PAST AND PRESENT

STEAM ENGINES & THRESHING MACHINES

Compressor house

Tucker Photo #1: The compressor house of the 1905 manufactured gas plant in Milwaukee, Wis.

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Show Season

Try as we might, we never find time to hit all the shows we'd like to see. Fortunately, plenty of you are out there taking in shows and then kindly sharing your experiences with the rest of the steam community.

Regular contributor Kevin Small, P.O. Box 92, 1279 Perry Highway, Portersville, PA 16051, managed to get around a bit last year, and this issue he sends in a few photos documenting his experiences. Kevin writes:
Enclosed are several photographs from the 2003 show season. Photo #1 was taken at the National Threshers Association (NTA) Rumely Expo held at Wauseon, Ohio, June 26-29. On the left is Dennis Rupert's 25 HP 1912 Rumely and on the right is the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers 36 HP 1912 Rumely. Both are double-cylinders.

Small Photo #5: Wes Roberts engineers Gil Roberts' 25 HP Gaar-Scott at the 2003 Steam and Gas Pasture Party in Somerset, Va.

Photo #2, which was also taken at NTA, is a 35 HP Advance tandem-compound owned by Graham Sellers of Coldwater, Mich. This engine used the same boiler as the 40 HP cross-compound engine.

Photo #3 was taken at the Doughty Valley Power Show at Millersburg, Ohio, and shows a very nice 23-90 Baker Uniflow owned by Jonas Stutzman of Middlefield, Ohio, belted up to John McDowell's power eater (not visible in photo).

Photo #4 shows Jim and Marylin Malz's 20th Century steam traction engine loaded up on one of W.D. Kerr Trucking's lowboys pulled by Jim Lewandowski's Freightliner after the Northwest Pennsylvania Steam Engine and Old Equipment Association's summer show at Portersville, Pa. Jim has hauled hundreds of steam engines, tractors and machinery for engine clubs across Pennsylvania.

Photo #5 was taken at the Somerset Steam and Gas Pasture Party at Somerset, Va. Wes Roberts was the engineer on Gil Roberts' 25 HP Gaar-Scott belted up to the Prony brake. Wes is a fine young engineer and has run many different makes of engines.

Photo #6 shows Jim Lashaway chaining down his 22 HP Advance for the trip home to Bowling Green, Ohio, after the LaGrange Engine Club Show in Wellington, Ohio. Jim has shown his engines at the LaGrange show for the last 12 years or so.

I'm looking forward to the 2004 show season, and I'd like to see more steam engine photographs in our fine magazine!

HARRY'S LAST RUN

Regular contributor Larry Mix, 2075 Coburn Road, Hasting, MI 49058 (crazyhorse13@hotmail.com), chimes in again this issue, sending along a great shot of the legendary Harry 'Pink' Woodmansee making his last run. Larry writes:

Mix Photo #1: Harry 'Pink' Woodmansee making his last threshing run about 1971. Harry's at the throttle while Ken Crowley tends to steering.

This is a picture of Harry 'Pink' Woodmansee's last threshing run. We believe it to be about 1971. This picture was taken at the intersection of Highway M-37 and Dowling Road in Dowling, Mich., Harry's hometown. The engine is a 16 HP Aultman & Taylor, engine no. 8403, made in 1913. I don't remember what kind of separator he had. Ken Crowley is at the steering wheel and Harry is at the throttle. For those of you who are sharp to detail, the front wheels are from a 60 HP Case. Harry wore out the original wheels.

I now own this engine and have done a lot of work to it, and like any engine, it still needs a little work. I live just a few miles north from where Harry lived, so the engine is still in the neighborhood.

CABLE PLOWING

Lester E. Pierce, 4998 320th St., Stanberry, MO 64489, noticed Beth Vanarsdall's article on England's Great Dorset Steam Fair in the July/August 2003 Steam Traction. Beth's article contained several pictures of English traction engines equipped for cable plowing, and this got Lester thinking about similar equipment in the U.S. Although we've run some information on cable plowing, most recently in the March/April 2003 issue, there's certainly room for more. Lester writes:
A steam engine was recently pictured bearing a cable drum beneath the boiler. This seemed to have been common practice in Europe, and an acquaintance of mine told of such a plow that operated in the Los Nietos area of California. I believe this may have been in the 1930s, westerly of Whittier, Calif., and I would like to see pictures and stories of such if someone could submit them.

