Soot in the flues

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Hi to all our wonderful Iron Men Family and as this issue rolls around, I know in your thoughts are the bulbs of spring ideas and getting ready for the upcoming shows and activities just as this little poem suggests in many ways:


God grant that I may never be
A scoffer at eternity
As long as Spring brings
The Sweet Rebirth of Growing Things.

Sara Henderson Hay 

And in the minds of all you folks in IMA the springtime is fast approaching and the thoughts you have will turn into real plans for the rebirth of 1991 spring and summer festivities in Engine Land. Another spring thought following along the same lines is in this bit of poetry:


In the breast of a bulb
Is the promise of spring;
In the little blue egg
Is a bird that will sing;
In the soul of a seed
Is the hope of the sod;
In the heart of a child
Is the Kingdom of God.

William L. Stidger 

Maybe I did not put this in the proper words I wanted to get across, but I'm sure you do understand what I am saying. And I know your plans, thoughts, engines, and all related show items are now growing from the bulb stage into the beautiful flowers of accomplishments that will be displayed at the upcoming shows and festivities.

And as often, I'd like to share another gem from the Wellsprings of Wisdom by Ralph L. Woods entitled TRIFLES: 

A friend once called on Michelangelo just as he was putting the finishing touches on one of his great works of sculpture. Some time later the friend again visited the great artist and, to his astonishment, found Michelangelo still at work on the same statue but with no obvious difference so far as he could determine.

'Have you been away since I saw you last?' he asked the artist.

'By no means,' said Michelangelo, 'I have been retouching this part, and polishing that, softening this feature and strengthening that muscle and so on.'

'But,' said the visitor, 'these are only trifles.'

'That may be,' said the artist, 'But bear in mind that trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.'

'Reading your column is like getting a letter from home,' writes CARL A. LATHROP, 108 Garfield Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940. 'Familiar faces turn up now and again along with some new names that usually have something of interest in their lives to share with the rest of the family.' Some time ago there was an article in IMA about the Bergen County, New Jersey, Vocational Technical High School and their collection of operating steam memorabilia under the direction of Frank Vopacek. Here is an update.

'On October 22, 1990, the school was deeded Morris County Central locomotive No. 385. This 2-8-0 had been built by Baldwin in 1907 for the Southern Railway.' From there it went to the railroad nearest to my heart, the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway, as their No. 6 only to be sold to the tourist carrier, Morris County Central. When the MCC went belly-up the old boomer ended up on the ledger of the Delaware Otsego Corporation, a short-line holding company, and was assigned to their New York, Susquehanna & Western.

'Delaware Otsego had considered rehabilitating this steam engine and had it surveyed by the Rome Locomotive Works, primarily a diesel rebuild shop now, but still with steam capabilities.' Its restoration had to compete with the importation of a Baldwin K-7 that had been exported to China after World War I, but now was rebuilt by the Chinese and available at $150,000 delivered to the U.S. Delaware Otsego, however, elected to have a 2-8-2 of these called J. David Conrad class built for them like the two imported last winter.

'But, back to No. 385, what to do with her.' When we stopped building traction engines and railroad locomotives and reciprocating stationary steam engines, we stopped educating the young in that craft. Not so at Bergen County, for old No. 385 now sits on a short length of track between the river and the athletic field within sight of the steam classroom. The students will hone the edge of their craft getting the old girl under steam again.

'You have to wonder why a hard boiled, profit oriented corporation in jungle warfare of the railroad business would give something like that to a school. Well, that is a story in itself. Back around 1976 a group of railfans bought an 0-6-0 from the Virginia Blue Ridge Railway and started a tourist line operating on an abandoned section of the Ulster & Delaware RR tracks out of Mickle Bridge, New York. Walter Rich, then studying to be a lawyer, was the sparkplug of the group. Like the oak from the acorn, that venture grew until today it is the Delaware Otsego Corporation with Rich as President and CEO, that's why. A little bit of water under the bridge has made a lot of steam.'

'FELLOW IMA READERS, HELP! Restoration of the 22 Gaar Scott nearly complete. Desperately seek information on whereabouts of an original Gaar Scott smokestack. Now using Port Huron stack and having a problem maintaining proper draw for the fire. Can't get up steam up. Send information to: Kingman Engineering, ATTN: JOHN SCHROCK, 703 Curtis Street, Mason, Michigan 48854. Thank you!' (Come on Fellas and Engine enthusiasts, if you can help in this matter, please let John hear from you). Chevrolet Corvette.'

