Soot in the flues

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Hi to you sweet, wonderful, supportive Iron-Men Family! My heart is singing with joy just to read some of your enthusiastic and encouraging letters. I think they deserve a place in this column, along with the ones important to the factual and instructive writings that go into the column.

This note came up from the office and was sent in by BRUCE MCCOURTNEY, Syracuse, Nebraska 68446 whom I know by name only, but he is one of my good friends and correspondents. He writes: 'Here is another lump of coal to refuel my IMA subscription. I got 'em all except this next coming issue of 1992.

'I have another lump after reading about maybe Anna Mae might fade out of the picture. How do you expect us to get along without Anna Mae? Good luck with whatever you have to do!' (Thanks for the good word, Bruce.)

DAWN SOMERS, 17837 Linden wood Road, Linden wood, Illinois 61049 sends this: 'As winter fast approaches and the daylight hours shorten, I finally find myself taking time to write again. I hope by the time this gets printed, many of us steam people have taken time to write you. Although we've never met, I feel I'd be losing a good friend if your column wasn't in the IMA. There have been many format changes in the IMA over the years; your Soot in the Flues column represents to me one of the best things that ever happened to the magazine. Your gentle, loving, God-fearing approach to people and life is a role model for us all. I wish I could do as well or be as strong as you have been over the years.

'So I'll save my stories for further along in the magazine, and direct this to Anna Mae-Please don't quit yet. This magazine needs a sounding board and if Soot in the Flues falls, I fear the magazine may too.' (Come on now, Dawn, I'm not that indispensable, but thanks anyway.) 'So all my friends in Steam-Show Land you graciously thanked me for writing some stories. I appreciate your thanks, but now you folks too should write a little. Just a note to Anna Mae will do. Doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a few lines. We just can't let this magazine get any thinner.' (You're right, Dawn - thanks for the requests.)

'Sounds like you were a bit down for the November-December ALBUM. Perk up! We want and need you for as long as you're able and I hope you have a protg to help, or someday take your place,' writes A. MORK, 5439 264th Street, Wyoming, Minnesota 55092. (Thanks for the pep-up talk, I needed that I too hope I can continue for a long time, but you know if I can't, whoever takes over has to have you great people to write the letters, or as I stated before this column isn't necessary.)

He continues: 'This is of course a busy time for farmers and those of us who aren't there is WORK and the pleasures of all the fall shows.

'Has anyone mentioned an organization in Minnesota dedicated to helping and promoting steam? It is Minnesota Steam Engine Association, c/o J. Vouk, St. Stephen, Minnesota 56375.' (If this is already formed, it should be in the Show Directory put out each year. I do know J. Vouk again is a name I know real well, but only through writing for this magazine.)

'I am very sorry to hear that a lack of letters may cause your column to cease. I look forward to reading your letters received and your comments. You have a very friendly, folksy way of expressing yourself you would be missed.' (Thank you JOHN WASILOFF, 7978 Ridge Road, N. Royalton, Ohio 44133.)

Shay-geared locomotive of the Davison Lumber Company, Alpena, 1905. Billy Dino in cab. Jack Haines of the other Shay behind Billy. The rest are employees. Engine made in Lima, Ohio 1900, bought by the Davison Lumber Company.

'I own no steamers of any kind, but enjoy seeing, hearing, photographing, smelling, getting soot on myself, etc. I really get a kick out of seeing the youngsters, boys and girls, driving steam traction engines around the fairgrounds. 'I go to as many steam shows as I can really enjoy the shows that have the home style food.

' 'I have several hobbies amateur radio, World War II aircraft, muzzle loading rifles; and I just built an Aus-tin-Healy Kitcarso I am keeping fairly busy.' (Sounds that way I think it is marvelous to have these hobbies; folks like you are so interesting and have much to offer society and in friendship).

And this letter from my wonderful friend BILLY BYRD, 369 South Harrig Street, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431: 'I usually pick up the Iron-Men Album, read it and put it down with joy, but not this last issue. It was with sadness. I know what I want to say, but don't know how to say it. It would be a sacrilege for you to discontinue Soot in the Flues.