I'm curious about terrain, length of fields and how the plow was guided. I would appreciate a detailed story of the operation. Why was this system used and was it cost efficient?

EMERSON-BRANTINGHAM

Tom Downing, 460 Wurtemburg Road, Ellwood City, PA 16117 (tgd1939@yahoo.com), is looking for an old Emerson-Brantingham advertisement. Tom writes:

I have been on the trail of information for some time with little or no success, so I am appealing to the steam community at large for some help.

The item in question is an advertisement for Emerson-Brantingham that was reprinted somewhere, probably in a magazine. It showed the EB logo at the top and then lines like wires coming from it to three rows of circles below. Each circle contained the name of one of the companies that were part of the EB conglomeration (Geiser, Reeves and Emerson-Brantingham). If anyone knows a source where I can find a copy of this, please let me know. Meanwhile, good steaming to all!

SPALDING'S CORNER, MORGAN AND OTHERS

Okay boys, it happened again, you've been bested by yet another youngster. Thirteen-year-old steam enthusiast Charles Demske was the first to correctly identify last issue's 'mystery' engine shown in Spalding's Corner on page 14. As the first person to correctly identify last issue's engine, Charles will receive a free copy of Steam Engine Guide by Prof. P.F. Rose. And to further encourage his young love of steam, we'd like to send Charles a reprint of Traction Engine Troubles, a wonderful little book originally published in 1909 by the folks at American Thresherman. Note we said we'd 'like' to send Charles the books. Charles, if you're out there, you didn't give us a return address, so drop us a line, and we'll make sure you get what's due to you.

Charles writes:
Hi, my name is Charles Demske. I'm a 13-year-old boy, and I love to guess at your mystery engines. My family owns a 1914 Nichols & Shepard 20-70, and I must say I've been bitten by the steam bug. This month's engine is, I believe, an Aultman & Taylor sideshaft or 'Sunflower'-geared engine. If you look closely you can see the bevel gear used in this mechanism. The crosshead also resembles an Aultman & Taylor design, as do the front axle, king post and rear wheels. However, the flywheel shows that it must be of a somewhat later design. I found this information while wandering through the Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines by Jack C. Norbeck. Thanks for sending in the photos.

Mann Photo #1: A steam lorry manufactured around the turn of the century by Liquid Fuel Engineering Co. (commonly refered to as 'LIFU') in England.

Note the obvious similarity between the Photo #1 machine and the Morgan steam truck (above) manufactured in the U.S. by Morgan Motor Co. of Worcester, Mass., about the same time.

Herb Mann, 2588 W. County Road 250 S., Warsaw, IN 46580, was the second person to write in with an identification. Herb writes:
Spalding's Corner on page 14 (January/February 2004) shows an unidentified return-flue engine. My knowledge of return-flue engines pretty much begins and ends with Huber, although many companies dabbled in return-flue designs. Since I don't see a final drive gear in the left drive wheel, I'm betting there's a shaft drive on the pulley side: that would make it a product of C. Aultman & Co.

On another note, I am enclosing a picture of a 'LIFU' manufactured by Liquid Fuel Engineering Co., which I came across while browsing through Richard J. Evans' booklet Steam Cars published by Shire Publications in England. The caption says they licensed other manufactures to build their designs between 1899 and 1902.

Something looked familiar, and when I looked at your article on Morgan Motor Co. (Steam Traction, July/August 2003) there was what appears to be an identical machine. Could Morgan have been a licensee?

Regular contributor Thomas Stebritz, 1516 E. Commercial St., Algona, IA 50511, also correctly identified last issue's engine, writing in with information about that photograph and including thoughts on others pictures we've recently run. Thomas writes:

I imagine someone has already identified the 'mystery' engine as a sideshaft Aultman & Taylor. Looking at a few features on the engine, I'd say it was built in the mid-1890s. It should be noted that the boiler barrel is built in sections and the valve gear is the Link style. A few years later the Woolf valve was used on all Aultman & Taylor engines. About the large flywheel on the engine: This was to match the small cylinder pulleys used on the hand-fed thresher. About the steam pipe: It looks to be a replacement, and looks cobbled up. Also, visible under the barrel is the connected ash pit fixed to a Cornish marine boiler.

