Young People's Page

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Torque Power Live Steam Models Hyatts town, Box 144-D R. F.D., Ijamsville, Maryland 21754

Hi There Young Engineers:

At the time I am writing this most people are just starting to get ready for the shows this summer. As for myself, I have just about finished a ton freelance steam tractor. The first show I will be going to is the Early American Steam Engine Society Show at Stewartstown, Pennsylvania. From there, I'll attend the Shenandoah Valley Show at Berryville, Virginia, The Eastern Shore Threshermen's Show near Federalsburg, Maryland, The Rough and Tumble Show at Kinzer, Pennsylvania, The Mason-Dixon Show at West minister, Maryland, The Maryland Steam Historical Society Show at Upperco, Maryland and as many more as possible. I hope that all of you Young Engineers out there will try to attend as many shows as you can. If you come to any of the ones I am at stop by and see me and we will talk a little steam. This also goes for all of you young-at-heart steam engineers, too.

By the way, all of you who get the Iron-Men Album should encourage any would be steam engineers, who are coming to the shows for the first time, to subscribe to the Iron-Men Album as it is the only way for a newcomer to know what is going on, particularly the young people. Tell them that we have a young peoples page now and that the hobby is for the young people as well as the older people. The first show that I ever went to was at Berryville, Virginia where my father and I met a man who told us to get a copy of the Iron-Men Album so we could learn about the hobby as we were newcomers then.

I receive a great deal of mail, more than I can find time to answer. I like to hear from as many of you who are good enough to write to me. Please do not feel bad if you don't get an answer right away. I've got about 200 letters right now that need to be answered so you can see the fix I am in. If you have written and have not received an answer, write again.

Many of the letters I get are from people who just want to say how they feel about the hobby. I sometimes use their thoughts about the hobby in my articles. Other people want information about foundry work, how to design valves for engines, boiler inspection and care. So, I have decided to write some articles on these subjects. The most interesting is that of the valve design.

I read several books on this but got nowhere in understanding how to design a valve for any engine I would want to build. So, I studied the valves of two engines that I have. I discovered that there was a direct relationship between the eccentric travel and the valve ports sizes and spacing which could be easily worked out with simple equations. I found an equation that, by taking the steam chest size, would give the eccentric travel for the largest possible valve for that engine.

I failed Algebra in school so any equation that I work out has to be simple. But even then, many people would have trouble working out a valve. You have to have an understanding of the function of the valve which is dependent on the dimensions of the valve. 1 decided that the best thing to do with an article on valve design was to give a brief rundown on the valve design and function. Then I would have a chart showing the dimensions of all parts of the valve for certain-size engines, starting with valves for model engines on up to 5 hp. engines. This chart would be of more help to you than all I could write about valve design. I had several visitors this winter and they are as follows:

Mr. George Viar of Alexandria, Virginia who owns a size model steam tractor and will have it at the Berryville, Virginia show.

Mr. Michael Oswalt of Indianapolis, Indiana and Mr. Ralph Delwiler of Williamsburg, Pennsylvania.

Mr. Jim Showers of Clarksburg, West Virginia. Jim owns a 20 hp. Case portable engine that looks like the brother to J. I. Case No. 1. Jim will be moving to Maryland with his bride and, of course, his steam engine. We hope to see Jim and his wife running their engine at the shows sometime in the future.

Mr. R. Miller of Rockville, Maryland and my good friend Mr. Charles Hope of Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Hope came not only to see me but to take a tour through my father's guitar factory. Mr. Hope plays the guitar and at one time was with a group. While Mr. Hope was here, he told me that the Eastern Shore Show was adding four new engines, three Frick and one twin cylinder Nichols and Shepherd engine. Of course, these engines are owned by members of the club and not by the club itself which is the best way.

The Eastern Shore Club is the most forward looking club around, as they support young people working in the club. It's too bad that many clubs are not taking more interest in their youth. I guess they are too busy preserving steam engines rather than perpetuating steam engineers. But, at least, the Eastern Shore Show will be with us long after the others have died out. I received this letter which reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Jones: April 19, 1970

I would like to commend you for your efforts concerning the 'Young People's Page'. We must realize the importance of our age group in the hobby and work for the continuation of it. I have always been afraid to say anything bad about the museums because it might be considered here say and I might be shot and quartered. I agree with the comments made concerning the loss of steam equipment  the palaces where these noble remnants of days past sit unused and rusting. The museums do serve a purpose even to our hobby. Some people who would never see such a machine do get that opportunity. But, I, too, have stood admiring a tractor in a museum trying to imagine what it would look like while running, only to have some gawking ignoramus, who clearly has never seen such a machine in action, come along and make some crude statement about it. I have stood and argued the point with them but I meet with no success because the only convincing argument is the live demonstration of the force of steam something which most of us young people cannot do due to the lack of equipment. The day that our hobby degenerates to a lot of unused, interestingly shaped pieces of cold metal it will no longer be a hobby, but if all the steamers end up in museums this is what we are in for. (These comments obviously do not apply to those museums which do use our machines on the museum grounds.) It is also worth noting that once a museum gets its hands on a piece of equipment it never lets go.

In spite of the attempts being made to 'youthify' our hobby, I still see a dangerous situation at hand because it is still a hobby which is dying, literally along with its supporters. (Not that I have anything against older people who have the money to invest in the machinery I hope to be one of these myself someday.)

I have given some thought to the problem of an older enthusiast making arrangements to sell, for a reasonable sum, his collection only to have his young benefactor sell, them for a high price, into a museum or to a rich collector. Your suggestion, Mr. Jones, that agreements be worked out on paper to the effect that the equipment can never be sold for more than a certain price is a good solution one which deserves more than passing consideration.

In conclusion it is necessary for those who are interested in the continuation of our hobby to provide the equipment and set up lasting agreements which will insure the perpetuation of an important part of our heritage. Most of us young 'steam fiends' are not well 'fixed' financially and do need the support of those who now own what someday will be the last vestiges of a way of life.

'Good Steaming' Dick Friedeman 2603 Forest Great Bend, Kansas 67530

I would like to add to this letter by saying that museums are fine places where old useless relics of historical value should be preserved. But as I see it, the steam engine is very useful as it gives many people a great deal of enjoyment to just run one for the fun of it. So the steam engine is no longer a useless relic. The existence of our hobby proves this.

There are museums that have hundreds of antique cars on display but because of this many people who would love to own one to fix up and run will never have the chance. As what fun is there at just looking at a motionless pile of nuts and bolts.

My antique car friends have told me that the antique cars are hard to find and when you do the price is out of this world. The larger number of cars taken out of circulation by these huge museums has not helped any. I hope this never happens to the steam engine and other related items of interest. Well, I hope all of you will try to make it to your local steam shows this summer and have a lot of fun.