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Traction Engines and Threshing Machines

Keck, Reeves and Rumely Chady Atteberry, 931 Robin Road, Blackwell, OK 74631, writes in this issue.

I am enclosing a picture of the Henry Elling outfit threshing near Jefferson, Okla., in 1915. I believe the engine is a 25 HP Reeves and the separator a Nichols & Shepard Red River Special. My friend Marvin Bules, Pond Creek, Okla., gave me the picture. As to the size of the engine, I'll leave that up to Lyle Hoffmaster and Gary Yaeger. She was a dandy outfit when 'Steam was King.'

I was born about three miles east of where the picture was taken. Jefferson, Okla., was our mailing address. The first steam traction engine I rode on was a 20 HP Russell, which came by the farm in 1934. The engineer stopped to take on water. Times have sure changed.

Dad and I got stuck in the sand road, which was Highway 60 just east of Pond Creek, Okla. The car was an Essex. Criminals wouldn't walk two dusty miles to rob or rape if they knew they'd be welcomed by five barking, unchained dogs and a double-barrel shotgun.

The second picture shows Pete Rose of Garber, Okla., on Keck-Gonnerman double rear-mount number 1636. This picture was taken Nov. 13, 1983. I owned 1636 at that time.

The third picture shows the Advance Rumely Dealers School. This picture was taken at the Rumely factory in La Porte, Ind., in 1917. Pete Rose worked for Rumely, and Pete is visible in the first row; the man to far right on the end. Pete moved to Enid, Okla., as a serviceman for Rumely. Pete was the first president of Oklahoma Steam Threshers, Pawnee, Okla. In the hobby years, Pete owned a Rumely steam engine and a Rumely Oil Pull tractor. Pete Rose lived to be 100 years old.

20th Century Engine
Fritz Amlie,
6608 Sleepy Hollow Rd., McFarland, Wl 53558-8418, writes in requesting information:

I would like any information on Rev. Miller's 20th Century steam engine from Boyton, Pa. I have Jack Morbeck's book on steam, but 1 have never seen one of these engines.'

(We have some photos of 20th Century engines, and Jack Norbeck did a nice write up on the company in the May/June 1999 issue of IMA, featuring some extensive out-takes from 20th Century catalog literature. If anyone out there knows more, please contact Fritz. - Editor)

Geiser Return-Flue
Mike Rohrer,
12025 Steven Ave., Smithsburg, MD 21783, sends in some great blueprints from his collection of photos and factory material this month:

Here are some blueprints and a photo that I have in my collection showing a return-flue traction engine that was built by the Geiser Manufacturing Co. in Waynesboro, Pa. This engine was built in 1897 and was first displayed in the Waynesboro centennial parade. The building in the background of the photo was the main office for Geiser, and it is still standing today.

G.A. Anderson designed the engine, he was the designer for the Anderson-style engines for Geiser. As far as we know, there were only four of them built.

Alan Derting,
1425 Everett Lane, Hopkinsville, KY 42240, writes in this issue:

Just received the latest Iron-Men Album. Gary Yeager and Larry Creed photos along with Reeves discussion with some Reeves men - this is good stuff.

Enclosed is a photo of my favorite fireperson. Is that correct? We ran this 22 HP double-simple Keck-Gonnerman engine all day for four days planning wood on a 105-year-old, four side, square-head planer. In weather near or below freezing it takes all of this engine to start the planer rolling. Those babbit bearings pull hard until they are warmed up. The double starts it off so nicely without the belts slapping and slipping and coming off the pulleys, which is what they do with a single-cylinder engine on these cold starts. We run about 140 to 150 lbs. steam with pop at 160.

We ran nearly 10,000 feet of tongue-and-groove, mostly pine, and then got into the oak. We had a lot of down time adjusting the planer - there are enough adjustments to make it talk Chinese if you know what you're doing. Planning all four sides at once, a 15-inch aged oak board is quite a pull - the shavings pile up fast.

Advance Rumely Dealers School

The Reeves people, in their great wisdom, (hello Lyle, Gary and Melvin) knew that for a double-simple they had to use a bigger boiler, as we all learned from the discussions with Lyle Hoffmaster and Gary Yeager and Melvin Pierce in a recent issue of Iron-Men Album.

22 HP double-simple Keck-Gonnerman engine running a 105-year-old, four side, square-head planer. Over the course of four days the engine planned 10,000 feet of pine and oak.

This double Keck does fine with the same size boiler as the other 20 HP and 22 HP Keck engines, until you start pulling hard for a prolonged period of time. If we don't stop and clean the flues and have everything working perfectly, after about four hours of work the job of keeping up pressure becomes real work. A double-simple takes more steam than a single-cylinder with a similar HP rating.

The smoothness of how it pulls and runs is the plus side to the trade off. This smoothness of pull is of course a main reason why the Reeves engines were the best plow engines. The smooth power doesn't tear up the drive train, or loosen bolts, etc.

When we were planing that pine my wife sat and knitted between firing, as she is doing in the picture. Sometimes George (age 7) opens and shuts the fire door so that the door stays shut. The harder the pull the more important it is to keep that door shut, especially when it is 25 degrees F outside. We actually ran for two hours on one day in the snow. This was fun and the snow did not bother the belt at all. When we got to the 15-inch wide dry oak there was no time to knit. If the flues had not been cleaned after lunch it would have been very difficult to keep up steam.

Rohrer Photo #1, Blueprints and a photo of a straw burning 20 HP 1897 Geiser return-flue traction engine built by the Geiser Manufacturing Co. in Waynesboro, Pa.

The more I learn about Reeves steam engines, the more I like them. Of course all steam tractors are awesome, but some are more awesome than others. This just points out two of several reasons why Reeves are the best. And this I have learned by experience, not just opinion. Mow there is a challenge!

#2 and #3: The photo shows the Geiser when first displayed in the Waynesboro centennial parade. The building in the background of the photo was the main office for Geiser. It still stands to this day.