HARVEY GLOEGE, Box 158, Glenwood, Minnesota 56334 writes this: 'Since you welcome articles to be published (we surely do) in your IMA publications, please find a photo enclosed of my 60 Case steam engine pulling a decorated float in our 1957 parade, put on annually by our city of Glenwood, Minnesota. There was an estimated crowd of 100,000 people viewing the parade. I still own this engine that's me running it. And that is my two year old grandson on the float sitting in a miniature Chevrolet Corvette.

And Harvey sent a personal note which I would like to share with you all 'Allow me to let you know that I have enjoyed IMA very much over the years. You have published several articles and photos I sent in of this Case steam engine and of other pictures sent in'.

'I especially appreciate your good writing in your Soot in the Flues.' It's always 'good stuff.'

'I'm semi-retired from our family auto business. I'm 82 years of age, but still love this steam engine related business-Love ya!' (Thanks Harvey, love ya too and all the IMA families.)

'While looking over the issues of Iron Men Album one wonders why more happenings of past years are not sent in to publish,'' writes PERRY WILLIS, R.D. #3, Louisville, Ohio 44641. He continues, 'Surely lots of people can recall their younger years. I do.' (PLEASE TAKE NOTE IRON MEN FAMILYwe realize over the years there have been many letters, articles, pictures etc. sent in from you folksvbut please those of you who haven't written to this publication (and those of you have), dig down into your file of knowledge of more stories or pictures or any items of interest).

'I had to quit school at 15 years of age to do all the field work until my father came home from his job.' We rented a 142 acre farm and took care of another farm of 80 acres for a total of 222 acres. One must remember this was before tractors and combines. It was a heartwarming life and neighbors were neighbors.

'I was one of the older children of a family of 13, and the burdens fell on the older boys and girls. I went to CCC Corps in 1939 to help pay the bills and help the family.' We received $30.00 per month; $22.00 was sent home and we existed on $8.00 per month. After serving 18 months, I returned home to the farm. I worked for the neighbors for $1.00 per day. I also dug coal for fuel at home for the stoves. I dug coal for two months for four tons of coal and coal was $2.00 a ton. That was an average of .50 per week for six days work.

'A boy today would never sacrifice his young years as most of the older men had to do over the years'.

'I cut timber and mine props, threshed at all the neighbors and filled silos also.' We husked corn at home and at the neighbors. All hand work, but those days are long gone. Today it seems most of your neighbors will not even say hello to you.

'I visit the areas where my younger years were spent. I am welcomed at the houses.' Yes, these were the pioneers who did with practically nothing to develop our nation. I am proud I was raised and helped everyone and shared our lives and labors.

'We had an unusual spring; weather conditions and crops planted were way off schedule.' The American farmers can blame no one for the trouble of bankruptcy, but themselves. They buy expensive machinery and farm prices haven't changed much in the last 50 to 55 years. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. No way!

The shows are done for this season. I wait for the coming year. I will help at the shows and help exhibit the engines, sawmills and machinery. My wish is for more younger men to take an interest in the shows. If not, the shows will be hurt. There are less older men each year and we need more help at the shows. It is very well accepted and we compliment them for work done.

'We have lost three old-timers in this area that did much to start these shows.' God bless them for work they have done.

'I will close wishing everyone everywhere success and good health and happiness.'

'Safety at the shows and fellowship never hurt anyone. That's life!'

This ad from a 1919 National Geographic magazine was sent to us by Denver Weiland, RR 1, 9820 Bragg Rd., Bellevue, OH 44811.

RAY MILLER, Mount Eaton, Ohio writes: 'I enjoy IMA very much and read it from cover to cover.

I became interested in steam power about fifteen years ago. I started going to steam shows and really became fascinated by those old steam traction engines.

Needless to say, my interest became such that I desired to own one of those old engines.

About two years ago my dream became a reality. I was able to purchase a Baker 23-90 traction engine. I have had it to a number of different shows, and have had great times with it. Also, I want to say that the people I have met in my association with steam are a fine group of folks.

'Just wanted to share a few of my thoughts. Keep on printing your fine magazine. I look forward to it each issue and read it thoroughly.'

'Thanks for such a great magazine! ' writes DEAN LEHRKE, 1927 Telephone Road, Fort Mill, South Carolina 29715.

'I've never written before but now's the time to get out the pen and paper.' It seems that IMA readers are more of a family than merely subscribers to a magazine.

'Perhaps a family member out there in Reader Land might share my special steam interests and would care to correspond.'

'I am researching the fascinating history of 18th & 19th century steam engines and vehicles.'

