As we prepare this issue for the printer, we are near the wind down of the threshing reunion season. Soon, engines will be housed for the winter and interest will once again move from display to maintenance and repair.
Don't forget about your friends at IMA during this time! If you find you've left some undeveloped film in your camera, think of us when you're surprised to find last summer's engine photos among the group! Write and tell us about the shows you visited and the people you met during the summer of '97.
And if you find that you have questions our other readers could answer, send them along, and give them a chance to help you! And now on to this month's letters:
ELLEN MARTIN 5085 Lincoln Highway, Gap, Pennsylvania surprised us with this very unusual tale of a Pennsylvania prom:
Old Time Splendor at a Modern Event
As a tradition at Coatesville Area High School (CASH) in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, prom night is all about how you arrive!
As members of Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association located at Kinzers, Pennsylvania, Dan Smoker and Ellen Martin decided to go to the prom in style! We borrowed Butch Biesecker and his newly restored 1923 Keck Gonner man steam traction engine to drive through the promenade.
The majority of prom goers chose the more traditional modes of transportation such as classic cars and limousines. Dan, a senior at CASH, decided he wanted to be different and surprise the crowds that gathered with something not traditional. As we left the loading area, we pulled the whistle and started off down the parade route. Heads began to turn and people started shouting and clapping as we made our way by.
One setback was that the Keck did not have road ready wheels and we permanently made our mark in the school's pavement. I found that the most difficult part of the parade was getting off the engine without falling off, while wearing heels and a long dress. I am used to parading around at Rough and Tumble in my overalls and work boots. It was hard not to get dirty.
How would we avoid getting that coal soot all over those white cars, horses, carriages, girls, guys, etc.? Easy Butch had it all figured out he opened the throttle wide and by the time we arrived at the crowd portion of the route, only steam puffed from the stack! As soon as we unloaded and Butch could get around the bend, he shoveled more coal on a rather weak fire for the return trip to the truck.
As it turns out we won for the most original mode of transportation for the night. We made the front page of the Daily Local newspaper the next day.
It is always neat to show people a part of the past that they have never seen before. I have never answered so many questions about steam engines outside of Rough and Tumble's show as I did at the CASH prom!
We have just received this informative a piece from MENNO L. KLIEWER, 43138 Road 52, Reedley, California 93654, who talks about 'Crossing Weak Bridges With Steam Rigs:
'Crossing bridges with steam rigs during the early days could present quite a problem and it is easy to understand why. In our area of York County, Nebraska, most bridges were built at or before the turn of the century and, in most cases, only timbers were used which seemed to weaken or rot away after standing in water for many years. In fact, they were built for the horse and buggy days.
'We lived about a mile from Beaver Creek and often the threshing runs served farmers living on both sides. With unsafe bridges, many times the engineer drove many miles out of his way just to be able to cross a safe bridge of better construction. It has happened where the entire rig fell through an unsafe bridge and the engineer was killed. Just imagine the problem it presented having the entire rig lie at the bottom of the riverbed underwater. Furthermore, they did not have those huge and powerful cranes we have today to rescue them from the water.
'There were, as I have been told, three methods which could be used by engineers to determine the safety of crossing an old bridge after his rig arrived at the riverbank. One method was to unhook the threshing machine and drive the engine forward until his front wheels were on the bridge. Now he could watch just how shaky the bridge was. If he thought it to be safe, he could again couple up the machine and move across. If he felt the bridge unsafe, he then had the problem of turning around, which would not be easy. Another method that my brother John often used while operating John D. Quiring's rig was to unhook the machine, take a long log chain and pull the threshing machine across. By doing it this way the heavy rear end of the engine and the heavy front end of the threshing machine weight would not both be on the bridge at the same space, at the same time. By using a long chain it seemed reasonable. The third method was to approach the bridge with the complete rig and send one man ahead who would watch the engine coming. The engineer would set the steam engine in motion, quickly get off and have the entire rig cross by itself without a driver, only to be picked up and controlled by the man on the opposite side. In this case, if the rig would fall through, at least the lives of two men could be spared. In my opinion this method was risky, for who knew if the engine would wander off to either side of the bridge and cause trouble? I, personally, have heard of all three methods being used in the early days.
