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'HI! to all my wonderful Iron-Men Family. I've got to share a most fantastic experience I had since last writing you. My son, Donnie, had been staying with me for about six months as he was in the process of changing jobs and finally is now settled in Lafayette, Indiana. I wish it were much closer, but I'm still happy for him and have high hopes maybe he'll get back closer to home territory before too many years. He is working for Shaffer's Trucking Company may be some of you know where that is she is in the office part. WELL! Never did I imagine what was in store for me, but my daughter Dana and I flew out to see him in June. Now, when I was in high school, we had a Class Book our Senior year with data on each person, and my ambition was to be an aviatrix

Above are Anna Mae's words as they were left in her type writer the beginning of what she never knew would be her final Soot in the Flues column. Anna Mae Branyan, the beloved IMA columnist, passed away on August 11, 1994.

Although she had suffered numerous health challenges, her death was sudden and unexpected the cause was probably a massive heart attack or stroke.

Of course, Anna Mae would want us to carry on her column in the usual way, so the letters to her will follow. On page 27 you will find a tribute to her.

Our first letter comes from ERIC CAMPBELL, R.R. 3, Shawville, Quebec, Canada J0X 2Y0.

'I was pleased and very surprised to see my engine and threshing mill on the front cover of IMA magazine the last issue we received. It sure makes it all seem worthwhile and thank you!

'Something that I read in the Album sure makes one feel a bit scary. It was the article on the boiler that blew up. The part that scared me the most is the size of both of these boilers with lap seams on them. First, that big one with 66' diameter, 16 feet long, 3/8* plate and two rows of rivets on the boiler. With 90 lbs. of pressure on that diameter, to me, would be really trying out those rivets. If they ever cold water tested either one of them, I would be afraid they would stretch the plate at the rivet holes until it might crack the plate. To put 140 lbs. of cold water test on that 48' x plate boiler with lap seam and two row rivets, it seems to me, would be too much load for it, too. I think it would be a disaster to take these two boilers as an example against lap seam boilers. I think it would seem more reasonable to think of the one traction engine boiler as a lot smaller in diameter. Same thing like 34' down with lap seams on them. My 45 Case, boiler is 28' diameter and only 8 feet of joint lap seam. My Sawyer Massey boilers are 26' diameter lap seam with only 6 foot long seam. To my way of thinking, these would have much more strength than if it were 16 feet long. I believe if this 48' x plate, 15' long boiler was filled with water and rolled down a hill, it would be leaking when it hit the bottom. As I see it, these two boilers would have made very good storage tanks or a tender for a traction engine. That 48' boiler, even with a butt strap joint on it, would not have been any too strange.

'We know our engineers running these engines at these shows are really keeping with safety and there is a lot more danger on the roads getting to the shows than there is in old engines blowing up when we get there. I often think when I am firing up an old engine here on my farm and the steam gauge reads 100 lbs. and I hear an awful noise overhead I look up and a D.C. 10 goes over my head. I feel safer down here beside old Smokey. When one of these D.C. 10s go down and takes 300 lives with it and very little is said three weeks later. It's like this, there is more money made with a D.C. 10 than any old traction engine in any of our two countries, Canada or the U.S.A.

'Just a couple of weeks ago I was looking at an old locomotive boiler about 20 HP that had been in a sawmill. Now this boiler was in the mill and the mill burned to the ground. The roof of the mill fell down on top of the boiler. One big beam went right across the top of the barrel and pushed the top of the barrel down 2 inches, making the barrel oval. Well, after the fire, that boiler was put back in service again in another sawmill for maybe 15 or 20 years more service. This boiler would have to carry 100 lbs or 125 lbs. pressure to saw with. The boiler also had a lap seam on it, too. Now, 30 years later, that boiler still has an oval barrel on it and is now out of use. The barrel diameter is 30'. All the time this boiler was in service it was inspected by the boiler inspector. I don't think he was too happy about that oval barrel joint, which would be 8 feet long with double rivets. I still think small diameter short seam two rivet lap seam boilers are okay, but those big diameter ones scare me.