First of all, does anyone know if Apollos Kinsley's steam carriage was successfully tested in Hartford, Connecticut in 1787? Did Nathan Read build a full size steam carriage in Salem, Massachusetts in 1790? And for Canadian readers, did Robert Fourness and James Ashworth successfully run their three cylinder buggy in Halifax in 1788?

'Are there any Oliver Evans fanatics out there?' I would like to know if any photographs were ever taken of his 'grasshopper' steam engines, and if any of his 50 odd engines built between 1801 to 1819 are still in existence? There is a legend he built some portable engines and also agricultural engines, even as Richard Trevithick did around 1812.

Are their any Wallis Farmer's Friend traction engines from 1849-50 around anywhere? Are there any Archambault 'Forty Niner' portable engines still existent?

I haven't seen any I.C. engines running on gasifiers or crude oil vaporizers at any engine shows yet. Does anyone have an authentic 19th century or World War vintage gasifier?

'In Sweden, there were over 75,000 tractors using them during World War II.'

'Finally, can anyone help me find the book on Abner Doble?' I have tried unsuccessfully via the American Steam Car Club and the British Steam Power Journal, neither of which seems to be around anymore.

'Does anyone have one of the International experimental steam tractors of 1922 that they might show us a picture and give us a story?'

'If there's anyone out there interested in this 'wacky stuff, please write me. Thanks!' (Well, Fellows, there are a lot of questions to be answered, not all on steam engines, but steam related machines. Perhaps some of you will enjoy writing to Dean.)

In reference to page 11 in our January/February 1991 issue, we published a request from a subscriber who was seeking information on Mason Kipp oil pumps for steam engines. Unfortunately, we failed to include the name and address of the reader so that you could respond to him if you have such information.

The request came from OAKLEY The Pioneer Acres Show at Irricana, Alt a., August 1988. This is the rear view of a Rumely 20 HP D.S. It has a butt strap boiler. A real strong built steamer for plowing. Ron Carry of Calgary, Alta. is the proud owner. Photo courtesy of the late Arlo Jurney.

The Pioneer Acres Show at Irricana, Alta., August 1988. This is the rear view of a Rumely 20 HP D.S. It has a butt strap boiler. A real strong built steamer for plowing. Ron Carry of Calgary, Alta is the proud owner. Photo courtesy of the late Arlo Jurney.

ELLICKSON, 1029 Ellston St., Colorado Springs, CO 80907. Specifically, Mr. Ellickson asked:

'Do you have information regarding the name and address of the company making the Mason Kipp? I need to contact that company for parts.'

Mr. Ellickson had referred to an ad in the back pages of the book Rough and Tumble Engineering for the Mason Kipp oil pump. He had heard from other steam engine owners that the pump and parts are still being manufactured.

We don't have any knowledge of current name or address of the firm doing this, and hope that someone who reads this request will write both to Mr. Ellickson and to IMA so that all may become informed!

We apologize for the omission in our previous column.

CONRAD MILSTER of 178 Emerson Place, Brooklyn, NY 11205 responds to a letter from Fred Fox in our November/December issue:

'Unfortunately, several errors have crept into his calculations which will cause some confusion for anyone trying to come up with correct results.'

'In his first paragraph, he is explaining the relations between changing cylinder bores and piston areas and uses 2 inches and 4 inches as his examples, stating, 'A piston of 4 inches would be 4 squared X.7854.' For anyone using the standard formula, Area = Pi R Squared, this may cause confusions, for Mr. Fox squares his diameter, while the other formula squares the radius. A minor point, but one that could trip the unwary formula figurer. In addition, he says that the 4 inch piston has 3 times the area of the 2 inch, but in fact it is 4 times as much.

Further on he says, 'Looking over the formula as printed it should read 2 P.L.A.N.' and 'The engine is driven by 'N' revolutions, each revolution being produced by two strokes of 'L' feet.' His British Naval Docket Book may well have it written that way, but all the rest of the engineering world states that 'L' equals the length of stroke in feet (as Mr. Fox does) and 'N' equals the number of power strokes per minute. This is, of course, equal to 2 x revolutions in normal engines but assigning different values to standardized factors cannot be done arbitrarily.

'Using revolutions per minute instead of power strokes will also lead to incorrect results when the horsepower of internal combustion engines is determined for a 2 cycle machine will be equaled in power output by a 4 cycle one, all other factors being equal.' It will also influence steam results if, for example, single acting engines such as the Westinghouse, Shipman and Willans to name just a few, are involved creating errors of 100%. The steeple compound Uniflow also uses a single acting L.P. cylinder which would not fit into this formula.

