PLOWING BUFFALO GRASS SOD IN THOMAS COUNTY KANSAS IN 1906

36 hp. engine & a bar cylinder thresher

Case outfit moving: from one farm to another. A 1916 scene in the Panther Neighborhood, 30 miles northwest of Des Moines, Iowa. 36 hp. engine and a 28x50-20 bar cylinder thresher owned by Will Badger, father of Lauren Badger who sent the picture.

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We drove to the engine the next morning. I slipped on my overalls and jacket. We washed the boiler and carefully checked the engine. An engine primed more easily on a new boiler. It would not do to again fail. My only experience with a La Fever boiler had been firing a sample and that was not drawing 12 breakers in buffalo grass sod. The flame in a La Fever fire-box burned toward the fire-box door and the draft was from the front end of the fire-box, as in a Russell Universal, one of the most serviceable and economical thresher boilers ever built.

We were late returning to the engine the next morning and by the time we checked the engine, washed. filled and steamed the boiler Mrs. Jensen called us to a well prepared dinner. The fiasco the day before, had not adversely affected her and she remained the same soft-spoken woman.

Soon after dinner I stepped on the foot-board. The engine was not far from the field. Someone grabbed the wheel and we were gone. Within a few minutes the plows were dropped and we were moving toward the east end of that long field, turning 14 feet of glistening buffalo grass sod to the sun. The steam pressure was near the sizzling point and the water at normal level, when I started and I did not intend to let the steam blow off but was too slow, and before moving far, the valve released. The engine did not prime, we continued to move, plowed the round without stopping and all afternoon, stopping only for water and coal. The boiler steamed well and the water was easily kept at the proper level. The service man requested permission to try again when we started the last round that afternoon and I granted it. The same thing again happened that happened the day before. Mike Jensen said to me when they finally made the round, 'I know the engine is all right.'

Mike Jensen began plowing early in the spring and plowed many acres of buffalo grass sod before trouble developed in that engine. The exhaust of an Advance compound was soft under a normal load. When plowing those wallows, the furrows were at least six inches and the exhaust sounded like a simple. The engine was powerful and drew those plows through those wallows without slowing down. The load was so heavy two cogs were torn from an all steel main pinion with a 5' face. Later, the boiler cracked under the intermediate bracket at three cap bolts Water flowed from the boiler in a stream.

Advance Thresher Company sent a mechanic from the engine shop and the boiler company sent a boiler maker to determine whether the construction of the boiler was faulty or the boiler plate defective. That was decided before they saw the engine. Both were strictly Company men. With them their companies made no mistakes.

The boiler maker put a patch about a food long, nine inches wide and oval in shape on the inside of the sheet of the waist of the boiler. When the boiler steamed there was not a simmer.

The mechanic set the intermediate bracket and assembled the engine. That wide gear was quiet and when standing upon the foot board not a quivver could be felt. The engine was ready for the plow. The O'Pelt had been my home for a month.

The season for plowing sod was nearly over. Mike Jensen plowed some sod with the engine. It performed well but he was dissatisfied with a patched boiler. Advance Thresher Company made an adjustment and shipped him a new engine with a La Fever boiler. No fire-box trouble ever had developed in the La Fever boiler of the old engine, because of water, intense heat and heavy draft caused by the heavy load. Train gears on the new engine were six inches and bull gears were seven inches, all gearing being an inch wider than on the old engine. No complaint ever was received on the new engine.

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