Un-restored engines hold a special fascination for me

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JON S. GOULD, 525 W. Van Buren Avenue, Naperville, Illinois 60540 sent this letter: 'Enclosed find eight pictures of derelict or un-restored traction engines that I have photographed over the years. Un-restored engines hold a special fascination for me as I have been involved in several restoration projects, and am always interested in the possibility of bringing another engine back to life. Several of the engines pictured have been restored to running condition and today are beautiful showpieces, some have been used to supply parts for other restoration projects, and still others are still waiting for someone to bring them back to life. Anyone interested in owning and restoring a steam engine should not be discouraged, as there are still many engines out there looking for a good home.'

THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 E. Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511 writes: 'Mr. Roland Brod-beck wrote an interesting response to someone else's letter about boilers.

'Mr. Brodbeck speaks about rivets and shear areas in the butt joint and lap joint seams. Actually all of this is theoretical passed as fact.'

'After A.S.M.E. came out with the butt joint we were treated with exaggerated drawings showing cracks under the lap seam; however, they never showed any such condition in actual practice.'

'All the spooks in the attic A.S.M.E. found about the lap seam were just that. Also that a lap seam barrel was an imperfect circle we all know. However, as for the difference between working pressure and mathematical bursting pressure, common sense shows that the lap seam was a very safe boiler, in any size.'

'If a butt joint was superior, how come the Phoenix Track Log Hauler of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, built their boilers out of half inch plate, double riveted lap seam? Their steam pressure was 200 to 225 lbs. per square inch.'

'The last Avery steamers built in 1918, 40, 50, and 65 HP, top-mounted were well stayed end to end. The plate was mostly 5/16 inch, the seam was a triple riveted lap, the pressure was 175 lbs. P.S.I.'

'Let's compare the boilers on the 75 HP Case and the 80 HP. Both had 11/32inch plates. The 75 had a triple riveted lap seam using inch rivets. The seam on the 80 had about 2 rows of rivets on each side of the center line. Designed like it was, you had twice as many holes in the seam, and as they say, every hole in the boiler weakens it. The rivets uniting two plates are stronger than uniting three plates.'

'I can't understand how the butt joint could be stronger than the lap as I have pointed out in this case.'

'To say that the butt joint is twice as strong as the lap seam is really going overboard.'

'The lap seam was considered as 70% of the barrel proper. Does this mean that the butt joint being twice as strong as the lap would be 140% or 40% stronger than the barrel? Ridiculous! Or if the butt joint is 70% of the barrel proper, and the lap is half of that at 35%, are we to believe that the boiler company would build dangerous boilers like that for use? Ridiculous!'

'If Mr. Brodbeck is comparing a inch butt joint to an older to 9/32 inch lap seam, he might have a point.'

'If Mr. Brodbeck is thinking in terms of the larger cumbersome steamers with inch boiler plate, he is thinking in the minority.'

'A lot of traction and stationary boilers never had any more than 5/16 inch barrel plate up to the last, and quite a number of these boilers had no end doubling plates and just used angle braces on boilers carrying 175 lbs. steam in some cases.'

'To judge a boiler, look at how well stayed it is, especially end to end.'

'Some persons look at a big engine with a inch plate skin, and don't realize that about 98% of all traction and stationary boilers have mostly 5/16 inch plate in the firebox, with the flue sheet generally being inch plate. Oh you don't believe it? Most locomotives that had boiler pressures up to 250 lbs. had ? inch firebox side plates, the crown was a little heavier, with maybe a inch tube sheet. Heat transfer is the word; without it, one side burns, foamy steam on the other.'

'Years ago a large university blew up a number of large boilers. The article is in one of the old American Thresher man magazines. Don't know if they proved anything. Some railroads tested for effect some Junker locomotives, ran the water low and put water into some hot boilers. Nothing happened after several times, so they gave up.

'Operating any boiler that's unsafe and with excessive pressure has nothing to do with the barrel seam.'

'Percentage wise, very few boilers blew up, and fewer from seam failure. In a study of a number of boilers that let go, as documented in the American Thresher man, these and others that I knew about from correspondence, a marginal cold water test would have busted the most of them.

'I imagine for practical purposes A.S.M.E. tested the lap and the butt seam in a straight pull, of course, that's not quite what happens for pull and stress on the barrel, especially if it lets go. Blowing up and bursting a paper bag indicates how a barrel would let go.'

'Putting in flues, I have seen boilers in different state of disrepair. Actually most boilers just got thin, started leaking and were junked.'