'Some years ago my father-in-law told me he had fired a fair sized boiler in a sawmill for part of one summer. It was 30' and only single riveted at the seam. He said they had an awful time keeping it from leaking. He said they were corking at it steady. One day the preacher came to visit the father-in-law at work and said to him, 'You're taking quite a chance firing that old thing.' I think he had a notion of giving him the Last Rites, right then and there, the way that old boiler was leaking! Anyway my father-in-law is now 92 years old.

'Oh yes, he thinks back. He said, 'As long as it leaked, I knew there was water in it!'

'If any of you engineers out there would like to put me straight in any of this, please do so.

Yours in Hot Water!'

MARK CORSON, 9374 Roosevelt Street, Crown Point, Indiana 46307 sent us this photo with this comment: 'SOME GUYS HAVE ALL THE LUCK!!! Dennis Christiansen, like most any other young engineer, sets out one day to go take a look at an engine.

'Upon his return, he tells his fellow engineers how pleased he is with his new engine, a 20 HP Advance-Rumely and the girl came with it!'

WILLIAM (BILL) J. STEWART, 308 S. 12 Street, Independence, Kansas 67301 responds to Scott Thompson's letter and picture of a railroad locomotive, page 12, IMA, September/October 1994: 'I was going to write an authoritative letter concerning the flags on the engine but after studying it with a magnifying glass, my comments will have to be speculative.

'About the engine: the front end looks very much like the '2000' class engines used by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad between Monett, Missouri, and Wichita, Kansas, and I don't know where else. The flags on the engines were called signals. 'No signals' indicated a regular train operating on 'time table' schedule authority; 'green signals' indicated a regular train and section (s) following. The last section of a scheduled train displayed 'no signals'. 'White signals' indicated an extra train operating on train order authority.

'Now, about the engine in the picture: I now speculate. Those are American flags on that engine, indicating an American (USA) train operating in a foreign country. The headlight along with an identification light back of the smokestack is shuttered, for war time use. The trains were probably operated by the U.S. Army.

'The Encyclopedia of North American Locomotives (Brian Hollingsworth) page 79, shows a picture of a similar locomotive and a write-up of the 'United States Railroad Administration' (USRA) 1918.'

This request comes from SHERLOCK O. SOREM, Box 886, Sun Valley, Idaho 83353: 'Could you please help me? I need material and pictures of the old steam engine that was fired with straw which was used to power the threshing machines back in the early 1920s.

'I was raised on a farm in Minnesota and we used to stack our grain bundles in giant stacks that were built to shed the rain until the threshing machine was scheduled for our farm.

'If you could please help me with leads to places where I might get literature and pictures of such rigs I shall be most grateful.'

(Hopefully some of you who own strawburners can help this man out.)

'In your September/October 1994 issue of Iron Men Album, on page 2, the lower left hand photo of a C. Aultman undermount engine really caught my eye, as my father had one.

'I have quite a few photos and snapshots of the old engine that maybe would be of help in restoring the engine.

'I would so like to see the end result of the restoration,' writes WARREN R. KLOEPPING, RR 3, Box 215A, Cozad, Nebraska 69130-1942.

From JACOB Y. KANAGY, 309 King Lane, Belleville, Pennsylvania 17004 we have this letter: 'I am 80 years old, writing doesn't go so good but I have a bit of history you may be interested in.

'In 1947 I bought a new Frick thresher. I believe from Art Young himself, at Rough and Tumble in Kinzers, Pennsylvania. I think he was living then yet, or his son Everett, and had a new Ebersole feeder and straw cutter.

'We towed it up from Kinzers to Belleville, Pennsylvania. My brothers and I bought a used model L cast tractor with pretty high road gear. We started up for a muffler company near Mount Joy on the first day but had to quit until next morning because we had no lights. We started early the next morning for Belleville and got there in the middle of the afternoon. The old Case tractor took it right along. You wouldn't dare do it today with all the traffic!

'Just a bit a history you may enjoy. I would like to come to the show again at Rough and Tumble if my health permits.'

GARY YAEGER, 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, Montana 59937 sent a couple of letters this month: 'One of the hardest things to do when writing articles for the IMA is to open yourself up for criticism. I love sending you stories of my life's second greatest love (second only to my wife, Sharon, of over 31 years) steam traction engines.

'People who know I've written several articles for IMA have been so supportive and encouraging. The last article I sent you, I finalized with how I've gotten 'egg on my face' from time to time, when I thought I 'knew it all'. Well, I've done it again!

