Soot in the flues

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Hi! Greetings to each of you do hope you are enjoying the activities of the summer. I'll be expecting to get some of your stories now for the future Iron Men Albums, don't let me down.

We've had several writings from Billy M. Byrd of Hopkinsville, Kentucky and I just wanted to mention we saw the recent write-up of Billy in The Locomotive Engineer of the May 1985 issue. He certainly is a true iron-man when it comes to threshing engines and to the railroad steamers and the later types of engines. If you recall Billy was dubbed the Poet of the Throttle by CBS News Charles Kuralt who featured him in his 'On the Road' television series. Billy had his last run last July and had all kinds of honor shown him for the great guy he is. He still maintains his rail interests through affiliation with the Kentucky Railway Museum and the National Railway Historical Society, in addition to the Tennessee Museum. Non-rail interests include the Historical Society of Hopkins County. He is also a Kentucky Colonel, York Rite Mason and Shriner. Billy and his wife Jean live at 369 South Harrig, Madisonville, Kentucky. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.

As if he didn't have enough to keep him busy, the colorful retired engineer is working on a book of his memoirs. The title? Why, 'A Byrd's Eye View of Railroading,' what else? Let's hear more about that book, Billy!

I know many of you like to read the most interesting stories from Well-springs of Wisdom. This one is called 'Gratitude' An ambitious young man called on his pastor and promised to tithe, and so together they knelt in prayer to make the promise and to ask God's blessing on the young fellow's career. He was only making forty dollars a week at that time, and therefore tithed four dollars. But before many years his income leaped into higher bracket and he was tithing as much as $500 a week. He decided he had better call on the minister and see if he could not somehow be released from his tithing promise it was getting much too costly. He told the pastor, 'It was no problem when I was only tithing four dollars every week but now it is up to five hundred dollars and I simply can't afford that.'

The old pastor said, 'I do not see how you can be released from your promise but we could kneel down and ask God to cut your income back to about forty dollars and a tithe of four dollars a week.' What fools we mortals be?

And now on to some letters from our readers.

ARTHUR F. HARKER, 300 Bella Street, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania 16648 writes: 'I am a proud owner of a 1923 Peerless steam tractor engine. I show it at Rough & Tumble, Williams Grove, Penn State, Alum Bank and Paldres. I am a member of these shows and I am repainting and striping it and I would like to make it look like an original. I would appreciate any pictures or information. (So, come on fellows, if you can even lend him some pictures he would appreciate it.) The late John Kaufman painted and striped these engines.

'I have been getting the Iron-Men Album for a good many years and am hoping the readers can help me.'

An interesting letter comes from JACK HUFF, Route 3, Wall Lake, Iowa 51466: 'Those articles about the African Queen are very interesting to me for the simple reason that the engine I have looks very much like the one that Humphrey Bogart kept kicking the dickens out of in the movie. It has quite a history too. I can't pin down the exact dates but in about 1885 it was put on the Racoon River above the mill dam as a scenic passenger ride bout 1 miles up the river. The mill and dam were washed away once and destroyed by fire again in 1890. The boat was then moved to Black Hawk Lake and was used as a tour boat until around 1925 or 30, when it was in bad shape. So they dragged it out on the shore behind the old ice house where it rotted down and lay in the weeds and brush for many years.

'One day the old gentleman that had run the boat came across it and took the motor home and greased it all over and put it away. About ten years ago, he passed away and I bought it at his sale. I suspected the worst but upon dismantling it, I found it was like new inside. The outside frame and moving parts are all brass and polished steel. It is 6x6 with a Gould balanced valve and Stevenson reversing mechanism. The only thing I changed was the corrugated kick wheel for a heavy flywheel and that made it operate real smooth. It is stamped 4-84 under the steam chest cover. I don't know who the manufacturer was as there is no indication of a number or name. I know where the anchor whistle is so I'll be working on that soon. I thought this might be of interest to you as it is to me, and it brings back memories to some of the old-timers around here. The picture is of the engine after I cleaned and painted it.'

WAYNE ROSE, Route 1, Box 193, Wolford, North Dakota 58385 works for the Dakota-Hawk Museum at Wolford and at the present time they are trying to restore a wooden 1915 'Yellow Kid' Avery thresher with a low elevator, either chain or belt drive. They do not have any diagrams or literature on this machine. They would very much appreciate hearing from you folks who might have any information that could help them.

I thought I would share this letter with you from CARL M. LATHROP, 108 Garfield Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940: 'I have just read your July/August '85 Soot in the Flues and specifically Frank Burris' nice letter. I have sent him a letter thanking him for his interest. Here are two paragraphs from that letter that may be of interest to others.

