THE DAY WHEN AN AMERICAN-ABEL TRACTOR WAS DISABLED

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Winfield Alberta, Canada

It was in the early summer of 1907, June I believe, that David Reed, who had previously that spring purchased a second-hand, new the year before, complete American-Abel threshing outfit, also sawmill with planer. He had just finished his first sawing job when my father, who had a fairly low down wagon, had the job of hauling the husk to the next place of sawing on a homestead close to our place, west of the Blind Man River, northwest of Bentley. The roads or trails those days were not too good, but my father had succeeded in getting through with his load to beyond our place to within half a mile of the next setting. Mr. Reed and his assistant were also moving the engine the same day down to the river, crossing it in the morning which went quite well except for getting up a steep incline or bank after crossing the river. Here the engine, reversing itself, went back down the hill three times before they finally got up. Here they stopped for a little while to fix a check valve on the engine, where me and my brother met them close to a bend in the trail so the machine came into view all at once. A scene not to be soon forgotten.

The engine number 1777 was painted in white letters on the red dome on the boiler. All the other paint on the machine was still bright, so to me at the time it was the most beautiful thing on wheels. The owner, Mr. Reed, wasn't hard to look at either, standing as he did six feet of perfect manhood, as the saying goes.

Soon the outfit started moving. They had plenty of help, two on the engine, assistant wood bucker, four horses on the tank wagon, and I was alongside admiring it. I always did like a steam engine. The fireman invited me to ride on the tool box on the engine platform. I rode that way a little while, but preferring to go alongside, I was soon off.

On approaching a low soft place on the trail, they stopped to find a more solid crossing nearby. Here me and my brother started for home as it was soon dinner time.

The outfit proceeded on its way till they came to the worst place they had to cross. It was corduroyed part way across with heavy enough logs. Instead of putting more logs in the missing part, they tried to get across as it was, resulting in the engine mired down. Now on this particular size, the 22 H.P. simple the boxing cap on the main bearing nearest to the disk has only two bolts to hold it and one of these was already broken or missing. When they were trying to get out either backward or forward, piling in posts or rocks, anything for the drivers to get a grip on. They kept on until the remaining bolt snapped off, too, resulting in a bent connecting rod, also main shaft was sprung as it pushed out of the disk side bearing. The other bearing or pillow block on the flywheel side was broken in two, necessitating a new one from the factory. Some gear teeth broke part way across, too, and other smaller parts were damaged. After removing the flywheel with the aid of block and tackle, Mr. Reed took the main shaft to a machine shop at Ponoka to be straightened. Not having any wagon or horses of his own, he borrowed a wagon from us and a team from the man who he was to saw for.

This was quite a journey those days, and he also had to go out to near New Norway to where his parents were railroad grading to borrow money, $100, to pay repairs on the engine. When he didn't return in a week's time, both us and the man who had let him have his team were wondering if he had left the country, but eventually he came back with the shaft straightened. He jacked up the 13 ton engine putting on the needed repairs, setting the sawmill, commencing to saw in about a month's time or more, as now it was about the middle of August. The grain crop was commencing to be ready to cut. As we had some logs to be sawed, we were helping at the mill with them.

When one should have been harvesting instead, we just started cutting with the binder when an early snow storm flattened the grain necessitating it being cut one way. It must have froze rather hard, too, as most grain was not worth threshing. Most if not all of western Canada that year suffered from this early snow storm. The grain crops were fair to good in 1906 and 1908 which kept things going quite well in those early years in western Canada.

Here's a word or more to all small model builders of steam traction engines, especially those of you who make to 1/3 scale size of the older full size useful machine. Instead of wasting time and money on this half toys, why not make a bigger full size useful one while you are at it. Make a size 12-40 H.P. Case type, 38 inch fire box, 78 inch long flues, 2 inches diameter, 30 inch diameter boiler, or 16-50 H.P. size, 42 inch fire box, 84 inch flues, 30 inch boiler. All boilers to be either double butt strap construction or properly electric welded. It will be very interesting to see who is going to be the first man to do this. Why not you men who have red blood in your veins do something about this? And when you do, here are a few improvements to be used to make a better machine. Cross head with taper shoes throttle with one wing only to close off steam, spring loaded type so as to never develop any slack or leak steam. I have had experience with one of these and they seem to be as far ahead of the older wing kind; as day is superior or night. Turn buckle nuts to be better locked so as not to come loose on tie rods between cannon bearings as used on Case engines; wider or heavier master pinions welcomed. Heavier steering chains and push rod. Other changes could be made but not so important as some of those mentioned.

Some other makes of tractions have one or more improvements as referred to. But whatever type or make you prefer to copy or build, make them full size. This is the most important.

Anyone wanting further information on the throttle valve mentioned, I will do my best to describe it more fully.

Best regards to you all from an old sod buster.