By Michael D. Oswalt, 312 E. Franklin St.,
Crawfordsville, Indiana 47933
On page 4 of the May-June issue you show a picture of a ‘3
cylinder loco’. This is lovingly referred to by those of us in
the craft as a SHAY. The main drive shaft was geared down to drive
the engine at a speed compatible with the rough, laid in haste and
with a prayer, logging roads that they were used for. Another
engine that is as rare as hen’s teeth is the Heisler which had
two cylinders sticking out at a 45 degree angle from the drive
shaft under the center of the boiler. Just a point of interest,
there is a Shay still in service on the Graham County Line in North
Carolina. It runs from Robbinsville to a point 12 miles away and
returns. Robbinsville is about 90 miles from Asheville. I’m
going down there on vacation and if the photos turn out will he
sure to send you some.
Also I have been corresponding with Mr. Dealing in Canada who
wanted to know the whereabouts of the Pickering Governor Co. This
company has changed managements about 5 times and there has been
some union trouble along with the moving. Their present location is
about 50 miles from Indianapolis. I have talked to the sales
department (they now make carburetor parts) and they have about
$125,000 worth of Pickering governors in a warehouse. The only way
in which they will sell them is for the interested party to come to
the factory on a Saturday and pick out what he wants! How’s
that for running a business???
By the way I don’t go in for a lot of hard to maintain
machinery as part of my hobby. I have a small vertical stationary
engine running a generating plant in my back yard.
My engine is a 5 hp Wachs built in 1908 which I have rebuilt.
The original manufacturer sent me a brand new Pickering governor
for it and I’m quite proud of my installation. By the way in
years I am not too far along to remember the old days (31) but I
find that I can have a greatly enjoyable time talking to the lads
who used to run all the traction engines, sawmills, stone crushers,
locomotives, generating plants and all the other pieces of
machinery that made a guy go home in the evening feeling that he
had done a good day’s work and had earned the right to be a
part of this great and glorious country of ours.
My, my, how I do run on! Thanks for listening and if you care to
put any of this in your magazine feel free to do so. But don’t
under any circumstance squeeze out any of your correspondence from
the old timers as seeing their letters in print is so very much
more important to them than me seeing mine is. I also understand
and sympathize with you that it is impossible to put everything you
receive in print. You see my letterhead is only a sideline job with
me. My real profession is installing printing presses for the
largest commercial printer in the world. Which brings to mind Uncle
Jake’s column titled the Printer’s Pie. Pie is the nickname
for spilled or mixed up type. I wonder how many of your readers
Well as I started to do some paragraphs back I have to close as
it’s getting late and since I’m on vacation the head boiler
tender and engineman (my sweet wife) has me working harder than I
do at my regular job. This means lots of shuteye.
Thank you for reading this and thanks a whole heap for your
Heap on more wood! the wind is chill; But let it whistle as it
will, We’ll keep our Christmas merry still. Sir Walter
A NICE LETTER
By William M. Lamb, U.S. Soldiers Home, Sheridan
Building, Washington, D.C. 20315
You of the Old Time Threshers and Sawmill Operators Association
– just thought I would kind of say something about your show and
the gang that makes that show just what it is.
I don’t think the average person at tending one of these
shows has much of an idea what it takes to get one ready for the
green light. I know and I will say it takes a lot of hard work, but
these folks were raised up to hard work. That’s the reason you
have a good show.
First I think you have one of the best places for this type of
show that I have been to and I have been to several. And the way it
is run is one of the good shows. To name a few, there’s Big Jim
Whitbey. He’s the big boss so it looks to me. I am told he was
a hogger on the Keystone Hi Iron for a long time.
Then there’s Frank Miller. He’s one of the right hand
men. Then the man on the noise box, I think his name is Gay. When
he gives you the green light he don’t mean for you to take a
riding, he means go. He runs the show on a schedule and that’s
the way if should be. Then everyone knows what’s going on.
