Soot in the flues

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Hi Thereto all the good folks out in Steam land and I know many of you are not at home, but on the road traveling the route of the steam and antique shows. All winter long, this is what you dream of and anticipate renewing acquaintances and making new steam buddies and it never gets dull, does it? If you spot anything new, unusual, or just plain interesting, please write me and we will share with the Soot in the Flues readers.

I hope life has been good for all of you this past year and will continue to be that way. I mentioned before some of the illness that my hubby and I have had and now the most recent misfortune Ed had a large stroke on May 23, but he came home on June 6 and is slowly recovering and looking ahead to better times. There are some problems as many of you know, when recovering from a stroke, but we just take a day at a time and depend on our Faith to see us through. He is not allowed to drive yet, so that makes me head chauffeur for the time being but we can still enjoy going out for some meals and visiting with our families and grandchildren.

I have another interesting story from Wellsprings of Wisdom, by Ralph L. Woods, called 'Gift and Reward':

'I had gone a-begging from door to door in the village path, when thy golden chariot appeared in the distance like a gorgeous dream and I wondered who was this King of all kings!

'My hopes rose high and me thought my evil days were at an end, and stood waiting for alms to be given unasked and for wealth scattered on all sides in the dust.

'The chariot stopped where I stood. Thy glance fell on me and thou earnest down with a smile. I felt that the luck of my life had come at last. Then of a sudden thou didst hold out thy right hand and say, 'What hast thou to give me?'

'Ah, what a kindly jest it was to open thy palm to a beggar to beg! I was confused and stood undecided, and then from my wallet I slowly took out the least little grain of corn and gave it to thee.

'But how great my surprise when at the day's end I emptied my bag on the floor to find a least little grain of gold among the poor heap! I bitterly wept and wished that I had the heart to give thee my all.' (Rabindranath Tagore)

And now, on to our interesting letters.

Seeking the help of the subscribers, this letter comes from R. J. DAND, Box 905, Wainwright, Alberta, Canada TOB 4P0:

'I would appreciate it if you would place this request in your 'Soot in the Flues'. I will be retiring from the work force in a few years and am trying to get myself prepared to work at my hobby, which is building steam engines and related equipment.

'I have seen some very nice working scale models of steam engines and scale model threshing machines. I am at the present time, trying to set up to build a scale 65 HP Case steam engine and hopefully, a scale Case 22 inch threshing machine.

'I have been able to gather up all the technical data that I require to build the engine, but have nothing pertaining to building the threshing machine. Perhaps some other pensioner would be able to help me. If someone has the time and expertise to make working sketches, and the information pertaining to building the scale threshing machine, I would be very happy to hear from you.' (This is a fellow hobbyist, waiting for a reply from someone who has more knowledge in this steam engine hobbyhelp him out Fellas, if you feel you have the answers to his request.)

The following pictures were sent to us by DEL SEUSER, Box 143, RR 2, Leavenworth, Kansas 66048:

The officers for 1989 for the Kansas Antique Engine Safety Association are (1 to r)Deemer Unruh, vice president and charter member, as I am; Doug McQuitty, president; and Tom Terning, chief inspector at Valley C.T.R. meeting, March 11-12.

Richard Dixon, Assistant Treasurer of the Pioneer Harvesters, receiving the Golden Safety Award for the Jackson family, in memory of George Jackson. George was a charter member of the Antique Engineer Safety Association, and with other interested steam men helped to build the Fort Scott Pioneer Harvester Show. From 1. to r. Francis Sevart, Vice-President; Richard Dixon, Serving Assistant Treasurer of Pioneer Harvesters; and Doug McQuitty, President of State Antique Engine Safety Association.

The following communication concerning safety comes from JIM BYRD, 1310 Viadeluna Drive, Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561: 'By now, you may have become aware of the growing tension in the bureaucratic community about boiler safety around show grounds that normally feature steam traction engines.

'The reason I write this is because I've learned that the Ky-Tenn Threshermen's Reunion (always held on third weekend of July) is facing the possibility of not being allowed to feature any engines under steam this year. This is because of the idea held by a state official that the engines are all too old to be safe any longer, around a group, or crowd of people.

'If this idea is carried through and spreads, it will no doubt, be the end of the steam shows. I for one would surely miss them, because that is one of the main things I have to look forward to each summer.

'The steam men that I know are all very aware of the safety factors involved with live steam. If they weren't, they would not last long as steam men. After all, they are nearest the boiler, of anyone, when under steam.