'In the next paragraph Mr. Fox introduces a 'new way' of determining horsepower.' In his example he uses an engine cylinder with a stroke of 3 inches and for the value of 'L' uses 3. Again, this contravenes standard practice wherein 'L' is expressed as the stroke in feet. 

Further on Mr. Fox comments on the difficulty of determining the mean effective pressure without an indicator and suggests a way of estimating it. He takes a boiler pressure of 80 lbs. and adds 15 lbs. for atmospheric pressure. Why? Atmospheric pressure is only added to boiler pressure in those rare instances where total B.T.U. or heat content of the steam is being determined and is always referred to as absolute pressure to differentiate it from gauge pressure.

'His formula offered in the same paragraph (with a result of 65.422 P.S.I, for the cylinder M.E.P.) has no possible connection with reality as cutoffs, which determine how long the cylinder 'takes' steam, can range from 25% to 75% under normal conditions or over even a wider range for special cases. ( Unaflow engines, for example, often cutoff as early as 10%.) If errors of this magnitude are acceptable in determining the result, why bother with a formula. Simply take or 2/3 of boiler pressure.'

This picture was taken in the Sixties on the north side of LaCrosse, Wisconsin at their October Fest. The engine was owned by Louie Slabik of Chicago, Illinois, but has changed owners since and is now owned by someone in LaCrosse. Courtesy of Fordyce Larson, Route 1, Independence, Wisconsin 54747.

'In his second example of this formula, Mr. Fox states it as 'If the boiler is 150 lbs then 150 plus 15 atmos. equals 165 lbs.' Unfortunately, as this is written, it means '150 plus 15 atmospheres' or 150 plus 220.5, which equals 370.5.'

The only time the atmospheric pressure enters into horsepower calculations is in a condensing engine where the condenser vacuum must be added to the cylinder steam pressure for a total pressure differential to obtain a correct M.E.P.

The engines in my plant operate on 120 P.S.I, steam and using Mr. Fox's formula I would get 120 + 15 x 1.6931 divided by 2 - 15 which equals a M.E.P. of 99.28. Using this figure in the formula would give me an indicated horsepower of 249.5 for my engines; quite a trick for a 100 HP machine! This is an error of 250% and if I am running at 50% load the figure is now 500% off. I can just barely carry a full lad of 75 KW at 80 lbs. of boiler pressure if there are no fluctuations, giving me the same horsepower output as at 120 lbs. pressure, but Mr. Fox's formula (at 80 P.S.I., M.E.P. would equal 65.4) would now show my engines to be delivering about 165 HP. Not only is it still over 50% too high, but showing an output range of from 165 HP to 250 HP under identical loads.

While I agree with Mr. Fox's statement that American traction engines are usually simple or double simple, compounds are especially popular in Europe. Also, many mill engines in Europe and this country were compounds and so we cannot overlook this aspect of determining horsepower. It is, in fact, just as easy as with a simple engine, the only thing being critical being again, the determining of the M.E.P. This is obviously a job for an indicator, but it can be roughly estimated if boiler pressure, receiver pressure on the L.P. and exhaust pressure are known. It is equally easy for a triple or quadruple expansion engine as long as the pressure drop across a specific cylinder is known.

'Some readers may feel I am being overly critical of Mr. Fox, but I agree with him that the next generation of steam engineers will learn from us as we learned from our predecessors. This obligates us to be particularly correct in what we pass on to them. I know that in my own years of researching, documenting and operating steam plants, I have heard many a 'fact' that was plain rubbish. Younger steam fans who do not have the opportunity to test out many of these 'truths' for themselves in practice, will simply accept them and pass them on in turn.'

And so Dear Friends and IMA Family, that brings to an end another visit with you and of course I must leave you with some thoughts to mull around in your thinking.

One of the hardest secrets for a man to keep is his opinion of himself.-An honest man is the noblest work of God. Alexander Pope. -Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.-A living CHRIST in a living MAN is a living SERMON.-It is better to be short of cash than to be short of character. -It is a great responsibility to own a Bible.-And I guess that gives you a few thoughts to ponder until next time.

I don't need to tell you to have a great summer for I know you will as you make your tours to the steam events-enjoy yourselves, share your thoughts and ideas with each other AND SEND THEM ON TO US PLEASE and I'll be looking for those stories and your new friendships so I can enjoy them and pass them on to the rest of IMA clan-Love you-