Soot in the flues

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Just wanted to say I have gotten a few more letters please keep them coming. Don't think you can't write or that it won't be used IT WILL. I appreciate your writings. This is your magazine where your interests count! Now, we are coming into the spring issues and I found a worthy article to print called, What Is A Miracle? 'Recently a group of community leaders objected so strongly to a man who claimed to heal people through faith, that they issued this statement: 'Miracles ceased with the death of the last Apostle.'

I do not claim to be a Bible student, but I do remember many of the verses read to us by the teacher when I was a small boy in school. And I am confident that somewhere in the Book is the unequivocal statement: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 12:8.)

Now my question to the learned gentlemen is if Jesus is the same today and forever, and if those divine healings really were made in the days of the Apostles, why can't there be divine healings and other so-called miracles today?

I suppose that it may all depend upon what you call a miracle. Still, I have placed so many thousands of seemingly lifeless eggs in my poultry incubators, and three weeks later taken out husky, living chicks ready to grow, and later reproduce, that I have to believe in miracles of today.

'I never took off a hatch of chicks without feeling that I was working in the midst of miracles. To me every life, from the lowest form to the highest, is a miracle.'

'Just the other day, in the mud under my window, I scattered seeds so small as to be almost invisible. And someday, later this summer, there will be beautiful flowers of brilliant colors with petals that shine like silk, that will come from those tiny seeds. If these aren't miracles from God, what are they? Eben Wood.' This was taken from The Guideposts Treasury of Hope.

AND, it is not hard for me to believe in miracles. I have had quite a few of my own. But I won't go into that now. And they are being performed every day.

I will make a suggestion here. Write me one of your miracles. And also how about a few recipes being sent in again, or whatever you feel we all might be interested in. This is Iron-Men Magazine and all the writers are great! But I know you also lead good interesting lives, aside from the steam hobby!

This story comes from EARL MAYNARD, Box 289, Millville, Utah 84326: 'My love and regards to you Anna Mae. You are the very life and personality of our beloved Iron-Men Album, although I liked its original name better.' I have been a subscriber from its very first issue in 1946, just after my return from the South Pacific in World War II as a Pharmacist Mate First Class, having served the Navy with two years overseas, 4 years in all.

I was visiting at the home of L. K. Wood in Mendon, Utah, near Logan here, when Linn received that initial copy from Rev. Elmer Ritzman, the cherished founder. Mr. Wood was so impressed with it that he said he must subscribe to it. I felt the same and did likewise. It has meant so very much over the decades. What a vivid tie with our glorious past in the golden age of horses and steam traction engines and the adjunct of family farms they only could make it so existent. Those were the days of joy, of pageantry, of warm jovial community, enduring fellowship and comraderie! Sheer contentment amid the wonder, beauty, vastness of the truly rural agricultural world of America and Canada, amid the wonders of God's world of nature beneath His starry or sunlit heavens by day and by night!

It was with a great sadness when I read of the loss of your dearly beloved husband and companion and all those years when you brought forth your five darling children.

'In issue #46 you talked about quitting. Please don't! We feel like we know you from your warm, inspiring, so-needed writings for us.' You are so much a part of our corporate lives, need we say more? Soot in the Flues. Wish I could even clean the flues of an engine again, or cut out rubber gaskets for the boiler, etc.' (At this point, Earl said how much he would like to do all these chores again.) I'm sure many of you feel the same about the old days you so much enjoyed. (Then Mr. Maynard went on with paragraphs of accolades, admiration, enjoyment and yes, I believe a love for my writings much too much to mention here.) But I'll tell you, I've never thought of me being much more than an ordinary spirit-filled Christian and one who loves people and especially all of you steam lovers. (Thanks, Earl Maynard, for making me feel worthwhile. I've enjoyed the trip believe me, and with your kind words, I will continue with the column as long as the letters come from all of you wonderful folks.)

'How I enjoyed 'Cobs From Elmer's Corn Crib'' continues our writer, 'Him sitting out there in front, tossing cobs over his shoulder as he shelled corn, as he chatted so neighborly with us.