'I agree with you. I slipped a notch in referring to the engine as a (decapod) which term is really a slang name, like Tar Heel or Yankee, applied to a 2-10-0 the likes of which were originally built by Baldwin around 1924 for the Russian government's light rail lines but which were never delivered and finally found their way onto some American railroads. One of the most popular, that I know of, is still running on the Strasburg Railroad in Pennsylvania. It was formerly Great Western Railway's #1223 now #90.

'While we are on the subject and since you do seem interested, at no time during my 2000 mile trip through western and central Turkey did I have any misgivings as to my personal safety. Quite to the contrary, I found that the 'man in the street' was very friendly. They like us and that is a lot more than I can say for some other countries where I have traveled and worked in the past forty years.

'Anna Mae, one of the greatest rewards from doing articles for IMA or GEM is the establishing of friendships through people writing to me as Frank has done. One such that I often think of was with the late Carl Erwin for we corresponded regularly right up until his death. Another is Walt Thayer and to think of the coincidence of his living in Wanatche, Washington, a continent away in the same town as my winter neighbor in Florida small world.' (7 agree, Carl, many folks have become lifetime friends through the medium of the columns and of course, the reunions.)

'As a senior citizen volunteer photo lab technician for King County in Washington, I keep an eye out for interesting historical pictures,' writes DUDLEY KEY, 8300 Beck Road N.E., Bainbridge Island, Washington 98110.

He continues: 'Here are a few pictures I copied from some old sepia toned engineering prints. I hope you can use them. Maybe a reader can explain the bar extending from the rear wheel hub and slanting downward to the rear of the Avery engine.

Road building with river gravel by Port Huron engine, Auburn, Washington, 1912. Maybe some reader can explain the bar extending from the rear hub.

'I enjoy IMA very much and wish it were a monthly.'

And from our friend, FRANK J. BURRIS, 1102 Box Canyon Road, Fallbrook, California 92028 comes the following pictures and descriptions: 'Enclosed are three interesting snapshots with the old Voight lander which bespeak the age of both these items. They were taken back about 1942, and are scenes from the Southern Pacific backshops Taylor Street Roundhouse where the big freighters were completely dismantled, repaired, and then reassembled in tiptop shape for another year's hard toil up and down the mainlines. The passenger engine received similar treatment at another shop in the southeastern section of L. A. As my memory recalls after those 43 years, the repair and overhaul estimates as affixed to the work orders posted on the stalls were as high as $60,000. However, when it is considered that this was the total for about a million miles of dragging 100 freight cars up and down grades and through the most-tunneled railway in North America, it was very slight.

'#1 is a scene in the dismantling/-erecting backshop. Here all boiler appendages are stripped off and sent to detail sections. The boilers are also removed from frames if necessary; and the wheels and rods sent to the lathes, presses, and grinders. When the crosshead guides are returned, they are polished like a mirror! A critical thing concerning connected drive wheel assemblies is that the diameters must be closely turned to the same diameters, else continual slippage and wear are incurred. On 'blind' (inside) drivers, the flattened portions correspond to the clearance portions inside the flanges of the control drivers. The fireboxes of these beauties are quite apt to receive new flue sheets and also crown sheets; since these locomotives all consume oil for fuel, and oil is considerably hotter than coal under these conditions. In the front line of this shot is one of the big cab-in-fronters, so designed to minimize the smoke inhalation for the engine crews when traversing long tunnels. A transfer table rather than a turntable is utilized to convey these engines from an incoming track to their respective parallel stalls.

'#2 is another view from the floor, of the big girl in front line of #1. Leading (double, under the cab) trucks, and trailing (single, under the smoky end) trucks are seen amongst the air and water pumps and other accouterments strewn over the shop floors. One may wonder whether each of these old girls will get all her own parts back again? No booster engines were utilized with these reversed 4-8-8-2 engines, since they had tremendous tractive effort without. It may be noted that this species also was endowed with a double smokestack. Atop the stacks was a smoke deflector, operated from the cab, for use in tunnels to prevent her very hot breath from scorching any overhead woodwork within the tunnels or snow sheds. Also it may be seen that these giants were of the simple-cylindered arrangement, since compounded engines were too slow, loss of efficiency was made up by superheating steam and other improvements. When these articulated engines were placed in passenger service over some of the heaviest grades, they were balanced out for a good 60 mph. Oh yes! Daughter #1 accompanied me on this trek she was about six years old.