'I need to apologize to our fine readers about my article I wrote you on my discovery of 'another 150 HP Case engine'.

'Would you believe the night before I received my last IMA, a friend of mine brought (would you believe?) an original 1906 J.I. Case catalog to our Northwest Antique Power Association meeting!

'Readers, I'm sincerely sorry. I wasn't trying to lead anyone astray, and to Mr. Jack Norbeck, who wrote me he'd like to visit Montana someday, I'd still like to be his host and guide.

'Anyway, readers, that 'little hummer' I was positive must be a 150, is in fact a 32 or 110 HP Case engine, just like Mr. Norbeck's book stated!

'I guess if you venture nothing, you surely won't be criticized.'

Also from GARY YAEGER, we hear this: 'Just a quick note to let you know I got to attend the 50th anniversary show of the National Threshers Association at Wauseon, Ohio, this past June. In spite of about five inches of rain, I had a great time with many old friends and many more new ones.

'The highlight? I got to run the first steam engine I ever saw! President Marvin Brodbeck's 32 Reeves Cross-compound Canadian Special, number 6269. My father and uncles owned this Reeves from the 1920s until 1954.

'Since they stopped farming with it in 1939, and I was born four years later, I'd never seen it run. I sure got some nice videos of the Reeves and the rest of the engines plowing.

'The next highlight was my five hour visit with Lyle Hoffmaster'Mr. Reeves.'

'That fine bunch really knows how to put on a show in real adverse conditions!'

We have this letter from WILLIAM L. FAHEY, 48 Quail Valley Road, Eureka, California 95503: 'In the September/October, 1994 issue of Iron Men Album, page 12, Scott Thompson sent in a photograph of three ladies and a gentleman standing in front of and on the pilot of a locomotive and asked the question: 'Would anybody care to speculate on what this train was all decked out for?? Perhaps an excursion?'

'I believe I can answer the question. Looking closely at the locomotive, the number 3674 is just barely visible under the headlight. On the tender of the locomotive in front of the 3674 is the letter 'S' very reminiscent of the lettering style of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Since Mr. Thompson believes the clothing style to be the 'late Twenties sometime,' the period is probably the early Twenties, June 1922 to be exact, and the locomotives are part of the 'Prosperity Special.'

'Baldwin Locomotive Works constructed and shipped, all at one time, twenty Santa Fe Class F-4, 2-10-2 locomotives to California, and because the U.S. was in a depression after the end of WWI the train was named 'Prosperity Special' as a ballyhoo to help bolster the economy. This would account for the headlight being boarded up and the fact that there are no classification lights, which would have been displayed just in front of the train indicator boards, just under the hand rail at the front side of the smokeboxes. Perhaps 'junket' would be a better term than 'excursion.'

'Although the date was 'slightly' before my time, I believe, judging from the evidence in the photograph, that I am correct. If anyone has a better explanation, I would be delighted to hear it.'

LOYD CREED, RR 3, Box 381, Danville, Illinois 61832 and his son attended the April 4 Frederick Blauth estate sale at Tower Hill, Illinois. The pictures on the next page show a few of the sale items.

From FRANK J. BURRIS, 1102 Box Canyon Road, Fairbrook, California 92028-1601 we hear this: 'I must lay aside a myriad of works and chores in order to add a most complimentary response to the extra wonderful Dr. Robert Rhode's grand (near science-fiction) story 'A Darke County Tale' as he so eloquently composed for our September/October issue of IMA!

'As so brilliantly illustrated, we can now see that the interest in old 'Iron Men,' as Elmer so aptly named those faithful, powerful, and tireless brothers of the Iron Horse way back in the nostalgic years of Used-to-Be, still attracts and captivates the attention of modern scientific people!

'But even this story could not have been told in its entirety fifty years ago, lamentably; for some of the molecular facts as related therein, to simple water molecules, have been discovered only more recently through the facility of ultra-modern technology. How we have travelled by leaps and bounds!

'At this point, I wonder whether some of those water molecules which constituted the droplet on Bob's nose may have been giggling about, before their evaporation, having experienced the phenomenon of latent heat of vaporization? (In which several times the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a liquid one degree is required to actually gasify it at the same temperature and pressure from liquid to vapor.)

