STEAM MEMORIES

Farquhar steam engine

60 hp Farquhar steam engine as it looked some years ago when I last operated it.This engine went with the plant when it was torn down some years ago.

Content Tools

Springville, New York

My steam career was started as a boy when I used to fire an old Superior horse-drawn portable steam engine in our neighborhood. It was used to drive a Champion thresher and an ensilage cutter, both with carriers. That was in days when, at two locations, the set up required the belt to cross the road and about the only person bothered was the mail man and his horse which shied at the puffing old engine.

There were two of the old portables near my home and I spent all the time I could between them. One used on the thresher and silo filler and the other used mostly on a saw mill in the woods.

Then there was a Case 40 hp traction engine and thresher and silo filler, both with wind carriers.

For nearly twenty-five years I worked where I ran a 60 hp Farquhar, wiper oiled over running stationary engine, powered first by a locomotive type boiler and later replaced by a Titusville return flue Perfection No. 150 boiler.

Under my charge and powered by the same boiler were two Smith upright engines, with Gardner spring throttling governors, one Troy upright high speed, self lubricated engine with waters spring, throttling governor, a beautiful engine, two Worthington duplex independent pumps and a Westinghouse locomotive type compressor which was an independent regulated pump.

The boiler was installed for soft coal firing and later changed to fuel oil firing to eliminate smoke and dirt.

The Troy HS engine was used to operate a special rotary pump and ran steady with little care except to fill the Detroit lubricator, put a few drops of oil on the governor bearings, and change the oil in the base once a week. It was always wiped clean and shone like new.

In my spare time I used to follow the traction engines during season or at other times haunt the steam saw mills.

The old boiler has long been cold and the plant gone leaving only memories and a few pictures. I still have the tang of soft coal and the smell of hot cylinder oil haunting me with memories of when steam was king. The smell of hot cylinder oil and the crackle of an occasional drop of water on a hot boiler or steam pipe.

The new steam power is wonderful, powerful, but lacks that soft coal tang and the smell of the hot oil.