary.

Ralph Dickerson was born June 4th 1897, and served in the first World War. After returning he went to Kansas City and took a course in Automobile repair, and this was his life work. But one of his main interests was the Steam Traction Engine as he grew up in this environment. I, having personally know his Father and Grandfather who was a Civil War Veteran who after returning from the Battlefield started in the Threshing game with Horse Power. Their first Steam Engine was a Blandy for the Saw Mill. Then a wood wheel Peerles for the Thresher next a 10 hp. Russell, then a 16 hp. Huber, next another 14 hp. Peerles, then a 12 hp. Advance and finally a 16 hp. Aultman Taylor. Ralph at age 13, started firing the Advance on the Sawmill, this was one of his favorite Engines. His Grandfather went by the name of Sawyer John and was a Music teacher besides, and many are the delightful hours I have spent listening to him relate his threshing experiences. One time the Governor belt broke on the Peerles and before they got it shut down the Cylinder left the hand feed thresher and part of it stuck in an over head Beam in the Barn, with no one hurt. I still remember a song that Sawyer John would sing, it went as Follows. 'WHAT IS THE USE OF REFRAINING. FOR WHERE THERE'S A WILL THERE'S A WAY. TOMORROW THE SUN MAY BE SHINING, ALTHOUGH IT IS CLOUDY TODAY.

After retiring from his Machine Shop, Ralph just could not resist getting a Steam Engine to spend some happy hours with. In the enclosed Photo, he is standing by his 24 hp. Greyhound. After surviving several heart attacks he was forced to give up his favorite past time and had to let the Engine go. He was everyone's Friend and took on the responsibility of seeing that the other fellows who needed help came first. He and his Wife Genevera were very active in our Club and it's no easy task to write this up for one of your best friends. But as the Spring Flowers and Trees were bursting forth in all their Glory and the hazy Afternoon Sun was Wading far in the Western Sky We bid Ralph, Goodby.

Sent in by Raymond Laizure, RFD 3 - 43907, Cadiz, Ohio

The only thing he ever takes out on a moonlit night is his upper plate.

A Letter From Kentucky

By Forrest Cunningham, Route 2, Harrodsburg, Kentucky 40330

We steam traction engine fans could not do without THE IRON MEN ALBUM so don't apologize or give any explanations for the price rise. What else could you do. Just discontinue the publication. Well, if you did, we devoted engine men would be right on your neck. I am a charter subscriber. I have every copy in prime condition, and would not take anything for them.

I am proud of having been a locomotive fireman and thresherman. Now a farmer, I still have a passion for steam engines. I have quite a collection of literature and pictures of steam traction engines and locomotives. These subjects are now my hobby. I began as a subscriber to THE AMERICAN THRESHERMAN in 1910 and have every copy published from that date on. My favorite hobby magazine, besides IRON MEN ALBUM is TRAINS. Besides my early collection of threshing machinery catalogs I have added a great many through advertisements in THE IRON MEN ALBUM.

I suppose we have our favorites in most everything. When it comes to the traction engine, I was a booster for the Avery undermounted, Reeves, and Nichols and Shepard or any double cylinder rear mounted job. Back in our big steam railroading days nothing could out pull one of those big flexible Mallet type machines. They were rather expensive house hold pets for the railroad companies as they had enormous appetites like our great St. Bernard dogs. Some old engineers would say not to take them too far away from a lake or mine, but I think they paid well for their keep, like an old Reeves.

I am a member of The Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana, which meets at Rushville. We have a fine membership. Generally about 15 or 20 engines and a few threshing machines in wood and steel are shown. Our honored friend, Mr. John Menchhofer of Indianapolis, is always with us. If you could attend our reunion, you would enjoy being with Jack Tucker of Georgetown Ky., Laurence Porter of Rush County, and many others like us.

I am also a member of The Reeves Historical Society of N.A. We get lots of interesting literature from Cyd Matthews who is compiling a history of Reeves and Company.

