Soot in the flues

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Hello, friends! Hard to believe, as we sit here in mid-March waiting for what should be the last, and what you could actually call our first real storm of winter, that this issue will be in your hands in the merry, merry month of May. Ah, May! Earth's warm breath blowing gently over fields wearing a veil of green. . . the year's bright flowers being planted to add color to our home's landscape. . . blah, blah, blah, right? You're not interested in those things, you've got SHOW SEASON on your mind!

Things really get hopping this time of year. The 1999 Steam & Gas Engine Show Directory (required reading for anyone interested in this hobby), lists at least 260 events taking place in May and June. Remember, while you're out there having fun, to do so safely. Also, take a few notes so that you can write up a great show report to share with your collecting comrades through the pages of IMA. And speaking of your fellow collectors, let's get on with those letters!

We start off this month with a nice long letter from our friend CHADY ATTEBERRY, 931 Robin Road, Blackwell, Oklahoma 74631, who says, 'I always enjoy the letters in your column. After reading the article Jim Russell had you reprint, 'A Defense of Advance Thresher Company' by Marcus Leonard, I'll enclose some Advance pictures. I knew Marcus and always enjoyed his many fine articles. The late Lyman Knapp and I visited Marcus at his home in Salina, Kansas. Marcus also attended the early Wichita shows in the 1950s.

'All of these pictures are of my good friends.'

Picture #1 is a 13 HP Nichols and Shepard, number 8838; you can also see the back of a 15 HP Case number 13690. The young man sitting on the barrel is Tommy Stebritz from Algona, Iowa, who has written so many interesting articles. When Tommy writes, people listen. Few people today have the background and knowledge he has to write about steam engines. Picture taken March 1930.

Picture #2 is a 22 HP Advance engine owned by the late Harry Trego threshing near Halstead, Kansas, October 1915. Harry is on the engine. Harry was at the Threshers Convention in Wichita, Kansas, when Mr. A. D. Baker made his famous Baker fan test.

Picture #3 is of an Advance 16 HP engine. Allen Trego of Newton, Kansas, is shown on the engine. The picture was taken on the Claude Yaughgar farm near Murdock, Kansas, April 8, 1953. Harry and Allen Trego were brothers. Both were top engine men, who have passed on to the Big Reunion. Allen was a locomotive engineer on the Santa Fe out of Newton, Kansas.

'When you had the likes of Allen Trego, Big Mac and other real steam men on your board of directors, the meetings got interesting. I served on the board with these men, along with Herb and Harold Ottaway and the late Lyman Knapp. I well remember Mac and Allen wanting to bar all tractors from the show. It wasn't gas engines, John Deeres or an old Waterloo Boy that wouldn't start that started our shows. It was threshing and steam engines.'

Picture #4 is a 40 HP Advance cross compound. LeRoy Blaker is by the front wheel, June 1941. The engine was junked in 1949. Marcus Leonard had a lot to do with designing the 40 C.C. Advance.

'Picture #5 is my dear friend Ivan Burns from Edmond, Oklahoma, and his 25 HP double rear-mounted Gaar Scott threshing at his home in the fall of 1997.' Dale Wolff from Cushing, Oklahoma, was the engineer. Ivan's dad fired this engine plowing at night, when the engine was new. They plowed around the clock. This was Ivan's first engine that he restored. Ivan is a real steam man. He served as president of the Oklahoma Steam Threshers for eighteen years.

Years ago Lyle Hoffmaster blasted Avery real good in the Iron Men Album. Lyle's last sentence was, 'So as to not insult my Avery friends, they did build a pretty good jack.'

'Thanks to Harold Ottaway, I got a good Avery jack last fall. It's so handy around the shop, I don't know how I ever got along without one.'

'The boys had a lot of fun kidding me about buying the Alberta Sas katchewan Special under-mounted Avery number 4868. I enjoyed their ribbing as much as they did writing the articles. What they don't understand is that I only collect the engines that brought the gold back to the U.S'

The picture above was sent to us by JOHN FOLEY, 201 10th Avenue NW, Waukon, Iowa 52172-1019. John says, 'This is a picture of my neighbors' threshing machine and engine. The photo was taken around 1916 and shows Jim Houlihan (1860-1925) standing by his return flue Huber steam engine and threshing machine.

In addition to the threshing crew, the photo includes his wife, Mary; daughters Mamie, Nellie and Stacia; sons Bernard, Johnny, Emmit and Leonard; and granddaughter Josie.'

MELVIN PIERCE, Rt 2 Box 15A, Scranton, North Dakota 58653,, writes, 'These are photos of a Reeves engine. The first one shows my grandfather, Charles A. Pierce, beside his 25 HP cc U.S. lap-seam Reeves. He owned it since 1917. This picture was taken at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion at Rollag, Minnesota, about 1958. He had the engine restored that year.

