Soot in the flues

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Well, I suppose many of you realize as I write this, we are in the midst of the Holiday Season and New Year's celebration I realize though as many of you receive this magazine you are more than leafing through the spring seed catalogs, and the new Steam and Gas Directory is in use, or will be soon as you plan your itinerary. I guess you plan your gardens and your reunion trips at the same time and it will probably be more gardens and less traveling for everyone with the price of gas, and the price of food, wouldn't you say? I do know though, the shows will go on and people will get to the ones they possibly can for there is a deep interest in the machinery and a great fondness for being with old friends and fellow enthusiasts sooo here's hoping you all get to quite a few shows and keep us posted of the interesting items and experiences that you all enjoy.

Before the Holidays, I came across this interesting recipe and I think you will all enjoy it. If you like pumpkin pie, I know you will enjoy it here 'tis, please try it, and it's better if you include the nuts.


1 box Duncan Hines yellow cake mix (remove 1 cup and put aside)
1/2 cup butter, melted 4 eggs
1 large can pumpkin (1 lb., 13 oz.)
2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 small can evap. milk (8 oz.)

Mix remaining cake mix with 1 egg and melted butter and press into greased and floured cake pan. Mix 3 eggs, pumpkin, cinnamon, brown sugar and milk. Pour over first layer. Mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup mix you set aside and put crumbs, with nuts if desired on top. Bake 350° 1 hour. Don't cut while too warm.

First letter coming up deals with some data on Fairmont engines and it is from CRAIG SOLOMONSON, Route 3, Box 601, Cambridge, Minnesota 55008: 'I would like to pass on some information about Fairmont railway engines. I recently obtained a small Fairmont type PHMA, model F-4 engine. I wrote to the factory to see if they might still have records or information about this type of engine. Indeed they do! They sent me not only the instruction book, parts list and service bulletins, but also a copy of the original invoice for the engine I have!

I called Ed McComb, the district manager, to thank him. He told me many parts are still available for older engines. They have been building engines since 1902. He also said they are happy to provide restorers with information, but to be of any help they must know the serial number. Ed also said they have received requests about suspected (old) engines and it turns out many of them were built in the 1950s. Their address is Fairmont Railway Motors, Inc., Fairmont, Minnesota 56031.

Incidentally, my engine had serial number 41719H. It was built December 18, 1929 for Northern Pacific Railroad in Jamestown, North Dakota. It is a 2 cycle engine and runs in either direction.' (Thanks Craig, I am sure some of the readers will be pleased with this information.)

The following letter comes from MELVIN H. HELLWINCKEL, Luverne, Minnesota 56156: 'It's been 10 years since I saw the Mt. Pleasant, Iowa Steam and Gas Show, so I figured it was high time to take another look. Much has changed and many rearrangements were made since 1970.

The Mount Pleasant show has a magnetism about it that attracts a very large crowd. This magnetism is generated by having a large number of good exhibits in every department. When you walk through the rows of steamers and tractors, you can't help but notice the once reputable and prominent names that are missing today.

I think the present manufacturers are doing a whale of a good job of building machines to satisfy their prospective customers wants and needs. Take, for example the Caterpillar Tractor Company of Peoria, Illinois they make 16 different track type tractors ranging from the 65 HP 03 to the 700 HP D10. The number of different crawler and wheel machine models they manufacture totals 73. This does not include engines or generator sets.' (And that ends the letter seems like there should have been more, but hope this information will be of use to some of the readers.)

RAY APRIL L, 310 S. Washington Street, Oconto Falls, Wisconsin 54154 has this to say: 'I have a question to ask on page 47 on the 1980 Show Directory it shows an old Case steam engine where is the crank wheel and also where is the piston rod crosshead and cylinder? I would like an explanation in the Soot in the Flues column.

I would like to compliment you on the good job you are doing with the Iron-Men Album. Sure enjoy reading it and always looking for the next issue to come.' (Thanks Ray, we are all happy you enjoy it so much.)

