Soot in the flues

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Hi! Well, last year was not too great of a year for us. Ed was in the hospital three times and I was in two times, so we were happy to say good-bye to the year of 1988 and usher in the new year of 1989. HOWEVER near the end of January Ed had another trip to the hospital for 10 days and had a severe heart attack. Not to be outdone, I went in February 16 for 10 days because of congestive heart failure and bronchitis. Enough said! We'll thank you for a little prayer to see us onto some better days. Enough on the morbid side!

I know by now most of you folks are chomping at the bit to get into the upcoming shows and reunions. Finish those touches and be all prepared for one of your best summers ever. Don't forget to write us the interesting things that happen and the fun you have. I'll be looking for the letters.

LEIGH B. DENNISON, Box 873, Delta Junction, Alaska 99737 writes us: 'In the January/February Soot In The Flues column, I see you included a letter from Frank Adams, Box 330, Wabeno, Wisconsin 54566 concerning two Phoenix log haulers in two Wisconsin towns, and a third one reportedly in Iowa.'

'Just thought you might be interested to know that there is a fourth example in the Western Development Museum in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. I have no idea if it is in operating condition, but at least, it appears to be complete.'

'Also enjoyed the picture and comments on the Rochfort Bridge. I have admired it since 1956 and have a couple pictures taken from the same place as the one you show. It is difficult to get it all in one picture.'

'Iron-Men Album and Gas Engine Magazine are my favorites of the many magazines I get. Keep up the good work.'

'I own a stationary engine which was manufactured by Harrisburg Foundry and Machine Works. While discussing and showing photographs of this engine to Bob Johnson of Rossville, Georgia, he told me that he thought that this engine was built by the same company that made the Paxton Portable Engine,' writes JOHN G. NELSON, III, Route 1, Box 409, Courtland, Mississippi 38620.

'My engine is located on the Nelson Farm about seven miles west of Batesville, Mississippi, and is used to power a small Frick sawmill and two grist mills. It is 11'x 11' horizontal, side crank engine regulated by an inertia governor built into the fly-wheel. The governor rotates the eccentric which in turn controls the point of steam cutoff through a piston-type steam admission valve. It is a well built, efficient engine that was originally purchased by the town of Ackerman, Mississippi to power a small generator for lighting in stores and public areas. '

'The builder's plate on the cylinder cover reads: 'Built by Harrisburg Foundry and Machine Works. Pennsylvania USA, No. 4016'. Cast on the cover of the crosshead housing is 'Fleming, Harrisburg'.'

'If you determine that this engine was made by the Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company, I would be happy to send more information and photographs, if you so desire. In any event, I will be looking forward to the article. If this company did make my engine, I would certainly like to know something of its history.' (Surely hope you hear from someone, John, who has some information, and then you send along pictures and information.)

A short notice from EDWIN H. BREDEMEIER, RR #1, Box 13, Steinaur, Nebraska 68441: 'The nice picture in the centerfold of the January/February '89 issue is an oldie!'

'The separator is a Case, reason: the feeder return elevator and the grain handler. The grain handler is the No. 5 handler. The separator could be a wooden machine. It is hard to tell, as very little is visible. The engine on my picture is dark, too.'

'The separator is either 36' or 40'. It surely is not any smaller because of the size of the drive belt.'

'I noticed the right hay mow door could use a top cleat.'

This one is from ANDY MICHELS, 302 Highland Avenue, Plentywood, Montana 59254: 'I want to relate a few memories of steam engine incidents. I remember one in 1907. A 40 HP Avery under mounted was stuck in a gumbo flat for over a month. The tracks are still visible.'

'In 1929, a large side mount (can't remember the make) simple was pulling 12 breakers. The left driver came upon a large flat rock and 'spun out'. The quill was torn out of the boiler side necessitating the return of the engine for repairs to the factory. This happened again, soon after they got it back. Oh yes, this was the same engine that they blew the head off from not opening the cylinder cocks. I was told they made a head from oak and ran until they could get a new head.'