'Anna Mae, you ARE the Iron Men Album you still have the values and thoughts that Brother Elmer had you can't quit!' (Don't worry, Billy, I won't if these letters from you wonderful folks get the folks writing again.) 'Do you reckon that when people don't see your name listed in the magazine that they think you're not with it anymore? If you have any suggestions as to how I can help in any way, please let me know.

'I want you to know that I appreciate all the kindnesses you've shown me in the past and I know others feel the same way. So, please don't leave us now. I hope this finds you and yours doing OK and take care, because I care.' (Thanks Billy, I can't say any more to the folks than you have just said I just need anyone interested in this steam business to write me in the easiest way possible for them and I'll make good use of it. You may not think your letter will be interesting, but it will be, as we are all interested in the same subject. Give it a try!).

LAURENCE W. NACHTRAB, 7181 Hall Street, Holland, Ohio 43528 writes: 'I am a charter member and reader since Issue One, although I missed some years in the 1980s; but I would buy all the back issues I could at the reunions. Sometime I shall write about the clover hulling and corn husking and shredding days. I don't see many articles on these subjects. Of course, they were not as popular as wheat threshing too dusty and cold.

'I hope you can continue the Soot in the Flues column. It is always interesting.' (I will, Laurence just you send along your articles you told us about, and thanks for the supportive letter.)

This letter and pictures come from JIM SIMON, R.R. 1, Shubie, Nova Scotia, Canada B0N 2H0: 'I love your magazine, Iron-Men Album. I'm delighted with the history it contains. I'm more than pleased with my own submissions. Therefore, I would like to submit another history of my own collection. Also, the photo is my own collection.

Porter-built locomotive of the Davison Lumber Company of Alpena, Annapolis County, built by H.K. Porter in Pennsylvania. In the 1880s, it was originally used as an inspection car in Michigan. It is an 044 Dingy built to carry 16 passengers.

'This photo is of the Davison Lumber Company of Cross burn and Hastings, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. The Davison Lumber Co. had three logging railway locomotives of the Shay-geared type. The company had 1,000 men on the payroll. They also had 160 horses and had to hire teams in addition. The company also had 90 vessels chartered since January 1, 1906, all of which loaded at Bridgewater, N.S. The company had 40 million feet of lumber cut; 13 million went to South America, 17 million to the United States, and the rest to the West Indies and Madeira.

'The company attracted a lot of workers. Some came from as far away as Italy and Sweden to help build the railway. By 1905, 10 miles of railway had been built, and by 1906 almost 30 miles of track ran from Hastings Junction to South River Lake. There were four to six spur lines ranging from two to six miles from the main line. The company acquired running rights on the old Nova Central Railway; this line was later bought out by the Halifax & Southwestern in 1903.

'The railway locomotives on this line were one Dingy and three Shays. The Shays had direct-connected rod engines. The Shays were slow (15 mph), but very popular for logging railroads. The H.K. Porter Company of Pennsylvania built these engines, and also the Lima Machine Co. of Lima, Ohio built the Shays. By 1915, the company added a big 70 ton Shay-geared; this engine had three cylinders, three tracks and 12 drivers.

'Things seemed to go well for the Davison Lumber Company and the company's Springfield Railway until 1918, with the exception of a brief hiatus around 1912. There had only been two temporary shutdowns, the first around 1911 after the defeat of Wilfred Quarries government, which was promoting a reciprocity agreement with the U.S., and again in the winters of 1918 and 1920 following the end of the demand for lumber created by World War One and during the scourge of an influenza epidemic. But the end was near. The whistle blew on the last day of July 12, 1921. At that time, 30 million feet of lumber were sitting in the piling yards, but the Davison Lumber Company was bankrupt. The machinery was sold or scrapped. The rails were taken up and sold. The building survived until July 11, 1928, when a spectacular fire destroyed the mills and all but 13 houses of the 55 remaining. The fire was so great, it carried embers 13 miles away. Everything about the Davison Lumber Company was big, including its financial fall. For us, we are lucky to have this important history of Nova Scotia's industrial evolution.'