'May Bob and others come again to so quickly enliven our interests and attentions.'

F. BLAIR INGRAM, 11200 New-Salem Road, Thornville, Ohio 43076-8711 has written in for the first time. Welcome, Blair!

'I have never written to the magazine before, though I have been reading it since the 1960s.

'I was at a family reunion the other week, and heard this poem (see below) read that one of my cousins had written. These are some of my mother's people who have had a long line of threshing and sawmill operations.

'I have had some of each on my own and like to go to shows. I'll try to write again another time.

Left, an 18 HP Advance Rumely, Serial # 15287, sold for $5600.00; at right, a Nichols & Sheppard 20 HP serial #13159, which sold for $3600.00.

'Threshing Days'

'Uncle Foley firing the Avery steam engine. Uncle Bunty running the Case grain separator. Ivan and Garrett Jr. hauling water with Babe and Dolly. Written by Garrett Brugler, Jr., 1972.

Scene from American Thresherman's October 1993 show at Pinckneyville, Illinois, taken by Joseph Mann. These are three antique threshers owned by Martin and Dardanella Doyle of Waterloo, Illinois. The owner is next to a Heebner & Sons ground hog thresher, powered by a one horse sweep. In the middle is a hand operated growler thresher dating to the 1840s or before; last is also a Heebner from the 1870s. All are in operation at American Thresherman's August show, always the third week in August.

We'd been busy getting ready-
Seemed like since early May
And the 'Bull Dog' on the Avery
Looked as if he wished to say,

My flues are fixed, My boiler's filled, My bunker's full of coal, Just fire me up Throw on the belt, And I'll put on a show.

Now 'Dear Ole Case' was ready, too. Her job was always rough. She had to thresh those sheaves of grain Be they dry or be they tough.

Her teeth were fixed, Her concaves, too. Her paint showed signs of wear. She had a little Gypsy look-But always did her share.

It was like a celebration As that day arrived once more. The dew was light. The sky was bright. We were ready for our yearly chore. I can hear those wheels a grinding As we chugged on down the road. I can see the smoke a swirling As we neared 'The Brugler Grove.'

Yep! the well was still a flowing -And we stopped to get a drink. Crimson Coach and Union Workman Seemed to have a magic crink.

Some boys jumped on the water tank -And we said we didn't care For them to ride along with us -As long as they pumped their share.

Ivan clowned, threw stones and whistled As we traveled down the pike. And we talked of those big dinners That all the threshers like.

There seemed to be a pattern For each fanner's turn to thresh. And it made a fellow happy When he thought about some cash.

First we checked with every farmer As to where we'd blow the straw. Then we set the rig as accurate As a giant planing saw.

Cranked out the blower, Set the weigher. Greased and oiled every place. It took a devil of a lot of money If you had to repair 'Ole Case'.

Uncle Poley fired The Avery' - Uncle Bunty ran 'The Case' -Arthur Seleck was on the bagger -Each man had his special place.

The wagons started coming With fancy loads of grain. The 'Avery' started popping off. I'll swear it had a grin.

Made you feel a mite important When they hollered 'Let her Roll!' Uncle Poley pulled the throttle -Spit - then threw in some coal.

You could hear that engine crackle As they fed the golden grain.

The belts and pulleys trembled From the great and steady strain.

That feeder had a governor That somewhat set the pace. And it griped those guys Who pitched the sheaves, Because they couldn't race.

The straw flew out the blower In a bright and yellow stream. And you got a peaceful feeling As you watched and whiffed the steam.

All at once 'Uncle Bunty' shouted, 'Shut her down! Shut her down!' A 'gol-dem' belt had broken -And this made the farmers frown.

Didn't take too long to fix it Since the clouds were threatening rain. Uncle Poley blew the whistle And 'Ole Case' rolled on again.

Finished up yet late that evening And as best as I recall, T'was Sam Lament who walked up and said, 'The cleanest grain I ever saw'.

We will all miss Anna Maeshe was such a warm and caring personalways full of good cheer for all of us at IMA.

We want to encourage all of you to take time to write to Soot in the Flues. Let's keep alive the spirit of sharing which she always maintained in her writing.