The Rare Canary

Baker Fan

Tightening the Belt on Baker Fan, Upton 12 HP Cedar Valley Show, Charles City, Iowa 1983.

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1022 North Elm Luverne, Minnesota 56156

Upton, Down ton, Port Huron or whatever who cares for there are probably a dozen or more drifting around the country even if you never heard the name Upton before. Those were my thoughts when I took my first look at one of the developed rolls of film I received which contained a snapshot of the Upton steamer. I wrote an article for another magazines and referred to that engine as an Upton.

Later I received a letter from Carlton Johnson, Clio, Michigan asking if I would send a picture of the steam engine for the sole surviving Upton he knew of was the one that is or at least was in Henry Ford's museum at Dearborn, Michigan. Carlton owns a 19 HP Port Huron Longfellow along with a 16 HP Buffalo-Pitts and a 6 HP portable Russell. He is well grounded in the history of the Port Huron Company.

When I took the picture at the Cedar Valley Show, 7 miles west of Charles City, Iowa, I noticed the smoke box had the Port-Huron Engine & Thresher Company name cast on its door. Being a bit hazy as to just where I saw the Upton name on that engine I sent a note to Bill Neal, Charles City, Iowa. Bill is my reliable source of information should I need to know something about The Cedar Valley Show or The Hart-Parr Tractor Company. Incidentally, The White Motor Company has donated whatever Hart-Parr blue prints and history they had to the museum in Charles City. Bill sent two neat snap shots one of the engine itself and the other showing The Upton Manufacturing Company name on the engine frame casting. I sent both pictures to Carlton and am enclosing, with his permission, his very interesting answer for I believe you will enjoy reading what he wrote and also a few photos.

Whatever name or names is correct for that steamer, The Cedar Valley Engine Club men have in their midst it's definitely a 'rare canary.' Should you want to see Dave Hut-chin's engine attend their show which also has a large number of other exhibits, a comfortable shaded location, friendly people and reasonable prices. So why not check your calendar today and look forward to spending an enjoyable day or maybe the whole Labor Day weekend with them.

Dear Melvin,

I want to thank you for sending me the photos and engine number of the Upton engine. I have a list of all Port Huron numbers and goes back to 1884, starting out at 100 to 200, these would be Upton numbers, although Upton built their first engine in 1882 but probably did not start numbering them until 1884.

In 1885, (Just one hundred years ago) Upton Mfg. Co started building threshing machinery at Port Huron, Michigan. In 1890 they were calling their engine Port Huron Upton and separator the New Port Huron Separator. I have a 1890 Upton Mfg. Co. catalog that gives me this information.

I have a 1910 issue of Port Huron Engine & Thresher Co. catalog that gives history of the company and they started by that name in 1891. I also have 1893 Port Huron catalog and they were looking very much like the Upton Engine yet, although they were starting to use the Grime valve gear on the 14 HP engine; the 12 HP shows Marsh gear. You probably know the Upton Co. started in Battle Creek, Michigan.

In 1896 Port Huron Co. began work on Woolf Compounds, made the self-cleaning none jarring drive wheels in 1900 and came out with the long boilers (9ft. flues) in 1907 called Longfellows. In the 1890 Upton catalog they were building only a 10 & 12 HP engines and separators of course.

I will write to Mr. Hutchins and if he care to have a copy of the Port Huron builders' numbers I have also the history I will gladly send it to him. About the number on his engineit is a mystery, the only way I can figure it out is that the engine was brought back to the factory and rebuilt and they used a number of the same as their new engines of that time only with the letter B in front. The number B-2712 as on his engine would be a 1899 rebuild, the numbers Port Huron Co. used that year were 2701-2905.1 was told that the letter B in front of the number was to denote that the engine had been rebuilt, but I never knew if they used the original number and cast a new number plate and put the letter B in front or if the used the same numbers that they were using on their new engines of that year and put the letter B in front.

Yours truly,
Carlton Johnson

Threshing out of the farm, 1942. 19 HP Port Huron engine, 33 X 54 Port Huron Rusher separator. Glenn Johnson's farm, photo by Carlton Johnson.

One-third scale model of a 65 HP Case steam engine owned by Gerry Bilton of Hartney, Manitoba, Canada. The photo was taken by Charles A. Keberly, 9162 Hartel, Levonia, MI 48150, at the 1979 Western Ontario Steam Threshers Show.


A new group, the South Central Penn Historic Lifestyle and Power Society, has been organized in Pennsylvania.

The purpose of the group is to 'stir and enrich interest among all groups of the general population of South Central Pennsylvania and surrounding areas in preserving the lifestyles, machinery, and other aspects of life used by them and their past generations'.

A show is planned for August 30-September 2, near Manchester and Mt. Wolf, York County. For further information about this organization, write to the South Central Penn Historic Lifestyle and Power Society, Box 668, Mt. Wolf, PA 17347.


Dropping of a word gave a misimpression in our March-April IMA article on Jack Wharton, president of the National Traction Engine Club England.

The article said 'very few engines appear at the NTEC shows'. That should have read 'very few American engines'. We have seen scores of British engines at NTEC shows, and regret the error.
Ye Ed