On the unclassified photos of Jan.-Feb., 1981 issue we have this communication from WALT THAYER, Box 2175, Wenatchee, Washington 98801: 'No. 1 is a Case that was too heavy for the bridge. Hope the enginer jumped in time. 2. Might be a Huron road roller not sure of the maker. 3. Definitely a Case outfit. Tractor and separator and possibly a Studebaker bundle wagon. Looks like Western Prairie Country. 4. Rear wheels look like a Big Minnie but that motor and fuel tank ?might be a Best, Holt or even a Big Minnie (Minneapolis) not a steamer. 5. Sure was a tough log to sawit flipped the whole rig upside down looks like a hardwood log. 6. Looks like another Case or Russell. 7. Hard to tell, but I'd say a Case or Minneapolis.

Some more data pertaining to the unclassified photos comes from DAVID GRAY, P.O. Box 7, Wood- bury, L.I., New York 11797. This one is referring to only No. 2 photo of Jan.-Feb. 1981 issue: 'I always look forward to receiving my copy of the IMA and am particularly interested in the unclassified photographs section and the letters that these photos attract.

Coming, as I do, from England, I did not expect that I would ever be able to contribute in the way that so many of your readers do. I was, however, mistaken. The photograph depicted as #2 in the January-February, 1981 issue of IMA is of an English steam roller. It was manufactured by Aveling & Porter of Rochester, Kent and I would think in about 1920, which would mean that it's manufacturers number would be around 9,500.

The engine is an 8-ton single cylinder slide-valve engine. The boiler would be tested for 180 P.S.I.: its normal working pressure being between 120 and 150 P.S.I.

From the style of the house depicted in the background of the photo, I would imagine that the photo was taken in the Southeast of England. The canopy on the engine is an all steel construction and was the standard Aveling & Porter design which could be purchased as an optional extra.

The motion covers or side plates which can be seen forward of the flywheel positioned above the boiler barrel were mandatory in England as was the solid flywheel for all steam rollers and steam locomotives that were used on the highway. This was to prevent horses from being frightened by the sunlight catching moving parts.

These Aveling & Porter steam rollers in both the 8-ton and 10-ton models were extremely popular among the local politicians and many towns and highway departments were equipped with these rollers for the maintenance of the tar-sealed pavements.

Aveling & Porter were the major producers of road rollers in England and their prices were most competitive. All these engines were fitted with front roll and rear wheel water jets so that when rolling pavements where hot tar had been laid, it did not stick to the roll surface.

Unless otherwise stated by the customer at the time of ordering a roller, Aveling & Porter rollers were painted a standard color scheme. The body of the engine was an apple green. This included the flywheel and rear wheel spokes. The perch bracket and smoke stack were black and the front roll fork was a rust red. The whole engine was striped with a '-wide black line with a narrow yellow and red line on either side of the black line.

From a close examination of the photograph, this striping can be seen on the side of the motion cover. As an estimate, I would think that this particular photo may have been taken in the early 1960s and the engine already in the hands of an enthusiast. From the steam coming from the cylinder block, I would think that the engine has a regulator packing leak.

Before I came to the U.S. three years ago, I myself owned two Aveling and Porter rollers; a 10-ton engine built in 1922 and an 8-ton built in 1916. Both these are now in the hands of two steam enthusiasts in England.

In closing I would like to congratulate the editor of IMA on the new format for the back cover, this issue's being a series of photos showing the Rough & Tumble Reunion at Kinzers, Pennsylvania last August. As usual, I was present at this reunion and was delighted to have my son with me who was visiting from England.

It may be of interest to members to know that I made a movie of the Kinzers Reunion and will be showing it to my old club in Bedfordshire in January, 1981 when I will be in England for a visit.'

The next communication is filled with much information and will be most welcome by many and it is sent by ROBERT L. JOHNSON, 4017 Park Avenue, Terre Haute, Indiana 47805 in reply to Edward Stauffer of New Holland, Pennsylvania. 'This was copied from one of my old books Stationary Engineering:


Steam and Oil SeparatorsA separator is an apparatus designed to remove the water, oil, dirt and other impurities from a current of steam flowing through a pipe. When it is intended to separate the steam from the water, the separator is placed on the main pipe leading from the boiler to the engine, and as close as possible to the engine. When it is used to remove the grease and dirt from exhaust steam before using as feed-water for the boiler, the separator is placed in the exhaust pipe leading from the engine to the condenser, or heater.

