Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association Show LYNDEN, WASHINGTON 1996

Francis A. Orr

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1617 32nd Street Anacortes, Washington 98221

Francis A. Orr with large and small 'gong' whistles. These whistles are cast iron and were made by the Sinker-Davis Co. of Indianapolis, Indiana.

The fire is out and the boiler blown down. I still have to brush the tubes and clean out the firebox on my 80 HP vertical boiler. The grass is long and green and the scars made by iron and rubber wheels, steel tracks, skids and thousands of feet have about all disappeared along with those drips of oil and condensate that show up under old tractors, steam and gas engines. It is very quiet with a few bird songs, tire sounds of vehicles passing on the road and the sigh of the wind in the trees. That strong smell can be recognized as liquid manure being sprayed onto the fields. Around Lynden, Washington, it is known as 'the smell of money.' In all, the scene is quite different from what you would have seen from 31 July to 3 August during the 25th annual show of the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association.

Dave Mulholland's vertical boiler and engine. Boiler came from Doc Sheeley, Gulfport, Miss., in 1968, and was in Francis Orr's steamboat in Pensacola, Florida. He traded it to Al Giles who used it to steam the planks for 'Echo' and then sold it to Dave. In 1995 it was retubed and inspected under Washington state boiler code. Engine is approximately 6x8 and came from an Alaska cannery running right up to 1986.

A number of years ago the PSAT & M Association was given all of the old machinery from Buzzard Iron Works in Bellingham. This was a beautiful old metal working shop with a Soule Steam Feed engine powering their line shaft and two steam hammers (worn out tires from steam locomotives were used for forging steel) beating out hooks, rings, slings etc. for the logging and marine industries of the area. In the past I have run the large floor drill and the shaper from the collection, but it was basically just a 'place it and run it' thing. Noticing the slow deterioration of this machinery 1 felt that this trend had to stop. I was able to enlist the aid of Carl Nelson, an Anacortes, Washington, neighbor and newcomer to the hobby, and in club member Gordon Sullivan's shop, we restored a large drill grinder. To run the grinder, we also got some paint on my 7'x7' vertical, side crank, Orr & Sembower (no relation) steam engine. Eighteen feet of belt came from our reliable supplier Marine Supply & Hardware of Anacortes. If they don't have what you need, you don't need it.

Always slightly behind schedule, the trial run came on July 31, the first day of the show. Happily, it all worked and we were in business. And I do mean business, as Carl and I felt that it is one thing to have a display, but it is entirely better to do something with a display, so we put out the word for members to bring in their large diameter drills and we would sharpen them.

Francis Orr with 7' x 9' Erie horizontal center crank. This engine came out of the Anacortes, Washington, steam laundry. First time in steam in over forty years.

Boiler on left is an ex-steam donkey boiler owned by Bob Sorenson and used by the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association to run their 22' x 48' Nordberg Corliss and three other stationary engines. The boiler on the right is an 80 HP vertical fire tube, owned by Francis Orrit steams his collection of stationary engines.

The grinder itself is a pedestal grinder. The nameplate reads: Yankee Drill Grinder, Govel Hanchett Company, Wilmarth & Marmon Division, Big Rapids, Michigan USA. Pat. June 21, 1921. It was sold by the Perine Machinery Company of Seattle. Facing the grinder the left wheel is a narrow rounded wheel for thinning the drill points. The right wheel is a cup wheel with all of the goodies to hold the drill.

Many of you have probably tried to hand sharpen a drill at some time or another. Trying to maintain the necessary angles and clearances can be quite a chore if you are not a professional machinist doing it every day. And, as the drills get bigger, so do the problems. Many of us have one or two drill sharpeners. The little Black & Decker rigs will sharpen up to 3/8 ''while the small swivel sharpeners sold by Sears, General and other suppliers will do up to .' While this covers the majority of our drilling, there is always that occasional time where we need bigger holes.

As the size of the drill increases so do drill costs so many of us get our drills at auctions, antique stores, friends, garage sales, or wherever including the broken or short drills from machine shops. This usually means that they are not in good shape to start with. Carl and I would put a witness mark on both drill flutes just to see what we had. Ideally this witness mark should be on the cutting edge but we found that for a majority of drills, this mark fell back of the cutting edge. Also, one flute would be longer than the other which would cause the drill to cut an oversize hole. We had one drill that had been leaned on so hard it had caused the metal on the circumference to start to melt. At show's end Carl and I felt that we had done a real civic service putting some 35 to 40 old drills back into good condition. Back to the show:

It was a wonderful thing to see LeRoy and Janet Mietzner, from the Northwest Steam Society, drive onto the grounds with their beautiful steamboat BUG. Parked beside the big Nordberg Corliss engine, LeRoy spent a lot of time explaining the boat to visitors who could compare the two 13/8 'cylinders of BUG with the 22' cylinder of the Corliss and wonder at the wide diversity of the steam hobby.

Dave Mulholland and Francis Orr. Boiler came from Orr s steamboat 'Dorothy,' engine from 'Alaska Packer's' Naknek Cannery, retired in 1986 (it works). Dave Mullholland at age 73 still goes north to Alaska every year to fish salmon in the Bering Sea. Dave put the boiler and engine together on a display cart.

BUG was not the only steamboat on the grounds. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Scott Anderson who came over and fired my big 80 HP vertical boiler so that I could run my engines. In the meantime, Scott's wife was stuck in the flea market selling their little Putt Putt steam boats. Remember those from your childhood? Scott bought a large chime whistle and he was very pleased with the results when we put it on my boiler to see what it would sound like.

While the PSAT & M Association show is your typical threshing bee there were other steam boaters from the Northwest Steam Society who stopped to say hello. A show like this is a great place to make new friends and visit with old ones. I always try to have breakfast on the grounds on Friday and this year I spotted a couple in the chow line that I knew. Unbeknownst to me, John and Lou Ann Peternell had come out here, all the way from Albany, Minnesota, to attend our show at Lynden. Next year I hope more of you will attend the 26th presentation of the Puget Sound Antique Tractor & Machinery Association. The show will run from July 30 to August 2, 1997.

On a closing note, as interesting as I think our drill grinding display was, in my mind, the most interesting item on the grounds was a two cylinder, horizontal gas engine built by a man whose name I do not know. Starting with a 5' diameter flywheel from an air compressor, the rest of the engine was all fabricated. The bores were 6' if not bigger. The engine was started with a Briggs & Stratton slack/tight belted to a shaft with a friction drive to the bottom of the flywheel. Since the friction was in constant contact with the flywheel the other end of this shaft drove the water pump. It was a well proportioned engine that ran like a top. Earlier we compared LeRoy Mietzner's BUG to the big Nordberg Corliss. Now here is another comparison and the thing to remember is that no matter what the size, no engine, no boat, no tractor, no locomotive, no whatever, will ever be built or restored without determination, planning, constant work and the ability to overcome those moments of despair when nothing seems to go right.