'In my personal experience, I too had the chance to cross an old wooden, shaky bridge near Minneapolis, Kansas, in 1948, while crossing the Solomon River. I had a Farm all tractor loaded on my truck and pulling a pull type combine in a strange unknown county, not knowing a soul around. I approached the bridge after making a short bend in the road, it being covered with trees and shrubs. Well I knew that I could not turn around, so what should I do being in an unknown territory? I stopped the truck, got off and surveyed the situation, but had little choice as to what to do. I breathed a prayer for God's protection and slowly began to cross and the bridge began to shake and rock like a motor boat. I did not stop, but proceeded in low gear and after the truck was across I knew that I had only the combine to lose and, by the time I safely made it across, I was sweaty all over and thanked the Lord for his safety, but promised myself that never again would I take a chance crossing a questionable bridge with a heavy load. Returning back I found another route as I remember it.'
Oiling his 22 HP Huber #11413 near his home and sawmill with Marilyn and Nancy Malz, Andover, OH looking on from right. Dean says he would never go back to his 65 HP Case after owning the Huber.
We've just heard this from DEREK A. RAYNER, Road Roller Association Archivist, 'Invicta' 9, Beagle Ridge Drive Acomb, York Y02 3JH, England: 'Some readers may recall my query which appeared in the January/February 1997 issue regarding a vertical tandem steam roller which, as Archivist to the Road Roller Association, I was asked to try and identify while visiting Holland in June 1996. I would like to thank those IMA readers who replied to my query, although the identity of the steam roller's builder is still not positively confirmed, I believe I am now closer to establishing this than I was previously.
'It was perhaps a remarkable but fortunate coincidence that in the same issue of the magazine there appeared an article by Dr. Robert T. Rhode (with whom I have subsequently been in touch) on O.S. Kelly and his company, which was illustrated by various pictures of traction engines built by the firm. Included in these was a photo of Kelly's huge 120 HP three cylinder road locomotive built around the turn of the century, the wheels of which appear to be almost identical in construction to those on the mystery Dutch steam roller. Restoration of this roller, incidentally, has now been completed and it attended its first show at Almere, near Amsterdam, in May where it attracted a considerable amount of attention.
'Although I have seen various catalogue pictures of Buffalo Steam Roller Company products of around the same date (1911) which is stamped on the boiler identification plate of the Dutch machine, none of these pictures appears to be the same as the roller in Holland. Having seen the illustrations of the Kelly traction engine which accompanied Robert Rhode's article, I now believe the roller was made by an off shoot of this firm which came into being in 1902, namely the Kelly Springfield Road Roller Company, but conclusive proof of this is still required. The roller certainly appears to have been built before the merger of the two road roller companies from which came the Buffalo Springfield Boiler Company in around 1916. I wondered, therefore, whether any reader has a catalogue or other literature of the Kelly Springfield Road Roller Company which shows their products of around the 19105 era. If a copy of this could be made available to me in the hope that it might show an identical mode! of steam roller to the one in Holland, this may satisfactorily conclude my quest.
'I would also, incidentally, appreciate any details or photos of any American built steam rollers, historic or current, for a book I currently have in preparation. Due acknowledgments would be given in this as to the source of such information.
'Any details should be sent to Derek Rayner, at the above address in England.'
THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511 sent this letter: 'I would like to comment on the ongoing controversy of what should be the proper attire for a steam engineer.
'Actually, if a person wears shorts and a T shirt when running a hot, spitting boiler, let them suffer the consequences. I've worn bib overalls since I was a kid, by comfort and choice. I have many pictures from the old days and to say all the engineers wore bib overalls and a bandanna around the neck is just not true, and as for head gear, a lot of engineers of the old days wore square topped Bohunk caps and derbies.
About 1942, a 1913 20 HP Aultman Taylor, the last run for this engine, already sold for junk, cut up a couple days later. Yours truly on front wheel, brother John back of the front wheel soon to be drafted, killed in Belgium September 6, 1944.
'Actually the people who promoted the bib overalls were the railroad firemen and engineers, and the eason for the neck bandannas was to keep the small cinders from going down their necks. This was especially true for the firemen who stepped out into the open between the cab and tender while hand firing. The railroaders generally used a soft pointed top cap in white, black or blue to go with the bib overalls. Of course in the very early days, railroad attire was not standardized either.
'Generally the man who stacked the straw put on a bandanna and maybe the separator man at times. In the middle to late 1940s, at the Joe Rynda Threshing Bees at Montgomery, Minnesota, generally the whole threshing crew wore bandannas. I believe this was mostly to impress the crowd, however.
20 HP top mounted Avery, 1917. This engine sat in the shed for a number of years. The company boss wanted an unrealistically high price for the rig. My dad wanted to buy it and so did I, but as in a lot of cases more than junk price, in the end the junk man got a beautiful engine. Yours truly about 18 years of age, about 1944.
