Soot in the Flues

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Once again, we've got a good number of letters, and we're getting stories from a lot of people who seem to be new to the hobby, as well. Please don't be discouraged if you don't think of yourself as a Shakespeare our readers are really more interested in what you have to say than whether you have won prizes for writing! So send in your stories and feel confident that what interests one steam traction engine fancier will surely interest some others!

And now that you'll be on the road again going to shows, don't forget to take some pictures of the interesting engines and people you meet along the way, and send them in for publication! And now to the letters . . .

This couple of photos may be of interest to your magazine readers,' says GORDON McLEAN, Box 1404, Beaverlodge, Alberta, Canada TOH OCO.

'Photo #1 was taken in 1941 in a sawmill site in northern Alberta, Canada. The location was approximately 15-20 miles northeast of the little community of Valhalla and was in the middle of a tract of timber which lasted about 12-15 years. The engine is, of course, a 110 HP Case but I don't know its year. The engineer was Ted McLean, and Allan Lowe was the fireman shown standing on the platform. Allan says the engine was in bad shape by this time and was carrying only 120 p.s.i. It only ran the head saw.

'When this picture was taken, they were sawing logs from a burn area which resulted in very dirty work. The lumber was hauled out of the mill site by team and sleigh, up to distances of 30 miles. Wherever possible, they would saw bridge timbers three inches thick by whatever other dimension they could get. The engine and sawmill was owned by Art Haugston (not sure of spelling on his last name).

'As near as we can establish, the engine was eventually cut up for scrap.

'Photo #2 was also taken in 1941 and shows a 65 HP Case at the same Haugston mill. The engine belonged to the Erickson brothers and was used in the sawmill to operate the green chain, edger and other mill accessories. Allan Lowe operated this engine a lot and is seen on the engine in this photo. Allan used the engine mostly on the Ericksons' farm where he spent a lot of time pulling out stumps prior to breaking the land. It was carrying 170p.s.i. and did a good job of pulling out the stumps.

'The trip from the farm to the sawmill site was about 20 miles, and the engine was driven in under its own power, as in those days there was nothing around that could haul it. Eventually the engine was sold and moved to another mill site about 40 miles further west on the banks of the Cutbank River. There, a fire ruined the engine about 1950-51 and then it was cut up and parts removed.

'Also, I would appreciate any information I can obtain about the specifications of the Advance-Rumely traction engines. Does anyone have a list of serial numbers relating to the year of manufacture, or specifications to determine the size of the engine? Are there any books dedicated to the Rumely and Advance- Rumely engines? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!'

JIM O'CONNELL, 2151 95th Street S.E., Delano, Minnesota 55328 writes: 'I work for the Carver County Highway Department. This photo was found in a box of old pictures, when doing some cleaning at the Court House. Herman (the thresherman) died in the early 1970s. He loved engines all his life.

'I liked James Russell's suggestion in the last issue about reprinting some of the old articles. I really enjoyed the article 'Steam Plowing 45 Years Ago. 'Keep up the good work!.

'Some of your readers may enjoy seeing this photograph. These men are loading oil for a road paving project in Carver County, Minnesota. The year was 1941 and the photograph was taken in the town of Mayer, Minnesota. The truck is a '36 Dodge. The man standing on the running board is Oscar Koehnen, man standing above him is John Meuwissen, and the other two fellows are Herman Berwald and his 10-year old son, Marvin. They're using a stripped down traction engine boiler to generate steam to heat the oil in the railroad tankers.

'I recently spoke to Marvin and he said they had to fire hard all night to have oil hot in the morning! Herman was a thresherman and owned many engines throughout his career. Among them were a Westinghouse upright, a bevel-geared wood wheeled Aultman-Taylor, and a 25 HP Advance. (Any guesses as to the make of the engine in the photo?)

'Thanks for a great magazine!'

