Portable steam engines

Courtesy of R. F. Somerville, 12498 14th Avenue North, Haney, B. C, Canada. Line up or portable steam engines at Pion-era 1969.

R. F. Somerville

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12498 14th Avenue North, Haney, B. C, Canada.

This July I went to the Pion-era in Saskatoon and on arrival at the Museum, I saw a line-up of old farm machinery which included a 1910 Holt self propelled 20 ft. combine and an Australian self propelled combine 8 ft. cut, made about 1930-40 under patent by Waterloo Mfg. Co. in Ontario. There were not many of these machines made. They had auger feed at the front, were mounted on three wheels. The rear one was the steering wheel, the right was an idler and the left was the driver.

There were also plows, old time horse rakes and mowers and 2 I. H. C. portable engines.

The best line-up was a 1910 traction Keystone well drilling outfit, a return flue Minneapolis steam tractor - very few of this type were built; next a 1910 single cylinder 15-30 Oilpull tractor; an 1896 center crank, left hand flywheel Case steam tractor; a Waterloo single cylinder steam tractor and last in line, an 1885 Waterous portable steam engine. It had a verticle boiler with water bath spark arrester, horizontal single cylinder engine, and is mounted on wooden wheels and still works.

The highlight of the line-up is the 1910 Hovland harvester. It is a combination of header which takes a 20 ft. cut, which has the conveyor canvasses driven by shaft drive from the front wheels of the tractor. The knife and reel are driven from the main 4 cylinder engine. There are two engines on the tractor. After the grain is cut it is chopped on the ground and is picked up by a raddle between the drive wheels of the tractor and the front of the thresher. The thresher is driven by a two cylinder engine on the tractor platform. The tractor is power steered by the main 4 cylinder engine. A spreader at the back spreads the straw.

The thresher can be unhooked from the tractor. The header can be taken off the front and the tractor used for hauling wagons or doing field work.

Inside the grounds, a line-up of old portable steam engines were being shown, including Sawyer-Massey, L. S. Sawyer return flue, Geo. White & Waterloo. Alongside these were gas tractors, 4 cylinder Avery, Rock Island, Grey drum drive, Bales Steel Mule, Chase 4 cylinder - a very rare tractor. The engine is cross-mounted and under-slung on the frame. Next to this was an English Landerson three wheel drive. The two front ones steered. The engine was at the front and the belt pulley was crosswise on the frame at the front. There was a very nice little 10-18 Case tractor and 20 x 28 Case thresher; next was a 20 Hp. Reeves compound steam tractor hooked to an 8 bottom Reeves steam lift plow.

A small 18 Hp. Case portable steam engine was running a buzz saw, sawing fuel wood for the many steam engines. A 15 Hp. Case steamer was climbing a ramp most of the day, also a double cylinder Nichols and Shephard steam engine was running a portable stone crusher and a 40 Hp. Case portable was running a shingle mill.

In the plowing, horses were used. Also, they had a team of very good oxen. These were four years old and were crossbred, Holstein and Aberdeen Angus. They did their work very well. The main attraction was the big 32-110 Hp. Reeves compound steam tractor pulling a 20 bottom plow. The weather at that time was too cloudy to take a good picture.

A sawmill was in operation run by a 120 Hp. Peerless steam tractor and the planer mill was run by an undermounted Avery steam engine. A steam log hauler with a double cylinder engine at each side connected to caterpillar tracks hauled logs. This engine was used to haul

Threshing was done by two men with flails, two men turning the crank on a ground hog thresher, a hand feed straw carrier, I. H. C. sterling thresher and eight horses on a sweep power. Two horses drove a small hand feed thresher by means of a tread mill. A 10-20 Hp. Titan tractor was running on I. H. C. thresher and a double cylinder Rumely steam tractor was driving a 48 x 72 Buffalo Pitts separator - the biggest thresher built.

A parade past the grand stand every afternoon, chariot races, pony chuck wagon races and fireworks at night as well as a good band and the usual midway lent to the festivities.

Inside the museum were Indian relics, gas, steam and electric cars; wagon plow, binders and mowers: as well as old time household furniture including a Stein-way table grand piano of 1860.

In addition, there were all the famous steam engines, 15-45 Hp., 20-60 and 25-75 Case; Reeves; Aultman-Taylor; Rumely, Gaar-Scott, North West return flue, as well as direct flue. Huber return flue, Avery undermounted. There were Canadian makes as Sawyer-Massey, American Abell, Robert Bell, Geo. White, and a rear mounted Waterloo. Very few of these were made as the company always made side mounted engines.

The tractors were I. H. C, a 24-45 Zoyl Mogul, 10-20 hopper cooled Mogul and three very good 10-20 Titans, a 1910 single cylinder Titan which I had the pleasure of running. Also a 1910 single cylinder Mogul, 10-18 Case and 20-40 Case, 30-60 Reeves, several Oil-pulls, Eagle, John Deere D, Waterloo Boy, a 1927 Fordson. All these were in first class order.

The weather was not too good. I enjoyed myself and wish to thank Mr. Geo. Shepherd and all his staff and especially the engineers who let me run their engines and I hope to return at a future date.