Farm Collector

A Nutty Power Plant

The chimney made a DRAFT on the furnace through the BANK of
grates, and when the coal ACCEPTED THE DRAFT the fire went FLUEY
and the boiler GOT HOT. The steam gage PUT UP ITS HAND, but the
gage-glass said, ‘EVERYTHING SEEMS CLEAR TO ME,’ while the
water claimed to be the only one acting ON THE LEVEL. ‘TRY
US’ said the three gage cocks just as the blow off OPENED UP ON
THE QUESTION and then the safety valve called, ‘Everybody
listen to me; I’m going to BLOW MYSELF.’ The rivets all
shouted ‘HOLD ON NOW, HOLD ON,’ but the engine COMMENCED TO
RUN and the flywheel STARTED A REVOLUTION.

‘Don’t come WITHIN A ROD OF ME, you old CROSSHEAD,
called the piston. ‘Well you QUIT YOUR PUSHING,’ chimed in
the cylinder; ‘can’t you see I’M BORED?’ ‘I
hate being rushed about FROM PORT TO PORT by that ECCENTRIC
guy,’ complained the valve. ‘Somebody ROUND HERE has got
altogether too much BRASS,’ complained the crankpin. ‘FOR
connecting-rod. At that the governor, which had ‘WEIGHTED’
for an opportunity, MADE A LONG SPRING and managed to CUT-OFF the
worst of the difficulty, but not before the engine was PRETTY WELL
EXHAUSTED and the generator had become so EXCITED that it got all
the rotors and lamps ON THE WIRE and gave them the CURRENT EVENTS.
The lamps offered some RESISTANCE but MADE LIGHT of it, but the
motors were easily INDUCED to TURN in with the REVOLUTION, which
spread rapidly FROM POLE TO POLE.

Every SINGLE PHASE of this SHOCKING affair was PASSED ON by the
BOARD OF SWITCHES, who decided that every member of the entire
plant was more or less NUTS.

A letter sent us awhile back from FRED GERTJE, Orofino, Idaho
83544, goes like this:

‘On page 10 of the March-April, Iron Men-Album
there appears an article entitled ‘Subject Genealogy.’ For
some little time I have been wanting to write such an item, in hope
that you might see fit to use it.

‘In 1970 my Grandfather and Grandmother Gertje and my father
and Uncle John came to America from Oldenberg province in Germany.
They spent one winter in New York City, where Grandfather operated
a water driven elevator, and the following summer they moved to
Minnesota; I think at Mankato or Faribault, later moving to one of
the Dakotas, wherever Millbank is located. When Grandfather came
through Ellis Island port of immigration, his surname was much
longer, and was changed by the immigration authorities. Grand Uncle
Christian, Grandfather’s brother, had come to America some time
previous, and apparently was living in Minnesota, but used his
surname as it was in Germany. In 1883 my father came to Uniontown,
Wash., having worked his way across Montana. A year or so later my
Grandfather came to Kendrick, Idaho, and located in the
Leland-Cameron area south of Kendrick. My grandparents brought six
sons and two daughters West, and lost some in a diphtheria epidemic
in Dakota. I know our clan is small, and I would greatly appreciate
it if any Stemgas fan might know the name and address of any person
who uses a surname spelled the same as mine. My Grandfather was a
steam thresherman, and I have a picture of his outfit threshing at

Another letter received awhile back which branches off from
steam engines to the streetcars or trolleys but of which I’m
sure some of you folks are interested. CHAS. F. BUSCHMAN, 2641
Chesterfield Ave., Baltimore, Maryland 21213 writes:

‘I have been receiving the Iron Man Album since the
May-June 1965 issue, and have enjoyed every issue. Although I am
only 41 years old, I well remember Steam Railroad Locomotives on
the PRR, B&O, WM, RF&P, SOUTHERN, and the good old MA &
PA. Railroads. As a matter of fact, I had the privilege of
‘engineering’ an L-l PRR engine, on the Pope’s Creek
Branch of the PRR., for about 5 miles; this included 2 starts &
2 stops, with 14 cars. The engineer said I did very good, even
though at the time I was 17 years old.