VERNON PARKER, Box 426, Blackduck, Minnesota 56630-0426 sends two pictures with this letter, saying, 'I'm sending two pictures of this piece I had lying out in my woods by the creek for thirty-plus years, and I'm sure it was there lots longer than that.

'I milked cows all those years and never had time, or maybe never took time, to get it out.

'We've had a beautiful winter, so I cleared the road in to it and pulled it out. It was half full of dirt, so I washed it out with a hot water hose.

'The main body is 3/i6 steel, has a riveted seam and 14' diameter and a two foot extension which also has a riveted seam and flares to a 16' diameter.

'The open end has a 3' flange with 225/8' holes and is riveted to the main body. The closed end has what I would call a caved-in end cap with the flange out with 22 rivets. The collar on the side is 12' overall, with fine threads for a 7' OD pipe with 17 rivets.

'I believe I found some light green paint on it. There is a hinge and latch welded on the open end and I'm sure that isn't original, and when I find out for sure, I'll take them off.

'I'm wondering if any of you folks at Iron Men or any of the readers out in Iron World could help me figure this out.

'We spent three weeks in Ontario, Canada, last summer for the Massey Harris 150th year celebration. They have two Sawyer-Massey steamers restored. What beautiful pieces of machinery! I would like to take my hat off to the men who spend so much time and money restoring these old historical beauties.

'I missed the steam era. As long as I can remember, we had our threshing done in southern Minnesota with gas power. My dad hauled water for a steamer when he was young.

'I enjoy Iron Men very much. Keep up the good work.'

We always welcome articles from LARRY G. CREED, R.R. 13, Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834. He writes, 'In the March-April issue of IMA was an article titled 'Something Different.' The article started: 'I sense among our readers that they would like some stories other than about threshers, steam engines and gas engines.'

'I would like to set the writer of this statement straight. The reason we subscribe to IMA is to read stories about steam engines, threshing machines, sawmills, etc. There are many other publications for articles about hit and miss engines, tractors and other antique equipment. Publications such as Gas Engine Magazine, Antique Power, and Engineers and Engines do a wonderful job of presenting this material.

'Iron Men Album is the last magazine to be devoted to the steam hobby. It is true that most of us have other interests besides steam, but this is not the place to have 'other' articles published. I own a Ford Mustang which is technically an antique, but Satan will need long underwear before I would submit any article that is not 100% steam to IMA.

'Anytime I read an article in Iron Men Album that is not directly steam related I feel the subscriber is cheated. I hope the staff of IMA will take this suggestion to heart and direct any non-steam submission to an appropriate non-steam publication. The staff of IMA may protest that they don't receive enough material for it to be 100% steam related, but I don't believe that is quite the case because many of us contributors wait several months for an article to be printed.

'On a more positive note, I have sent three steam photographs to share. Picture #1 was taken in Thomas County, Kansas, in 1919 on Foster Farms with the notation 'cutting 250 acres per day.' The two steam engines look to be Reeves 32 HP, and each is pulling six binders. I wonder how much wheat was cut with steam providing the pulling power? Picture #2 is titled 'Plowing for Wheat, July, 1909, at Colby, Kansas, on the Fike and Haynes 10,000 acre Wheat Farm.' The steam engine would appear to be a 32 HP Reeves. The engine is pulling five disc plows with each plow having six discs each. (My friend Lyle Hoff-master will enjoy seeing these pictures of his favorite steam engine in action Reeves.) Picture #3 is another Kansas scene with a Gaar-Scott compound steam engine (probably a 30 HP). The smaller cylinder was high pressure and the large cylinder was low pressure. If the engineer needed more power in a hard pull he could open a valve and put the steam directly into the low pressure cylinder. I am sure the engineer did not use this 'cheater' any more than necessary, as it would use a much larger volume of steam. Gaar-Scott normally furnished two water tanks on this size engine, one mounted on top of the boiler behind the stack and another mounted on the rear platform. Apparently water was a problem in this area as a head tank was also put on this engine making a total of three water tanks.'