'I think a lot of this attention about proper attire could be directed to something I would say is a lot more important. About six months ago in Engineers and Engines Magazine, in the same issue, two proud new owners of different 50 HP Case engines, each had their own stories to tell. One thing they both had in common, they both desecrated their engines by torching off the lugs and skid rings.
'I believe at least 50% of the monetary value of a steam engine is lost when you cut the lugs and skid rings off.
'They say if you own it you can do what you want with it. What about the mentality of the person who has fifteen to twenty whistles on his engine, which is similar to the person who gets a lot of use out of his car horn. All this you just have to live with, like the dress of certain persons. Most of the years I ran my engines I didn't hook up my whistle cords the finer things, like the exhaust, impressed me a lot more.
'I guess I've said enough in the negative, who's listening?'
(A couple more historical photos from Thomas' collection appear on the previous page.)
FRANCIS A. ORR of Fidalgo Enterprises, 1617 32nd Street, Anacortes, Washington 98221-3382, sent us the picture above and told us about it:
'The original of this picture was given to me by Mr. Fred Mouw of Anacortes, Washington. It was taken six miles east of Edgerton, Minnesota, on a farm that was owned by the father of Fred's uncle and which is now owned by Harold Gunnink. The rig was owned by Jake Verstage and it is believed that he is the man on the engine. Fred's grandfather, Fred Hofkamp, is driving the team just ahead of the engine which is a return flue Minneapolis. Note the lantern on the hay wagon, behind the engine, for early morning firing up.
'I was interested in the story by Dean Ailing in the January/February Iron-Men Album. In 1960 I was a US Navy pilot going through training in San Diego. I passed that old Minneapolis many times on my way to Los Angeles on a weekend to visit the shops of Little Engines and Charles Cole as well as the tracks of the Southern California Live Steamers and the Los Angeles Live Steamers. I believe it sat outside a furniture store.'
SARAH CLARK of 3770 Old West Falls Rd., Mount Airy, Maryland 21771 sent us a letter and a poem. She writes, 'After a visit to the Middletown Steam Engine Show on a sweltering 90 degree day, I suggested to my daughters that they write a poem about their experiences.
'My nine year old, who made two visits to the port a potty and had a great time in the flea market section, wrote the enclosed poem. I thought your readers might enjoy it:'
Middletown Steam Engine Show
Steam engines blue and black And old trucks that make you laugh
Snow cones in lemon and lime And wreaths with cows put in a great design.
There was a rainbow slinky And the bathrooms were stinky. There was a sawmill that cut a melon.
I'm glad that it didn't rot and start smellin'.
I liked it at that steam engine show Even though it wasn't cold as snow.
But it was fun and I liked it too And next I think I will go to the zoo! Ashley Clark, age 9
Sarona, Wisconsin in 1939 or '40, north of the bank. Alfred Dahle sawing for Weber West.
The picture at comes from DWAYNE GERHARD, PO BOX 113, Walnut Creek, Ohio 44687. He says, 'I would like to know any information on this upright steam engine, made by American Blower Company, Detroit, Michigan, New York, Chicago. It is 5x5 #5575, Type A, and Patent date is November 21, 1905. Any information such as HP and rpm would greatly help!'
We also hear this month from GARY JONES, 576 Murray Street, Owatonna, Minnesota 55060. 'I wanted to send a short note about a hint that Bill Lamb (who recently passed away) shared with us some time back about plowing with a steam engine. Each year we plow with my 65 Case and the Budenski Brothers' eight bottom plow at the Lesueur Pioneer Power Show at Lesueur, Minnesota. My good friend Bill Thurman from Archie, Missouri, runs the 65 on the plow and this past year put on quite a plowing demontration. Bill Lamb mentioned that when Harry Wood man see would plow at Jim Whitbey's show, he would have the water just showing in the glass and then turn on the injector when the engine was at full pressure and off he would go. Bill Thurman and I used that same method this past year at Lesueur. We started the water right at the Case water notch and fired on the fly without stopping and went round after round with the injector going and barely keeping the pressure under the safety release point. Bill did not have the safety valve release once and it was tight at 160 lbs. all afternoon. We were pulling the plow in the second notch (from the middle) and if the pressure was high enough where the safety was sizzling and ready to let fly, Bill would move the reverse to notch three and give her a little more power and use a little more steam. Our only stops were to refill our water bunker. I'm sure this procedure is common knowledge to many of you, but it was very interesting to try a little trick that someone described from a show held years before Bill Thurman or myself were even born.'
Keep those letters and pictures coming, your fellow readers really appreciate it, and so do we!
Steamcerely, Linda and Gail