Soot in the flues

Content Tools

Now I know we are still in 1988 when you get this, but before too long we'll be in to 1989I for one will be rather glad to see 1989I don't like to rush the time away, but it's been a hectic year for us. Ed was in the hospital three times this year and I was in two times, but I'm thankful to say we are now on the mend and looking forward to each new day and the joys and whatever else that may be ahead. I think they are making the years shorter, you know everything else is fast fast foods, fast lane, fast cars, fast planes and fast years. I wonder if anyone of us is keeping up with this fast world. You know you've seen that old saying, 'Take time to smell the flowers!' Do we? Do you? Do I? Not enough times, I fear. So, as we go into 1989, let's keep this in mind try to get the most out of every day, watching grandchildren is one of our greatest delights and we don't live too far from them. They never cease to amaze me, I think little ones are a joy if you just take the time to look and not hurry so as they grow they are most interesting and bright and we can learn from them.

When you get this, I hope you are into a Happy Holiday Season and really enjoying it and the true meaning. My Blessings to all of you and do be careful of the resolutions you make or don't make. Love you all and have a Happy New Year.

I'll get on with the communications now as I know you folks do so enjoy the readers' letters...

This communication comes from RUSSELL O. CASHION, Director, Kentucky Threshermen, 720 Bell Road, Antioch, Tennessee 37013. 'In the last issue of the Iron-Men Album, Ellsworth Thorene of Minnesota wanted to know about our reference to the Bell Witch (old Kate) in our ads for the Tennessee-Kentucky Threshermen's show which we have each year in July. Our 1989 show will be our 20th. We will have a director of our show who gives a narration of the legend of the Bell Witch.

There is so much to the legend that it would be bigger than the magazine. There are several good books printed on the Bell Witch so I will touch on it briefly.

In the early 1800s in rural Robertson county, Tennessee, near Adams, lived the John Bell family. Legend has it that John Bell was haunted, harassed, tormented and whatever else by Old Kate until his death and she, Old Kate, was supposed to have killed him.

Andrew Jackson of Old Hickory and later president of the USA went there to investigate the tale of Old Kate, only to have his carriage stopped and held by Old Kate on the lane leading to the Bell house. After much trying to get his horses to move, he was told by Old Kate that if he would leave and go about his way, she would release his carriage.

She released his carriage and he returned to Old Hickory catching up with his slaves that went with him to Nashville, Tennessee.

Bell Road in Metro, Nashville where I live was named after kinfolk of John Bell. Old Kate travels through here quite often to rearrange all my tools in the shop and mess around with my gas engines as I can never find them where I left them and gas engines that run good at the shop do not want to, when you get them to a show. But I guess that Old Kate visits us all at some time or other, what do you think?' (This will be of interest to those who have been inquiring about same there may be a lot of stories out there, maybe even new ones. I also think this would be a great time or place at Halloween I wonder if it is more interesting and in the news more at that time.)

FRANK ADAMS, Box 330, Wabeno, Wisconsin 54566 writes us: 'I have enjoyed your magazine the past year. I enjoy the many articles of different machines and their owners. It's nice to have a magazine published like this one. It kind of keeps a guy up to date on things and brings us steamers a little closer.

'Following is an item of interest on the Phoenix Steam Hauleron display in Wabeno is the Phoenix Log Hauler donated to the town by the G. W. Jones Lumber Company. Restored by Milton E. Lang and B. Frank Sinnard, this unit is operated annually as part of the Logging Exposition in Wabeno.

The Phoenix Log Hauler was purchased by the G. W. Jones Lumber Company in 1909 and used in its operations until 1929. It was stored in a shed until the firm went out of business in 1935 and at that time it was donated to the town of Wabeno. Along with other lumbering equipment, the Phoenix was placed on display in the Park.

'Milton Lang and Frank Sinnard, both of Wabeno, were joint owners of a Case steam traction engine which they restored and operated at steam gatherings over the years. The Phoenix became the topic of conversations at one point and the two applied their knowledge and experience with steam engines to the Log Hauler. After more than two years of work, and many personal dollars, in which they freed the cylinders with penetrating oil and hydraulic jacks, replaced some of the flues, and fabricated many missing parts in their shops, the Phoenix was fired up and operated in June 1966. They had cold-tested the repaired boiler at 240 psi and set the safety valves to pop at 125 psi. The throttle, a balanced valve, was located in the dome and the seats were rusted, so many hours of grinding were required to make it fit tight enough to hold steam. Many valves were bent or missing and had to be replaced and the tracks were rusted solid. The valve rods had to be replaced but the piston rods were not bad enough to require replacement.

