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It's time again to celebrate a New Year, and for us to say thank you for your stories and letters in the year 2000! If you're one of those who thinks about writing but doesn't 'get a round to it,' make a resolution and send us a story or letter today!

We've got a nice selection of letters this month, so we'll jump right in for the New Year!

Reliable GARY YAEGER of 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, Montana 59937, again sends us an informative letter: 'After a couple of months of forest fires and much smoke, it finally rained yesterday and put me in the mood to fire up my 15 HP Case today. We have had about inch of rain in the past two days, which will be a good start toward reducing our fire danger. I hadn't been able to fire the engine since the first week in July, due to the tinder-dry conditions.

'Last weekend, I drove 300 miles to the Barnes Steam and Power Show at Belgrade, Montana. I arrived on Thursday and we had nearly three hours of rain, easing tensions regarding our 'mobile fire starters' (traction engines).

'In spite of heavy smoke at times, the turnout was quite good. I wanted to send pictures of some of the engines and crew that make this show Montana's best. This show has always been my son Michael's and my annual time for steam bonding. Mike is in charge of logistics for the Montana Army National Guard at Fort Harrison, near Helena. The fires have had to be his priority. He was able to be there on Saturday only. I really missed our evenings of reflecting about the day's steaming. Maybe next year we won't have such a miserable fire season?

'I wanted to contribute my part in pictures, as I know you will be receiving many from others of the many shows around the United States and Canada. Contributors everywhere are what make our IMA the fine magazine it is.

'Picture #1 is of Kimberly Ziegler and her mother Lanceine (Barnes) Ziegler after parading with the 22 HP undermounted Avery.

'Picture #2 shows Lanceine and Lance on the sawmill. Barnes' daughter Lori Ford engineers the 25 HP portable Aultman-Taylor. John Hochstetler (back to camera) feeds logs to the mill.

'Picture #3 has Mike Yaeger at the throttle of the 22 HP under-mounted Avery, while Ward Barnes and John Hochstetler adjust the levers on the unusual eight bottom Emerson plow.

'Picture #4 shows a rear view of the same outfit. Justin Barnes walks alongside, watching for fires.

'Picture #5 is Russ Gelder's 75 HP Case pulling the Emerson plow.

'Picture #6 is a rear view of Russ's Case, with him and his daughter at the controls.

'Picture #7 shows the grand finale of the show. Lance Barnes seems to be asking, 'How do you beat this for authenticity?' The Belgrade Fire Department crew is spraying foam on the burning straw stack. Although this happened in the early days, this one was unintentional. A spark from the 700 HP Ingersol-Sargent steam air compressor set it. Quick action by the crew contained the damage to the straw stack.

'I found a couple of old pictures for your readers, too. Picture #8 shows a real early undermounted Avery at Lansford, North Dakota, taken in 1910. The late Emil Christensen is shown atop the water wagon. The Avery had the flat top steam dome and the main steam line and throttle extending into the cab.

'Picture #9 shows a tandem compound Port Huron with bell and cab, taken in Whitefish, Montana, years ago.

'I had one final remark to make. 1 review my old IMA magazines from time to time. Larry Creed sent in a picture of a side mounted Gaar-Scott taken at Russell County, Kansas, in 1911, in the May-June 2000 issue. He remarked, 'Apparently the engineer wanted to be sure his whistle was heard as it is mounted high above the canopy.' 1 got to thinking about that picture today as I blew the whistle on my Case, under the canopy, before I went and got earplugs. Larry, you must be smart enough to not have a canopy on any of your engines? The engineer put the whistle above the canopy to save his ears. I am considering doing that to my engine. A lot can be observed by watching the smoke from the smokestack on an engine without a canopy. Smoke tells what your fire is doing or not doing. Maybe I should just wise up and pull the canopy off? However, they do protect engine parts on engines that sit outside.

'Well, enough of that. I must sign off for now. Thanks for doing the fine job you do with IMA, girls. You are the best in the business!'

THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 E. Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511, tells us: 'After reading the May-June IMA, I almost completed an answer to Peter LaBelle's inquiry about horsepower, comparing a steam engine to the gasoline engine. I put the letter aside and didn't complete it.

'Now, after reading Mr. Gregory Hoesli's letter from Salina, Kansas, I have to challenge his opinions about the superiority of the internal combustion over the steam engine. He tells us, 'If you want compact power choose the gasoline or diesel or better yet, the gas turbine engine.' I somehow thought that the steamers that are in use today were here because they are loved for what they are and do.

'No one is trying to replace any tractors of any nature. Mr. Hoesli is comparing a steamer which has some type of a boiler for regeneration as compared to a tractor, where the regeneration is pouring some fuel in the gas tank. There is nothing deader to behold than a gasomobile show with a hundred or so very similar tractors in a row. In the last few years, at least in this area, a number of shows have encouraged more engine owners with their steamers, so there is some balance to the shows.

