Soot in the flues

Gary Yaeger

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As we get this issue ready for the printer, we notice that we don't have quite as many letters in this column this month. Well, that's understandable, since this is, after all, the time of year when all of you are out attending shows and trucking your exhibits down the highways. Remember when you attend shows, especially new ones, to write us a letter about them, or better yet, a full show report! None of us can attend them all, so we rely on readers in different regions to keep us posted on what's going on in their environs.

And remember that we want to hear from you young people, too! We know that lots of teenagers and young adults attend these shows both with their families and on their own, and we are surely interested in what they have to say as well. This is a great place to get help if you're a new collector, or just a would-be collector who needs information. Now, on to this month's letters:

This letter comes from KEVIN SMALL, 1279 Perry Highway, Box 92, Portersville, Pennsylvania 16051, who writes, 'In the July/August issue of the IMA, Mr. Larry Creed responded to an article titled 'Something Different' submitted by Edwin Bredemeier of Steinhauer, Nebraska. Mr. Bredemeier's article is in the March-April IMA. Mr. Creed says that he would like to set the writer 'straight' about the content of his article. Because it did not pertain directly to steam, Mr. Creed seemed to be upset. I personally enjoy all articles submitted to the IMA even if it is not 100% steam. I am sure that Mr. Bredemeier (who is 88 years old) has more experience with steam engines, threshers and old machinery than Mr. Creed and myself combined! I personally do not know Mr. Bredemeier, but I do know that he has submitted lots of pictures and stories of steam engines and other machinery to the IMA for years. Many issues of the IMA from the 1950s to the present have had many stories of machinery not directly related to steam. 1 certainly enjoy articles from the old steam engine men the most. I hope Mr. Bredemeier will write more about his experiences with steam engines and other machinery as well. He is certainly entitled to do so in the IMA.

'I would like to contribute these pictures of 'steam engine legends.' I believe that between these five legends combined, they have saved nearly 150 steam engines and hundreds of other pieces of machinery such as tractors, threshers, sawmills, etc. They are heroes to me, and they are the reason many steam engines survive today for all to enjoy.

'Picture number one is of Emil J. Kudlacek of Seward, Nebraska, standing beside his 65 HP Case. Emil has owned 16 engines at one time many years ago, and has bought and traded many steamers throughout his lifetime. I believe he is 92 years old now. He also owned two 110 HP Case steamers and could have owned 12 different 110 Case engines as well. I met Emil at Rollag, Minnesota. He loves to talk about steam engines.

'Picture number two is of the late Chris Busch of Colton, Washington. He is standing next to the front wheel of his 1910 20 HP Avery pulling a Case thresher and straw carrier. Chris had a collection of 50 steam engines. He passed away in the early 1950s, but his name still brings back memories to many of the steam engine men in the Pacific northwest. This 20 HP Avery is still shown today. It is now owned by Willis Abel of Finleyville, Pennsylvania.

'Picture number three is of the late Walter Mehmke of Great Falls, Montana. He is standing beside his 1907 32 HP Case that he made his living with. It also paid for their farm. Walter saved 20 to 25 steam engines and lots of steel wheeled tractors and machinery of all kinds. I met Walter's son, Carl, in 1994 and had the honor to be the engineer on the 1907 32 Case one summer day in August. The Mehmkes were so kind and generous to me that day. Walter's collection is now shared through Carl. The old 32 Case is Carl's favorite engine, and it was Walter's favorite as well.

'Picture number four is of the late Harry Wood man see of Dowling, Michigan. If you look closely, you can see Harry standing in front of the drive wheel with his hands on the catwalk. No doubt Harry was listening to the 1907 45 HP Minneapolis pulling the 42 x 70 Avery threshing machine. I took this picture at Rollag, Minnesota in 1990. I wonder what he was thinking about the Minnie when 1 took the picture? I did not know Harry Wood man see very well, but I will say it was interesting to listen to him talk about steam engines and anything associated with them.

'Picture number five is of Norman Pross and Jim Briden on the 40-70 Gaar-Scott gas tractor at Rollag in 1990. A young friend is steering the big tractor. The Pross name has been associated with steam engines and big gas tractors since the early shows began in Minnesota and North Dakota. He has saved many large and rare steam engines and many one of a kind gas tractors as well.

There are so many other 'legends' that I could write about. I hope that the IMA readers who knew the legends and others as well will write about them in IMA. Thank you for a great magazine!'

GARY YAEGER writes, 'It has been many months since I have contributed anything to IMA. I haven't fallen off of the face of the earth. I have been gathering, writing and editing the material for a book about steam engines. One of you remarked about one of my last IMA letters 'not overly scholarly,' which is how I have written the book I am attempting to get out as a 'boot strap operation.' I knew before I ever started that / am not a writer, but I do have some history and stories to preserve, as well as photographs to share.

A 32 HP Reeves Canadian Special cross compound engine owned by Charles C Colwell, seeding near Ross Fork of Montana's Judith Basin. He was the grandfather of Rosie Yaeger. Photos this page from Gary Yaeger.

An early 25 HP Reeves Canadian Special cross compound pulling a combined harvester in the Judith Basin. I believe it was owned by Frank Strouf.

A 32 HP U.S. Reeves cross compound pulling a (I think the same one?) Holt combined harvester. I know for a fact Frank Strouf owned an engine like this one (as well as two 40 HP Reeves engines.)

'My book started out about only the Forty Reeves. I had to tie my Reeves heritage with Dad's 32 HP c.c and 20 HP Highwheeler. Of course, the first steam traction engine I ever ran was a Nichols & Shepard. So at this point, I am covering nearly all American and Canadian engines to some extent. My grandfather's 1881 Judith Basin (Montana) homestead was broken in 1907 with a 30-60 Hart-Parr 'Old Reliable' and an eight bottom plow, so I have included an area of the book for the 'internal combustion' engine. It is written from my western plains perspective. My main focus is on the Reeves brand, however, Case and all of the other competitors have their space. I have located so many interesting pieces of equipment operated by steam that I have an area for 'other uses of steam.' I may have gotten 'off on a limb,' but I don't ever intend to write another book, so it had to be in this one. (Actually, had I known how much time it involved, I would have never begun.) I had hoped to have the book out by Christmas. For reasons of sanity (I have been at this project steady for over two and a half years), I decided to take the summer off. I know this delays the book as a Christmas present, but I haven't watched a Super Bowl, a local high school basketball game, or gone camping, fishing or hunting since I started the project. A newspaper editor and steam friend, helping me, about lost it when I told him I had nearly two thousand photographs (plus many unique factory literature pages). I really get excited with photographs of steam engines in their original element!

'Several dozen of my friends (and your subscribers) have helped me and I would like to thank each and every one of them. Some of them have contributed dozens of pictures. Others just one or two. Hopefully, I won't disappoint my friends?

'I did take time to install a new piston rod and valve rod in our 15 HP Case this spring. I also rebuilt my Marsh steam pump, and installed new valves with schedule 80 pipe throughout, plus I'm getting it ready for paint. John Schrock and Austin Monk were here one evening, about a month and a half ago. I told John I had 're-plumbed' the engine and got his stock answer, which some of you have gotten from him, You plumb a 'restroom' (not an exact quote) and 'pipe ' a steam engine!' John keeps me on my toes.