It sat outside away from the farm from 1928, when he quit using it, until 1955, when he brought it up to the farm to start work on it. During the years it had many items stolen off it to sell, so a lot had to be replaced. At least he had the foresight to not scrap the engine and boiler. He dearly loved Reeves engines, and would not let it go.

'I wonder if during the depression he and my grandmother had any discussions about selling it for scrap to get some money for the family to live on.' I would think it would have been thought about! We all lament the fact today that so many were scrapped, but it is hard to find fault with anyone then for doing it, as money was very tight in farming those days, and it must have been a sacrifice to the ones who saved their engines.

He had been an engineer on other engines, and other Reeves, for a number of years before he bought this one in 1917. The previous owner bought a big gas tractor, and sold him the Reeves, but after using the gas for a year the original owner wanted to buy the Reeves back. Grandpa would not sell, though.

In 1961 he had the flues replaced and a jacket put on the boiler. In the late 1980s we had to remove the jacket so the boiler inspector could ultrasound the whole body of the boiler. He stated it is one of the best in North Dakota. We have not put the jacket back, as it will need to be ultra sounded again. We can tell on a cool day it is harder to fire without the jacket. If one was to use it a lot, a jacket would sure save fuel.

The photo shows a picture of it as it was brought up to the farm in 1955. As you can tell, it was weathered a lot sitting out. He had put it away tight in the boiler though, so it was in good shape. The canopy and jacket were shot, and a lot of the piping and brass were gone. The brass serial number plate had already been stolen by 1917 when he bought it. They must have been great souvenirs. It sure would be nice to have it! I see later ones went to cast-in numbers on the smoke door. A lot harder to steal!

'I am trying to locate Reeves equipment and water tanks and wagons to have a more complete Reeves line at our local threshing show here in southwest North Dakota. I would appreciate it if anyone knew of such for sale and let me know.'

'I'll have more photos and information soon. Thanks for a great column and magazine.'

GORDON McLEAN, Box 1404, Beaverlodge, Alberta, Canada TOH 0C0 offers these photos:

'Picture #1 is of the outfit owned by Colin McLean and was taken in 1903 at Indian Head, Saskatchewan, Canada. Colin is my great-grandfather and is standing beside the back wheel. Can someone identify the thresher for me?'

'Picture #2 is also Colin's rig, but taken in 1908 at the farm of J. Kerr, also at Indian Head. Somewhere between 1903 and 1908 Colin upgraded to the traction engine and thresher with the feeder and wind stacker.'

'Picture #3 belongs to William (Bill) McLean, son of Colin. It was taken in 1924 at Fillmore, Saskatchewan. Bill is standing in the middle of the photo, my uncle is on the engine, and my dad is on the bundle rack at the feeder.'

'I hope the readers enjoy these photos. If any of you can supply any information about them please do so. I intend to make a collection of old photos showing engines in use and I'll be happy to pass them along to IMA. Seeing the older photographs published is always interesting. Perhaps you could pass along some tips as to the best way we can reproduce old photos so they will be in a format suitable for publication.'

You're absolutely right, Gordon, that seeing those old photos is always interesting. Some of them are just breathtakingly beautiful, as much works of art as they are documentary evidence of engine styles and agricultural practices.

As for their reproduction in the magazine, we work primarily from actual photographs. Thus, if you've got old negatives you'd like to see in print, get prints made at your local photography shop or processor, and send those prints to us, rather than the negatives. If you've got old prints, you can send them to us and, through the magic of our printer's camera, we can shoot right from the old print to film used in producing the magazine. Sometimes those old prints are very fragile, however, and you may hesitate (rightly so) to put such delicate materials through the rigors of the postal system. If that's the case, see if your local photography shop can make prints from them, and send the prints, rather than the original, to us. We've also been getting fairly good results from printouts of images that people have scanned into their computers, so if you are (or know) a technology whiz, you can give that a try.

One method that won't give a very good reproduction is photo copying. Usually that method just provides a dark silhouette, with no detail or shades of gray. We don't recommend sending us photocopies of photos-you'll be disappointed!

ADAM PARKS writes, 'I'm writing this to say thank you for printing the picture and the write-up I sent you. Actually, it's the second time I got my name in your magazine; one other time was about four or five years ago. As for this latest time, my granddad was shocked to find his picture and my write-up there, because I don't think he is really used to a computer, and a scanner-ha ha! He now knows that this is a much FASTER way of sending in questions and such, plus no postage.

'As of right now, the Nichols and Shepard is under some boiler work.' During the Veterans' Day parade, the bead inside the boiler (where it had been patched) sounded like an injector was on, but needless to say, it wasn't.

'Now, the old engine has been repainted, has new water tanks, boiler repaired, and soon new flues will be put in. Some could say that the old engine has been born again . . .'

'I have some recent pictures of the Case sawing wood, and I'll have some pictures of the Nichols and Shepard in action once we get it repaired.'

'Also, my granddad says Hi!'

(Adam is referring to the picture on page 6 of March/April 1999 IMA. He is the grandson of well-known steam man BILLY M. BYRD of 369 South Harrig Street, Madisonville, KY 42431.)

We have another short item from MELVIN PIERCE, Rt. 2, Box 15A, Scranton, North Dakota 58653 who asks, 'Do you know what happened to the Reeves Historical Society that C. Syd Matthews used to head? Did someone take it over? Do you know where the information went?'

(If anyone has the answer to Melvin's query, we at Stemgas would like to know the answer as well, so please send a note to this column if you have the information.)

We appreciate this interesting letter from BRIAN MANNING, 72 Castleglen Way NE, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3J 1T3: 'Thank you for producing such a great magazine for us steam enthusiasts.'

'The picture is of Pioneer Acres of Alberta Third Annual Model and Hobby Show.' It was held on May 23 and 24, 1998, with over 50 exhibits ranging from several gauges of locomotives to a seven-foot-high working model of a prairie grain elevator, and everything in between. It was a terrific two days. Pictured in the lineup are, left to right, ? scale Advance Rumely 25 HP, owned by Pioneer Acres and operated by Brian Manning; ? scale 65 HP Case, owned and operated by Dave Fitchie of Camrose, Alberta; ? scale 80 HP Case, built, owned, operated by Henry Eichorn of Donalda, Alberta; and a full-size 65 HP Case operated by Barry Hanna of Colemen, Alberta.

'This year's show will be held on May 29 and 30. Pioneer Acres is an agricultural museum only 30 minutes from Calgary, Alberta, just outside the village of Irricana. On fifty acres, we restore and operate one of western Canada's largest collections of antique machinery, including a blacksmith shop, stationary steam engine building, school house, Women's World building, and a turn of the century farmhouse. Our annual show will be held August 6, 7, and 8.'

We received this e-mail from LAN-DON SKILES, 17950 66.50 Road, Montrose, Colorado 81401: 'I am looking for plans to build a steam engine and boiler to adapt into my car in place of the internal combustion engine. I have heard of plans for VW's and was looking for other plans. I have also heard that fitting the boiler for a 350 cid engine in a standard car would be difficult because of its size, so I was thinking along the lines of a Toyota six-cylinder or a four-cylinder, of which I have more access to parts. I have a Toyota 2wd pickup with a camper shell I would be more than happy to modify to accomplish my goals. Any information would be helpful.'

An encouraging letter from DENNIS M. EMERY, 4391 Stewart Road, Metamora, Michigan 48455-9777, who writes: 'Just received my latest issue of IMA of March/April 1999, and lo and behold on page 10 there is a picture sent in by Mr. Harris Jorgenson of Minnetonka, Minnesota, of a Huber engine, return flue. The engine appears to be of a 25 HP size, or close to it anyway. It also looks like the flywheel is on the operator's right hand side, with the cylinder and connecting rod being on the left. It does look like a straw burner.

My family came to Minnesota territory about 1860 and settled in the Little Prairie area of what is now Rice County, near Northfield.

I do have a large collection of Huber literature and also am the proud owner of my father's 12 HP 1903 Huber engine.

'My family threshed in that area of Minnesota (Little Prairie-Stanton) for many years.'

Thank you, and keep the magazine pointed to the future. Oh, one more thing, I also echo my good friend Randy Schwerin's comments about the young people being involved with the hobby. It is very noticeable at the shows how the youngsters have jumped in to help with whatever task needs doing. I think our steam hobby future will be in good hands. May God Bless!'

Faithful contributor EDWIN H. BREDEMEIER, Route 1, Box 13, Steinauer, Nebraska 68441 writes: 'Have you heard yet about my goof? Well, I guess at 90, it is time I made a few.

On page 8 of the March/April '99 issue, column one, paragraph one, I wrote 'the engineer usually ran the engine over. That means that facing the engine belt pulley it ran clockwise.' Clockwise was wrong. It should read 'counterclockwise.'

'I'll bet we hear a lot about that goof!'

'Some day I plan on writing about different designs and shapes.'

'I once heard a group of men discussing the pros and cons of engines, and their preferences. One gent in the group did not have much to say, and when the discussion tapered off they asked him what he thought was his preference of maker of engines. He said all engines were designed to work, and it was 10% the engine, and 90% the engineer!'

Well said! Until next time, enjoy those shows!

Steamcerely, Linda & Gail