ClassificationSteam separators are divided into two general classes, viz.: (1) Baffle plate separators; (2) Centrifugal separators. In the first class, the steam comes in contact with the baffle plates placed at right angles to its direction of flow, thus sharply changing the direction of flow of steam. In a centrifugal separator the steam is given a whirling motion in flowing through the apparatus, and by this whirling motion the water is separated from the steam.

ActionThe principle of all separators depends on inertia. Since water or oil is much heavier than steam, their inertia is much greater than that of the steam. Consequently when the current of steam comes in contact with the baffle plate, the steam changes its direction with ease, but the heavier particles of water or oil, by reason of their inertia are dashed against the baffle plate, thus separating them from the steam which flows on to the engine.

Figure 1 illustrates a common form of a horizontal and vertical centrifugal separator, which is known as the Detroit Separator.

ConstructionIn the horizontal style as shown in Figure 1 the steam enters through the inlet and is deflected downwards by the curved arm, and water and any impurities are thrown partly by gravity and partly by centrifugal force into the well of the separator. The purified steam is drawn off through the outlet from the top of the separator. Drainage is accomplished either by means of an automatic steam trap, or by hand through the outlet valve whenever the water gauge indicates that it is necessary.

The above also applies to the vertical style, the steam entering from above is deflected by the curved partition shown in the sectional cut. This partition has a trough on the lower edge to catch any water that may collect on and run down the sides of the partition. The vertical separator is not intended to be operated with an ascending current of steam.


ConstructionConsists of a cast iron flanged body and a catch basin or receiver flanged to the body at the bottom. A nest of baffle or separating plates are placed in the body at right angles to the direction of steam travel. These plates are set staggered. They consist of upright columns with interior channels and cup-like openings to catch the water of condensation. The steam describes a zig-zag or winding course as it passes through this nest of plates from the intake side of the separator to the outlet side.

OperationWhen used as oil separators to extract oil from exhaust steam, the separator is placed as close to the engine as conditions will permit, the intake side being the face or front of the separating plates. As the steam passes through the nest of plates, the oil which it contains, and which is held in suspension, becomes entangled with the plates, is collected by the small cups, and passes down through the channels, dropping into the catch basin or receiver. A tapping in the bottom of the receiver permits the connecting up of a waste pipe through which the oil passes off, either by gravity or through a suitable steam trap. This separator is designed to have the side cover plate removable by taking off the bolt heads, swinging it to one side, thus permitting the interior separating plates to be taken out by hand for the purpose of cleaning. It is recommended that these plates should be cleaned about once each fortnight, immediately following the installation of the separator, and at intervals as may be required at other times. Where necessary, separators will be provided with the removable cover plate flanged to the top of the body. In some plants there is not sufficient room to take the plates out from the side, in which event they should be removed from the top.

THE COCHRANE SEPARATOR Horizontal and Vertical Forms

ConstructionA single baffle plate facing the inlet opening, presenting sufficient surface for the impingement of all the particles of liquid traveling in the current ribbed vertically to prevent the side travel of the separated liquid ports are placed one at each side of the baffle, and these combined, of an area exceeding that of the entering pipe the opening into well being free and placed directly in front of and underneath the lip of the entering pipe, so that when a large quantity of liquid comes it will pour directly into the well. The well being entirely below the course of the current, and the current not being discharged into it, the liquid taken out will not be disturbed until it rises to the level of the bottom of the main, when the separator simply becomes inoperative without the current having the opportunity to drive out or to pick up and carry over the stored liquid. The chamber on outlet side of baffle is closed to well, the drainage for condensation from this chamber being led to well through an internal drip pipe.

The Vertical FormIs the equivalent of the horizontal form, modified in design and construction to meet the conditions due to the different direction of the current viz.: upward or downward flow instead of horizontal while retaining the same principles of separation.

In the lower left hand corner of figure 3 is shown a section view of this separator.

The following missal comes from LEWIS A. WRIGHT, R.D. 2, Cortland, New York and has much information on several subjects: 'I have been a subscriber to the IMA for quite a few years and I get a lot of pleasure reading it and reliving the days when I was growing up in the Midwest with the old steam threshing rigs and the huge one and two lunger tractors. I am 81 years old now and for two years my wife and I have not been able to attend any steam shows because of having to have surgery, but we hope to be able to fire up the old motor-home and take in some shows next summer.