And Earlene Ritzman in her school room picture standing before her beloved blackboard, teaching her attentive pupils their ciphers, like it used to be with us some seventy and more years ago in our delightful one-room country school in that golden age, that was our blessed and unique privilege which I have tried to relate in the enclosed story of my memories.

First, I have a reminder to the younger generation which may be in order. We were never 'operators' nor ever 'operated' a steam engine or thresher or grain binder, be it a pull binder or a push binder. We ran the engine, ran the thresher or separator, ran the binder. We were respectively 'engineers,' 'separator tenders,' 'bindermen,' 'header punchers,' 'firemen,' 'spike pitchers,' 'bundle pitchers' (in the field), 'bundle haulers,' 'oilers,' 'sack sewers,' 'sack jigs,' 'roustabouts' (with team and buggy to town for food-grub, and any needed threshing supplies). You should know the long list needed to keep a big custom threshing outfit or rig going-as cook and cook's helper in the cook house or wagon. There never was a 'steam tractor.' We loathed tractors! We gloried in 'steam engines' or 'steam traction engines' (if needed to be more definitive).

'We had firemen, as all steam threshing engines were fired on straw out here in the vast Pacific Northwest. In timbered areas for some other work, engines would be fired on wood. Steam engines fired on straw wafted the sweetest smelling fragrance that ever assailed the nostrils of man!' The same could be said for new burlap grain sacks, (there was no such thing as 'bags'), binder twine and linen sack (sewing) twine.

'Sweet smelling was grain straw or pea straw, flax straw and their light blue smoke, even fragrant wood smoke.'

Never, ever was there ever heard of a boiler explosion in all Pacific Northwest farming country. In those days (age of horses and steam power) closest to God's heaven on earth! We had pure spring water bubbling forth everywhere, conveniently, or artesian well water for our engines, I horses and men were hauled by water bucks atop water tanks on spring seats, as were the grain (sack) wagons. They were single six-foot, or double, lead trail wagon: or three wagons (lead and two trail wagons) pulled respectively by four, six, eight or ten (a jerk line outfit) head of horses paired in spans of two to supply us that pure water in the vast fields for the great custom outfits and teams hauling grain.

'We had marvelously skilled, fast sack sewers working in the 'dog house' (some of which were equipped with the tall Dakota grain elevators; sewing fresh new fragrant burlap grain sacks-not these horrible slippery plastic ones of decadent, non-rural, today).' We sewed sacks with fragrant linen sack twine, specially braided into 'skeins' for rapid sewing of up to around 2000 sacks of grain in a 12-hour day's run sitting upon their sack grain seats with flashing steel sack needles as the sack jig set fully jigged-down packed grain sacks to the two busy sack sewers who rapidly sewed; three half-hitches over the two 'ears' of the grain sack, cut the looped twine by a quick snap of the twine cutter inside the sack needle, snapping the needle into a new twine loop, flipping the 135 lb. sewed sack to the knees and walking off to lay it neatly horizontally upon the rapidly growing sack pile, stacked five high onto flat-topped sack pile parallel to the thresher. Those sack piles made the most comfortable and relaxing 'couch' imaginable to stretch out upon in a short respite amidst the refreshing fragrance of new burlap sacks, listening to the soothing undulating hum and rustling of the thresher, all in motion pulleys all over the flashing, spinning and revolving by belts or sprocket chains supplying and transmitting motion where needed to perform the threshing functions. Seeing the thresher glowing in the golden dust of a steady flow of paired bundles traveling up the extension feeder, onto the feeder and disappearing into the twine cutting knives revolving or oscillating to cut and flatten out the grain before entering the cylinder revolving at 600 RPM, or at the rate of 60 miles per hour.

The high-lifted and extended blower with raised hood let the golden straw arch far over a golden growing mountain of straw stack! This is a refuge, a shelter and feed for burrowing cattle and horses in the cold, wintering out in the fields.