'Canada was butt-strap crazy, however, at least two companies built lap seams up to the last, the flat plates and end to end the boilers were well stayed. Of the U.S. companies, Case was one of the earliest to build according to Canadian rules, which to start did not require the butt-strap. A lot of U.S. companies with the butt-strap boiler weren't welcome across the border.'

'Well, I guess I made my point!'

We received this correction from MARK S. EIBEL, 11260 Acadia Drive N.E., Magnolia, Ohio 44643: 'In my article in the January/February 1995 IMA, page 20, The Engineers of the Steamship TITANIC,' I discovered a few errors in paragraph 3. I apologize for sending incorrect information. The following paragraph is the corrected version:'

'Far below her fine living area was the 'living' part of TITANIC. She had 29 boilers, 24 double-end and 5 single-end, and 159 furnaces, hand fired by some 300 stokers. The 24 double-ended boilers were to provide steam for the main engines.'

BLAKE MALKAMAKI, 10839 Girdled Road, Concord, Ohio 44077: 'Awhile back I had written that I was compiling a list of steam traction and portable engines in North America, and that if anyone would like a copy of the listing for two or three manufacturers, just send me a SASE. Today the list contains over 2600 engines. Again, I invite anyone who would like a copy to write. The list is always being updated and any new information or corrections are welcome.

'On another subject: there has been some steam engine talk on the Internet recently, primarily on America On Line. If you have a computer and modem, you can send me e-mail, addressed to Steam King@AOL.COM.'

We heard this from NICK WERTH, Box 955, Bowman, North Dakota 58623: 'I wish I knew what to say as good as Grandpa would, but if anyone knew Ole R. Aslakson from New Rockford, North Dakota, please write to me, telling a little about yourself, because I have some questions about one of his works that no one I have talked to knows about. Anyone interested in the last article I wrote (about the miniature George White) I would encourage you to come to see it in New Rockford, North Dakota, at the Central North Dakota Steam Threshers Reunion, September 15-17, 1996. I plan to get all the last details done by the end of this summer.

'I would like to thank Mr. Elwood D. Dewhurst for writing to me about my last article. Please write soon!'

GARNET R. FLACK, RD 1, Box 169, Edinburg, North Dakota 58227-9528 writes: 'I was very interested in the great threshing picture at the bottom of pages 16-17 in the March/April Album, submitted by Tim Sollman of Clayton, Wisconsin.

'The caption says 'location unknown.' I would say it is somewhere in the northern plains or even in Canada, considering the vast expanse of shocks in the background. It is so level it could even be in the Red River Valley, possibly on a Bonanza Farm.

'The engine is undoubtedly a Huber, being fired with straw. The separator is anybody's guess, but my guess would be a Gaar-Scott. The hood on the blower looks like a Gaar-Scott and the grain elevator, or weigher, is on the left hand side.

'The Gaar-Scott, Minneapolis, Case, and I believe, the Buffalo-Pitts all had the weighers on the left side.'

A. P. ROBSON, 2 Bleasdale Avenue, Hill Top, Knottingley, West Yorks, WF11 8EZ, England, U.K. says: 'Engines of North American origin are very rare here in England. In the last few days I was thinking of writing to your magazine to ask for some help identifying the manufacture date of a Rumely tandem compound engine that I have discovered within the last few weeks. Cast into the smoke box rim is the manufacture name, 'Rumely Battle Creek Michigan USA., Patent 18 March 1887,' with a figure standing on a small mound raising a banner above his head. This is cast into the smoke box door itself. This traction engine is in store at a Historical Heritage Centre in Elsecar at Barnsley in South Yorkshire. I had been asked by Brian Goodling, editor of Old Glory magazine, to visit this location, as I lived only about 20 miles away, then make a report on its potential for future articles on what was happening there in the preservation field.

'The story that the site coordinator told me is thus: The Rumely was one of four such engines imported into England at the turn of the century, for the Lords Fitzwilliam of Wentworth to work upon the family estates around Barnsley. But the engine was not suitable for the tasks that it had been purchased for, and was put aside. Now, with the greatest respect to this site coordinator, I think that this is not really the case. He has, I think, been told a little bit of a tale that might not have much fact in it. The engine shows signs of very hard wear, with many repairs to both boiler and motion work at different times. In addition, most traction engines here in England were registered as Heavy Locomotives, and taxed when this legislation was introduced for such engine use on public highways, thereby being allocated a registration number plate. You can see the number plates on the photos that were used on the back cover of IMA May/June 1995.

This J.I. Case 65 HP is owned by Dr. Windham Bremer, John P. Edris and John Harveck. The photo was taken in fall 1994 at the Hesston Steam Museum, in Hesston, Indiana and is courtesy of Mark Corson, 9374 Roosevelt St., Crown Point, IN 46307.

