Soot in the Flues

Content Tools

It's summer time again, and of course, our collectors have turned their efforts towards exhibiting, attending and socializing at the many shows that are held this time of year. Thus, we again call for each of you to record your experiences in words and pictures to share with your fellow collectors in the IMAs to come!

As we prepare this issue for the printer, we are once again plagued with temperatures over 100 degrees and a troublesome lack of rainfall in our region of the country. Hopefully this unfortunate weather will be a short term unpleasantness and won't have a serious affect on the summer's crops.

And now, on to our many letters and interesting pictures from our readers:

DAVE HUGHES, 11 Riceholm Place, Welland, Ontario, Canada L3C 6H2, writes: 'To the fraternity of steam enthusiasts everywhere, I take pen in hand to thank each and everyone who fueled the fire of youngsters' interests.

'Specifically, I'm speaking of engine owners who have allowed the younger generation to be taken under their wing and to teach us about the magnificent world of steam.

'One person and good friend that I mention is John Calder of Jerseyville, Ontario, Canada.

'I came aboard John's crew about 17 years ago and in that amount of time I've been taught much.

'John has had various engines such as a 25 HP George White, a 20 HP Sawyer-Massey, 68 HP Sawyer Massey, 25-85 Nichols & Shepard, and a 22 HP Advance Rumely.

'John was a fireman and hogger for the Steel Company of Canada plant railroad. He's run and fired everything from slide valved saturated Baldwins to super-heated piston valved Alcos and Lima 0-6-0 's that were built for WW II.

'Over the years at different shows we've had some interesting experiences. Once at the Golden Horseshoe Show in Caledonia, Ontario, we had practically a rain-out the last day of the show. John was sawyer on the sawmill he owned and I was running and firing his 25-85 Nichols & Shepard. All my firewood was wet. Not long after we got started and John took a couple of good cuts, the steam gauge started to drop, and after a while the water wasn't in the glass where I would have liked it.

'I did everything: hooked up the reverse lever, opened the damper wide, cracked the blower, then looked in the peep-hole in the back head of the could have had a party in that firebox, it was that dark and cold.

'A couple more cuts and he stopped that engine at 50 PSI. I was surprised to see what that 9 x 12' engine with Stephenson valve gear could do on that low pressure. When operating normally we try and keep her about 165 PSI.

'Back when John owned the Advance Rumely, just about every year at the Ontario Steam and Antique Show in Milton, Ontario, he'd hook up to the pulling sled and pulled that sled the full distance every time! With the exception of 68 HP Sawyer-Massey, I've never heard an engine's exhaust sound like that.

'In my opinion, that was one of the best, if not the best, engines he ever owned. The design of the very fast acting Marsh valve gear, the double ported slide valve, the size of the nozzle on the blast pipe, and the elliptical base on the stack, as well as the high pressure butt strap boiler made for a great sounding, well drafted and good steaming engine.

'John always has had a knack for rebuilding and fine tuning governors, especially the Pickering line. Any governor he got his hands on would ' instantaneously react to a given load.

'John has taught me a great deal on boiler care, injector operation, lubrication, firing techniques, and operation as well as other aspects of traction engine care.

'One thing John doesn't do is fire up and just sit around and make smoke; he's always doing something, whether it's on the mill, pulling the sled, Baker fan, etc. You know when John's got an engine around because they're so snappy and square sounding.

'I appreciate everything he and anyone has done for younger greenhorns like myself. Your time and effort has not been wasted.

'Currently I'm working on fabricating a 10 HP vertical fire tube boiler to power (eventually) a two cylinder compound condensing marine steam plant. Working at a local dry dock and shipyard, I am a welder, welding in all positions, and would like to acquire an A.S.M.E. certificate to do boiler work, mainly repair jobs.

'Thanks for a great magazine. I look forward to reading more great articles in the future.

'In the May/June issue Chady Atteberry sent in some old photos. The one I'm interested in is photo #3 of a 16 HP Advance. Is that the steam supply line coming out near the top of the stack? If so, was the throttle valve located inside the dome of the boiler, could there be any chance that this engine may be fitted with a super heater?'

MARK CORSON, 9374 Roosevelt St., Crown Point, Indiana 46307 sent us this photo of Lyle J. Hoffmaster, whom he calls the original J.I. Case 'Agitator.' The picture was taken at the 1999 Pawnee, Oklahoma, Steam School.