'Another thing I've noticed is that most engines are tested periodically for pressure and then limited to operating well below the pressure test limit during show hours, when the people are around the engines.

'It remains to be seen, how this all turns out, but I'm surely hoping for the best. I think the setting of a perimeter distance from engines, during steam-up, and close inspection of boilers, would assure about as much safety as attending spectators would have anywhere.

'I suspect everyone of us face much more risk these days driving our cars to the shows, than we would ever face with a precaution or two taken with the steam engines at show-time.

'Did you know about Thurman Walker's passing away? He was a well-known steam man who lived in Pensacola, Florida and frequently exhibited his scale Port Huron engine at Adams, Tennessee?'

We spoke to show contact Sam Henninger, who said this show will have only two steam engines operating this year. Henninger shared the reasons for the cutback with us, stating that all of Tennessee's government bureaus are 'uptight' about the scrutiny they have recently been under. The Ky-Tenn Reunion is being closely watched by the boiler inspection board.

The group will be working toward legislation for an 'agricultural antique category' which should help. They hope that a clause in such legislation would allow municipalities to appoint their own boiler inspection boards.

An interesting writing and questions comes from ED STRACK, 2133 E. Pierce Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85006: 'I have been a subscriber to I.M.A. since about '50 or '51. I do enjoy reading it very much. I would like to see more stories from the old-timers who actually had real experiences on these old steamers.' (We would like to receive these letters, too, Ed send them in, Fellas!)

'I know there are not too many old-timers left. I am in my 60s and as you well know, traction engines were practically out in my time, except for a very few.

'I was raised in wheat country dry land. I know what wheat harvesting and threshing are all about. I also remember some terrible days in the header barge, fighting the ants in miserable dusty heat.

'I have often wondered why we never see anything on the tobacco farmer. I know they used steam to steam the beds of tobacco. They must go through a lot of interesting hard labor. I, for one, would like to see a complete write-up on tobacco, from the time it is put into the ground until it is cigarettes and tobacco on the shelf. What do they do to it to make it so mild? I have tried smoking leaf tobacco and it's strong enough to knock off your hat.

'I have been a smoker all my life, and regardless what they say, it cured asthma for me when I was just a kid.

'Several years ago, I inquired about some information on the top mount straight flue for an Avery steam engine. Would anyone know who has one? If so, I would be interested in seeing a picture so as to compare with my father's engine.

'A few years ago I made a terrible mistake by listening to people telling me to move to Arizona for my son's health; he is an asthmatic. I left my engines in Colorado and moved here. From what I have read, this place must be what they refer to as Hell same as being locked up in prison.' (I wouldn't know, Ed, as I've never been there, but I know people who have moved there and think it is great each to his own!)

'Lately, I have had so much sickness in my family and I am unable to get out of here. I would love to move to the Pacific Northwest. I will either have to sell my engines in Colorado, or make a move with them that will run into a lot of money.

'I had many steam and old engine parts, but since I have been down here, some of my good friends have relieved me of a lot of them.

'I will wind this up, but I do hope you find the space in your super good magazine for more articles from the old-timers.' (Thanks for writing Ed, and to my knowledge, we print all this type of stories that we receive so old-timers, get your pen or typewriter working and we will look forward to hearing from you.)

The following letter is a copy of one sent to John Vanlandingham, Route 2, Box 148, Crete, Nebraska 68333, regarding a comment on John's article on page 8-9 of July/August 1989 IMA.

'I read your opinion in I.M.A. concerning museums,' writes ROBERT A. HOWARD, Engineering Curator, Hagley Museum and Library, Box 3630, Wilmington, Delaware 19807. 'Museums have a duty to be professional and ethical. Things are occasionally deaccessioned, but a museum which has a public trust needs to be very careful that it is indeed acting in the public's best interest.

'Things are taken in the collection for a reason, which means there needs to be a better reason to remove them. If something serves an interpretive goal in static form, there may be no good reason for an institution to put it in working order. For example, Steam town does not need to make their Big Boy operative.

'Some museums do not take good care of their collections. This is unfortunate but true.

'My advice is, if you want to get something out of a museum, you need to find something that they will want a lot more and is not available on the open market. A curator would have a hard time trying to justify selling something because a collector wanted to restore it and play with it. His administration would question why it was acquired in the first place and why acquire anything else if objects were to experience the same disposition.