WILLIAM C. MEUSER SR., Masonic Towers, 402 S. Martindon #217, Wichita, Kansas 67213 writes, 'Gerald Darr's contribution (IMA May/June '98) was interesting to me, as he described unusual handling of wheat bundles by one of his Ohio neighbors. Our methods in Kansas were different.

'In the mid-1920s my family planted great acreages of winter wheat and some spring oats. Oats, it was said, should be bound into bundles the day before the plants ripened. Nearly ripe oats had some moisture and did not shatter the grain badly in shocking and stacking.

Wheat was bound, shocked, later picked up and stacked in a manner which shed rain water until they could be threshed. Binding, shocking and stacking, usually done in June, was necessary because it was not always possible to schedule a thresherman with separator during harvest.

'When harvest rush was over, the planting of next year's winter wheat was over and done, then a thresherman with a separator could be scheduled to thresh the stacked wheat and oats.

'Oats, raised for animal feed, were protected by sometimes blowing the straw into a cattle feeding barn and the oat grain into bins. Most animals preferred oat straw to hay.

'Wheat in stacks located closely enough together was fed directly into the separator and blown into one enormous stack. A good thresherman could direct the straw so it fashioned a waterproof stack so there was little or no rotting of the straw. Depending on the market for wheat, it might be binned on the farm or in an elevator to be sold on a favorable market. Threshing usually happened between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then the bill was 'settled up' by the farmer.

'My earliest recollection of wheat binding: being cut with a five foot swath horse drawn binder (Deering) which had one of the mechanical twine tying knotters which eliminated hand tying the bundles.

'Sometime later, as WWI production allowed, John Deere produced the new eight or ten foot swath binder. It was a great improvement over the Deering my grandfather had purchased prior to WWI.'

This request comes from GALE WOLLENBERG, 1912 S.W. Lincoln, Topeka, Kansas 66604. 'I am looking for detailed photos or mechanical drawings of the 30 HP double cylinder New Huber, so that I can finish building my working scale model of that engine.

'So far, I have only been able to refer to pictures of the double cylinder and dimension tables as found in a mouse-eaten old Huber catalogue. Using photogramatic methods, I have been able to construct the main parts of the boiler, smokebox, chimney, axle brackets, and some of the working mechanism, but am lacking info on the valve linkage and other like parts that the photos in the catalogue left a lot to be desired. So, can anyone help me?'

This sounds like one that someone should be able to help with. We hope Mr. Wollenberg hears from a bunch of you

ANDY ROBSON, 2 Bleasdale Avenue, Hill Top, Knottingley, West Yorkshire, England WF11 8EZ, sent the following in response to comment received on an article he wrote. 'I rarely respond to letters of the sort that Mr. Thomas Stebritz sent to the magazine, but friends urge me to.

'Let me start by posing this question: Why did Mr. Stebritz not respond to my original request for information that I made through the pages of IMA some good while ago, if he had all this information to hand about the Advance Rumely company and the traction engine that I found in Elsecar at Barnsley South Yorkshire here in England? Only now does this gentleman go to such lengths to make so many disparaging remarks about certain people in the USA, and cast doubts about the information that several other readers of the IMA were so kind in providing me with. I was careful to weigh up and backtrack every bit of information I was given as far as I could, as some was clearly faulty from the outset, so I balanced up the probability of the accuracy of some of this information with the evidence of my own eyes and ears when I was at Elsecar the remark made by an employee at Elsecar of the history of the engine being a case in point.

'Then there is the stamping of the blow off pressure on the safety valve (see page 1, Nov/Dec 1997 IMA). I went and viewed the scale drawings of the first replacement firebox made in the UK by an engineering boiler works in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and looked at a sample of the steel boiler plate that was used in the construction from the information provided from a source in the USA to then-owner Mr. Harrison of Rufforth near York.

