Past and Present

STEAM ENGINES and THRESHING MACHINES

mer Dickson’s 65 HP 1922 Case in 1971. David Bridge and his brother Ken are visible on the engineer’s platform

Bridge Photo #1 (below): Homer Dickson’s 65 HP 1922 Case in 1971. David Bridge and his brother Ken are visible on the engineer’s platform.

Content Tools

THIRD TIME A CHARM?

Reader David Bridge, 909 W. Center St., Sandwich, IL 60548, freely admits to a long love affair with steam. That's a good thing for the rest of us, as Dave clears up a point of identification and shares some great photographs. Dave writes:

The steam bug bit me at an early age, and my love for steam continues today with the help of your great magazine. I am writing to clarify a man's name, the late Homer G. Dickson.

In the September/October 2004 issue, I was fascinated by John Ross' Pontiac show memories. I was reading the article about some engines well known to me, and although I noticed the Dickson name was spelled incorrectly as "Dickenson," it had no influence on me as I was fascinated by the photo of the 1893 12 HP Case engine owned by Homer. What a beautiful engine!

In regards to the 65 HP Case mentioned in John's article, I was compelled to send photos of this engine. However, time went by and the November/December issue came out, and yet another mention of Homer G. Dickson, correcting the misspelling from the first article. But the correction was incorrect. Homer's name was misspelled in this article, too, as Dixon. So, to set the record straight, it is Homer G. Dickson.

Photos #1 and #2 were taken in 1971, and show my brother Ken and me on the back of Homer's 65 HP 1922 Case. Note that Homer's name is on the canopy. My grandfather Leander Carlson took this photo.

Photo #3 was taken in May 2004. Homer's 1922 Case is now located at the Kendall County Historical Society Lyons Farm at Rt. 71 and Van Emmon Road in Yorkville, Ill. The historical society had its first annual Tractor and Engine Show May 22-24, 2004. Note that Homer's name can still be seen on the canopy.

Photo #4 is for plowing fans. It was taken in 1976 at Davis Junction, Ill., and it shows a 14-bottom plow being pulled by the late George Hedke's 110 HP 1911 Case. I enjoy looking at this photo, and recently had an 8×10 made of it. It wasn't until I enlarged the photo that I noticed my grandfather is standing on the back of the engine, watching the men handle the plows.

CASE NO. 33661

Glen Brinkman, 1923 Elk St., Beatrice, NE 68310, writes in to share a little history on a 50 HP Case displayed by the Southeast Nebraska Antique Steam Power Collectors. Glen writes:

Ed West was the Case dealer at Dunbar, Neb., from about 1912 through the 1930s. He sold this engine new along with a separator and tank wagon to a company of area farmers. The company consisted of John Gess, John Hendrichs, Adolph Reuter, Gus Reuter and Bill Koch. The outfit was shipped from the factory at Racine, Wis., to Otoe, Neb., on April 22, 1918.

The engine was used on two or three sections northwest of Dunbar for about four or five years. The only engineer was George Fenske, who worked for the Case branch house in Lincoln during the winter months. He was responsible for rebuilding used engines and getting new outfits ready to sell. The company of farmers had a machine shed two miles north and two miles west of Dunbar. The outfit was shedded here for several years.

Mr. West traded a 19-65 HP Port Huron steam engine for the Case in about 1923. Mr. West stored the engine in a shed he owned in Dunbar. The big storm and flood of 1950 wrecked the shed and caused minor damage to the engine. At this time, Mr. West sold the engine to Bruce McCourtney of Table Rock, Neb. McCourtney replaced the wood in the canopy, installed a Gould balanced valve in the steam chest and installed a Pickering governor. All the rest of the engine is original.

The engine was sold to the Doeling brothers of Surprise, Neb. in 1984 or thereabouts. They used it only in shows and demonstrations at local fairs and events. In 2000, they decided to sell it, and wanting it to stay in southeast Nebraska, a cooperative was formed by a group of antique farm collectors, and the Southeast Nebraska Antique Steam Power Collector Inc. was formed. We normally show the machine at eight or nine shows a year.

This year the president is Kevin Lineweber, 32072 South 162 Road, Virginia, NE 68458; (402) 520-1627. The secretary is Kent Wilson, 21632 S. 1 Road, Beatrice, NE 68310; (402) 228-0343.