'Ted F. was moving a 25 HP Case. In our county, they had to haul water up to seven miles. The tanker was late. Ted figured if he let the fire down, he could get through the coulee ahead. The fuse plug let go. Ted fused the plug with a tree branch and finished the day. They fused the plug with lead from fish weights. In 1914 a 3/4' fuse plug cost less than $2.00, now they want $25 to $30.'

'A fellow lost control of a big Rumely going down a hill. We junked out the engines. There was a dent in one driver, almost 6' deep from hitting a rock. The thresher and cook car were not damaged.'

'In hard times we ran our 20 HP Case with a chain on the clutch and a very bad throttle. You really learned to be an engineer no clutch, no throttle. Maybe you won't believe any of this, so why give any more?' (Why wouldn't we believe you all sounds interesting to me).

FORREST PENSE, Route 2, Harvard, Nebraska 68994 sends this: 'On pages 20, 21 of the January/-February '89 issue of your magazine, there is a picture of an engine and threshing machine. I know the thresher is a Case separator. I think the engine is either an Aultman-Taylor or a Nichols & Shepard. It's hard to see in the picture. If someone else has a different identification, I'd like to hear about it.'

Two pictures and a nice bit of communication comes from MRS. DONALD CASE, 114 East Main Street, Angelica, New York 14709: 'I'm sending you two pictures of my father-in-law's steam engine. I am magazine. He is 86 years old and has been involved with steam all his life and is a faithful reader of your magazine.' (Happy to use them.)

'Picture 1 shows a portable 1923 Groten engine on display at Alfred City Ag Tech for Ag Day in 1988. It is shown belted to a 1914 Racine thresher.'

'Picture 2 shows the same portable engine freshly painted and ready to be taken to a steam show at Alexander, New York. Each year this engine is put into use at the Antique Machinery and Steam Show at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Angelica, New York. This display was started by Merel Case.'

An interesting letter comes from VERN VETOR, 1091 Main Street, Woodslee, Ontario, Canada NOR 1V0: 'Well, first thing first not long ago, while looking at some back issues of this most interesting magazine, I came to some pictures of a traction engine that had blown up. This brought to my mind the one that had blown up in our area in 1915.'

'I, myself, being born in 1910, was only five years old, so personally, I cannot remember anything of it. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured or killed. Everyone felt they had come through it very luckily'.

'I am getting close to the eighty year old mark. Time sure passes quickly, but slows down to a slow crawl when I am waiting for the next issue of Iron-Men Album.'

More than once we have used material from VINSON E. GRIT-TEN, 109 Country Club Court, Danville, Illinois 61832, and here's another one just reminiscing from the past called: A Really Nice Day.

'One winter day, with a lot of snow on the ground, when I was around five years old, we made a trip to Royal, Illinois after groceries and some winter supplies. What was special about the trip?'

'Dad borrowed a bob sled which had a regular sized wagon on it and hitched Don and Fred to it, and we were off. Don and Fred were our mules that were used to haul water to the steam engines and also pulled the spring wagon that took crews to and from the farms where they were threshing or shelling corn. The mules were almost human as they could sense about everything that was going on and they could be contrary, too.'

'The sled had two sets of runners on it and the box was regular wagon-sized, with sides eighteen or so inches high. Dad put a lot of loose straw in the box and Mother dug us some old blankets and, of course, we dressed warm, and we were on our way. It was four miles to Royal so the trip took a big half day there and back. We enjoyed the quiet ride. About all you could hear was a snort from one or other of the mules once in awhile, and the crackle of the runners on the snow.'

'Royal was a small village with one general store, blacksmith shop, grain elevator representing most of the businesses. I do remember the general store had a millinery upstairs. Ladies hats were quite the thing in those days so they must, and did, have a millinery. Of course they had gingham, calico, and ladies dresses, plus overalls, boots and so on for men and boys.'

'Anyway, we took our time, found some candy for us kids and the necessary groceries, probably a week or two of supplies, and headed home. It was evening when we got home. We unloaded the sled. Dad unharnessed the mules, watered and put them in the barn and fed them.'