'Just a note to say I appreciate you keeping the Iron-Men Album going. I'm always interested in the letters, news about your family and the articles of anything concerning the traction engine.

'I'll feel I've lost a good friend if you bow out. You and your family are the magazine. I hope you stay on some way.

'I'm not a qualified person to send in any news, but I sure do enjoy reading the magazine. Keep on!' (Thanks EVERETT W. GUSTAFSON, R.D. 2, Box 349, Brockway, PA 15824. I don't know, you write a pretty nice letter. Think it over, you just might be able to contribute something; how about in your past years, were you interested in steam then?)

'This article was inspired by Anna Mae's hint of retirement. I have been reluctant to write about this for fear of getting letters from real and imaginary self-styled experts, but here goes!

'There is the publicity article on page 20 of November-December issue of IMA. Whenever a loose-penned character writes about a steam engine explosion he, through ignorance or other reasons, fails to clarify the year, conditions, circumstances, etc., and just leaves the impression that steam engines just blow up!

'Early on (even up to WWII) much freighting was done by steam engines. There were, in England, many manufacturers of steam engines. They used very thin shells. Used with care and respect, they did very well.

'You have heard about tying down the pop valve. Now that leaves the impression you can do it. How in blazes do you tie down a spring-loaded safety valve, set and sealed by the State Boiler Inspector?

'Where did the 'gossip' come from, that early on they used weighted safety valves? You could and they did tie them down. I mean they tied them down with whatever they had. Now a ' or less shell, tube, vessel, boiler or whatever you choose to call it, abused and over-pressured, could and did blow up, taking good religious people to Hell and gone.

'The engines built in the U.S. after 1910 had a cold bursting pressure of 5,000 lbs. The Canadians, scared to death of stories, insisted on 5/8 shells. When you hear of a Canadian boiler, you know it is twice as strong as it has to be.

'It is presumed that the boiler inspector knows everything. Although his word is law, according to the book, some of them don't know as much as they should. For instance, according to the rules or law, if you wish, no one can qualify as an inspector. They should rewrite the 'book.' The laws were written long ago and all states adopted them verbatim.

'Now, I'll tell you how to blow up a steam engine. Let the 'mud ring' fill up 6 or 7 and be sure there are no dead plates in the fire box. Screw a plug in where the fine plug is (soft plug to many of you). Keep water level at normal so the fire can heat the full mud ring red hot. When the mud ring gets white hot it will, from the boiler pressure, expand the wall, allowing the water to get at the hot wall, causing more steam than the safety valve can handle. That might cause it to explode.

'There have been attempts to blow up a locomotive by remote control that failed, to the complete bafflement of the people who tried it. By the same token, a locomotive blew up, and no cause was ever determined.

'We were testing an engine to see if we could replace only bad flues. One of the plugs blew out. One of the fellows started to run. I said, 'Come back, it's too late to run!'' (This letter came from ANDREW L. MICHELS, 320 Highland Avenue, Plentywood, Montana 59254-1609).

'Help!' writes DAVID LOVELACE, 341 Neptune Road, Orange Park, Florida 32073. Says David, 'I'm looking for some information. I have never written you before so you could say I'm new Ha! What I am seeking is blueprints of an 80 HP Case steam engine. I have gotten some information from Case, but it is not enough. I need all the dimensions of everything on the engine. I hope that someone out there can help me, because I want to build a 1/24 scale model. Also, I'm looking for drawings or blueprints of a water tank and threshing machine of any kind. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time, and I love your magazine.' (You are most welcome and I hope someone out in Engine Land will be writing you with the answers you are seeking.)