'About fifty miles northwest of Wabeno, another Phoenix Log Hauler is displayed at a museum in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, although it is not in operating condition.

'The third Phoenix in the United States at this time is one reported to be in Osage and/or Cedar Falls, Iowa, but no current details of that unit are available.' (For more info contact me at Wabeno Park Commission, Wabeno, WI 54566.)

This next communication comes from TED ESTY, 15907 Asilomar Blvd., Pacific Palisades, California 90272: 'I come to you indirectly through John Bowditch, Curatorial Director of the Henry Ford Museum and more immediately through Iron Men which he recommended as a resource for me. My motivation is that I am designing a self-sufficient retirement home in the Southern Sierras, 50 miles NE of Bakersfield, California and want to do so without reliance upon our local power company, Con Edison. The site is contiguous with the Sequoia National Forest and wood for fuel abounds.

'This dream of mine has been in the making for five years, and from time to time I have come across information about steam-powered generation equipment only to find that the companies supplying this equipment are currently out of business. I don't know how much help you can be to me, but at a minimum perhaps you can refer me to past articles from Iron Men, (This my dear IMA family is where I am asking you to help me to help Ted some of you are so very knowledgeable on these items I am hoping you will write Ted and be able to supply him with the data.)

'Briefly, these are my needs: What kind of a piston engine/generator set-up can provide me with 5-10 kw? I am assuming both 12 and 110 volt systems with batteries. I am also contemplating auxiliary use of both solar for water and house heating as well as propane powered machinery. Propane is the most common source of energy at this location, aside from electricity from Con Ed. I think the second question is what are the pros and cons of piston vs. turbine?

'I am very much scratching the surface of this whole problem at the present time, so almost any informed inputs would be welcomed. Since I am not an engineer I really need the services of someone who might consider himself an energy systems engineer, but so far I have not come close to finding someone versatile in the applications of solar, pv, steam, and propane gas. Wind is out because there isn't enough at the home site.

'I meant to add that John also recommended me to the Troy Eng-berg, to the Skinner Engine Co. in Erie, Pa. and to the Eclipse Lookout Co. in Chattanooga, Tenn. for boilers. He also gave me some thumbnail comparisons between piston and turbine which were very helpful.

'If you can send me a little farther on my journey, I would appreciate it. If you like, please feel free to call me collect at 213-454-5345. I would also like to know about your background in these areas.' (Now there you are, friends of IMA another good man is looking to you folks for help I'm sure you won't let him down.)

'In your Soot in the Flues department in the Nov./Dec. issue of IMA you made some reference to antique farm machinery, ' writes THORBJORN RUE, Box 107, Crosby, North Dakota 58730.

I am a member of the Divide County Historical Society at Crosby, North Dakota. About a year ago we found an antique drill that we are trying to rebuild. The drill is a shoe drill about 1900-1910 era, and is called 'Dowagiac' and was made at Dowagiac, Michigan. It is a 17 shoe drill about 10 feet wide. We are wondering where we can get a picture of this drill and about the colors it was painted. An old reproduced picture from the Red River area around Fargo, North Dakota, about 1900 shows this drill but does not picture it enough to show how it was put together.'If anyone has any information on this drill we would be very interested in hearing from you.'

'I read with great interest your description of the 1884 Lansings-wheel drive steam tractor,' writes KENNETH MORSE, Box 163, South Otselic, New York 13155.

'I am enclosing a photograph of a Wood-Taber & Morse 4 wheel drive 'Rubicon' steam tractor as it was backed out of the shop at Wood-Taber & Morse's in Eaton, New York in 1880.

'I have two testimonial letters to the manufacturer of this engine, one dated Jan. 24,1877 and one Mar. 15, 1879. Both of these regard engines that were purchased a year previously. At that time the price was $1300.00 FOB Eaton.

'The only existing example of this engine is in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.'

LARRY D. VAN DE MARK, 209 N. Grimes, Carl Junction, Missouri 64834 writes this letter and it will require some answers from our fine IMA family.

'About two weeks ago, I bought a Duplex boiler feed pump (steam pump) at a salvage equipment yard. On the steam chest cover is 'SNOW' cast in an arch, also on the steam cylinder head is cast 3K175. A brass tag on the right side states Snow Steam Pump Works, Buffalo, N.Y. USA 3 X 2 X 3 No. 60326.

If anyone knows anything about the Snow Steam Pump Works or anything about the pump, especially setting the steam valves, please let me know.

