SOOT IN THE FLUES

SOOT IN THE FLUES

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As we work on the November/December issue, our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving and of course Christmas, even though engine shows are still going on as we ready the issue for the printer. It seems there is barely a break now between the club activities of the late fall and the early engine shows in the South that begin in January. We are certainly thankful for all of the letters and articles we receive, as well as the ads, which keep IMA going for its subscribers. Keep writing to us, and now that winter is approaching, this may be the time to write that long restoration article you have been putting off during the nice weather!

We are enthusiastic about a project that will start in this issue: an unpublished manuscript by Loren Bixler, which has been located and edited for our use by ROBERT RHODE. This book-length work will be serialized over sixteen issues, over two years. We are very appreciative of Dr. Rhode's pursuit of this project, and think you will find it full of interesting information. We hope you will stay with us to get the entire story!

This descriptive article comes from LEE NELSON, 7014 Sternot Road, Vesper, Wisconsin 54489-9643, who says, 'Please cancel my 'Wanted: half-size traction engine' ad. I did not find the half-size traction engine I wanted, but I did haul home a size Advance built in 1967 in Mankato, Minnesota.

'Some specifications you will find interesting: it has a stack height of 7 feet, front wheels are 28' x 8', back wheels 48' x 16', width overall is 5 feet, length overall is 13 feet, dry weight is 5,100 lb., boiler tube is 20' x 64', (21) 2' x 64' x 11 gauge tubes, 31' x 16' x 28' firebox, 150 psi, 1' Gardner governor, 12' dome, 1' pop, 84 square foot heating surface, 6'bore, 8' stroke, 30' x 8' flywheel, roller bearings.

'I'll send some photos when I get it freshened up.'

MIKE McKNIGHT, 1025 McKnight Loop, Mason, Tennessee 38049 tells us: 'Here are some pictures of my dad and me with our latest find, 20 HP Reeves engine #7981. My dad and I recently purchased this engine from Ms. Francene Eaton, of Cashion, Oklahoma, after seeing it advertised in your magazine. We had Dale Wolff, of Cushing, Oklahoma, a longtime friend of ours, ultrasound the boiler for us before we bought it. Thanks, Dale!

'My friend, Jon Myers, of Shepardsville, Kentucky, who also owns a 20 HP Reeves and a 13 HP Gaar-Scott himself, looked the engine up in the book Historical Reeves Engines and found it was owned during the 1970s by John Huff, of Wall Lake, Iowa. Other than that, we know nothing of the engine's previous history. Can any of our fellow readers help us in this area? We would appreciate it. Also, is there a serial number list of the Reeves engines? I was told this was a 1914 engine, but I would like to confirm that.

'I'm still trying to track down some history on my 13 HP Gaar-Scott engine #15818. Dr. Robert Rhode was able to provide me the info that this engine was owned for a long time by the late Mr. Woody Colmer, of New Athens, Ohio, but other than that, and knowing it was owned by the late Mr. Forrest Taylor, of Cambridge, Ohio, I've done nothing but draw a blank as to where this little engine came from. I do appreciate all the responses I got from people who wrote me, called me, etc. to let me know this was a 1912 engine, and one person from my letter. Thanks again for all the correspondence.

'Right now the 13 HP Gaar is in Haley's Farm Shop, receiving a new firebox, and other repairs. I'm really looking forward to getting it together again and lighting the first fire after restoring it. After tearing it down, I found that it's going to need a lot of babbitt work, so after this project hopefully I'll know how to pour some babbitt.

'Thanks for putting out such a great magazine for steam fiends such as myself so we can all get together, share information, buy engines, swap stories, and youngsters such as myself (25 years old) can learn from the true masters.'

We had an inquiry about Lunkenheimer products and their history from JIM BEASLEY, an Ohio subscriber.

We have answered Mr. Beasley in a letter, but thought we would share the result of our research here, as well. We published an article by Robert Rhode in our January/February 1996 issue of IMA. A good portion of Lunkenheimer Company history was included in that article. If anyone is interested in a more complete history of the firm, we have obtained an article by James M. Laux, Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati. The 22-page article, published in Queen City Heritage in 1983, can be obtained from us at a cost of $11.00 to cover copying and postage. We are passing along this information just in case Mr. Beasley was not the only one finding difficulty in obtaining information about the Lunkenheimer company.

Frank Dvorak's 25 HP Reeves U.S. compound is shown pulling disk plows in the Coffee Creek area of the Judith Basin. The Basin's premier landmark, Square Butte, is shown in the background. Courtesy Gary Yaeger.

GARY YAEGER of 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, Montana 59937 sent us a large group of photos awhile back, and we are pleased to bring you four more of them in this issueall Reeves engines. Thank you, Gary!.

L. RANSDELL, 533 S. Maple Street, Winchester, Kentucky 40391 submits this article for Soot:

Threshing on the Farm

'When I was growing up on a farm in northern Kentucky, threshing in our community was done by Mr. 'Judge' Coates and his assistant, Esmond Gronemier, an agreeable young man. Esmond's mother made him a shirt or smock of some gingham from one of her dresses. It was buttoned down the front and came to the waist. He wore it outside his trousers. It became dirtier and greasier so that when the season was finished it would almost stand alone.