GERALD R. DARR, of 2220 Bishops gate Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43614-2006, writes, 'The IMA magazine came today (June 10, 1999) loaded with a lot of news and many ads for steam shows and the like. So many new ads for shows that I have never heard of!

'One show ad advertised the ad-. mission price of $5.00. That seems a little steep.

'What a neat job by Pete LaBelle in that Buffalo-Pitts that he discovered mired in the mud. With the help of a number of other people, they did a remarkable job. Hats off to all of them!

'In two weeks the NTA Show begins in Wauseon, Ohio. I did not go last year as it was just too hot. We are in our fifth day of over 90 degree temperature.

'About the picture of the combine being pulled by 33 horses I may have seen the same picture a number of years ago.

'Like Mr. Edwin Bredemeier, I wish I had some more old threshing scenes from the four farms my father farmed. I can only recall one that steam was used. That was in the years of 1924-1928 when Dad farmed at Port Clinton, Ohio, using Nichols & Shepard engine.'

LARRY G. CREED, R. R. #13, Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834, informs us, 'If you haven't heard, the steam school at Boonville, Indiana, was a huge success with over 200 students from several states and Canada. Congratulations to Joe Graziana for his hard work in setting up the school and to the Antique Steam and Gas Engine Club, Inc., Morris Metzger, Tom Hart, and many others at Boonville for providing facilities for the classes (including two large screen TVs so everyone had a good view), and providing us with great noon meals. I believe the existence of the hobby hinges on the education of all persons who operate steam equipment and who encourage newcomers to become part of the hobby. Pioneer Engineer Club at Rushville will host the Pawnee Steam School next year.

'I agree with Edwin Bredemeier that a picture is worth a thousand words, and have dug through my photo archives to share the following with you. Picture #1 is of a Michigan threshing crew and their Port Huron steam engine. The engine is a compound, as the cylinder extends just past the open smokebox door. The engine has a short boiler barrel which probably dates before 1907 when Port Huron came out with their 'Longfellows' boiler design. I have seen more than one figure as to the total production number of Port Huron steam engines, and would like a Port Huron man to set me straight.

'Picture #2 is my friend Henry Groner's 20 HP Port Huron, serial #4316, with a locomotive style cab. Henry lives outside of Berger, Missouri, and gets an immense amount of joy from his collection of steam engines and his steam engine buddies. Henry gave me a copy of Port Huron correspondence to show that factory parts were available in 1955. As the letter shows, Mr. Sturges had been burnt on C.O.D. parts shipments. He asked for a deposit on the order to cover freight charges both ways.

'Picture #3 is of a Kansas threshing crew and their Avery return flue steam engine. This engine would have been built prior to about 1915 when Avery dropped their return flue line of engines. This engine appears to be fairly new, as the lettering on the head tank is yet in good shape and the canopy fringe is intact. We are all familiar with the Avery under-mount steam engine, yet Avery built only return flue engines until they purchased C. Aultman Company's Star double cylinder undermounted manufacturing rights about 1905. It is interesting to note the C. Aultman Company only produced the 'Double Star Road Locomotive' for about three years before selling the design to Avery. Avery substantially improved on the Star design and built the familiar Avery undermount engine until 1918. Avery started building top mounted straight flue engines about 1912. An Avery straight flue engine with a 10x10' bore was rated at 25 HP. The first Avery under-mounts were built in only 20 and 30 HP ratings, with the 40, 18, and 22 coming out later.

'Picture #4 is also a Kansas threshing crew, with a Minneapolis return flue engine and wooden thresher with a straw stacker. Sixteen men are pictured in the crew, and the cook looks out the door of her cook shack.'

We have this note from RAY CHIDLEY, RR #4, Woodville, Ontario, Canada K0M 2T0, who says, 'The mystery engine on page 25 of the May/June 1999 issue of IMA is a Nichols & Shepard, possibly 25-85, double cylinder, rear-mount.

'I have subscribed to IMA for several years and find it an excellent magazine.' Thanks, Ray!