Back to the busy threshing machine, all fascinating motion with pulleys of all sizes and speeds driven by leather or canvas belts correctly laced with whang leather, as well as properly tensioned to do their work well. Link chains on driving sprocket wheels. Feeder knives and grain rack pitmen were fascinating motion. The separator had climbed the ladder to the separator deck and was standing atop to survey all that great machine's mechanism in motion and the even flow of bundles into it; giving attention and care wherever needed, or repairing, or adjusting, if momentary shut-down was needed by a wave of hand to the ever watchful engineer on his fire steed, all aflame and under high steam pressure; something like a 140 to 160 pound against every square inch of steel in that governed, obedient engine.

'The oiler was going about that vibrant working threshing machine with oil can to oil bearing cups, cotton wicking packed as they would be at times.' Or sometimes he would turn the grease cups a little periodically as needed to supply fresh grease to laboring, yet smoothly rolling journals, especially high-speed heavy duty cylinders and blower bearings to prevent 'hot boxes' and the danger of melting babbitt bearings that could cause costly labor delay.

'The spike cleaner pitchers were cleaning up unthreshed, spilled grain under the feeder; or climbing up on incoming bundle wagons helping the bundle haulers unload and consisting of a fleet of up to 15 bundle wagons and trams hauling in shocked grain from the field to the setting; pitching the bundles skillfully head first onto the extension feeder and the main feeder itself.'

'The tender was high up on the separator deck looking towards the magnificent engine laying back in its 175 foot drive belt swaying rhythmically in beautiful undulations between separator and engine working harmoniously together in a symphony and blending of each one's respective melody into an anthem of heavenly harmony!'

The regular light blue straw smoke pulses from the appearing crown of the dominant smokestack as apparent 'thinking' head of steam engine 'talking,' 'singing' away to us in syllables of steam. A creation nearly 'alive' with steam hissing in little wisps at the golden safety valve indicating a full head of steam. The steam gauge hand was monitoring pressure. Water gauge on boiler glass at water level, rising-falling slowly. The furnace fire flowing in a steady white-hot stream twinkling out of the peep-hole, fire door or straw chute wherein a raging flame is coming off the grates, passing over the fire arch and on into the boiler flues white-hot from the skilled regular firing or a good fireman. Also the water buckle and straw buck, who with the team and bundle wagon, hauls straw from the separator's blower lowered to fill his wagon, returns to the engine, pitches off the straw in a pile behind the engine for the fireman.'

'Mr. Maynard had done a terrific job in describing the process of the steam rigs and workers. There is much more to the story and I am going to continue it in the next issue (May-June) as I do want to get some other letters in this column. I think Mr. Maynard could probably be an author who is very good with the descriptions. So look for the rest of this very picturesque description of the farming days. Thanks, Earl, and I'm sure you understand. I'm happy to have the material. Thanks, again!'

MAX G. CROTHERS, 7960 Harris Road, Marlette, Michigan 48453 sends this nice comment: 'This is to compliment and thank you for your thoughtful articles at the beginning and sometimes the end of your Soot In The Flues column. I read one of them at the close of a meeting and they all liked it so much they wanted a copy. Two people were going to put it in the church bulletins.

'Also they wanted to know if there were more items, so I looked up some back issues and found more and read them the next time. Thank you for printing them and giving us the privilege of reading them' (Thank you Max for letting me know. I try to gather such writings and thought some of my IMA family would be interested.)

'I understand the material for your column is not too fluent with over 5000 subscribers this is sad,' writes LOYD CREED, RR 3, Box 381, Danville, Illinois 61832, 'If anyone has been to a steam engine auction it would be nice to forward the auction results to you to publish. Old postcards and pictures of steam engines are very interesting material.

'Enclosed are two pictures of an engine that was sold new in our neighborhood and last spring sold at an estate auction. It went for $6800 and was in decent shape. My son wanted to take it home, however my wife did not.

'I would like to build a ' or 6' scale model of a Case water wagon and need the appropriate measurements. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who would have this information. Thank you!'

This letter comes from the far north as it was sent by RICH BARLOW, 3833 Lismore Circle, North Pole, Alaska 99705, who writes: 'Well, I promised to fill you and the readers in on what happened during the summer, so here goes.'