'Later, a Mr. Woodbine, a reputable boilermaker here in Britain, appealed for information through the pages of IMA for the correct gauge plate data, and drawings to construct another firebox for this transatlantic traction engine. From the information he received, he made the current firebox that is in this engine at Elsecar, which is apparently only insured by UK law to the pressure I mentioned in the text of the article. (Because of the boiler construction, which by UK pressure vessel standards is deemed unsuitable for higher pressure.)

'After passing examinations, I was qualified as a locomotive steam engineman in April 1963 by the then British Railway Inspectorate, part of the Ministry of Transport. I have been all my working life associated with steam power in one form or another. In 1968 I also passed a Department of the Environment driving test to obtain a license to drive a heavy road locomotive on the public highway in the UK as soon as I was eligible. So my services were often in demand by engine owners who did not have such a driving license, to move their traction engines and steam lorries by road from where the vehicle was kept to weekend rally sites and back again.

'For many years I worked with a well-known steam lorry enthusiast, Mr. Edgar Shone of The Crown Hotel, Cricklewood, London NW2, in the care of his fleet of eight Sentinel steam wagons. 'Wire drawing' of steam pressure is a term that will be familiar to steam enthusiasts this is the effect that put the lower pressure reading on the gauge in the cab of the 1929 Super Sentinel that I mentioned in the article. I fired and drove one of the Sentinel Waggons from the Crown Hotel on the London To Brighton Run for historic commercial vehicles through the 1960s and early 1970s many times. I still have the gold medal plaques that were presented to me by the HCVS at that time for completing this 60-mile road run; and that's only the half of it! The return from the Sussex coast seaside resort of Brighton to London and the home base in NW2 was made the same day into the late evening by the steam waggon traveling under its own power. Because of traffic congestion in crossing the heart of London south to north, we often arrived back at The Crown Hotel in Cricklewood after 10:00 p.m. Night driving a road steamer in the dark can be a lively and interesting enlightening experience.

'From previous letters I have written to IMA, it will be obvious that I write on a regular basis (and have done so for a number of years) for British publications, all of which are subject to rigorous proofreading and keenly scanned for accuracy before publication my reputation and those of the magazines that print my work depend on it. Editors would soon drop me if my writings were found to be lacking in accuracy. And I have gotten to rather like the monthly cheques that come from publication of my works in the UK!'

Another letter in response to Mr. Stebritz's and others' comments comes to us from JOHN SCHROCK, 7411 Perrin Road, Osseo, Michigan 49266. 'Today I take pen in hand not because I wish to, but more because I think I should. This letter is in reference to articles in the March-April 1998 issue of IMA.

'I read where Mr. Christofferson and Mr. Creed are upset because of the fact that somebody (and it could have been me at some time) sent the same article to two different magazines. As for myself, I find nothing wrong with this. There are people in our hobby who do not receive all the magazines associated with it. I always like to look on the positive side. At least they took the time and effort to contribute something, which many do not. There are people out there that have great stories or may know someone who does. It sure would be nice if we were allowed the opportunity to enjoy them.

'In regards to Mr. Stebritz's letter, I wish to comment on some of his ramblings. I am in total agreement with his statement about the Advance-Compound engine not being experimental, but it certainly should have been. As to his remark about experts, I don't know if there are ever any experts on anything, though there are those that are far better informed and had more experience. So, maybe we should assume that they are experts. With that in mind, we get the statement from Marcus Leonard. I have read many of the articles that Mr. Leonard wrote and have enjoyed them. I have also taken their contents with a grain of salt. First and foremost, he was employed and paid by the Advance Company. So, I must tell you, I wouldn't have much time for him or his articles if he had spoken badly of the Advance Company or their products.

'I am sure that anybody who had an Advance Compound probably had at least 175 pounds or more of steam pressure on those engines if they got any power from them. However, in the catalog the company said they were built to run on 160 pounds.