Now the engine men that show up every year just as regular as
the sun unless someone has taken a long trip across the river.
That’s the only way they’ll miss it. There’s John
Meise; he comes early and is just about the last one to leave. You
can tell he loves every minute of it. Mr. Elmer Egbert, his son
Jack, his wife and two sons. They would be missed like the main cog
out of a gas train. The two sons have it in their blood. Melvin
Lugten from up Michigan way, he always draws a good crowd with his
big apple peeler, the same as Egbert with his shingle maker. Percy
Sherman is just about everywhere. He must be kin to the Sherman
that marched through Georgia because when they hit trouble, they
holler for him. Mr. Finnill is the groom and throttle jerker on the
big Gaar Scott and he fits it like a glove. They must have
made the engine just for him. No one else would look right on it. I
think they know each other.
Then there are several I don’t know too well. Mr. Russell
Sommers always shows up with a well-kept Baker engine. I know
he’s a good engine man and that’s where they need good men.
Bill Benner, you can count on him, too. If he didn’t show, it
wouldn’t look right around there. Then you would start trying
to figure what’s wrong; something’s not right and you just
can’t put your finger on it. Then all of a sudden you will look
around and everything is all settled and smoothed out just like a
chicken on the roost. Then you will see Harry Woodmansse. Things
just wouldn’t be right without Harry. You can just pass him on
the road and tell he’s an engine man. He and Jack Egbert do
some pretty good tricks with engines.
All of these men are good engine men. Most of them ran rigs of
their own years ago. There are several young men that’s got
close enough to smell the hot steam oil and from then on, he’s
got it in his blood. One young man hauled an engine all the way
from Lexington, Kentucky, and back so you know he’s stuck for
life, but it’s a good life. You just don’t meet better
people than steam engine men and women. I guess you lady engineers
thought I was going to leave you out, but I couldn’t do
There’s our lady school teacher engineer. When she’s not
in the school with our younger ones trying to get it in their heads
what this world is ail a-bout, she is with the rest of the
engineers making her big Port Huron or her dad’s Baker obey her
commands. If she’s as good with the kids in the school room as
with her engines, we have nothing to worry about, they’ll
learn. And she’s cute, too. All right now, she’s
Then there’s a gal from up north somewhere, I believe
Michigan. Now she knows what she’s doing, too. When she swings
aboard and gives the hi ball, you can bet she’s ready to give
the engine a workout and she’s just the lady can do it, too.
She did a mighty good job putting on a spark show last year and her
Baker was talking mighty sweet to her. And that’s not all, she
can set just about the best board I ever drawed a chair to.
You people that haven’t been to this show, you sure have
missed a good one. It’s close to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. No trouble
to find a place to stay, or bring a bed roll and rough it a while.
Plenty to eat, places to park and the cleanest rest rooms I have
seen. So come on out, stay awhile, talk, ask any of the engine men
about his engine or any engine. He will be glad to talk to you,
listen to tales and stories of years gone by when steam was the
king of power, when you could ride behind a steam locomotive from
New York to Frisco and she was boss of the rails. Ill bet you
won’t go home sorry. Come once and you’re sure to come
back. Be sure to see Susie Q. They just couldn’t do without
her. She just likes to write names. They will be looking for you.
The show starts August 17, 18, 19 and 20; four days of fun and
see-old friends and making new ones with the clock turned back into
the past a-bout 50 years. The show is located on the Jim Whitbey
farm in between highways 3 and 33, on the corner of Carroll and
Johnson Roads, about 8 or 9 miles north of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
I want to thank all the people that are connected with the show.
I don’t know all of you. All the engine men, everyone that does
anything to put this show on and work hard to make it click and
fall in line. Everyone seems to know his job. As I say, I don’t
know all of you, but thanks anyway. I’ll be back if nothing
unforeseen happens from the big boss to the bundle pitcher and I
know he has pitched bundles before. So long and thanks again for a