'Now let's get down to the nitty-gritty. For power the internal combustion engine, on a scale from one to ten as compared to the steamer, wouldn't ever make a ten. It's believable that most of the collector tractors exhibited have been overhauled. Most steamers still have their original rings. My 60 and 65 HP Case engines were all original. A few years after I bought it, I did some rebuilding on the 65 Case valve gear.

'I live near a commercial area and they have auto races on Saturday nights. A couple of nights a week they tune this car. The roaring noise from the internal combustion engine must be part of the superior quality and performance of said unit.

'Some time ago the History Channel of TV told how the automobile evolved, including the race car from 1900 on. The average speed in 1900 for the automobile was 11.1 m.p.h.

'In 1897, steam car makers the Stanley Brothers ran their own design race car at Daytona Beach, and the car was clocked at 126 m.p.h.

'In 1906 they raced the car and the sands were bad and the race car was wrecked. However, the car made an unofficial record of 197 m.p.h. It took many years for an internal combustion engine to come close to even the 126 m.p.h. record.

'The sad part of the internal combustion engine is it starts to self-destruct the second you turn on the switch, from dirt in the form of carbon. The Stanley engine was a twin cylinder with double acting cylinder, ball bearings on the crankshaft, transmission or power to the rear axle was through sprockets and a silent chain.

'Now more about the superior power of steam. In the 1950s the Union Pacific Railroad junked most of their famous Big Boy steamers. These four-cylinder articulated engines could pull up to 135 cars up the famous Sherman Hill in Wyoming. These engines were rated at 6,500 HP up to 7,000 HP.

'On paper the diesel units that replaced the Big Boys were around 8,000 HP. The steamers had no flashing beepers and lights. The diesel crews had to cut 25 to 35 cars off the trains, however. For some time the Big Boys boosted the trains over Sherman Hill, then the U.P. made some adjustments and all the Big Boys were junked except one.

'We'll have one more steam story: On a farm about 15 miles from here, a steam-powered dredge in the 1920s cut a ditch going through a number of farms to make the land tillable. The outfit who owned the dredge partly dismantled the machine and left it. Three brothers owned the land and the dredge was in the way.

'They also owned a 1919 20 HP Aultman-Taylor steamer. They hooked the steamer onto the dredge and it wouldn't move it. They carried 175 lbs. pressure and gradually screwed the pop valve to way past 200 lbs. pressure. The engine was a little light in the front but it moved the dredge.

'I wonder if you could adjust the carburetor to accomplish the same thing I doubt it.

'Tractors have multiple gearing to utilize what power they have, and this was okay. However, about 25 years ago both IHC and Minneapolis built tractors that had too much overkill in the transmission and rear ends. A friend of mine was an MM dealer, one of many who went out of business because of these companies' mistakes. In the end, Mr. Hoesli, why don't you just say that steam is out of place in the farm scene? I know that, as we all do, but I believe the steamer is being used for pleasure, not to replace the internal combustion engine.

'One more steam note: In the 1920s my father, Frank J. Stebritz, was threshing with a 40x62 Case thresher powered by a 1911 8 'xl2' 20 HP Russell steamer. This engine had 72 inch tubes, and the engine was biting off some real big chunks. Sometime during the day a thresherman my father knew stopped by and remarked as to how much load the Russell had. My father pointed out that the other man had a 40-80 Flour City tractor pulling a 36x58 Case thresher and always used the slow speed on his feeder carrier. My father always used the fast carrier speed. Another thing he pointed out: the Russell was rated at 60 HP. Power in a steamer or gas tractor is relative to what kind of shape they are presently in.'

A really short note comes from FRED ESS, Rt. 1, Clark, Missouri 65243: 'I was introduced to your wonderful magazine by Elmer, in person, in 1952 at what I think was the third show at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. I have really enjoyed it all the many years since then. However, as I was born October 19, 1912, Old Pappy Time has hinted that I can't be with you much longer.

'Keep up the good work. Thank, you very kindly.'

No, thank you very kindly, Mr. Ess. We cherish all our subscribers, of course, but we hold a special place in our heart for the many who've been so devoted for so long.

CURTIS LEIGHTY, 1531 James Street, Apartment 217, Prescott, Wisconsin 54021 writes, 'I'm writing for some help in getting us a manual for a steam water pump made by the Union Steam Pump Company, Quincy, Illinois. We called a phone number that was given us and were told that the pumps were not made anymore and the manual was not available. This pump was on our 30 Rumely H steam engine when we bought it, and we have decided to rebuild it.

'With your help we got a manual for our Gardner steam pump. We now need help in getting a manual for this Union steam pump. The Union steam pump is a duplex, serial #83509. We have had people looking in flea markets for a manual but couldn't seem to find any.