'First, I need to explain that summers are a very busy time in Alaska.' There are many things that have to be attended to and very little time to get them done. Unfortunately, there was no time at all to go looking for old iron, but I have developed some very good leads that will be investigated as time allows. I have heard from several different people; reports of abandoned traction engines. These reports are interesting in that the engines reportedly have drilling rigs mounted on them. The story I have pieced together is that these rigs were used for gold prospecting. The well borings were checked for pay dirt, then the drilling-rig was folded back over the engine and moved to the next site. It would be interesting to hear if anyone else has ever heard of this practice. I will try to find and photograph these engines, (and salvage) if possible.

The project that kept me from prospecting for old iron this summer should be of interest to the Iron-Men readers. Our locomotive club was called upon to help salvage a 1925 vintage industrial complex that was slated for demolition. We didn't find any tractors, but we struck gold in hardware, flue pipe, malleable iron bolts, rivets by the ton! Most of the things that are needed to do any type of restoration work. Most important, we will have access to a complete heavy machine shop and forge. This is a wonderful old facility, all shaft-driven and in remarkably good shape. The owner intends to restore the shop and open it as a living museum allowing organized groups to use the shop for restoration work. If all goes well, we'll have an excellent facility in Fairbanks, Alaska, by 1995.

'That's about it for now. I haven't heard from any of the readers, but it's still early, as I just received the November-December issue. I promise to let you know about any response I receive. Until then, keep the pop valve simmering!'

WILLIAM FRYE, Brandon, Minnesota 56313 is remembering back in the '30s as he tells us: 'I shocked grain for 21 days and I pitched bundles for 42 days. One year I pitched bundles on a large steam outfit, a Minneapolis 80 HP engine and 36' Avery Yellow Fellow. We had 12 bundle teams. We were threshing over half a mile east of railroad tracks. This was in the afternoon. A train came along and blew its whistle for the crossing and the engineer blew his whistle back to him. I was unloading and the team took off. I had two shocks of bundles left and didn't get the team stopped until I was way out in the corner of the wheat field with one of the farmer's teams I was driving and they were high-spirited, but after that, everything went fine. I could write a lot more threshing incidents.' (Please do! We'll be happy for them!)

Two pictures and descriptions come from DANIEL ALDRICH, 34540 Sherwood Drive, Solon, Ohio 44139: 'Ask and you shall receive! You asked for some more information about Jim Malz's 1916 20th Century 16 HP.' It has some unique characteristics; for one, the crown sheet is only about 12-16 inches deep about two staybolts deep. The tubes extend into the firebox and makes this engine very easy to steam. I've seen it pop off with only coals in the firebox. The engine has no friction clutch to engage the traction gearing. You must slide a gear over after aligning it with its key located on the crankshaft. Jim told me that this engine was owned by Rev. Elmer Ritzman during the late 50's and the boiler was rebuilt at Arthur Young's shop. The stay bolts are enough to make any steam person green with envy!

The pictures are part of the Malz's steam collection at the Porterville show, which is one of the best in the area. Marilyn Malz is operating the 20th Century and is a very fine person and steam engine operator as well.

(This paragraph was to me, but I think you will all enjoy it.) 'Well, Anna Mae, I hope this helped you out and I would like to tell you that this is my first note to you. I guess I represent the next generation of steam people. I am 28 and totally addicted to steam. The rest of the family thinks I am nuts, but there is nothing more soothing than a steamer running with the throttle open and all you hear is the clicking of the valves to know all is right with the world turning.' (7 enjoyed this comment Daniel, and please write again and it is so good to hear from the younger generation also.)

'Hi, Folks: It's always interesting to read Soot In The Flues' by Anna Mae, but we need to help 'shovel the coal' if we want Soot In The Fluesl Here comes a couple of shovels full!' says JOHN STUZMAN, R. 1, Lakeside, Ontario, Canada N0M 2G0.

Noting reference to the 150 HP Case, it is also of interest to me. In which issue and where was that large Case in the house on the rock supposed to be located? I'd appreciate this information. Apparently, one was shipped to Wisconsin. Could this be the one?