Looking back at the November/December 2003 issue at Larry Mix's letter, I'd like to help identify several of his pictures. Mix Photo #5 is a 1912 or 1913 20 HP Advance rear-mounted engine with built-up steel wheels, while Mix Photo #7 shows the same engine hooked in front of an older Reeves (looks to be a 25 HP) with cast wheels.

Larry identified Mix Photo #6 as a 16 HP Advance compound. That engine would be a 21 HP side-mounted tandem-compound, as Advance never made a 16 HP side-mounted compound. A list of Advance engines out of a 1912 catalog reads as follows: 10 HP and 12 HP simple, 14 HP compound, 16 HP simple, 18 HP compound, 20 HP simple, 21 HP compound, 22 HP simple, 26 HP compound, 30 HP simple, 35 HP compound, 30 HP cross-compound and 40 HP cross-compound.

The rear-mounted engines evolved from the 21 HP with cast iron wheels. The Advance Thresher Co. started as the Case & Willard Thresher Co., Battle Creek, Mich. The Willard Library in Battle Creek must have been endowed by the Willard family.

Also, I'd like to add to the picture of the proposed Twin Cities steam engine (Steam Traction, January/February 2004, page 12), as I believe in giving credit where credit is due. Back in the 1940s a man named E.R. Potter of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, made copies of pictures from old catalogs of different makes of steamers and sold these for $1 a dozen. He also scouted for old steamers and collected a few, and sold them, as well. The Twin Cities picture was a gift to me. Some of his engines came to the U.S., including a nice Nichols & Shepard 30-98 that resides out West.

I was also curious about the Bowen & Quick thresher shown in the July/August 2003 issue and sent in by Mr. Charles Hitchcock. I believe this type of thresher was called an 'apron' thresher, and most other manufacturers had abandoned this principle before 1880. If there's a REAL old-timer around, I'd like to ask him what kind of work the machine did. The separating principle seems somewhat lacking, and the whole machine looks to be the same width end-to-end.

STATIONARY STEAM

Steam fan Larry Tucker, P.O. Box 156, DeKalb, IL 60115; (630) 334-8689 (larrydtucker @earthlink.net), has come across what may be the last survivor of the once-common and enormous steam-powered industrial steam installations of the last century. The site is under threat, and Larry would like to see it saved. Larry writes:
Before natural gas pipelines crossed the county supplying gas, larger communities had plants producing a form of gas from coal. From the early 1800s to the mid-1900s, coal was heated in oxygen-free ovens producing a manufactured gas, coke and several byproducts. Over 50,000 of these existed, from small backyard operations to sites of over 100 acres. The gas was sent by pipeline throughout the cities, the coke was used in steel-making operations and the byproducts for various chemicals. Virtually all of these plants have been demolished.

One of the larger manufactured-gas plants is currently being demolished and undergoing EPA cleanup in Milwaukee, Wis. It started production in 1905 and ceased all operations in 1983. Several large steam engines still sit in what is called a gas compressor house. There are three vertical steam engines in various condition and several one- and two-cylinder Ingersoll-Rand engines.

The developer of the site has indicated he would like to see the gas compressor house with its steam engines preserved as a museum. The site is set to become home to new condominiums, an office complex, a shopping area and a marina.

I am exploring fundraising and seeking ideas for preserving a valuable artifact of the industrial revolution. These engines are in their original environment, and this may be the only remaining location where so much industrial steam power still sits in its original location.

If anyone knows of other locations like this, let the rest of us know about it. You can see more pictures on the Web at: http://www.survivingworldsteam. com/gallery/album32

The photo gallery is complements of James Hefner and the 'Surviving World Steam Project' at www.survivingworldsteam.com

If you have a comment, question or reminiscence for Past and Present, please send it along to: Steam Traction, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, or e-mail: rbackus@ogdenpubs.com