'The base burner had kept the house warm, and we settled in for the evening, a most memorable day of a young country boy.' (Oh, I wonder what a young boy of today would think of that for a memorable day).

A letter with two pictures comes for MARK HISS A, 13140 Madison Road, Middlefield, Ohio 44062. 'Here are a couple of pictures of our engines in October, taken a couple of days apart. The engine with the roof is a 32 HP Port Huron, serial #5525, 1909. It is in fair shape as we are making new water tanks and changing the plumbing from galvanized to black pipe. We carry 125 lbs. steam and it plays with a silo blower. Port Hurons are sure quiet and smooth running engines. The other one is taken 36 hours later. We got 12' of heavy snow at night and we surely were surprised in the morning. It wasn't fired up so that's why the snow stuck to the boiler, but it was full of water waiting to be inspected that morning. The engine is a 20 HP Advance-Rumely.'

GENE DRUMMOND, 15509 Drummond Road, Orient, Ohio 43146 writes: 'I read in the March/April '89 issue of IMA on page 10, that a Mr. Thomas Stebritz disputes my statement in IMA on steam engine changeover. The late James Chandler of Frankfort, Indiana wrote to me about this engine change over. Mr. Chandler was of the old guard and knew the steam engine about which he wrote. He saw the Case engine that I write about. The engine is a 36 HP Case that was made to look like a late 40 HP Case. If you have the Case catalog from 1909 to 1914, study them and I think you will see that if Case could change an 8 x 10 engine (36 HP) to an 8 x l0 (40 HP) engine, what's to keep it from being done today, Mr. Stebritz?'


This article is to answer some of Arlen Olson's questions about valve gears that appeared in the March/ April '89 issue, and sent to us by LYLE HOFFMASTER, 1845 Marion Road, Bucyrus, Ohio 44820.

When the portable engine builders decided to build traction engines they needed a reversing gear. The Arnold gear was one of these early gears and was developed by Bishop Arnold in the shops of A. W. Stevens, at Auburn, New York for the Stevens engines. It was of the shifting eccentric type and is generally regarded as the 'granddaddy' of this family of gears. Pictures No. 1 and No. 2 are views of this gear as used by Stevens.

The Arnold gear used two gear racks with teeth generally cut at 45, but not necessarily so. When the teeth are engaged, the racks are at 90 to one another. One rack is attached to a shifting collar and the other to the eccentric. When the collar is moved along the shaft the eccentric is moved across the shaft. Companies using this gear in some form included Peerless, Rumely, Harrison (Jumbo), and KeckGonnerman who reversed their doubles with one shifting collar and two eccentrics working at 90 to each other on earlier engines.

The eccentric center was set slightly to one side of its line of travel in respect to the center line of crank-shaft. This provided lead on both motions. They produced a nearly perfect sinusoidal motion, a smooth but slow action. Any engine using one of these gears required a long connecting rod in order to reduce the effect of the angularity of the connecting rod as this type of gear pro-vided no correction wherever. When used with a double ported valve these Arnold type gears gave a good account of themselves.

The other gear Arlen asked about was the Miller. This gear carries patent No. 1,125,376 and was granted January 19, 1915 to William H. Miller, assignor to the Keck-Gonnerman Company. It is shown in Picture No. 3, taken from the K-G catalog No. 30 which I believe to be for 1919. This gear appears the same as the patent drawing. Now look at Picture No. 4 from K-G catalog No. 29 of 1918. See any difference? I can't, but the patent drawings show the Gentry gear as having a single bar to form the eccentric yoke, while the Miller gear shows a double bar with the links between. They referred to this as a center hung gear. John H. Gentry was granted a patent for his gear October 24, 1913, bearing No. 1,075,778. Whether Miller or Gentry, it was one of the best gears ever put on a traction engine. They were about as near right as anyone could expect. To hear one run was to hear a symphony not excelled by Beethoven!