From DR. ROBERT T. RHODE, 4745 Glenway Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45238-4537 we received this letter:

'Let me echo Edwin H. Bredemeier's question in the May/June 1999 Album: Have you heard yet about my goof? Ironically, I was responding to a letter from Edwin when I made my mistake. Frank Burris, long-time contributor to the Album, called my attention to my error. Burris said, 'I just received my copy of July/August IMA and am standing by to help you remove a bit of chaff from your eyes; as the wind must have been blowing in the wrong direction when you reached the final paragraph of your good contribution... Doubtless you are aware that, as exemplified by our finest old retired friends the railway steam locomotives, those blessed machines operated in 'running under' when performing their normal duties. In such cases, and as explained in Physics I, the stress on the crossheads was upon the UPPER guide bars.'

'Frank is correct, of course. His message sent me back to learn my lessons over again. The most concise and lucid statement I can find on the over/under topic is from The Power Catechism (New York: McGraw-Hill: 1897); edited excerpts follow: 'What is meant by an engine running over? The top of the wheel running away from the cylinder. What is meant by an engine running under? The top of the wheel running toward the cylinder. Which way are engines more generally run? Over. What advantages pertain to running an engine in this way? The pressure of the crosshead is always downward upon the guide, for, when the pressure is on the head end of the piston, the thrust against the connecting rod, which is pointing upward, reacts to press the crosshead down upon the guides; and, when the pressure is on the crank end of the cylinder, the crosshead will be dragging the crank. As the crank is below the center line, it will still pull the crosshead down upon the lower guide. If, on the other hand, the engine is run under, the thrust of the crosshead will be upon the top guide on both the outward and inward strokes, and, unless the crosshead is nicely adjusted to its guides and the guides are perfectly parallel under running conditions, the crosshead will be lifted when subjected to thrust and fall by its own weight on the centers, making the engine pound' (page 167).

'When The Power Catechism states that engines are 'more generally' run over, it takes into consideration stationary engines used in factories. Judging from the construction of most agricultural engines, I would guess that they more generally run under when threshing or sawing. In my letter in the July/August Album, I alluded to the fact that certain engines run over while their drive wheels move the engine forward and that others run under for the same result. The difference depends on the design of the gear train transmitting the power to one or both drive wheels. Typically, the 'look' of engines varies with this difference and affords an onlooker a quick way of estimating if an engine runs over or under while the drive wheels carry it forward. As the flywheel's position approaches an imaginary vertical line drawn through the back axle, the engine more likely will be geared to run under while the engine moves forward on its wheels. This is especially true of engines having the crankshaft behind the vertical line.

'Why were so many agricultural engines designed to run under while in the belt? Are there advantages to running under? To attempt to answer these questions, I consulted forty catalogues advertising agricultural steam engines, and all of them were silent on the point. The Power Catechism explains what may have been considered in the design of agricultural engines: 'Are there compensating advantages to running an engine under? There is a reduction of pressure on the guides, for, when the engine runs over, the lower guide has to bear the weight of the crosshead and a part of the connecting rod plus the stress due to the diagonal thrust; while, when the engine runs under, the thrust on the upper guide is opposed by the weight of the crosshead and rod, and the pressure on the bearing surface will be the difference instead of the sum of these quantities.' That's what I should have said in my letter in the July/August Album.

'As a teacher, I value honest mistakes. Ordinarily, the human being remembers the right answer longest after first getting it wrong. With the help of my friend Frank Burris, I'll probably never forget the nature of thrusts on crossheads. Thanks, Frank!'

This touching letter comes from CHRIS SATTERLUND, 6268 45th Avenue S.W., Pequot Lakes, Minnesota 56472. 'I have enclosed an article from the May 1999 issue of Reader's Digest, called 'What Love Can Build.' It is a story of Carlos Carricaburu and his son Agustin, and their project of building a 1906 Case steam traction engine. Agustin has Down syndrome, and due to his condition, views the world differently. His father, Carlos, wanted Agustin to get into the habit of seeing something and thinking what else it could be.

'What I find amazing is not that it is built out of parts from a bread dough mixer, a barbecue grill, and an '88 Oldsmobile, but that it works!

'My wife's sister Maria also has Down syndrome. Over the years, I am amazed at the progress Maria has made.

'Agustin might enjoy a copy of IMA, if you have any way to find his address. Otherwise, I thought you might just enjoy reading the article.

'We have enjoyed IMA for many years. Keep up the good work. Our two year old likes tractors of any kind also.

'I'm sure you can't reprint this article without permission, but again I thought you might just enjoy reading it.'