In the Jan.-Feb. issue of IMA a picture in the unclassified photos caught my eye. The engine pictured in #3 is a Stevens, manufactured in Auburn, New York. One of the two identifying features is the high steam dome on the rear of the boiler and the cylinder on the extreme front. The steam was carried to the cylinder through a pipe inside of the boiler, the same as in a railroad locomotive. This was done to keep the steam as hot as possible before it went into the cylinder. The other feature is the iron guard under the connecting rod and crank disc wheel. I have never seen this make of engine pictured or even mentioned in any of my albums or magazines (Floyd Clymers included) and I have never seen one at the many steam shows that I have attended. However, there is one here in central New York. It was owned and restored by Mr. Bob Daniels of Jamesville, New York and is now owned by Mr. Lawrence Hitchcock of Levanna, New York and was shows at his last two shows. I suspect that it is the only one of this make left but I would like to hear from any of your readers who have one or know of one. This engine is not to be confused with the A. Stevens engines and threshers made in Marinette, Wisconsin.

The tractor in picture #4 is a 1916 60-90 Twin City and #6 is of course a good old Case.

In past issues of IMA I have seen several accounts of boiler explosions and in not one of them have I read the most probable cause. In my years of firing railroad locomotives we received some very strict instructions as to how to handle that bugbear of all firemen and engineers, the foaming boiler, or as it was called on the railroad, working water. In one account it told that they had fired up the engine and all of a sudden the water all turned to steam and just as soon as they got the pump working, the boiler exploded. This was typical of the actions of too many of the inexperienced operators of steam engines. Our instructions were, NEVER under any circumstance ever try to get water into a foaming boiler. Injectors and inspirators heat the water to some degree and water that is pumped through an exhaust heater is quite hot but nowhere as hot as a foaming boiler, and its introduction into the boiler causes a severe hammer that no boiler will withstand. The odd thing about foaming water is that it will allow the firebox sheets to become red hot and it will show water at the tri-cocks but it will not blow the fuse plugs. The one, first and only rule is DUMP THE FIRE, although I have heard of instances where the fireman smothered the fire with fresh coal and averted an explosion.

In the May-June 1980 issue there is an article and pictures of a boiler explosion where the firebox and flues are nearly intact, but the boiler barrel is ruptured at the seam. This is purely the result of a severe hammer.

This foaming is caused by foreign materials in the water such as dirt, lime deposits and vegetable matter and I have heard that a tablespoon full of milk will make a boiler foam like a bubble bath. I can well believe that because when I was about 17 years old I was hauling oat bundles to a large Case outfit that was threshing for our next door neighbor. I was unloading into the separator when the owner and engineer blew the whistle to stop pitching and he tied the whistle open and he had a wire on the safety valve lever which he tied open. Then when the separator cylinder cleared, he shut down the engine, opened the fire door, grabbed the shaker bar and started dumping the fire while the water boy raked it out of the ash pan onto the ground. He then told the water boy to dump the water that he had in the wagon back into the stock tank and drive to a creek about a mile away and get a tankful of clean creek water. He drained all of the water from the engine tanks and when the boiler pressure got down to ten or fifteen pounds he slowly opened the blow-off valve and blew every drop of water from it. The water boy was nearly two hours getting back with the load of water and by that time they thought that the boiler was cool enough so they could start to fill it, as the creek water was quite warm. When the water showed in the glass, they shovelled the fire back into the firebox and they had steam up again in no time. We didn't lose too much time as it all happened about noon, so we unhitched our horses, watered and fed them and ate our dinner. Investigation led to the fact that when the hired man took the milk out of the cooling tank in the milk house that morning, one of the can covers popped off and he spilled some milk into the cooling tank which overflowed into the stock tank where they got the water for the engine. Had that engineer obeyed the impulse of most engineers and firemen and grabbed for the injector or pump valves, in all probability some of us would not be here to tell about it. He said that he knew the instant that the foaming started by the sound of the exhaust, he knew that it was belching water.

By the time that I went to work on the railroad they knew the causes and cures for it so we did not have any trouble with it, but in the early days of steam they had plenty of it. Every locomotive on our road was taken into the shop every thirty days and given a complete boiler wash and if any amount of scale had collected on the firebox a boiler maker would go over the inside of it with an air hammer to loosen it so it could be flushed out. Also a whole pound of caustic soda was added to every tender full of water to soften the lime and neutralize any foreign material that might be in it.