'The Coates outfit consisted of a Russell steam engine and thresher. The engine was probably fifteen horsepower. The wooden thresher had a straw blower and was hand fed. Hand feeding must have been the hottest, dirtiest and most rigorous of all work, but this was no problem, as Esmond loved to feed the machine. I can see him now, pulling the bundles in from each side of the tables after the twine bands were cut and upending them with great flair into the maw of the machine.

'The Russell Company must have built good equipment, as Mr. Coates' rig was abused beyond description and was always on the verge of breakdown but managed to hang on a little longer. All the bearings on the thresher were worn and loose. The engine was red with rustit had never been under shelter. Everything possible had been broken or removed. There were many water and steam leaks. The bearings were so loose that one could hear them knock for a mile.

'The last time Mr. Coates threshed for my father was 1930. He and Esmond brought the rig in, leveled the thresher, positioned the engine and tightened the crossed belt. He then gave a little toot on the whistle to indicate he was ready for action. He worked the throttle and reverse levers furiously to start the engine in the right direction. The crossed belt slapped together, the thresher started to shake and immediately broke down. Pretty soon Esmond was inside the machine giving a muffled description of the problem. It seemed that one of the shaker racks was broken. Esmond said he needed a lathe or small flat piece of wood and some shingle nails to make the necessary repairs.

'My father was a small man with a hot temper and he just blew his top'How in the name of H---could the wooden shaker racks with their violent motion be fixed with little pieces of wood and some small nails?!?' There followed a very spirited discussion between him, Mr. Coates, and Esmond.

'While this was going on, the neighbors (threshing was a community affair) were standing around their loaded wagons. Every farm had a nondescript dog, usually named Shep, who was very possessive of his team and trotted in front. If another dog came near, there was an instant no-holds-barred dogfight.

Nothing is known about the 32 HP U.S. Reeves cross compound engine in this picture other than it is, 'Threshing near Lewistown.' Courtesy of Gary Yaeger.

'Eventually, the neighbors went home. The insides were pulled out, so proper repairs could be made. This took a couple of days. The crop was finally threshed.

'After this, my father would not let Mr. Coates thresh for him again. I learned that Mr. Coates sold the poor old engine for scrap and the thresher sat behind a barn and rotted. That just about finished threshing in our community. It was the end of a picturesque and somewhat romantic era.'

We heard from LOU McMASTER, PO Box 6, Hickory, Pennsylvania 15340-0006 about a recent donation to the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association.

'When Edward A. 'Rusty' McGinness first saw his Erie Model B steam shovel in New York state, he knew that it had potential. As one of a handful of remaining similar steam shovels, he felt an obligation to preserve its heritage. Eleven years later, it is restored to its original condition. Now, at 80 and with no children to carry on the tradition, Rusty McGinness has donated the 1927 Erie steam shovel to the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association, Inc.

'In August 2000, Rusty donated his shovel to the National Pike Association. The National Pike group has been holding exhibitions twice a year at their beautiful show grounds near Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and is deeply concerned with the preservation of these antique machines.

'The Erie Model B steam shovel needs two skilled operators an engineer to operate the complicated shovel and a fireman to keep the steam pressure up. Talent and experience are needed for both jobs. At Brownsville there is such a group of experienced people as well as younger folks willing to learn.

Another classic picture originating from the late Ted Worrall's collection is this scene of Frank Strouf's 40-140 Reeves stuck in Wolf Creek while attempting to cross in late winter while pulling a house to Strouf's farm, in 1911. What do you do when you get a 40 Reeves stuck?? Naturally . . . you get another Reeves! Strouf's 40-120 is backed up to the Canadian Special in preparation to pulling on it. Notice the amount of crew present in the 'off season' on that huge spread. Courtesy of Gary Yaeger.

The National Pike group, with its many dedicated members, has agreed to maintain and house the Erie and to make it available to other steam and antique construction equipment shows and exhibits across the United States.

GERALD DARR, 2220 Bishopsgate Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43614-2006 sends this little story: 'I enjoyed Joe Steinhagen's lengthy story, in the September/October IMA, page 18-22, a binder story about those sheds full of old machinery and parts, and I suppose some things he could not identify. He mentioned a ten foot binder which I have never seen, nor have I seen a six or eight foot binder.

'My father had a five-foot Deering binder. In our part of Ohio there was not acreage that large to warrant an eight-foot binder and certainly not a 10-foot.

'Of course, all that has changed in this day around Clyde and Fremont, Ohio.

'I know it was fun to root through all these things in the large house.

'My father's farm house was built in 1901 and had a slate roof. The full attic was floored and there were many old books up there. When Dad and Mother moved to town, my brother helped Dad clean the attic and they threw things out of the attic window rather than carry things down two flights of stairs.

'Joe Steinhagen, you really opened up a can of worms. You are a genius that you were able to convert the binders to road travel. Keep up the good work!'

