Soot in the flues

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Here in eastern Pennsylvania, it has been a lovely spring, and we are in the season of auctions and swap meets. At this time of year, our readers move outside with their engines, and often we notice a drop off in the number of letters we receive for this column. So, we offer a few words of encouragement here, to send us your letters and pictures, especially as you are out and about at the many events that you find in our annual directory!

And now we move right on to our letters:

A frequent and welcome contributor, DR. ROBERT T. RHODE, 4745 Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238-4537 writes, 'I enjoyed reading Edwin Bredemeier's letter in the March/April issue of the Album. I'd like to add a few details to what he ably presented. According to books published for those who ran farm steam engines, there is an ideal placement of the threshing machine. For the sake of an example, say that the grain is delivered on the thresher's right side and say that the feeder end of the thresher is pointed west with the wind stacker toward the east. It would be good, then, for the wind to move from southwest to northeast. In fact, it would be even better if the wind moved from west southwest to east northeast. When the threshing machine and the wind are in such an arrangement, three goals are accomplished: (1) the wind does not carry sparks from the smokestack to the straw stack but delivers sparks off to one side of the straw stack; (2) dust and chaff from the vicinity of the thresher's cylinder do not drift into the grain; and, (3) if strong enough, the wind improves the draft through the fire in the firebox.

'Thresher men also must consider the wind's effect on the belt. When wind gusts are powerful, it's best to cross the belt in such a way that the wind strikes the slack portion of the belt first, pushing that section against the taut portion of the belt where the two sections cross. In this way, the slack section will not blow sideways and cause the belt to begin to come off the flywheel or the pulley. It's true that the crossing of the belt also permits a bit more of it to come into contact with the flywheel and the pulley, thus helping to keep the belt in place.

'An agricultural engine is said to run 'over' when the top of the flywheel runs away from the engine's cylinder. On most engines where the crankshaft is in front of an imaginary vertical line drawn through the rear axle, the engine runs 'over' while the traction wheels are moving the steamer forward. On most engines where the crankshaft is behind an imaginary vertical line drawn through the rear axle, the engine runs 'over' while the traction wheels are moving the steamer in reverse. Engines are said to run 'under' when the top of the flywheel runs toward the engine's cylinder. Most farm engines run 'under' when belted with a crossed belt to a threshing machine. Running 'under' is said to be easier on the crosshead and guides because the thrust on the crosshead is downward and the guides are well supported underneath.

'Thanks again to Ed!'

QUENTIN W. SHULTZ, Box 83, Griswold, Iowa 51535 writes: 'The start of the steam engine hobby is upon us for the summer of '99. I so admired the Dan Bradley under-mounted Avery picture on the November-December 1998 issue of the Album that I wrote him a letter of Congrats! Upon receipt of it, he called me and we talked for almost an hour. I told him that I had an uncle, Charley Hull, at Glen Ewen, Saskatchewan, who had a big Avery like that at one time, and how impressed a 10-year-old boy was at its size, back in 1928. But alas, it was junked during World War II. I have often wondered if anyone out there would remember my uncle and his huge engine, as he hired the whole crew and threshed for many years around Glen Ewen. Anyway, I have always had a special love for these old Averys, but have to be satisfied with my 50 HP Case.'

DEAN ALLING, P. O. Box 10264, Burbank, California 91510 says, 'I have not had anything to contribute to IMA for a while and I like to do so every now and then as a way to give something back to the hobby and people within it. What with all the pictures that have been published lately, I thought this would be a good time to send in some of my own.

Picture #1 is one-half of a stereo picture taken in 1902. It reads, '33-horse team combined harvester Walla Walla, Washington.' It goes on to say that the Blue Mountains are at our right, Spokane is 125 miles away in the direction in which we are looking. The Washington-Oregon state line is less than 20 miles away to the south. In 1901, the wheat crop of the U.S. was 26% of the total for the world and a bushel ranged from 61 cents to 95 cents. The rig shown would cut from 60 to 125 acres a day and thresh from 1,700 to 3,000 bushels a day.

'Picture #2 was taken in eastern Montana. The young Evelyn Roberts Williams is by the wheel in the dark hat and coat. She talked about hearing the whistle when the engine was still several miles away. They would all get in the wagon and go out to meet it. The tractor pulled the thresher, and the horses pulled the water and wood wagons. This picture was given to me by her son Larry who was raised near Chinook, Montana. Larry is an engineer on the steam locomotives at the Campo Railroad Museum near San Diego.

'Picture #3 says, Frick (Eclipse) traction engine belonging to K. B. Light, 17 miles south of Kingsport, Tennessee. In running condition. It was taken in April, 1954. I think the photographer was Sam L. Breeden.

'Picture #4, I do not know much about, but I thought it was interesting because the water wagon was set up with a hit and miss engine and pump. This would certainly make the water-boy's job a lot easier. I believe this was taken in eastern Montana as well.

'Picture #5, taken in 1892, is of an early Russell somewhere in Utah.

We are happy to hear from EDWIN H. BREDEMEIER, Rt. 1, Box 12, Steinauer, Nebraska 68441 again. He says, 'Just finished the May/June issue of IMA. This is one of the best issues of IMA. I've subscribed over 25 years. Too bad that it is not possible to get that much material for each issue. Thanks.

'Too bad there are not more pictures available, even though the people are not identified. I need to dig through my file. Readers, send in those old pictures and even though nothing is identified, remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Keep up the good work. I am past 90.'

TIM MERTINS, 2901 Spring Creek Lane, Jefferson City, Missouri 65101 writes, 'Could I trouble you and ask if there are any modern plants that make usable steam engines, or any area where this technology is adaptable to tractors and farm equipment, and if there are some, please send me those addresses. Any information on the above will be very much appreciated.'

We must apologize to LEO FOLEY of 201 10th Ave. NW, Waukon, IA 52172, for incorrectly indicating that his letter on page 4 of the May/June 1999 issue was from John Foley. The picture involved is certainly very interesting, and we again apologize for the error. The letter was from LEO FOLEY, not John.

JAMES R. VOUK, 703 County Road 2, St. Stephen, Minnesota 56375, writes: 'Re: the March/April 1999, Soot in the Rues. The picture on page 7 from Roger Noethling the crawler is definitely a ten-ton Holt Caterpillar.

'The Vouk's Steam Threshing and Lumber Sawing Show at St. Stephen, Minnesota, of which I am a part, owns such a tractor, although ours has a bench-seat, behind which the gas tank is mounted, not on the side like the one in the photo.'

And next time, we hope to have a letter from YOU, too!

Steamcerely, Linda and Gail