Here are some statistics on the engine:

Cost new: $1,740

Belt HP: 50

Weight: 20,000 pounds

Water capacity: 170 gallons

Coal capacity: 850 pounds

Water use in a 10-hour day: 1,200 gallons

Coal use in a 10-hour day: 1,350 pounds

Boiler barrel diameter: 28 inches

Firebox grate: 7 square feet

Drawbar horsepower: 25 to 38

Height to stack: 10 feet

Water in bunker: 194 gallons

Steam pressure: 125 psi

Boiler tubes: 36 2-inch tubes

Road speed: 2-1/2 mph

SCALE PORT HURON

Scale and model steam engines fascinate many of us, including reader Meredith Dittman, 111 S. Cliff St., Apt. 6c1, Butler, PA 16001. Meredith recently built what he says will be his last model, and he wrote in to share with readers. Meredith writes:

I have been a model builder all my life, but cataracts recently stopped that. For years, I had wanted to build a steam traction engine, but never found plans. I got the name Steam Traction from GRIT and subscribed.

From your Farm Collector Books I got the Port Huron 1908 catalog. From illustrations in that catalog, and various dimensions given, I worked up a set of plans for this 14 HP Port Huron.

Because I worked with advertising drawings, everything may not be 100 percent correct, and also I could not put in such things as water injectors and lubrication systems.

However, it looks good and I am satisfied that my last model of my life draws eyes. I am 80 now, so you see why this is the end.

THE WILDCAT

Mary Crawford, 475 County Road 446, Dutton, AL 35744 sends a great little piece of history our way, concerning, of course, an old traction engine. Mary writes:

About 1922, Tom Bowen set up a sawmill on the brow of Sand Mountain. This site, just outside Pisgah, Ala., overlooked the Tennessee River. He powered his mill with an old steam engine tractor. This jewel was the first of its kind in the area and was a wonder to locals. Mr. Bowen used his tractor some for farming, but mostly with the sawmill. Having no knowledge of this sort of machine, I asked my dad about the old steam engine. He wasn't positive as to the brand. He elaborated by saying it was nothing but a small boiler on wheels, and that it took lots of wood and water to produce the needed steam for operation.

Mr. Bowen had seven sons, and the older boys operated the sawmill. During the early 1920s, my grandfather Oliver Crawford worked at this mill whenever he wasn't engaged in his own farming activities. One day, a riverboat was making its way down the river when the crew noticed smoke rising from the brow of the mountain. They proceeded on down the river to the B.B. Comer area and docked there. There was no bridge at the time. They sent someone into Scottsboro to contact the local sheriff's department concerning a potential moonshine still. When the law official arrived to investigate, the Bowen boys found great humor in getting their sawmill raided. From then on, they referred to their engine as "The Wildcat." At the time this picture was taken, it appears "The Wildcat" was idle.

NOW WE KNOW

A little humor goes a long way in easing the labors of the day. Travis Brown, 120 Tanner Court, Rockvale, TN 37153, certainly believes so, sending in this little gem. Travis writes:

Last year, I had the occasion to leave my 1/2-scale Keck Gonnerman at the house of fellow Keck enthusiast Tom Hart. A visitor came around the building and saw my engine and asked Tom where it had come from. Tom just smiled, motioned across the drive where his two full-size Kecks rested, and said, "You know, you just can't leave these engines alone for a minute!"

SAWMILL ENGINE SOUGHT

Reader Robert S. Sullivan e-mailed recently (sully3391@frontiernet.net), looking for some help finding an old steam engine that once powered a sawmill. Robert writes:

I am looking for some direction on how to find a steam engine that was removed from a sawmill in Charleston Four Corners, N.Y., sometime in the 1960s. It was removed from the mill complete with the boiler. The sawmill didn't go with it, I don't think. It may have gone to the Canandaiga area. My interest is strictly historical, as we are preparing a historical marker on the origin of the mill and would like to know where the engine went, as it was in perfect condition - with the exception of the boiler, which could no longer be certified.

PHOTO IDENTIFICATION

Dan Donaldson, 35129 Clinton Avenue, Dade City, FL 33525 (ddonaldson@tampatank.com), writes in to comment on a recent photograph he submitted. Dan couldn't identify the men shown, but reader Carlton Johnson could. Dan writes:

In the September/October 2004 issue, you ran some photographs I sent you, including one showing Leroy Blaker and three gentlemen, whom I could not identify. Thank you for including those pictures in the Past & Present column. I hoped someone might recognize the other men in the picture: I never expected that someone would actually recognize himself in the picture.