We got a press release from by CHIP BLALOCK of 290-G Harper Blvd., Moultrie, Georgia 31768, informing us of the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition to be held October 17-19, 2000.

'The Sunbelt Expo provides an opportunity to view the products and services of thousands of exhibitors national and international. Last year, the annual event played host to over 210,000 visitors and 1,177 exhibitors.

'The Sunbelt Expo gives visitors a chance to view a conglomeration of equipment in one spot. There are many sections which make up the Expo: Agribusiness, Electricity, Precision Ag Farming, Antique Tractor, ATV's, Forestry, Livestock (beef, dairy, horses, ratites, alpacas, goats), the Small Farm Center, Land Grant University Tent, Propane Gas, Lawn and Gardening, Hunting and Fishing, Automotive and Family Living.

I bought this picture from Richard Birklid, as a 'reverse negative,' which had been on eBay. This photo shows Reeves & Company personnel in business suits at the Fargo Reeves Depot. Since it is a brand new engine and the very earliest type of 40 Reeves, I would say it is probably a special occasion whereby they were preparing to go plow with it on trial? Maybe it was being prepared for the North Dakota State Fair? The year would have to have been 1909 and the serial number could have been 5401, the first one? Note the old Cass County Courthouse in the distance. Photo courtesy of Gary Yaeger.

'The Expo has indoor and outdoor exhibit space. In addition, the Expo has over 600 acres of corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts, Bermuda grass, and perennial peanuts that are harvested during the Expo in our harvesting and tillage demonstrations daily in the fields. The Expo also has tractor driving ranges where visitors can actually test-drive farm equipment on site. The Antique Tractor section showcases our favorite model from days gone by, stock dog trials, cutting horse, and rein cow-horse demonstrations are also a thrill to see during the three-day event. Southern States Cooperative will have their six-horse Percheron hitch on display. This hitch of beautiful and athletic horses will lead the Antique Tractor Parade daily at 2:00 p.m.'

For more information, contact the Sunbelt Expo office at 290-G Harper Blvd., Moultrie, Georgia 31768; Phone: 229-985-1968; Fax:229-890-8518; e-mail: sunexpo@alltel.net; web-site: sunbeltexpo.com.

LARRY CREED of R.R. 13 Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834 wrote to us this month:

'I would like to thank John S. Cox of Carbondale, Illinois, for the fine photographs he sent to the last issue of IMA. I was sorry the two pictures of the Scheidler 16 HP engine and the threshing in Nebraska were not properly credited to John.

'Since Mr. Gelder is concerned about what I consider the proper ratio for human/steam engine in a photograph, I suggest he study the cover photograph of Sept/Oct 1998 issue of IMA. The serial number of his Advance engine would have been some of the more interesting information he could impart upon the Soot in the Flues readers.

'I have included four photographs to share. The first photo is of an 'old style' Jumbo engine built by Harrison Machine Works of Belleville, Illinois. The engine belonged to John Stroup of Grayville, Indiana (located south of Terre Haute). The engine most likely would have been built before 1906 as Harrison began building the 'new style' Jumbo.

'The second photograph is a Kansas threshing crew and a Peerless engine built by the Geiser Company of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Peter Geiser built only threshers and horsepowers until April 1880, when the company bought the steam engine works of F.F. & A.B. Landis. By 1908 the Geiser Manufacturing Company was very successful with total sales of $3,000,000.00. The company was sold to Emerson Brantingham Company on January 1, 1913, and continued to build traction engines, grain separators, clover hullers and sawmills. The Geiser Works also built gasoline tractors and army ammunition wagons, which were used in France in 1918.

'In the early 1920s Emerson Brantingham ran into financial trouble and the Geiser Works closed. The engine in the picture would have been built before 1913 as the smoke-box doors after 1913 were cast with the wording 'Emerson Brantingham Company Geiser Works,' along with the 'Peerless' name. The last engines had only the letters 'EB' cast on the smokebox.

'The third photograph is also a Kansas threshing scene. The threshing machine has a grain elevator almost the same length as the separator. The fourth picture is a close-up of the engine and crew in the last photograph. The engine is an Advance tandem compound, which was offered in 14, 18,21, 26 and 35 HP. Advance was unusual in the fact that they built tandem compound engines at the same time. Port Huron and Gaar-Scott Company for example built tandem compound engines and double tandem compound and cross compound engines. Some manufacturers felt the chamber between the cylinders on a cross compound engine was unsatisfactory because of the steam condensing in the cross chamber. (Please feel free to contact Lyle Hoffmaster for a rebuttal to this argument.) The crew is wearing an interesting array of head-gear, which will interest one of my Blackwell, Oklahoma, friends. '

(We are indeed embarrassed that the four photos we had labeled 'Gerald Darr photos' were actually those contributed by John S. Cox. This was entirely our mistake and we apologize to all involved!)

Keep those letters and pictures coming! We are pleased to have so many for this issue and look forward to more next time. We're also looking for more pictures to use on our covers, so don't be shy!

Enjoy those wonderful family times that are coming soon!