(We did enjoy reading the article, and looking at the picture of the model that father and son built. We'll pursue the author of the original article from the Miami Herald and see whether we can get more of a story for our readers to share, in case you can't track down the copy of Reader's Digest.)

PETER DelPRATO, Box 298, Ashby, Massachusetts 01431, tells us, 'I just acquired two new toys at the Northrop auction in New Hampshire. You might say a beauty and the beast combination. The auction was an interesting event. I generally view this activity as a necessary evil, but in this case it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Inexpensive refreshments, advice on items, loading assistance, and easy-to-follow bidding.

'I found this to be an excellent opportunity to examine a wide range of steam engines, boilers, gas engines, and other iron. I was surprised at some prices, both low and high. The gas engines seemed high, and the brass whistles and some lubricators sold like solid 24K gold. I was a bit discouraged as to my chances at a steam engine, after seeing how hotly contested the brass sold. To my surprise, there was less interest in the steam engines and boilers. Most of the lubricators, drip oilers, injectors, pumps, whistles, gauges and relief valves were removed and auctioned separately. There were at least a dozen full-size steam engines with several nice four foot tall verticals ranging up to a 10 ton horizontal, several with boilers on carts. The steam engines sold last, so there was no way to anticipate what brass to buy, although I assumed those buying brass were planning to bid on the engines. The boilers did not impress me. Some looked better than others, but with only a few hours that morning to inspect them, you pretty much had to accept them all as a gamble. Most buyers must have felt the same, as the engines sold about the same with or without boilers.

Well, now, for my reason to submit this first-time letter to IMA: I would like to ask your readers for some help with my two engines.

'The first is the beast. A 4 x 5 double cylinder Westinghouse 'Senior' steam engine. I was the only bidder on this at ten bucks. I figured an extra half ton would smooth out the ride home! But seriously, I found it grows on you after a while. My question is, are there any parts available out there, such as flywheels? Could someone provide a dimensioned drawing of the flywheels? The photo and 1896 catalog engraving tells the story.

'My second purchase is the beauty. A tall, sexy, no-name vertical engine. I could sure use some help to identify the manufacturer. The engine has 7.25 x 42' flywheel on a 27/8 shaft with a 9' stroke, and stands 78' from head to base with a 1 Pickering governor. I don't know if this is original.

'There appears to have been an ID plate with two screws 41/8' on center high up on the frame. Any ideas? The photo shows this engine after I sanded it, repainted, added the brass fittings and jacketed the cylinder. The bottom paint layer was red. The final step to the finish would be the straps around the jacket. I am considering how to fabricate or cast the ends that rivet to the straps to hold the jacket tight. Does anyone know a source for cast ends for that finish detail?

'I enjoy the magazine very much, keep up the good work.'

MELVIN PIERCE, Rt. 2, Box 15A, Scranton, North Dakota 58653, says, 'I wrote to IMA two issues ago about information concerning Syd Matthews, and The Reeves Historical Society. Basically, as I understand it, it no longer exists.

'I would like Reeves owners and fans to think about if they would be interested in reviving something similar, and to keep track of Reeves engines and equipment.

'Haston St. Clair's book, Historical Stories About Reeves Engines, was very good at listing known engines. There are more out there that are not in the book, and of course, over 20 years, many have changed hands.

'I would like to hear from interested parties if they would like to put something together to try to keep track of the Reeves engines. And to try to gather information about how each is made. Please write, call, or e-mail me if you think we should do this. We would need help from ALL interested parties in gathering the information, as it would be too hard for one person to try to track them down. If I get several people who are interested and would help, we will pursue it. If not, we will let it drop. Thank you.'

(Melvin's e-mail address, for those who prefer communicating via Internet, is

On that note, our column is coming to an end for another issue. We certainly hope that the Reeves owners will be interested in reviving some kind of group that would be useful to them, and look forward to hearing what result Melvin will get from his request.

We had another late request from Canmore Museum in Alberta, Canada. Please contact CATHY JONES there at (403) 678-2458 (or write at 607 River Rd., Canmore, Alta. T1W 2E4) if you could help the museum replicate a steam whistle in their town that blew when the mines were open!

On a sad note, we received word at press time that well-known Iron Man Amos Rixmann had passed away. We hope to print a full obituary in next issue's 'Golden Roll.'

Take care of yourselves and each other during the last few months of engine show season, and be sure to write and tell ALL about it!

Steamcerely, Linda and Gail