Operating Costs of a Traction Engine

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Salina, Kansas

The 18hp was the most powerful coal burner furnished the Kansas City Branch House, until a 22Hp was shipped there late in December, 1902, and was on the sample floor during the Implement Dealer's Convention in January, 1903.

J. B. Duryea was about an average operator of threshing machinery. He threshed many bushels of wheat, moved buildings, graded roads, and cultivated wheat land with the old 18 compound. Mr. Duryea operated his own engine and when he traded it in 1908, for a 26 compound with semi-steel gearing, the fire-box was in good condition. That engine was sold with a new 32' Advance separator and was the first Advance engine operated by Henry Harbecke.

Mr. Duryea complained the old engine was a heavy coal burner and I had expected him to complain about the new 26 compound, but when he complained about an Advance weigher, one of the best values ever sold, I went to Rooks County.

Mr. Duryea was not threshing that day but told me, 'The farmers had accused him of short-weighting them from 4 to 6 bushels of wheat on a wagon-box load.' They were hauling and selling the grain from the machine.

Quote in part from the 1911 - 12 Advance Machinery catalog, 'Advance weighers are of the well-known Forscy the patent, which is without doubt, the simplest, most accurate and reliable weigher made. The weigher consists of a drum, divided into 2 compartments, suspended from the weighing beam, each having a capacity of one-half bushel. It is entirely automatic in its operation of filling, dumping, and registering.' Few devices or machines ever pleased their users more than Advance weighers.

An Advance weigher is quiet, without sprocket, cog wheels, or chain; to wear, cause trouble, or injure someone. The elevator is belt-and-bucket with nearly an unlimited capacity. The grain remains in the elevator cups, with a sudden stop, when threshing fast and does not choke the elevator, when starting again. Many Advance weighers were sold to replace other makes of weighers on other makes of separators than Advance.

An Advance salesman, on a separator sale, had the weigher advantage over his competitors and was not a good salesman if he did not use it.

Weighers, as operated and tested by many, were measuring machines. A heaped up half-bushel measure, regardless of the test of the grain, was threshed for a half bushel. A weigher should be tested and set by weight. A weigher should dump 30 lbs. of wheat into a measure, regardless whether or not it fills a half-bushel measure. A weigher is not responsible for loss of grain from leaky wagon boxes, at granaries or elevators. The price cutter attempted to cover his cut by adjusting his weigher to weigh heavy.

A belt-and-bucket loader was a serviceable machine and economical to operate but costly to the operator when threshing wagon-box measure. Loads were not counted, grain was tramped in wagon boxes, and side boards spread to heap on additional bushels, for which the operator was not paid a cent. Threshing those bushels wore the machinery, increased expense, paid no notes, and bought no food for hungry children.

Mr. Duryea's credit was good enough to buy a new engine and I did not think he short-weighted anyone but inquired of him if he had, and Mr. Duryea replied emphatically, 'He had not.'

We went to check the new 26 compound. Mr. Duryea bought a load of coal and when driving to the machine Mr. Duryea drove his load on another scale. His ton of coal weighed 1600 pounds. Many grain buyers sold coal and I told Mr. Duryea, 'A man who short-weighted him on coal, would steal his wheat.' There was no argument. Profits were small selling $5 coal and buying 60cents wheat.

The new 26 compound was not steamed but we checked the reverse gear, which was in good adjustment. The engine appeared to be in good operating condition but when I opened the smoke-box door to check the exhaust nozzle, I noticed a heavy accumulation of wet soot, which encircled the nozzle. The nozzle and exhaust pipe of an Advance engine are turned to a snug fit, the nozzle slips over the pipe and held in position with a set screw. Mr. Duryea, evidently, had applied too much power on his wrench and crushed the thin exhaust pipe when he tightened the set screw. Crushing the pipe formed an opening between the nozzle and the pipe. Exhaust steam shot through the opening into the smoke box, which caused the engine to steam badly.

Builders of compound engines claimed a saving over simples. Advance Thresher Company claimed 15 to 20% saving on Advance compounds over Advance simples.

Builders of engines with expansion reverse gears claimed from 15 to 20% saving over engines with positive cut-off.

Had either a compound or an engine with an expansion reverse gear made good the claim, the 20% loss in coal suffered by Mr. Duryea would have off-set the saving of either the compound or the engine, with the 'Hook-Up' reverse gear. Mr. Duryea lost the saving of his compound when he paid for a ton of coal and the engine burned 1600 pounds. The 400 pounds of coal changed Mr. Duryea's engine into what apparently was a heavy coal burner as it would have done with any other engine. Mr. Duryea lost $1.20 when he lost 400 pounds of coal at $6.00 a ton, about the price then, but did not lose the greatest benefit from the economy of his compound engine, when the engine burned 1600 pounds of coal in the same time it burned a ton. The heat was less intense and damaging to the firebox, with fewer chances of leaky flues, cracked sheets, and cracked fire-door rings.

The benefit of the economy, in water was not lost in the 26 compound, with the loss of the coal. Advance 26 compounds and 26 simples were built upon identical boilers and under the same conditions, as nearly as possible. A 26 compound, on a heavy day's work, required about l? fewer tanks of water. Coal would have been required to evaporate the additional 18 barrels of water and the heat would have been more intense and damaging to the firebox during that time. All boilers should be kept clean. The simple required cleaning more often, because of the additional water evaporated by that engine. The wind did not always blow and creeks and rivers, in Kansas, dried up. The additional water was not always available.

Losing the 400 lbs. of coal did not affect the economy of the 26 compound but increased the cost of operation. The condition of the engine, operator and reverse gear did not transform the the energy in the 400 lbs. of coal the 26 compound did not burn but where the act was committed, increased the cost of operation. Thousands of steam engines may have been affected and branded 'wasteful' because they burned coal which never had been loosened by a miner's pick.