PAUL WILLAMS, Box 174, Van Dyne, Wisconsin 54979-0174 sends this different but cute supportive letter: 'Please don't quit writing your column. Your stories are the best part of the magazine. I wish I knew something interesting to write to you about, but I'm pretty much just an interested spectator.

'If I thought it would help I'd make up a story and send it in to you, but that wouldn't be very nice, I guess. Anyway, just a note to let you know that your writing is read and appreciated. I hope to be reading your stories for a long time yet!' (Thanks Paul for the great try, and keep thinking and keep your eyes and ears open, you may come up with a story).

D. ELMER HAWBAKER, 4175 Ricklyn Drive, Chambersburg, Pa. 17201 has been seeking information on the Heilman engines, as he has purchased one and wants to restore it. He also is interested in the Greyhound engine. His number is 717-369-4772. (So think about this Fellas, probably some of you can call or write Elmer, he'll be waiting.)

'See you coming up short on letters, so this might help out,' writes THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 E. Commercial, Algona, Iowa 50511.

'I would like to make a few comments about Mr. Frank J. Burris' fairly recent article concerning different valve gears as applied to the steam traction engine and also the railroad locomotive.

'Could be my lack of education of course, but down through the years in trying to grasp the charts and graphs of Mr. Burris' articles, on especially valve gear and its workings, I have to include the late Orrin Seaver in this vein. Well anyway, trying to understand the most of the works of these worthy men mostly gave me a migraine headache. Now, I do not intend any disrespect toward Mr. Burris or the late Orrin Seaver.

'At age 64 I am not an old time thresher, but the steamer always intrigued me. I grew up on the steamer and have had a good supply of old catalogs and repair books to study from childhood. Better yet, my late father was a real steam fan who observed all the changes that took place and had a wonderful memory, and he passed a lot of this on to me because I was interested. My father was one of the thousands of steam engineers who loved the engines, not like most, something to beat to death, like thousands of horses, like with the majority.

'I owned a 60 HP Case for 40 years and a 16 HP Nichols and Shepard and a 65 HP Case for 31 years.

'It will be argued to the end of the world about the merits of the hook-up valve gear. Personally, I believe none of it.

'I have a picture here somewhere sent years ago to my father by the late Leroy Blaker. The engine pictured was a 32 HP double cylinder Reeves used in a sawmill nearby in the 1940s. Mr. Blaker stated on the back that it was a fuel and water hog.

'About a year ago, a man sent in a letter to the Album and he stated that he hauled water to a 32 HP double cylinder Reeves years ago in Canada. He stated that the engine used six tanks of water one day and seven the next day, there were 14 barrel tanks.

'That wonderful jumping and kicking Clay valve gear did nothing for either of these double cylinder engines.

'A popular big Reeves engine was also a 32 HP size and had attached the Clay gear. This engine was economical because it was a cross compound; the economy derived from the design, not the valve gear. It will be observed that the Reeves Company pushed their compounds in later years.

'Mr. Burris talks of the Springer valve gear. The Avery Company built three types of engines and for economy they would be rated very poor, good and excellent.

'Perhaps the most economical steamer built was the return flue with the water front boiler built by the Avery Company. This boiler on a 20 HP size pulled a 32' and 36' Avery fully equipped thresher, on about 1100 lbs. of coal. The 18 HP and 20 HP under mounted Avery used a ton of coal and more to pull the same load. All affected steamers were equipped with the Springer valve gear. The economy of the return flue was in the boiler design, not the valve gear.

'My late father, in 1913, bought a new 60 HP Case and 36' x 58' thresher, and a neighbor bought a similar rig in 1913. My father ran both engines and knew them. Here are the most interesting facts. The engine he bought new consistently burned 1800 lbs. of coal, day after day, threshing. The other engine pulled the similar load, day after day, using only 1400 lbs. of coal.

'Some years back, I corresponded with an old-time thresher from Nebraska. He volunteered the information to me that he owned first a 45 HP Case, then a 50 HP Case. Both had 9' x 10' cylinders and both pulled the same 32' Case thresher. He stated that the engines both handled the load all right. He said however, the 45 HP engine pulled the load on 500 lbs. less coal daily.