'How museums are: We are not a vast sinkhole where good stuff goes to be obscured forever, but on the other hand, museums need to be cautious and responsible with their trust.'

JON MYERS, Route 6, Box 392, Shepherdsville, Kentucky 40165 would like to share with you the restoration of his engine: 'I purchased a 13 HP Gaar-Scott engine #14162, on June 8 1986, from Mr. Howard Miller, Liberty Center, Ohio. Howard had bought the engine from Mr. Ed Paulson, Pendleton, Oregon about two years earlier.

Threshing wheat at Byron Leathermon's, July 1988. Left is 16 HP Advance owned by Bill Raisch of Louisville, Kentucky; Center is Garr-Scott owned by Jon Myers; and right is Case owned by Bill Raisch and Byron Leathermon of Lexington, Kentucky. Men in picture are Bill Raisch, Byron Leathermon and David Pitchford.

'In the fall of 1986, David Pitchford and I started restoring the engine and by working on it almost every night and weekends, we had it completed in June, 1987. We put on a new smoke box ring, new water tank, rebuilt clutch linkage, axle stubs, new platform and fuel boxes. We also rebuilt the throttle valve and gave the engine a new paint job.

'The next fall, we decided to build a 'regular' style cab for the engine and we started on this project by borrowing a boiler mount casting and a top mount casting from our friend, Mr. Bill Raisch, Louisville, Kentucky. By using these for a pattern, we had duplicates cast at a foundry that Bill had recommended to us. We got the top completed by July of 1988, in time to thresh wheat at Mr. Byron Leathermon's, Lexington, Indiana.

We enjoy running and caring for this engine very much. We feel that for the size, it doesn't take a back seat to any other engine.

'At this time I want to thank Mr. Kenneth Kallin, Brooks, Kentucky, owner of Bullit Machine Company, which did the lathe work; Mrs. Joyce Pickett, Louisville, KY, who painted the Gaar-Scott emblems, and most of all, Mr. David Pitchford who works as many hours as I do in caring for the engine.'

'I ran a steam engine in the Talbott Brothers coal mine for six years, writes PAUL GEER, Route 2, Box 322, New Cumberland, West Virginia 26047.

'The engine was manufactured in Columbiana, Ohio. It was bought new in 1930. The boiler had 78-2' tubes in it. The engine had a 12 x 12 cylinder. It had double flywheels; there was 56' and 28' facing on them. It also had a piston valve. It was belted to a 37 kilowatt generator. It made electricity for a 50 horsepower cutting machine and water pumps and fans in the coal mine; also screens on the tipple.

'The building, along with the steam engine, burned up in a fire at the Talbott Bros, mine in 1936.'

PAUL R. STEPHENS, Rose Cottage, Down Road, Alveston, Bristol, England BS12 2JQ, writes to inquire 'if you have any record of any letters or articles published in the Iron Men Album written by my late friend George Middleton Watkins, who passed away in January of this year. It is known that he had an interest in American stationary and marine steam engines, as one of his letters asking for information on American steamboats was published in the Model Engineer as early as 1927.

'George spent almost his entire life researching and photographing stationary steam engines in the United Kingdom. His unique collection of photographs and papers are now with the Royal Commission for Historical Monuments in England, while his library is at present in store at the University of Bath.

'At present, the Stationary Engine Research Group (SERG) is planning to publish the 1989 edition of SERG's annual Journal, Stationary Power, as a memorial to George's work. I would very much appreciate it if you would print a request for anyone having had correspondence with George to contact myself or Tony Wool rich, Canal Side, Huntworth, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA7 OAJ, England.

Of the SERG, Stephens writes that the primary aims of the group are 'To foster, encourage and coordinate an interest in and an appreciation of the history, recording and preservation of stationary steam engines throughout the world.' They produce several publications, including a quarterly bulletin, an ad hoc newsletter, annual journal, and a steaming dates suupplement listing show details, as well as offering a range of publications from other publishers. Members of SERG have in many instances been engaged in research and consultancy work for museums in the UK and abroad.

This year's Journal, with a projected length of 120-160 pages, will chronicle the life of George Middleton Watkins and will include a number of reprints of articles he has written.

And I never leave you wonderful folks without a few thoughts to ponder: Each morning seek some task begun, Each evening sees its close; Something attempted, something done Has earned a night's repose. Longfellow. ...Habit is either the worst of masters or the best of servants. .. .Before you run in double harness, look well to the horse. ... He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass. Take care on your interesting steam trips and love you all