'About six years ago I found out about a large set of wheels in Kansas.' I kept in touch with the gentleman who owned them and in January '93, my friend, Charles Bettman and I went out to see them. I bought them and the chassis they were mounted on and had them shipped home in late August (see enclosed photo).

The rear wheels are 32' wide by 96' diameter with a 7' solid steel axle. The front wheels are 14' wide by 60' diameter. A large winch is built into the frame and it was used to pull stumps. The boiler and engine are missing, but the bull gears are still mounted into the wheels. The front wheels look similar to Case. Someone supposedly built two of these, around Ames, Iowa. Anyone have any more information?

'I also note that Nick Kuz, Hadashville, Manitoba joined the IMA clan. Last April I had stopped in and met Nick and had a short visit. His hired man gave a tour of his sawmill and planing mill. Glad to see you are taking up such a worthwhile hobby, Nick, and welcome aboard! Now I must close the damper and let someone else on the platform!'

DICK R. TURRENTINE, 208 Browning Drive, Kilgore, Texas 75662 sends this communication: 'In the July-August issue, you printed my letter of the Mission trip I had been on the previous year. I was asking for help to find a steam engine to produce electricity and power for the mission Rincon del Tigre, Bolivia. I would like to thank God first, and then everyone who helped with this task to find the perfect engine.

'In that same issue I saw an advertisement in the 'for sale' columns of the magazine; a 1925 Frick portable sized 10' x 12', rebuilt and ready to run in Missouri.' I called the number, spoke with a woman and within ten minutes received a phone call from the owner. His name is Victor Shepardson of Lakemont, New York. Victor told me a story which only God could have planned from the beginning. Victor had rebuilt that steam engine and other equipment to build an old town with gift shops and other establishments, to provide funding to build and maintain an orphanage for children without anyone to love them. It seems Victor was an orphan and wanted to help the unfortunate.

Our church put together a team of four men, Dennis Chessman, Gary Body, Dan Meadows, and myself to travel to Missouri, inspect and purchase and ship the steam engine to first, Kilgore, Texas, and then on to Rincon del Tigre. The engine is in Santa Crud, Bolivia awaiting transportation and clearance of the government. I never dreamed what size task it could be to find, purchase and ship a steam engine to Bolivia.

It has taken about three months to get the engine that far, and is now possibly waiting until after February to reach its final destination. From November to March is the winter (or rainy season) there. The 50-mile road from the railroad to the mission is nothing more than a path through the jungle which is very rarely traveled. Most of the trips made in and out of the mission are in a small aircraft. Only supplies are transported by trucks.

'The Missionaries are all very grateful to God who has supplied their need once more, and I myself, am grateful to God for allowing our church to be a small part of His great plan of salvation for people all around the world. PRAISE GOD!'

'I really enjoy IMA, especially Soot In The Flues and I'm glad to see more articles coming in lately,' writes BILL EVERSFIELD, Friendship, Maryland 20758. 'Just a brief response to Mr. Joe Dill's questions in September-October issue.' The 'duck bill' F-30 Farmall refers to the shape of the steering gear housing. This housing is shaped sort of like a duck's bill. I believe this was used on the earlier F-30s as the two F-30s my friend owns have steering housings similar to the F-30s. They are 1935 models, I think.

A good example can be seen on page 309, lower left in C. H. Wendel's 150 Years of International Harvester. Later style of steering is shown upper left, page 310.

'Last May, I saw a 'duck bill' at Watkins Regional Park, Largo, Maryland.' This tractor is outside for kids to play on. The serial number placed it around the first hundred built. This is the first and only duck bill I remember seeing.

'Some F-20s used this steering also (top, page 311 in book). As for Tractor Farming, Mr. Dell is quite right that IH sent this to customers.' I bought a box of old tractor books and one issue was included. Mr. Dill also states he received the magazine from 1936-1940. My issue is November-December, so Mr. Dill's memory is correct again.

'Tractor Farming was 30 pages long and quite interesting, showing most all of the IHC line. There are several articles on farmers who use IH equipment; as well as jokes, odd stories and safety tips; makes for interesting reading!'

'I hope this answers Mr. Dill's question somewhat.'

