Maverik and I pose for a picture at the NWAPA show.

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'I will also throw in some photographs of Carl Mehmke's plowing day, which was held the next Friday, September 18. Attending that show from Michigan were John Schrock and Graham Sellers. Our California contingency, headed by Dean Ailing, was there again. We had a beautiful day for the plowing bee, which was well attended by many. The licensed steam engineers of the Montana Steam Organization held their annual meeting after the show, chaired by president Dick Tombrink. Western Montana boiler inspector Ray Smith was there representing the State Department of Building Codes. The steam engines fired up were the usual engines: the 32 HP Case, 110 HP Case, 75 HP wide wheeled plow engine, 20-70 Nichols & Shepard, and the 18 HP Case portable. Carl Mehmke has many fine 'toys,' so the gas boys got to have a good time, too. Some of the gas engines fired up were the 30-60 Aultman-Taylor, 40-80 Avery, 30-60 Flour City, 25-50 (I thinkI'm not much of a gas man) Minneapolis, the single cylinder Hart-Parr, and the Square Turn. Dick Tombrink sent me a videotape of both the NWAPA and the Mehmke shows. Dick does a very fine job of taping. One view of the Mehmke plow day was of four engines and plows plowing in a row. I only wish that 1 had a photograph of that scene to send you. 1 was running the 75 HP Case, so I did not get to take any plowing pictures.

The 20-70 Nichols & Shepard, 110 HP Case, 32 HP Case and 75 HP Case plow engine at Carl Mehmke's plowing show in September.

Newcomer and guest engineer Jake Williams of Oceanside, California, stands beside Carl's 20-70 Nichols & Shepard. This was his first experience running a double cylinder engine. He said he would be 'forever spoiled.'

'I am also sending you another photograph of a steam engine furnishing the pulling power to cut grain, for Larry Creed to examine. It is of Lyle Hoffmaster and my favorite type of engine the Reeves. This is a picture of Frank Strouf's 40-140 Canadian Special in 1912 pulling a combined harvester on his huge Wolf Creek farm north of Denton, Montana, in the Judith Basin. Frank can be seen in the business suit and hat at the end of the 35 foot header. Frank Graves was the engineer. Frank also owned a 40-120 U. S. model Reeves and the more I investigate, I believe he owned two U. S. 40s. I have gotten in contact with Roland Fulbright, Frank's grandson, of Great Falls, and have found a gold mine of pictures for my book. I copied and returned the pictures to Roland at Carl Mehmke's plowing day in September. The Frank Strouf chapter of my book will be a great one!

'I am sure you will be getting many fine show stories and pictures for upcoming editions, so I will keep this short. I always enjoy the stories sent you by our many friends around the country.'

Speaking of the Mehmkes, how many of you out there also subscribe to National Geographic Magazine? If you do, don't miss pages 62-63 of the October 1998 issue, where you'll see a really great farm scene photographed by Robb Kendrick. The photo shows a fleet of combines harvesting wheat on the Walter Mehmke farm in Montana. No steam, but a great picture from the farm of someone you may know! It appears in an article entitled 'Feeding the Planet,' an interesting piece on how to meet the food supply needs of a growing world population.

CHARLES PROVENCHER, JR., P. O. Box 81589, Cleveland, Ohio 44181-0589 writes, 'I realize this is not the usual 'Soot in the Flues' kind of letter no threshing stories or engine escapades from pre-WW I days so I promise not to cry if it doesn't make it into the column. Besides, at age 70, crying doesn't do much, and I'll continue to read IMA anyway, because I enjoy it.

'Which brings me to the point. The many engine people I know don't read IMA. Sad to say, they don't seem interested in the steam hobby, just their own engine.

'I did have one wonderful IMA experience. At the last LaGrange show, a young man of about 16 approached me, showed me that back cover photo of IMA with the Orr and Sembower shown there, and asked me, 'Is this the engine in the photo?' and 1 said yes. He was all smiles and said, 'Very nice engine, nice to meet you.' So IMA does do good things for the hobby.