This Rumely clearly has never been registered for road use here in England, or it would have shown up in the Road Locomotive Society's register, or in the files of the National Traction Engine Club of Great Britain before now. So where do I look to find the works or the manufacture serial number on this engine? Then who can I contact for some facts about it, such as its nominal HP and date of manufacture? The engine itself looks in fair order. It has been well preserved with plenty of oil and grease smeared over all the moving parts. I rather suspect it may have been imported into England a lot more recently. I look forward to any reply you might care to make to this letter.'

ROLAND BRODBECK, 6540 Clark Road, Ottawa Lake, Michigan 49267 writes: 'I'd like to clarify my article in the Soot in the Flues, March/April issue. The topic of butt joints being twice as strong as lap joints was being expressed in rivet shear area only, not joint efficiency. I obviously did not make that clear.

Another Mark Corson photo shows an 8-ton 0-4-0 Henschell Locomotive, photographed at Hesston last year. It is one of four engines purchased from Dr. Mohn in California.

'The main limiting factor of an A.S.M.E. riveted joint is the strength of the boiler plate between the rivet holes (P-D) t*TS). This does not include frictional forces and tensile stresses which are very real, but are difficult to know their true value.

'Most state boiler inspectors aren't too concerned as long as your boiler is A.S.M.E. stamped and holds the hydrostatic test. If not stamped, some inspectors think they were built like Dean Allings' 32.7% efficient butt strap, which proves, paper will hold still for any theoretical formula. So just keep water in your boilers and keep 'em out of the trees and we'll see ya at the threshing bees!'

We'd like to ask your help for QUENTIN SHULTZ, Box 83, Griswold, Iowa 51535 who writes: 'Several years ago a box of back issues of steam magazines were left on my porch step. Among these were several copies of Western Engines. In the April 1965 issue was a story of an old German who bought a Case steam threshing outfit, sent in by Rodney Pitts. It was continued in the next issue, which I am missing. I've tried several times to contact Rodney Pitts, but to no avail. My request now goes out to anyone who has Part Two of this story. I would be greatly pleased if anyone out there could furnish the rest of the story. Thank you.'

(Our copies of this magazine don't go back that far, so we were unable to help Quentin. Can you assist?)

Our reader CARL M. LATHROP sent this: 'Recently, I received a mailing from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers announcing that the B. F. Clyde's Cider Mill of Old Mystic, Connecticut, had been named a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The business had been established in 1898 and continues to be steam engine powered under the guidance of the founder's grandson, John K. 'Jack' Bucklyn.

'I've felt a kinship with this historic mill in that the steam engine was featured in my article, The Steam Engine Lives On,' appearing in IMA for November/December 1981. An article describing the mill in detail and written by a member of the owner's family had appeared in the November/December 1979 issue.

The engine is a 15 HP Ames Iron Works, 8' by 8' engine run at 220 r.p.m. It was built in Oswego, New York. The enclosed photograph has Jack getting the engine ready for a day's work powering the mill's line shaft.

'To we who love old steam power it is the steam engine that is center stage. It turns out that the A.S.M.E. were most interested in the cider press. It is a size No. 2, four post unit by Boomer and Boschert Press Company of Syracuse, New York, built in 1897. This company also supplied the auxiliary machines such as apple grater, apple elevator and cider pump along with a set of building plans. Originally the mill was powered by a 10 HP Olney and Warren center crank steam engine. This was replaced with a gasoline engine until Jack Bucklyn took over and returned the plant to steam power.

'I have cousins by the dozens in the area or that came from there and we had an October family reunion on the village 'common' at Old Norwalk a couple of years ago. A visit to the area would not be complete without a visit to Old Mystic. What a warm feeling it was to be greeted at the mill's door by Jack who was very busy managing the operation with literally hundreds of 'customers' milling about watching the operation as that old Ames chuffed away quietly doing its job.'

Well, it's time to draw 'Soot in the Flues' to a close for this month. We want all our contributors to know how pleased we are that you are continuing to write to us, and to encourage any of you who are the least bit hesitant to write in, to please do so! Send your letters to 'Soot in the Flues,' Iron Men Album, P.O. Box 328, Lancaster, PA 17608-0328.

In addition to Carl Lathrop's letter about the Clyde Cider Mill, we have heard from Jack Bucklyn and plan to do an article about the mill in the future.

Also, we want to mention that the Edward Huber Memorial Association in Marion County, Ohio, is in the process of building a new 10,500 square foot Machinery Museum. They hoped to have at least the shell of the museum up for their annual show, June 15-18.