'The man in California who got us a manual for the Gardner steam pump told us to put an article in your magazine for the Union steam pump manual, like we did for the Gardner steam pump manual, and see if anyone knew where to get one.

'People have been very nice in helping us try to find our manuals for these pumps. We appreciate this very much.

'I worked on the Milwaukee Railroad when they had steam locomotives and steam has been my hobby ever since.'

MARTIN MOORE, 11556 Nelson Road, Moses Lake, Washington 98837 sends this photo of his enthusiastic family. He says, 'We are sending this photograph of our annual Old Fashion Threshing Bee. The picture was taken in front of our 1916 65 HP Case steam engine. For fun, we all wore our bib overalls.

'This is a threshing picture of five generations. Ages are from eighty-eight years to ten months. They include, from the right, great-great-grandad Marion C. Moore, great-grandad Martin Moore, great-great-granddaughter Kathern Louise, great-granddaughter Rebecca Moore, and grandson Kevin Moore.

'This was our latest threshing bee. We held it in September. We also have a forty horse Case steam engine which we have used also. Martin Moore collects old 1H tractors which we use to plant the wheat and bind it for the threshing bee.

'We hope you can use the picture in your magazine. I enjoy your magazine very much.'

LARRY CREED sent us this article and writes: 'I wanted to get the year started off right and decided to share some old photographs. 'These are all Missouri steam photographs lent to me by a good friend, Henry Goner, of Berger, Missouri. (I hope Gary Yaeger isn't disappointed, as none of these are Reeves engines.) The first photo is a posed threshing scene; the engine is a 14 or 16 HP old style Harrison 'Jumbo.' The engine has a team of horses hooked to it to help it and the threshing machine up the steep Missouri River bluffs and hills in the Berger area. The threshing machine has wood wheels, is hand fed, but has a straw blower. The crew has on an array of hats; they knew what it was like to work in the hot sweltering sun, day in and day out. Their hats were their only chance for a bit of shade in the hot dusty fields. Four women stopped by and are shown between the engine and threshing machine.

'The second photograph has the following inscription: Taken in 1905 or 1906. Louis Fiezelman and John Whithous rig threshing in Berger bottom. The engine is a Peerless. Two young Negro boys holding bundle forks are in the picture. In the foreground is a wheelbarrow lying on its side with a barrel and tapper on top of it. Some of the crew are holding full glasses of dark liquid, which has a white foamy head. The area around Berger (east of Herman, Missouri) was and still is heavily populated with people of German descent who consumed beer on a more frequent basis than most of us today. I would guess they are celebrating the end of a 'set' or perhaps the end of a threshing run.

'The third photo is of an M. Rumely engine pulling a wooden thresher that is hand fed and has a straw walker. The engine has a spring front axle and was built in 8, 10, 12 or 15 HP sizes as a simple engine. M. Rumely also built 13, 16 and 20 HP sizes as a tandem compound.

'The fourth photograph is of the same engine pulling a sawmill, which proves that M. Rumely built a good all-purpose engine back in those days. It is winter, as snow can be seen behind the engine. The wide brim straw hats have been exchanged for felt hats to keep one's head warm. The crew has set a clear wide board on edge on the mill carriage to show they are sawing some big logs. A platform topped with a mandrel and pulley is hooked to a hand well pump to relieve the crew of the tedious chore of pumping water for the engine.

'Pawnee Steam School will be held on March 31 and April 1, 2001 in Lathrop, Missouri. The school is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about steam and meet steam people from across the United States and Canada. The Pawnee Steam School staff strives to make the school a little better and more interesting each year. I will look forward to meeting some of you there.'

Our last writer for this issue asks a good question: ' 'Soot in the Flues' by Anna Mae. What a perky title for a primarily steam traction column, but who is Anna Mae? The name does not show up in the IMA masthead. Warm regards from a subscriber, ARNLJOT GRANHEIM, 4917 Ravenswood Drive, Apt. 1744, San Antonio, Texas 78227.'

Anna Mae Branyan was the editor of the 'Soot In The Flues' column for many years. When she died in August of 1994, we decided to keep her name on the column that she had created and compiled for several decades. Anna Mae was a beloved staff member, a devoted mother of six, and a deeply religious person. The lives of her co-workers and the many devoted readers of this magazine were all enriched by her magnificent spirit.

We recently received a phone call from a subscriber and contributor who was upset with us for using photographs that haven't been fully identified by those who have submitted them. If we have offended engine owners by using pictures of their engines which aren't properly identified, we certainly apologize. Perhaps those of you who so generously send us photos can keep in mind that other readers are interested in the details of the subject who is the owner, what is the serial number, etc. While a picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, a few well chosen words can definitely add to its value!

Thank you all again, for your contributions to this column, and keep them coming. And here's hoping you all have a Happy New Year!