1305 Scottsdale Drive,Champaign, Illinois
My father and family lived on a farm in Franklin County, Illinois until the time of his death in 1921. A number of farmers including my father, that lived in that vicinity owned silos that were to be filled every year.
Prior to 1925 nearly all belt work and some draw bar work was done with steam due to the fact that there were no combustion engines in the area. A number of the silo owners had purchased an M. Rumely 11 Hp. single simple along with a paper ensliage cutter to fill their silos each year. This Rumely had been rebuilt by Keck-Gonnerman Company.
One evening in October 1917 the engineer of the Rumely drove this Engine to our farm and parked it in the barnyard to fill our silo with. A rainy season followed shortly after the Engine was brought to our place, therefore silo filling operations were discontinued for about a week.
I was about ten years of age at the time and being a steam fan I could not retire for the evening until I made some inspection of the Rumely. After finishing the evening meal I proceeded to the barnyard to pass my inspection of the iron machine. The moon was rather bright that evening and objects could be seen a fairly long distance.
My father had a yearling jersey calf that was roaming around the barn and other buildings and Mr. calf decided that some strange monster had come to the barnyard that he was not familiar with.
I was seated on the platform of the Engine and saw the calf slowly coming toward the object that he was going to look over. The calf seemed to be rather skeptical about the strange thing that had invaded his barnyard and took possession, but he was determined to find out what this thing was all about. I could look through the spokes of the right rear wheel and see Mr. calf slowly approach this strange thing that smoke was coming out of. I remained very quiet until the calf got close enough to place his nose on the rear wheel and smell of the that strange object, then I leaned forward and gave one short blast with the whistle.
Needless to say the yearling jersey did not have any more time to spend with this thing. He wheeled on his rear feet and turned in the opposite direction and ran as fast as any yearling could possibly go, and when he got to the other side of the barnyard he was going so fast that he almost ran through the fence before he could get stopped. The yearling decided that this piece of Iron was to dangerous for him to take any chances with.
After about a weeks delay the fields were dry enough to get corn to the silo and it was decided to begin filling the silo one afternoon. My father thought he would steam the boiler in the forenoon and thus save time when they were ready to start filling after lunch. He built a fire in the firebox and thought it would burn and refuel the fire a little in the morning. He returned in a hour or so only to learn that the steam gauge had not raised any at all. He put some more fuel on the fire and left the draft open, then came back in another hour and noticed that the fire was burning very slowly, but the steam gauge was still at zero.
He stirred the fire with the poker and put some more fuel on the fire and thought surely it will raise steam this time. He went about his work and returned to the Engine about a half hour later only to learn that the little Rumely would not raise steam. At this point my father was puzzled as to what to do to raise steam. In desperation he called one of his neighbors who had operated steam engines for years and asked him to see if he could learn what was wrong with that Rumely. After the neighbor arrived he opened the firebox door and discovered that there was a large bed of ashes and the grates needed shaking down. The neighbour shook the grates thoroughly and put a large quantity of fuel on the fire and in a very short time the steam gauge begin to show pressure. In a few minutes the blower was turned on and the pressure started to raise fast. It was quite a joke on my father. He forgot to shake the ashes down before starting a fire.