'#3 is a view amongst the wheels and guides, rods, etc., in the SP Taylor Street 'Roundhouse.' Note that this shop is really a 'square house'; but no one had better ever refer to it as such. Here drivers are fitted with new rims as necessary, and sets of drivers are trued to the same diameters. The guides are put through shapers and polish-ground to mirror finish. New brasses are inserted in rods and finish reamed. These engines were built largely by the Big Three: Lima, Baldwin, and American. Some of the first experimental types were built by SP at Sacramento and other shops. They were also built before the era of roller bearings in the main journals and rods, as were many of the later engines. While in service, these big engines could have their drivers turned by simply having attached a framework containing cutters against each driver rim, and then towing the locomotive back and forth by means of a cable and stationary towing engine over a distance of a few hundred feet. This quick servicing setup was installed near Oroville shops in northern California. Journal bearings were of course also accorded a fine grinding finish. When one of these locys (variously spelled lokies, etc.) came back off the overhaul line, she was really all fitted out as new, brand spanking! It just is a reminder to me that I once worked in a very small example of such a facility when a mere kid of 16 back during WW#1 while manpower shortage also brought into the shops the first of Women-Power! But, like many other fellows of that time, I was totally unaware that steam engines would not be with us always; else I might have stayed on. But I did get to shovel as many as 35-40 tons of coal per day before joining the machinist and boilermakers at that small shop, before the recession of the early 20s which sent me through a vocational school and to J. I. Case for a spell at Racine. Then some of my guardian angel relatives convinced me it was time to go back and enroll in high school. And after making that good institution in three years cum laude, I have been going to colleges and universities ever since whenever the opportunity availed, until now, when I am engrossed in computers. Oh well, it is said that a little education can be a very bad thing! See you next time! P.S. Whoops! Another slip of my pen, since I do all my typing and proof reading: in the July/August issue, the Turkish engine was a 2-10-2 and White's classification of 'Sante Fe' is for the same 2-10-0.'

A most interesting bit of information comes from MEL VINHELLWINCKEL, 1022 North Elm, Luverne, Minnesota 56156: 'A couple of years ago a group of us were discussing the old Eclipse steam engine, owned by the Ayers Collection, after it completed its parade route during the Prairie Village Jamboree at Madison, South Dakota. This engine must have been well designed, built and had good care to have survived for almost 100 years was a comment we all agreed with. Then this statement was made, 'You can still buy parts for Eclipse steamers from the Frick Company.'

'The subject was changed and nothing further was said. I was gullible enough to think that maybe just maybe, what the guy said was true and figured I would find out for certain SOMEDAY by writing. That SOMEDAY turned out to be April 29, 1985. The answer I received along with part of their promotional material is enclosed.

'The Frick Company is well entrenched in the field of commercial refrigeration. The next time you see your favorite, pretty young figure skater or burly hockey player flash across the arena, chances are good the ice was manufactured by the Frick Company, Waynesboro, Pa. Let's hope you won't see them sitting in the rink!

'I would guess there is, or at least was at one time a connection between the statement our acquaintance made and Mr. Strayer and his organization; since they purchased drawings, patterns and inventory.

'Thanks to Mr. M. W. Garland and the Frick Company for the interesting information they compiled and supplied!

'I've also enclosed a snapshot of Madison, South Dakota's 100 year old Eclipse engine.' (Thanks, Melvin, for this data and also thanks to the Frick Company.)

The following is the letter received by Melvin from the Frick Company:

'Dear Mr. Hellwinckel: Yours of April 29th was duly received and your interest in Frick Company products is greatly appreciated.

'Regarding steam engines, Frick stopped production of same about the time of WW II. Frick steam engines for use by others were first sold in 1852 by George Frick. He had made engines previously for his own use. In 1861 a plant for manufacturing steam engines was built in Waynesboro. In 1882 the first of a lie of refrigeration machinery was designed and placed in operation in 1883.

'From then until the present, refrigeration machinery, particularly of the industrial type has been the progressive part of the business. The last of the steam engine designs was a Poppet type Uniflow engine.

'Steam engine drawings were sold to others in the late 1950's. Parts are not available from Frick Company.

'The Steam Engine Society located at Williams Grove, Pa. purchased some of these drawings. The last known address was c/o William S. Strayer, R.D. 1, Dillsburg, Pa. 17109.

'Frick Company continues as a leading manufacturer of industrial refrigeration machinery and enjoys an enviable reputation in that field. Enclosed is some literature covering present day activities.

'I trust the information given may be of assistance to you. You have permission to use any of the data given above. M. W. Garland, Senior Consultant, Frick Company.'

RUSSELL H. CURRY, 94 Queen Street, Box 389, Lakefield, Ontario, Canada K0L-2H0 writes: 'Could you please advise if that book you quote in your column-'Wellsprings of Wisdom' is still in print or for sale?' (Well, Russell, I doubt if it is, unless you find a store that has some available yet. I tried a good while ago to get another one. I had bought quite a few at a News Center, but they had no more and at that time they were not being printed. It is written and compiled by Ralph L. Woods, The C. R. Gibson Company, Norwalk, Connecticut. Hope you can find one. I think it is a great little book.)

And a few thought provokers The hand that lifts 'the cup that cheers' should not be used to shift the gears. A man who rows a boat doesn't have time to rock it. Pray as though no work could help, and work as though prayer could not help. Deal with the faults of others as gently as your own. You always have time for things you put first. Bye-bye for this time, hope you are having a great summer. Love Ya All!