Next, at an Army Surplus store, I bought four 75 mm blank shell casings, because they look a lot like the top part (bell?) of a steam whistle. The shell casing is 7 inches long and the inside diameter is 3 inches. Now, has anyone out there in Steam Land ever made a whistle out of an old shell casing? I have looked at some old steam whistles and they have a circular steam orifice. What I want to know is the width of this orifice and its diameter in relationship to the diameter of the bell and also the pipe size needed to supply steam to a whistle of this size. Any diagram with measurements of any whistles will be helpful to me.

'Now a word (words) of praise: IMA is GREAT!! Can't wait till the next issue Keep up the Great work! (I thank you from all of us at IMA.)

'Rochfort Bridge (Roch rhymes with stoke) over the Paddle River about 68 miles West of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is said to be the longest wooden railroad trestle in North America. After walking across it, I believe it. Crew members making repairs said it's a full time job keeping it fit, not the best job for a person bothered by heights. They said the biggest problem was with fires. 98 feet above the river bed, 4600 feet long, it was built in the early 1920s by the Canadian National Railways to carry sulfur from the mines located west of it. Following a fire in 1959, it was shortened from its original length of over a mile long.'

This picture and information comes from RALPH NAJARIAN, 35 Pueblitos Road, Belen, New Mexico 87002.

Another letter for those interested in Bell Witch comes from DICK HART, 8300 Hildreth Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009. ' 'Bell Witch' is not a person, it's a thing that goes bump in the night. Ellsworth Thorene asked about the witch in the Sept.-/Oct. issue of the magazine (I read my brother's copy).

'The story goes that the Bell family at Tennessee proposed to move to Mississippi the mother didn't think much of the idea, but one daughter argued in favor of the move. One night a 'Voice' warned the daughter against the move but she finally convinced her father to sell out and move. Before the family left, the Voice spoke again and threatened vengeance on the daughter.

'After the move, the Voice or Witch made things lively for the Bells. If the family started a trip the Witch disapproved of, it would cause the wagon to get stuck on dry level ground or would pull the wheels off. It would make ordinarily docile horses to fight the harness and buck and plunge like broncos. Once when the daughter was combing her hair, getting ready for a part, the Witch filled her hair with cockleburrs. When the men fired shots in the direction of the Voice, the Witch fired back.

'No one could see the Witch, but you could see food rise from the table and disappear into the Witch's mouth. Mr. Bell once persuaded the Witch to shake hands with him; the hand was as small, soft and chubby as a baby's hand. The Witch claimed to enter the house by lifting up the roof at one corner of the house, and some claimed they had seen the roof lift.

At last the daughter died, and a great black bird with a tolling bell around its neck flew overhead as her body was carried to the graveyard. It hovered overhead during the funeral service, then flew away, the bell still slowly ringing. And the Bell Witch never visited the family again.

'Well, that's the story. A Treasury of Southern Folklore by B. A. Botkin provides much greater detail, including the tale of General Andrew Jackson bringing a professional 'witch layer' to the Bell house in an unsuccessful attempt to exorcise the Witch. And there are other versions, told in other places, as with most folktales. (This story is different than the one in Sept./Oct. issue. Still spooky for Hallowe'en.)

MARK HISSA, 13140 Madison Road, Middlefield, Ohio 44002 had sent us some pictures for the May-June issue of IMA '88, he is sending us a few more for this issue.

He writes: 'Awhile ago I sent in a few pictures of our Nichols & Shepard engine. We finished it and have been using it at home and have taken it to a couple of shows. We run 125 lbs. steam and it surely works good. We rebuilt the engine, out side in front of our milk house. Very few engines have had as much work done on them as this engine.'

No. 1: 16 HP Nichols & Shepard double No. 13225, new flue sheet, smokebox, flues, stack, fire box plumbing before we ever put a fire in it. No. 2: That's me when we were filling the silo at home with the 16 HP N & S No. 13647. No. 3: Tearing off the jacket on Francis Day's 20 HP Garr-Scott. No. 4:13 HP N & S after working on it almost ready to go.

Coming to the end of this column I always have to leave you with a few thoughts to ponder. Those who say they will forgive, but can't forget the injury simply bury the hatchet while they leave the handle uncovered for immediate use .... Take care of your lambs, or where will you get your sheep from?... And here's a short story worth reading entitled 'Building Our Own Mansion 'There is a legend of a wealthy woman who, when she reached heaven, was shown a very plain mansion. She objected, 'Well,' she was told 'that is the house prepared for you.'

'Whose is that fine mansion across the way?' she asked.

'It belongs to your gardner.'

'How is it that he has one so much better than mine?'

'The houses are prepared from the materials that are sent up. We do not choose them, you do that by your earthly faithfulness.'

This may be a legend, but it bears a profound truth, don't you think?