'Best wishes to all the IMA readers in 1994. We hope our friends in the Midwest are getting back on their feet after this summer of terrible floods.'

'I had a note along to put this letter in IMA, though it concerns some needed help with a 4 HP Witte engine with ignition changing mag to battery ignition.' The collector in need is HENRY G. LIEPE, SR., 3050 Linden Ave., Mays Landing, New Jersey 08330/609-965-6242.

Earlier in the column there was a short letter with pictures from Loyd Creed, R.R. 3, Box 381, Danville, Illinois 61832. I just received another one, so I thought I would get it in this column, too.

Loyd writes: 'I hope that the letters and material keep coming in as there are a lot of articles that should and could be sent in before time passes it by. Sometimes, I wonder if all of the subscribers realize that the IMA relies on the contributions from the people in this hobby. I confess as to not being an English major, but then again I don't have to be and neither does anyone else. It does seem that the same 10% of the people do contribute a lot of time and I am thankful for their letters. People might have material that they think might not be interesting, however it could be just what some of the folks are looking for in this hobby and should be published!'

'The picture a collection of steam engines. I borrowed the picture from the Richard Kemna family.' Richard's father, Fred, took the picture. There was no identification of where or when it was taken. Only one place comes to my mind when I look at it and that place is Steam Engine Joe's in Minnesota. If anyone else can put a finger on it, please let us know.

'The picture is of a friend of mine, Fred Blauth of Tower Hill, Illinois. I met Fred a few years ago and had tried to see him a couple times every year when I was able.' He likes all kinds of engines and enjoys being in contact with anyone in the steam hobby. People from far and wide know Fred from the many years that he has been involved with steam. He is now in a rest home in Shelbyville, Illinois. I would like to encourage people to write or just send a picture to Fred. He would enjoy it very much. His address is: Shelbyville Manor, P.O. Box 49, Shelbyville, Illinois 62565 ATTN: Fred Blauth.

'I used to get IMA to see the engines, however I have come to realize that the engines play a small role in this hobby compared to the people. If it was not for people like Fred Blauth, Russ Cade, Fred Kemna, Nate Lang, Bob Hughes, Bob Johnson and several others, I don't know if I would be involved in such a hobby. I wonder how many others would not be either. The point is don't forget the people who made the hobby.' (Thanks for this kind of letter Loyd, thinking of others IS a wonderful trait.)

A letter comes from GERALD STUCKEY, Route 1, Box 174, Martinton, Illinois 60951. 'In regard to Mr. Lewis' article (September-October issue, page 11). This is a picture of a stook loader being operated by my father, Lee Stuckey. It was in the View field, Saskatchewan area in 1913. The village of View field is no longer there, but it was about 30 miles North of Estavan. A sign along Highway 39 marks the View field Road.'

'In 1912, my parents, just married, moved from Illinois to that area with my father's family.' My parents lived in an abandoned sod house during the first summer while Dad built a granary. It was about 12 x 16 feet and that was their home while a house was being built. After so many years of grasshoppers, hail, drought, and early frost, my parents with their five children moved back to Illinois in December of 1924. That was the same area they left in 1912.

'Thanks to Mr. Lewis for the historical update on the stook loader.'

Two nice pictures and a letter comes from JIM O'CONNELL, 2151 95th Street, S. E., Delano, Minnesota 55328: 'I've been meaning to write for sometime as I enjoy your column and usually read it two or three times. I've enclosed two photos that my grandma gave me. She could not see well enough to identify anyone and passed away last March.

I believe this is a 40-140 Rumely plowing engine. I think the man on the engine in the first photo is my great uncle and the man standing near the belt, dressed in a suit coat is my great grandpa, John Westrup, owner of the engine and separator.

In the second photo, everyone has stopped for some beer and lunch I think the four ladies on the right are my great aunts and Great Grandma. I suspect these photos were taken on the home farm on the south edge of Winsted, Minnesota, in around 1923.

'If anyone can help me identify any of the people or knows what became of this engine, please contact me. Your help will be greatly appreciated!'

That's it for this time Folks. Keep smiling and keep writing. Love You!


Anna Mae