In the days before boiler inspectors and licensed engineers, it must have been all anybody's life was worth to work around those old engines when the only washout that they got was the blow-down at the end of the season. When the mud in the mudring got up above the level of the grates and the scale got so thick on the firebox sheets that the water could not get to them to cool them, the plates got red hot and bulged so it was either a new firebox or the junkyard and all too many of those old engines were scrapped right, as you might say, in their prime of life. After the introduction of acetylene cutting torches and electric welders it was possible to cut out the bulges and weld in new plate and stay bolts but those repairs did not allow the original pressure to be carried.

An interesting thing happened to me one day when I was called out at noon to fire a way freight. Our engines were mostly 65 ton 4-6-0 dual purpose super heaters with 6' drivers and Pilliod valve gears. They would pull a fair sized freight train and they would snake a heavy milk train at 75 miles per hour where the track permitted.

I got there a little before the engineer and as the steam pressure was down, I raked up the fire and put on some coal and left the blower on while I went to the boiler room and pump house to fill my water can. I chatted for a few minutes with the fireman and when I got back on the engine I looked at the steam gauge and it was 15 pounds over the blow-off pressure and still going! I shut off the blower and air pump, locked the fire doors open and started one of the inspirators. Then I pulled the whistle wide open and tied it. The roundhouse foreman and several men came on the run and when the foreman jumped on deck, I pointed at the steam gauge. He took one look and ducked out onto the running board to look at the safety valves. The boiler had been given a wash out and a hydrostatic test that morning and the clamps had been left on them. He opened the relief valves on the steam chests and cracked the throttle and we succeeded in getting the pressure down to where a mechanic could remove the clamps. The head mechanic was home sick and nobody knew who was responsible, but I was commended by the road foreman for my quick thinking. My grandfather fought most all through the Civil War with the second Minnesota Regiment and I have often heard him tell that the soldiers were often called on to help rebuild railroad tracks and repair the rolling stock and sometimes even operate the trains. As a boy he started his threshing experience by driving the jerk-mule on a twenty muleteam combine and later operating a portable engine on a threshing outfit. Because of this experience he was often called on to run a locomotive. He said that in those days foaming boilers were a common occurrence and caused many explosions. They had to get their water wherever they could get it and sometimes it was nothing more than thin mud. None of those engines had injectors. The water was pumped into the boilers with either a cross-head pump or one that worked from an eccentric on the rear drivers. I have heard him tell that if they had to wait for any length of time at a station they would have to uncouple the engine and tender from the train and run it back and forth to get water into the boiler. How about those good old days!

The following letter and picture is sent by GRAHAM R. CLEGG, P.O. Box 408, Young, N.S.W. 2594: 'I have been referred to you by the Smithsonian Institute as a possible source of information on the Birdsall Engine and Thresher Company of Auburn, New York. We restore antique steam engines and have recently acquired the Birdsall shown in enclosed photograph. It is quite a small engine of perhaps 5 or 6 tons and restoration has already begun. We are seeking any information of any kind, especially photo copies of any surviving catalogues etc. in an attempt to correctly restore the engine and to establish its date of manufacture. We would also like to contact any other owners of Birdsall engines in the United States. I look forward to hearing in due course.' (Fellas, ban together and get those letters to Grahamhe's anxiously waiting to hear from you.)

I'm nearing the end of the column for this time and I'd like to leave you with another parable from Well-springs of Wisdom by Ralph L. Woods called 'Spiritual Blindness'. A man who had spent all of his time making and hoarding money found himself in a most disturbed and unhappy state, and went to a minister for counsel.

The minister, who knew the man rather well, picked up the Bible, pointed to the word 'God' and asked, 'Can you see that?'

'Certainly,' replied the man with annoyance.

'All right,' said the minister as he picked up a coin and placed it over the word 'God.' 'Can you see the word now?'

The man did not reply immediately, but presently he said, 'Yes, I understand now.' (Nuff said.)

And in closing, how about these words to ponderPrejudice is being down on what we are not up on. A Grudge is too heavy a load for anyone to carry. Mellancholy is the pleasure of being sad. Trouble is like an ugly doglooks worse coming than going. Bye Bye love ya all and have fun getting ready for the reunions.