'I myself have been reading IMA for some years now, but never wrote before. What finally prods me to write is that aforementioned photo on the back cover of the September/October issue, of a portable engine at the 1997 LaGrange Engine Show. The sender of the photo said he could not identify the owner. As I am the owner, I felt the need to write and say something about the engine and myself. Also, I can say that at this year's LaGrange Show, I did meet Ed Maynard and had a pleasant conversation with him.

'The portable is an Orr & Sembower made in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1924. (I was also 'made' in Reading, in 1927.) When new, it was rated at 16 HP. The engine must be unique for it receives a lot of attention at the shows. Many have asked 'Where did you find a boiler to install beneath your Frick engine?' When I show them the Orr & Sem bower name on the engine bed casting, they are amazed. As Reading is fairly close to the home of Frick manufacture, it is possible O & S was aware of and influenced by Frick engines, but I do not know if this is the case. Maybe someone out there in Engine land knows and can write to IMA with the answer.

'As for me, I am a retired mechanical engineer. I spent 40 years helping to design devices for outer space, devices that were part of satellites. Now that I am retired, I have come down to earth with steam, which was always my first love in engineering, and my major study in college (Drexel of Philadelphia) in the late 1940s. In those days, an M.E. student had to learn to operate all kinds of steam-powered equipment. So, while I have no background with steam threshing and sawmills as do most current engine owners, I have made engine indicator cards, set slide valves, adjusted governors and bearings, and operated several kinds of stationary engines, up to 50 HP, under load. In a way, operating the O & S has allowed me to recapture a bit of my youth.

'I must add that I am fortunate in that my older son, John, is a steam man all the way and goes everywhere the O & S goes. In fact, he had the portable at Wauseon this summer when I could not attend. It was the only portable at the show.

'So now you know something about me and the engine. Maybe when the restoration is completed, I'll send you a good photo and you can promote me to the front cover that is, the engine, not me.

'And finally, it is an ambition of mine to get the engine to Rough & Tumble some year in the future. That show is near Reading, Pennsylvania, and there should be old-timers there who would remember Orr & Sembower Company, as I do, and could appreciate the engine. Besides, I really like that show a lot.'

JAMES W. RUSSELL, 125 E. 600th Avenue, Oblong, Illinois 62449 writes: 'I am writing to request some information on 20 HP Advance engine serial numbers. In an article published in the July/August 1958 issue of IMA, well-known Advance salesman, the late Marcus Leonard, states that the first 20 HP Advance engine was number was #7331. I own #8138, also a 20 HP. I would like to know how many 20's were built between #7331 and #8138, and how many still exist. If anyone can help with this information, I would really appreciate it. My phone number is (618) 592-3327.'

This comes from RAYMOND P. HEIDBRINK, 208 Link Avenue, Owensville, Missouri 65066-1045, 'Hi! To all that help print and publish Iron Men Album, and to all you folks out there in steam land. I hope you all have a very merry and blessed Christmas and happy new year.

'The first thing that I laid eyes on when I opened the IMA for November/December was the beautiful drawing of Santa in the smokestack of the Case. Sure is a wonderful work of art. And as I came to the lines from 'The Night Before Christmas,' I thought of the humor of the drawing. The more I thought about it, the more humorous it seemed to be. So I started thinking maybe I could come up with some lines. I put my old thinking cap on and came up with some. They are not meant to belittle or make fun of Dr. Rhodes art work. The lines are as follows:

Santa sure looks nice up there
in the old smokestack,
With all the pretty toys in his pack
But a puff of the engine
sure gave him a whack.
It almost blew him out of the stack.
Not much damage was done, just a few
pretty toys were bounced from his pack.
Now that guy was no engineer;
he was some quack.
bet he didn't get any toys
from Santa's pack.
But I hope Santa will forgive
And that he will be around again next year
With more pretty toys in his pack.
'And I hope Santa don't try
another smokestack.

'I hope you can read my writing. I am 83 years old and my writing doesn't seem to get better, ha! ha!.'(Your handwriting's not as bad as you think, Raymond!)

This was sent in for our Gas Engine Magazine by RON (last name not included) of North Central Minnesota Farm and Antique Association, P. O. Box 475, Grand Rapids, Minnesota 55744, and we have included it here for your steam enjoyment: