Soot in the Flues

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I know it isn't possible but let's face it is a reality This is the Nov/ Dec. issue where, oh where does the time fly?? It's still hot out and here we are talking less than three' months 'til Christmas Eve. We go through this every year only thing is, the years go faster and faster.

I'm sure you folks have enjoyed 1987 and please keep the letters and pictures coming to make up a greater year in 1988. Seems you folks are all enjoying the IMA still, but if there is anything else we can do to please or to better our publication, please let us know!

I must tell you of one of our not so good experiences my hubby and I do not do much traveling, and this summer, a couple of friends we know and love wanted us to go with them. 'Oh come go along, we'll come back in four or five days.' (Famous last words!) Well, we started out on a Saturday morning about seven. They wanted to head for Canada and the Thousand Islands and whereabouts. We started, everything went fine, and about three o'clock that afternoon up around Waterbury, New York, we started looking for motels. Well, we didn't have much success, but thought it was early enough we would just keep going until we found a place to rest our weary bodies. Well, as the story goes we went up and crossed over into Canada went 60 miles up into Canada and back down and on down into New York and at 12:30 that night we still had not found any place. We were in Binghamton and went into a doughnut shop and I told the girl she wouldn't believe our story. I proceeded to tell her and she said, 'Oh, yes, it's always that way up here if you don't have a reservation made ahead of time.'

Well, her baker told us we might be able to find room at the Sheraton in town as it was not yet completed. Luckily, we did. They are not yet finished building, had a couple more floors to finish and the swimming pools and etc. Needless to say, we came on home the next day. We were gone 32 hours and 800 miles. My hubby was so glad to get home as he has recently contracted arthritis of the knee and leg, and we were in and out of a two-door car stopping at every motel. But we weren't the only one sever where you could see cars filled with folks looking for a place to stay. Enough said and on to the letters!

We hear from CARL M. LATHROP, 108 Garfield Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940and appreciate his contributions: 'This has been a very busy summer for me, in fact, I'm just now getting around to finish my reading of the July/Aug. IMA. This was a very good issue. I particularly liked Steve Davis' The Steam Engines of New York. He had compiled a goodly list of manufacturers that made the state their home base. There is, however, one that could possibly be added to the list, and perhaps he had it in mind. Here is the reasoning:

'Le Grand Skinner founded the Skinner Engine Company in 1868 in the town of Herkimer. The business underwent a very rapid growth and by 1873 had outgrown its facilities and moved to its present location in Erie, Pennsylvania, where they continue to manufacture steam engines today.

'Steve, in his article, mentions that the Ames Iron Works of Oswego was an early engine builder and continues in the boiler business today. Actually, Skinner bought out Ames, at least the engine business, along with the Troy engines and all are now a part of Banner Industries. I wonder if Steve's Starbuck Brothers of Troy is the original builder of that Troy engine.

'Incidentally, these comments come from an article in the Jan./Feb. 1984 IMA, The Skinner Engine, Past, Present and Future. I'll leave you to guess who wrote it. One of the nice things about doing an article like that, or Steve's, is researching the story. The next best is getting a letter from a reader, for not only do you get some added information or find out you have some misinformation, but you get to exchange correspondence with a kindred soul, and, I've found that IMA and GEM readers are not nit pickers. So, with that in mind, I am sending Steve a copy of this letter.'

Just a short letter from CLIFF B. SHIRLEY, 2009 West 71st Street, Prairie Village, Kansas 66208: 'I retired from the Kansas City Terminal Railway when I finished work at the Traffic Control Center the morning of Nov. 1, 1985. Part of my duties included the copying of train orders for the Amtrak trains. When I began work in 1937, my employer had steam locomotives, and so did the 12 railroads that used the Kansas City, Missouri Union Station. Now, an 'old timer' is one who remembers when all twelve of those railroads had passenger trains.

'I still hope that the Iron-Men Album will have more about city steam. Cranes, shovels and the like the type of steam engine that the city boys saw back in the days of the traction engine and its belt-driven separator.' (Maybe more folks would also be interested how about it?)

'I read with interest your part of IMA each issue and hope the following will be of interest to you and your readers,' states JERRY SHRADER, R.R. 2, Box 93, Neligh, NE 68756.

'My father has been a collector of antiques for about 30 years. He collects everything from coins, dishes, lamps, etc. to old tractors, machinery and anything unusual that may catch his eye. He had always wanted a steamer, but had never had one until recently.

'About three years ago he traded one of his gas tractors and a couple of stationary gas engine for a J.I. Case steamer. The trade was made with a fellow from the Southern part of our state and so one day he and my oldest son took a truck from one of our local implement dealers and drove down to get it. I knew about the time they'd be back and so was there to help them unload. They were both as happy as a little boy with a new toy. Me, I wasn't so sure. We unloaded and took a good look at her. No paint to be seen anywhere, cylinder stuck, throttle immovable, smokestack gone, most of the metal rusted out where the smokestack bolted to the front of the boiler. They must have sensed my doubts because I was told, 'The boiler's good and all the flues are in good shape.'

'My dad spent the whole summer that year working on that machine. He took everything apart, cleaned and reassembled it. He worked many a day from early in the morning until late at night. My son, Steve, helped every chance he got, but since he works off the farm, he was only able to help at nights. Many nights he scraped, cleaned or welded until 11 or 12 o'clock. Then that fall Dad announced, 'Well, I guess we'll fire it up next Sunday.' I expressed some doubts but Dad thought the machine was ready for a trial run. About the middle of the week, some of the neighbors began asking when we would start the engine on Sunday. I asked Dad how they knew about Sunday and he confessed he had mentioned to just a few close friends that we would try it. Some of our friends must have told a few of their friends because by Sunday afternoon we had a farm full of people. The newspapers from two of our neighboring towns even sent representatives to be there.

'By Saturday afternoon I could see this thing had snowballed from a family gathering to an 'event'. I had suggested to Dad maybe we should fire it that afternoon to at least see if we can get up pressure. 'No,' he said, 'It will either run or it won't.'

'Sunday morning came bright and clear. By ten o'clock the family had all gathered and we were all busy checking this, tightening, and loosening this, oiling this. 'We need some grease here. ''Is that enough water?'' Did you bring the trailer with the wood around?'' Better be sure the flues are clear.' (I think the flues got cleaned at least a dozen times that morning.)

'Just before noon we lit the fire, set the damper where we thought it should be and watched as the wood smoke curled up from the smokestack. We went to the house for dinner, but by then, cars were driving in. None of us got a chance to eat much and I don't think Dad ate anything. He was too busy visiting and answering questions. This, by the way, made Mom just a little unhappy as she had spent most of the morning preparing the meal.

'After dinner we all went back to the steamer to see how things were going. Lo and behold! The pressure gauge had moved. I began to think maybe this thing was really going to work. We threw in more wood and after what seemed a long time we had steam and water everywhere. Remember now, this machine had not been fired for some forty odd years. Dad and Steve had tightened and repacked everything they could think of but until we had pressure, we had no way of knowing where the leaks were. When we had sufficient pressure I heard Dad say to his friend he had traded with for the machine, 'Let's give it a try.' They both mounted the platform and began to ease the throttle out of neutral. Much noise and steam, but nothing moved. A quick check revealed yes, steam was getting through the main valve. Yes, steam should be getting to the cylinder, everything seemed to be in order, still nothing! Another walk around the machine and then someone said, 'Maybe the flywheel is on center, give it a pull.' Steve pulled on the flywheel and with a lovely, soft shooshing sound, the cylinder and flywheel came to life. I think the whole crowd let out a sigh of relief. After a minute or so I heard Dad's friend say 'Let's see if we can get her to move.' The flywheel was brought to a stop, levers were put in the proper position and again the throttle was advanced. More noise and steam, but nothing happened

' 'Let's try reverse,' I heard Dad say. The lever was repositioned and after a try or two, a slight movement backwards. They set up forward again and this time the governor responded beautifully. A mighty belch of black smoke and whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, that beautiful machine was moving. Away from the machine shed and down the drive they went. The crowd of people cheered and applauded and I saw a tear or two in the eyes of some of the older fellows. Dad and his friend were grinning from ear to ear.

'Since that day we have spent many a Sunday firing up #16756 and we took her to a thresher's meet at Petersburg, Nebraska last fall, but nothing will ever match the thrill of that first Sunday afternoon.

'My father's name is Carl D. Schrader and his address is Neligh, Nebraska 68756.'

'I just read the article by Steve Smyth, page 9 of July/Aug. issue Green Straw Piles in Kansas. Green straw piles did not only appear in Kansas but also in Nebraska and Iowa. I've seen green straw piles threshed by many makes. IHC, Avery, Buffalo Pitts, Red River Special, Rumely, Port Huron and others.

'Most green topped straw piles were caused at the time of clean-up when machine was running partly full feed and running full speed.

'I can still hear the exhaust when he reopened the throttle when wagons changed at the feeder. He always slowed the machine when changing wagons at the feeder, and he continued doing this when he went to tractor power. The tractor could not bring the separator back up to full speed as the steamer could.

'Although he went to tractor power he always said there never was any tractor that could do what his steamers could do. His experience covered the following makes, Avery return flue, Buffalo Pitts, Gaar Scott, Case and Aultman Taylor.

'Hope all readers are enjoying the shows this year. I need more days to get things done. I do as much work as I used to do, but it takes me so much longer.Happy Days!' comments EDWIN H. BREDEMEIER, Route 1, Box 13, Steinauer, NE 68441.

'This information and pictures were taken from Jack Norbeck's Encyclopedia of Steam Traction Engines, and describe the 150 HP Russell Road Locomotive that Arthur M. Anderson mentioned.

'I hope someone else can add to this as to being around the engine in its hey-day.'

This comes from RUSS ABEN-DROTH, Route 1, Greenville, WI 54942.

OTTO REGIER, R.R. #2, Leamington, Ontario N8H 3V5, phone 519-326-2121 says he is still waiting for a description of how they hitched five or six grain binders behind a steam engine or an Oil Pull Rumely in the old days, and how they turned corners with such an outfit.

This letter comes from CHARLES O. HARTY, 1629.Robbins Road, Grand Haven, MI 49417: 'Just returned from the Darke County, Ohio Show. Will have a couple of 'new' engines from that one to send. They had an 1888 Rusell 6 HP traction engine there this yeara real oldie!

'Darke County had a real competition this year between two 22 HP Keck-Gonnermans on the sawmill and whether the sawyer could stall the engines lots of stack talk, smoke and steam.

'The gentleman who commented that he had not seen any Aultman-Taylors in the magazine should look on the rear cover of the May/June issue of IMA. Just for his benefit, I've enclosed two A-T's.'

This was heavy trucking in 1907. The motive power for a string of road wagons is a 1907 model 150 HP Russell compound road locomotive. As far as is known, there are no examples of these big engines remaining today. The engineer steered this vehicle by the means of levers rather than with a steering wheel, with the levers attached to the steam-operated powering steering mechanism. The unit is equipped with a cable wind or winch, probably for pulling Itself or its wagons out of soft spots In the road. An excellent rail network in the U.S. kept these engines from becoming popular in their own era. Later, vast Improvements In the national highway system and in motor truck design spelled a death knell for this type of motive power. However, In England, traction engines similar to this provided heavy transportation facilities right through World War II.

Above six pictures sent by Charles, with captions:No. 1 Aultman-Taylor 16 HP #9107 at Urbana, Ohio, 7-18-82 owned by Dan Gregor of Dayton, Ohio. No. 2 1916 Aultman-Taylor 20 HP #935A at Mason, MI 8-1-84 owned by John Schrock of Mason. No. 3 1922 Farquhar 15-45 HP #16840 at Freeport, IL 7-28-84 owned by Joe Maurer. No. 4-1910 Robert Bell 20 HP at Brigdon, Ont. 8-20-82 owned by John Shamblow. No. 5 1912 Buffalo-Pitts 14 HP #10037 at Norwich, Ont. 6-2-84. No. 6 1914 (?) Buffalo-Pitts 22 HP at Ithaca, MI 1983.

BOYD SILSBY, R.R. 2, Mankato, KS 66956 recently bought an Ault-man Taylor steam traction engine, #9357, boiler #3431. He has not been able to find the year this engine was built. He is hoping someone out there will be able to help him with that item and also he would like to know the original colors it was painted.

'Since reading the article Green Straw Piles in Kansas by Mr. Smyth in July/Aug. IMA I feel impelled to put in my 22 (stamp) worth,' says WEBSTER MOONEY, Village Villa, Mortonville, KS 66060.

'I owned and operated a 36-60 Nichols and Shepard separator and a Peerless steam engine rated at 80 belt HP. I later owned and operated a 28-46 Nichols and Shepard separator powered by a Rumely 6 tractor rated at 50 belt HP. Still later I was a service man for an Allis Chalmers dealer. I serviced Gleaner self propelled combines.

'I agree with my good friend Chady Atteberry when he said that Mr. Smyth knows his onions.

'My observations were that most of the green straw piles were due to outfits that didn't have sufficient power.

'I am now confined to a wheel chair in a nursing home. One of my main enjoyments is reading the articles and stories in IMA. I'll be 84 years old (young) on August 15. I enjoy getting letters. I would really appreciate hearing from anyone who cares to write.' (Thank you for writing us Webster, and if you wrote the letter, the handwriting is beautiful. We are so happy that our magazine brings you some interest and joy drop him a line folks and I'm sure he would love to reminisce with you about the old threshing days).

When I say Frank Burris, many of you readers will identify with him immediately as he is a contributor to many of our magazines. FRANK BURRIS, 1102 Box Canyon Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028, 619-723-1793 sends this so we can share with him in the death of his loved one. We're so sorry Frank, and it is a beautiful tribute.

'I always addressed her as 'Mommy' along with our two daughters; for she was truly the Queen of the Household. And now, as I look back, I am puzzled with wonderment as to how she ever was enabled to put up with the whole lot of us. Not that we were ever in the least disrespectful against her seemingly infinite wisdom; but so many times each of us were wont to take off in different directions to what a reticent whit of logic might dictate. But we interacted superbly, for Mommy always had an inexhaustible store of only pleasantness of the highest order. Never a lowly word about anyone, and always the highest hopes for the future.

'Mommy was so pleasant that she became known as 'Smiles' during her grade and early high school endeavors. And she really wore that winning smile all the time for it was an inborn trait of her enlightening character. During much of my own professional career I often noted that there was certainly nothing to resemble that coached, forced, almost snarling nail-biting grin as portrayed in movie queen type advertisements.

'Wonder, could she have come about so many of these most personably pleasant characteristics from having been born (on September 2, 1912 of a Nicolls family in Rapid City, SD) the baby of fifteen children? That practice has, of course, become long discontinued amongst plain American families. But then, two cents went as far as five dollars today...

Despite an early befallment of a diabetic condition, and indications of a subnormal heart condition, Mommy saw her two splendid girls acquire exemplary adulthood. Barbara grew through an athletic exuberant type who could throw a baseball farther than any boy on the school baseball team and also blow the loudest whistle. She makes bread from 'scratch' that melts in your mouth, and serves an A-1 job in plain American cooking. Her older sister Jacqueline completed her university work and after doing battle with anthropology and foreign language curricula settled for becoming a top executive secretary. She inherited dress designing and making ability and practices fine gourmet cooking.

'Well, Mommy just plain sat down, finally, and must have believed that her worldly work was well accomplished. In perfect peace and contentment, despite the illnesses she never as much exhibited evidence of, she passed away, in the state of grace on May 29, 1987 in her beautiful home 'Meadowbrook' surrounded by all her favorite rose bushes and other flowering foliage backed by the family orchard. Bless her heart and soul! Iva Mary-Beth, it looks like I shall not write another book.'

CORRECTION!! Please take note of this paragraph we had an error in the last publication: 'Just a line to thank you for publishing my letter in the Sept/Oct. issue. As a result of this I have had a letter from a shipmate on the old Altairwe served aboard together from Dec. 1938 'til May 1942 and of course I had never heard of him since.

'Through some fluke, either I had put my address as CA instead of GA, or it got changed in the printing process, as this man had trouble finding the town where I live. He finally went to the Post Office and they knew by the ZIP that it was Georgia so he found it in the atlas. Would it be too much to ask that you put in a correction in a following issue? There may be other old shipmates that would turn up as a result, and it would be much appreciated.' We apologize for the mistake, and here is the proper address: CORNELIUS F. PAULUS, Route 3, Box 79AG, Douglas, Georgia 31533. The letter referred to is on pages 14 & 15, of the Sept/Oct. issue.

PERRY WILLIS, R.D. #3, Louisville, OH 44641 writes us: 'In response to the picture on back page issue of Sept/Oct. '87 of Arthur Clark's engine, he no longer owns the engine. He sold the engine and trailer to some man at Zolfo Springs, Florida Pioneer Days Show this past winter season.

'As for me, I want to report the engine referred to in an article I asked about on page 10 is a double Tangye model of a mill engine. I was right on center drive, but I have done lots of research and also am having parts made to complete the engine. I only drew a picture of one side, to explain the distance and valve locations. The other half of engine is reverse of drawings.

'A person never knows what takes place in purchasing an unknown engine, but a steam engine is a treasure. I have some friends who are trying to locate some parts and possible help, as it is a rare model engine.

'As for Herbert Holmes' death, he was a personal friend of mine for 25 years or more. He was a truly dedicated man and a friend to all.

'Many thanks for the write-up and as I complete engine, I will send pictures to show the design of engine. I think it was developed in England.

'Again, thanks and I must say a full head of steam is powerful and a dead engine takes you nowhere. Remember Great mountains of happiness grow of little hills of kindness.'