My last engine was a Nichols & Shepard 20-75, D.C., R.M. No. 13963 which was sold to a tobacco bed steaming operator. Now I wish I had kept it. I still have a separator, a Minneapolis 32-56, in wood, No. 17969. It is in good condition, having been housed. I have donated it to a state museum near Lexington, Ky., where it will be preserved when a building is completed.

I wish others would donate their machinery and mementos to such places, as did my esteemed friend Hollis Cortelyou of Higgins Texas. He donated a big Case emblem to the Agriculture Hall of Fame at Bonner Springs, Kansas. Hollis was one of the big thresher operators of the midwest, who used Frick and Advance machinery. He wrote many interesting articles and sent pictures for our magazine.


Leroy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501

The enclosed photo shows a No. 4 Owens bean thresher I bought new in 1914 from the J.L. Owens Co., of Minneapolis, Minn. It has slow speed double cylinders 16' wide, and rotary straw racks. I made the bean elevator and bought a new Rosenthal No. 1 husker-shredder blower for it. This thresher had a capacity of 10 bushels per hour.

I used it to thresh my navy beans and Ito-San soy beans that first year I grew soybeans, also did custom bean threshing with it. At home, I ran it with my 3 hp. Chas. P. Willard vertical steam engine that had a new Dutton vertical boiler made at Kalamazoo, Mich. The year previous doing custom work, a neighbor ran it with his 7 hp. New Way opposed cylinder gasoline engine.

My first year of grain threshing was done in 1917 when I put my 16 hp. D. June & Co. steam traction engine on a neighbor's 30-46 inch Ruseel thresher for the season run. In 1918 I bought my first 33-54' Port Huron 'Rusher' grain thresher. In 1920, I bought another used complete threshing outfit of the Advance Rumely Co., consisting of a 36-58' Greyhound thresher and the present 24-75 Port Huron 'Longfellow' steam traction engine that I have owned 49 years. This engine looks better today than when I bought it and it was 3 years old then.

In 1922, I bought another complete Port Huron outfit and in 1924 another 33-54' Rusher thresher to replace the Greyhound thresher that my customers said wasted too much grain. In 1928,1 bought a new complete McCormick-Deering outfit consisting of a 15-30 gear drive gas tractor and 28-46' thresher. In that year, all three of my Port Huron steam outfits were running, in addition to the new gasoline outfit. Later on, I bought another McCormick-Deering used steel thresher. The Port Huron 'Rushers' were my best threshers for cleaning and saving grain. My last year of threshing was in 1950 and I bought a combine in 1951 that I like real well. It solves the scarce help problem.


Leroy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501

The enclosed photos show a sawmill scene that was taken 46 years ago. The 24-75 hp. Port Huron engine was owned by me, and the No. 3 Enterprise sawmill by my partner- Dewitt Culbert. It was located 12 miles northwest of Hudson, Michigan in Hillsdale county.

This outfit sawed 400 thousand board feet of lumber on two jobs the year previous. My engine carried 190 lbs. steam pressure, and I hooked the reverse lever in the next to corner notch in reverse quadrant for economy reasons. The engine had a big load pulling the 56' new circular saw. sawdust blower, and a two saw edger. Steam was taken from the boiler all the lime to run a 3 hp. vertical engine that ran the buzz-saw for sawing slabs and trimming waney edge boards.

These photos were taken by me when we were sawing on this job in February and March 1923, when 1 was 34 years of age. The photo of the 18 men were log cutters, sawmill help, log skidders, and tree top wood cutters. The timber was mostly hard maple and consisted of 225 thousand board feet of lumber, and 200 cords of slab wood beside what the engine used. My job was firing the engines on slab wood, helping push out and unload the lumber truck, and throw away the slab wood. J. was a busy man but I liked it.

That year was my last year of partnership sawing. In 1927, I bought a used Reeves sawmill near Lansing, Michigan that I have used for custom sawing over 40 years. When Reeves & Co. had a branch office at Lansing, they had more Reeves mills sawing in that vicinity than all other makes combined.