Box 167, Starks, Louisiana
I attended the first Threshermen's Reunion ever held in this state last October 8th. This was put on by Crowl Bros. at Welsh, Louisiana. About one thousand people were there. The rig was a 20 hp Minneapolis engine (I believe No. 8351) fired with crude oil, and 28 inch Case separator.
The rig was in like-new condition. They threshed a few loads of a 12 acre field of heavy bundle rice that day but rain in the afternoon stopped them and they finished the entire job two days later.
They plan another threshing this fall with more machinery, including a fine 25 hp Russell, No. 16810, from nearby Jennings. There is a 25 hp Robinson engine near Welsh that could be restored.
I threshed my own rice December 4th, and a little next day, with 20 hp Minneapolis No. 8265 and Case 32' separator. The straw was nearly tough enough to lace a belt with but the grain was in good shape.
We fed from both sides with the bundles just touching and it gave the Minnie (which blows off at 135 lbs.) a good load-but it had ample power.
The engine used 125 to 135 gals, water per hour pulling this load and we burned only one cord of wood in a day and a half under steam but only a few hours actual threshing. It was, however, good dry pine and half of it was very rich in resin and turpentine and is equal to an oil fire. The difference in dry and green wood is very great since green wood (or most of it) is about half water by weight.
I have always found every Minneapolis engine that I've ever handled or knew to be a crack thresher engine that is hard to beat - but there are plenty of other good ones. I worked two long seasons with a 22 hp Avery Undermounted pulling double the above load on almost exactly 160 gals, of water per hour, fuel in proportion, but it was a new engine and carried 150 lbs. steam. I have run six different makes of engines and different types of the same make including single, double and tandem compound, all good engines, and have been in the field with a good many others and I have never known an engine that beat that Avery - and my experience includes a tandem compound carrying 175 lb. pressure and under a lighter load than the Avery.
The largest engine I ever ran myself was a 30 hp compound Gaar Scott. I have nothing but praise for any engine I ever ran or was in the field with but just the same - the double simple of nearly any make is my favorite for threshing. They respond to the governor under a sudden load quicker than the best single of the same power ever built and the latter is superior to the compound in this respect. However, either of the above is entirely satisfactory if they have a good excess of power.
In my book, a clean boiler and plenty of cylinder oil is the stuff. I am strictly current on steam and use it the year around. I never did claim to be an expert and am not too smart to call on a machinist or boiler maker when I need help but if I took an engine out in good shape and it wasted all the water and fuel that I could get to it, I would shut it down or get someone else to run it.
Cause and effect are all that I recognize in steam engine work, but at the same time I have every respect for the opinion of anyone else as long as it does not violate common sense or is based on prejudice or a zeal to discredit something or some one.
There has been a lot of baloney kicked around in recent years about this or that engine taking a great deal more fuel than another, etc. In the actual rough and tumble conditions of threshing there was nothing like the difference we hear about. True, there were hard and easy steamers but they were very often of the same make and size - the condition of the engine and boiler, the kind of fuel and water, and the skill of the operator accounted for much or most of the difference.
In the days of steam power on the farm I never heard even one farmer from here to Dakota complain about the fuel the engine burned, but they would kick quick and hard about breakdowns and poor threshing that would cost them far more than the fuel bill which was always a small fraction of the cost.
It has often happened that one man would condemn an engine as being no good and someone else would have no trouble with it. In a case like this anyone can draw their own conclusion as I draw mine.