'My father and this old thresher mentioned these engines cut their steam right. Perhaps Mr. Burris' slide rule could analyze why these very similar engines behaved in this way.

'The late Marcus Leonard of Salina, Kansas, who was one our last steam experts and an Advance salesman, said he talked to the head designer of the new Advance-Rumely steam engine. The engine was tested with several hook-up valve gears, by comparison to the Marsh gear; they didn't measure up so were thrown on the scrap pile.

'My late father, like Marcus Leonard, was considered a thresher expert. He owned 23 engines in all over a period of years, and he ran engines for others also.

'He ran engines equipped with the following gears: Arnold, Grime, Woolf, Link, Giddings, Marsh and Springer. My father had the ability to rebuild any machinery he owned or for others, which he enjoyed doing.

'Mr. Burris makes reference to the railroad engine. Most railroads did extensive testing for economy with different valve gears. A lot of railroads owned their own coal mines and got their fuel for little or nothing. A lot of that coal was very poor quality and to the observer from a distance had a high dust content. How effective the economy testing was according to the articles I read was anyone's guess.

'A man who worked at Belle Plaine, Iowa where C. & N.W. Railroad had a division, told me personally of the railroad allotting a pint of steam cylinder oil to each cylinder for a big engine to run to the next division. So much for the economy as practiced by the railroads.

'Of course, all of this is water over the dam now. Leroy W. Blaker made much of the hook-up valve gear. He was a good engineer and affected some good economy runs with his Port Huron engines, but in the end where his engines derived their economy was big pressure steam and compound cylinders.

'My late father told me about many engineers he ran into years ago. Most were very average, not like our reunion type. Of course, the most of them did pretty good with some of the clunkers they had to run.

'Like I said before, I mean no disrespect for Mr. Burris and he can believe as he chooses, as did Mr. Orrin Seaver.'

F. A. JACOBS, (an IMA reader for over 30 years), 8808 Burton, RR1, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50813 writes: 'Noting your dilemma in the November-December issue, I decided to pass on an interesting display that we happened to visit in August. Only by noticing the advertising folder in a highway rest area did we learn of and go see the exhibit. As several of the units were steam powered, I thought other steam people might be interested.

'The brochure is from Wyandot Popcorn Museum, 135 Wyandot Ave., Marion, Ohio 43302, if you care to write. It is 45 miles north of Columbus on U.S. Rt. 23. The brochure encourages one to visit one of the largest collections of poppers and peanut roasters.

'All the classic poppers are here: Cretors, Dunbar, Kingery, Holcomb & Hoke, Cracker Jack, Long-Eakin, Excel, Manley, Burch, Star, Bartholomew, Royal, Advance, even a few homemade one-of-a-kind antiques.

'There is a lot more information on the brochure telling me that many of you steam people may really be interested in visiting this museum.'

ROBERT O'HARA, 1100 E. Indiantown Rd., Apt 408, Jupiter, FL 33477 is looking for a copy of a movie mentioned in IMA five or six years ago; it was on steam engines. He doesn't have the name of the individual who had this movie, or the title of the movie, but he would appreciate hearing from anyone who knows about it and where he can find it. His phone is 407-744-6209.

And before I close I want to thank you all again for your wonderful, inspiring letters. I have not used them all this time, so I have a start on the next column. God bless each and everyone of you.

I would like to share this inspirational writing. I have a copy posted on my cupboard forget to read it every day, but I do many times stop and ponder on it and ask

You usher in another day
Untouched and freshly new
So here I come to ask you, God
If you'll renew me too
Forgive the many errors
That I made yesterday
And let me try again, Dear God
To walk closer in Thy way
But Father, I am well aware
I can't make it on my own
So take my hand and hold it tight
For I can't walk alone!

That's about it for this time. Remember, if you don't know what to give someone at any time, a hug is a wonderful gift it fits everyone and it can be exchanged!