Now for the gears used on the Keck-Gonnerman doubles: Refer-ring to Picture No. 5 we see the gear of John H. Gentry covered by the above mentioned patents. This picture is from the K. G. catalog No. 29 of 1918. Now refer to picture No. 6 from the K. G. catalog No. 30 of 1919. It is called a Miller. Here again the only visible difference is that the Gentry gear has a single bar for the eccentric yoke while the Miller has a double bar. There is no doubt in the writers mind that the Miller gear being center hung, would run better and be a little easier to maintain than the Gentry. We should also bear in mind that John Gentry was an independent inventor and, no doubt, received royalties for his patents. William Miller, as previously mentioned, was an employee of K. G. and assigned his patents to K. G. so there were no royalties to be paid on his invention. This may have been the deciding factor in changing to the Miller gear.

Miller varied from Gentry's construction, but the writer has reason to believe he followed Gentry's geometry for there was an error in both gears as used on K. G.'s double engines. The exhaust was not uniform and to such an extent that their power was not equal to their counterpart in a K. G. single engine. The company was aware of this but did not know where the error was.

About 1920-1921 the K. G. Company wrote a letter to Harry Clay asking to come down and correct this gear. Clay was no longer associated with Reeves and was free to accept, but chose not to go. He gave the letter to his son, Albert, who was also a mechanical engineer, telling him the job was his if he wished, and also where the error was. Albert didn't go either.

Forty years later Albert told me of this incident, but could not recall what his father had told him regarding the error. It was never corrected by the factory nor have I ever heard of a user who had found the error. We K. G. fans call it the K. G. 'Gallop' and still we would all love to own one!

Compare the Miller and Gentry gears with the Baker shown in Picture No. 7. Not much difference, is there? Baker's patent is No. 721,994 and issued March 3, 1903. I believe with the picture you can figure out how a Baker gear works.

All radial gears gave a fast enough action to the valve, but only those that used links (rocker motion) for the secondary motion at the end of the eccentric yoke would give correct steam distribution. By correct steam distribution I mean a full compensation for the error introduced by the angularity of the connecting rod. The Baker valve gears for locomotives were not quite the same as traction engines as the locomotive took its secondary motion from the crosshead. On traction engines the secondary motion was induced by a rocking or swinging link as previously mentioned.

The gear used on Reeves engines was developed by Harry C. Clay, who assigned it to Reeves and Company. Clay never claimed to have invented this gear as it was basically the Marshall gear that was patented in 1881. His only claim was its adaptation to the Reeves engine and is covered by Patent No. 673,859, issued May 14, 1901. Sheets 2,3, and 4 of the patent drawings are geometric layouts of this gear action. A study of these layouts will show it to be about as near perfect as could be devised. It is by all odds my favorite gear. This gear did not require frequent adjustments and was so designed as to be nearly self-compensating for wear. The jigs to rebabbitt all sizes of these gears from 16 to and including 32 HP would fit in a seed corn sack and could be carried with one arm.

Baker gears would give a full port opening with 3/8' travel of the piston. This is like hitting that piston, which is nearly stationary, with a sledge hammer. I feel this was not necessary; it made for more maintenance and repairs and a harder engine to handle. It is my only objection to a Baker gear.

The Reeves, Miller and Gentry gears were a little slower than Baker's. I must admit to being a Reeves man from my big toenails to the hairs on top of my head. I'm not bald-headed, either, but when I get around one of those single 'Kecks' with a Miller or Gentry gear I can feel a wave of infidelity sweep over me.

And that ends our communications for this time, so a few words to ponder Faith either removes mountains or tunnels through At the close of his will, Patrick Henry stated: 'There is one thing more that I would like to leave my family Christian faith. With that they would be rich did I not leave them one shilling. Without that they would be poor had I given them the whole world. 'The best thing parents can spend on their children is time, not money. Building boys is better than mending men. The best thing to do with the Bible is to know it in the head, stow it in the heart, sow it in the world, and show it in the life. Bye, bye for this time love you all!