I am glad you ran the pictures in your magazine so Carlton Johnson of Clio, Mich., was able to see them and identify himself and the other two gentlemen as John Dawe and his brother Harry Dawe. I also received an e-mail from Tom Zeratsky of Menominee, Mich., who now owns the Port Huron shown in the photograph with Leroy Blaker, Carlton, and the Dawe brothers. Beth Vanarsdall also e-mailed me, and she believes the Port Huron that is pictured having its wheels changed now belongs to the Saunders family in Addison, Mich. I enjoy reading your magazine and I look forward to receiving every issue.

WATERTOWN ENGINES

Chuck Sindelar, S47W22300 Lawnsdale Road, Waukesha, WI 53189 (crsindelar@webtv.net), admits to being late responding to a request for information posted some time ago. Better late than never, we always say. Chuck writes:

This is my rather tardy response to Kevin Small's request regarding Watertown steam engines (page 3, "Small at Large," July/August 2004).

The picture of the "Mystery Engine" in "Spaulding's Corner" (page 14, March/April 2004) would not present any challenge whatsoever to anyone who has ever seen one - or for that matter, even seen a good picture of one.

The steam dome itself is all one needs to see to identify one of these engines. The dome is cast iron, with fancy fluting, and is removable! It has a flange base and is bolted onto a matching flange. Not only is the dome itself quite handsome, but its most impressive finial on top is nearly as tall as the dome itself. The dome is smaller in diameter than most, and the vertical flutes cast into the sides, along with the tall finial, make the dome seem quite unique. Jack Norbeck's Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines shows engravings on both sides of one of these engines on page 261. He credits Wisconsin's Ed Rabus as having bought his in 1947 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My good friend, the late Fred Reckelberg, took me to see this rare engine in April of 1992. I took the two snapshots at that time. I regret they are not of better quality, but hopefully they are better than nothing.

Sitting at rest beside it is certainly a horse of a different color, but also a very rare beast: An Oneida Motor Truck. They were made in Green Bay, Wis., (in both gas and electric) from about 1917 into the 1920s.

I think it is highly likely that these two rare "Iron Horses" still sit side-by-side in their nice, dry shed, just as I saw them, some 15 years ago.

STEAM SCHOOL UPDATES

A few updates have come in since our annual Calendar of Steam Schools appeared in the November/December 2004 issue of Steam Traction. 

The Central States Threshermen's Steam School will be held June 11-12, 2005, at Threshermen's Park, two miles north of I-55 on Rte. 2, Pontiac, Ill. Classes begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday and continue through Sunday afternoon. Bring proper attire for fire-up on Saturday evening and Sunday (work clothes, hard shoes, gloves, etc.). Camping is available, and there are hotels close by. For more information, contact Dave Schott, 620 S. Vermillion, Pontiac, IL 61764; (815) 842-3129.

• Sorry we were late posting our steam school ad in your fine magazine. The Somerset Steam & Gas Engine Assoc. 8th Annual Steam School will be held April 9-10, 2005, in Somerset, Va. Tuition remains the same as last year at $75, which covers lunch for both days and all class material. For more information call Bill Roberts at: (540) 672-2495; or e-mail me, William Dove, at: bdove1950@yahoo.com

The Wisconsin Historical Steam Engine Assoc. Inc. has finalized the dates for its next steam school. Their first steam school was held last October. The next school will be Sept. 23-25, 2005, at the Rock River Thresheree Assn. show grounds in Edgerton, Wis. Tuition is $50, and class size is limited to 50 students. For more information, contact Jeff Bloemers at: W4597 County Road F, Waldo, WI 53093; (920) 564-6292.

• This year's Oklahoma Steam Threshing & Gas Engine Assn. Pawnee Steam School will be held March 18-20, 2005, in Boonville, Ind., hosted by Indiana's Antique Steam & Gas Engine Club, Inc.

The school will be held at Thresherman's Park, 2-1/2 miles north of Boonville on West New Harmony Rd., 1/4-mile off Hwy 61. Tuition is $25, which includes lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Contact Beverly Atteberry at: 4224 S. Detroit, Tulsa, OK 74105; (918) 605-1913; www.OklahomaThreshers.org; or e-mail: beverlyatteberry@aol.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; e-mail: rbackus@ogdenpubs.com