'Mr. Stebritz makes the statement about the packing being gone between the high and low pressure cylinders. This would be quite obvious because there are two cylinders spaced apart with two packing glands between them.

'In regards to dates and numbers, I don't see how Mr. Stebritz can date a catalog that has no date on it by something he read from another publication. How can he honestly say that it is the first one? Maybe he has powers that I don't understand. Then he comes up with more numbers that don't fit where he thinks they should. If he were to check on some of those numbers that do not appear in the Advance-Rumely list, he would find they are Advance numbers. This makes sense because I am sure there were those who insisted on and got Advance engines after 1915 or 1916 whenever Rumely started building Universal engines as the Advance-Rumely was called. I have seen engine number 14438. It is somewhat different than the later Universal engines. Harry Woodmansee told me many times that his father bought one of those engines from blueprints, although he said it was not engine number 14438, because the engine his father had bought was junked sometime after his father traded it off for another engine. I realize that the Advance-Rumely list is not entirely correct, but that does not mean it is totally wrong. Besides, it is the best we've got. It is too bad that the elder Mr. Stebritz did not put a date on that catalog when he received it. That way his son would not go on the assumption of when it came out. He says his father knew, but we cannot ask him, so none of us know.

'I agree with his article that there were no mergers between Rumely and the companies that they acquired. It was always a total buy-out with the sellers smiling all the way to the bank. However, I certainly don't go along with the statement that Advance was the dominating company. But even Rumely was not so naive as to think that Advance did not carry a lot of weight in the market. In all honesty, the Universal had some Advance features, but nowhere near 99 percent.

'Mr. Stebritz goes on in his letter about Harry Woodmansee from Michigan. Now I am not going to defend Mr. Woodmansee, because he required no defending when he was alive and I am sure that he needs none now that he is gone. However, I am going to defend my memory of him. Mr. Stebritz writes about Harry being of a young age when the Advance compounds were being built, and doubts that he ever saw one back then. Since Harry's father owned and used engines, including Advance engines (they only lived around 15 miles from Battle Creek where the engines were built), I think he probably saw more of the compound engines at that so-called tender age than Mr. Stebritz has seen in his whole lifetime. Also, back then many young lads of that age were doing a man's work or nearly so. Of course, maybe Mr. Stebritz was a special lad or an only child and not subjected to the harsh realities of life.

'I don't know if Mr. Stebritz ever ran an Advance Compound or was ever around one. However, I do know that Mr. Woodmansee owned Advance Compounds. He not only owned them, but tried to use them to make a living. He quit using them as compound engines and switched them to simples because they didn't have enough power in the compound mode. As far as someone telling Mr. Stebritz the reason Harry didn't like compounds was because they had no bark is entirely supposition. He seemed to like Port Huron Compounds and they don't have much bark either. If the 35 HP compound barked like a simple engine, it must have been converted. Simple logic tells me that it is not possible when in the compound mode to sound that way. If Mr. Stebritz could show me an Advance Compound that has any power when working as a compound I would certainly like to see it. I think the problem with Mr. Stebritz is that he has read too many books and letters and drawn too many wrong conclusions from them.

'As a final thought, I have talked to many older people who ran engines, especially those that fired on straw. They have said that Advance had one of the best straw burners available. They also said they were one of the most handy of the traction engines to fire.

'In closing, I sincerely hope that this letter is taken in the context that it is written, because I have enjoyed many of Mr. Stebritz's articles and I would not like for him to get upset and stop writing.'

We echo the sentiments about upsetting other writers. IMA has long provided a forum for strong opinion which is rarely edited, particularly for substance. Letters printed here should never be interpreted to reflect a bias of the magazine; rather they are entirely the work of their authors, be they accurate, thoughtful, polite, or otherwise! For harmony's sake, let's try to be kind, shall we, even to those with whom we disagree.

Steamcerely, Linda & Gail