‘I have also run streetcars and interurbans on the Baltic.
Transit Co., The Baltimore & Annapolis RR., The old HAGERSTOWN
& FREDERICK RR., & the Capitol Transit Co. These were the
old cars with the hand controllers, and not the modern foot
controlled cars, although, I have run this type also.

‘In the May-June 1966 issue, you ran an article on my RR,

‘Thanking you very much for your excellent magazine, I
remain a young, but old-fashioned Steam & Trolley man.

‘We of the BALTIMORE STREET CAR MUSEUM, INC., hope to start
running streetcars in the city of Baltimore again. One of the cars
that would open this service will be a 1902 doudle truck open
summer car No. 1164. We have 10 cars in our collection, but unlike
other Museums of this type, we are the only museum to have cars
from one city only, and the only collection of its kind to have
cars from the beginning of street railway service to the end of
this type of service, for only one city. If you care to visit this
Museum, it is open on Sundays 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.’

And by the way, Charles, Thanks for the passes we didn’t get
to use them but appreciate the thought.

CHARLES McMILLEN, R. R. 4, Decorah, Iowa, pens this paragraph
along with his renewal: ‘I am 86 years old and started with
steam engines when I was 10 years old. My Dad got his first steam
engine when I was 4 years old. I haven’t missed pulling a
throttle any year since I started.

‘The last machines my Dad had were two Avery 30 hp. return
flue engines and 52 x 70 separators wing feeders. I ran one of the
big engines in North Dakota when I was 16 years old. I ran one of
my Dad’s engines and my brother, Jesse, ran the other one. I
still like the smell of the old steam engines.’

Just a nice nostalgic letter thanks Charlie.

FRED E. SCHMICKLE, 529 W. Minota St., Springfield, Missouri
65804, relates: ‘I really enjoy your Iron Men Album
and I am a steam buff. I thought you might enjoy one of my

The thresher whistle blows at morn
The farmer has .stopped a plowin’ corn
The water wagon starts its quest
To slake the belching metal beast
From loads stacked high, the farmer stout
Feeds the hungry juggernaut.
It spews the straw in to the wind
The golden grain flows out behind.
Of all our farmin’ operation
Threshing holds the greatest fascination.

He also sent a little sketch he made.

Another friendly bit comes from BRICE McCOURTNEY, Syracuse,
Nebraska 68446, who pens: ‘Please don’t ever let me miss a
copy. You see I am a charter customer. I have all the magazines up
to date and I have enjoyed them all. I would like to get one every
day. Seems like two months is a long time to wait, but it’s
sure nice when it comes. Just keep up the good work. Only one thing
bad about the Iron Men Album too many listed in the Golden
Roll. This 1970 has taken a lot of good boys and we needed them all
for a lot of years to come. After all, I expect my Case, Russell
and Garr-Scott engines to out last me. I’m teaching my
grandchildren all I can about steam engines and they love them. My
Dad started me out on an engine at 9 years old. We made a living
with steam engines a lot of years, but now it is just a hobby.
I’m 64 and can’t think of a better hobby. Ill shut the
draft, close the throttle and turn on the injector.’

Two letters came to us this month in connection with the same
article. The first is from MRS. PETER MOE, Crosby, North Dakota
58730, who says: ‘My attention was called to an article in your
magazine the Iron Men Album for Jan.-Feb. sent in by E. J. Mathews
of Atlanta, Georgia, who worked for a J. J. Lee at Bordulac, N.D.,
in 1925. That Mr. John J. Lee was my father so this was interesting
to me. I was only 5 years old in 1925 but I do remember some of the
discussion from my folks and brothers and sisters as there were 11
in our family. I remember the story told many times how my father
in the course of his threshing years had lost his whole threshing
rig and then some, as he believed in paying his workers and also
feeding them well, but was not paid by the farmers for whom he
threshed. With a big family it meant some tough years ahead with
the hard times in the 30’s. My mother took in laundry until she
became ill and finally ended up with a stroke and was paralyzed at
the age of 49 and was bedfast for 11 years before she passed

‘I live on a farm now at Crosby and am very thankful we do
not have the burdens my folks did. I still have a sister and
brother living in Carrington, N.D.

‘My father fixed and repaired threshing machines for many
years after he lost his threshing rig. He really enjoyed working
with these machines and the farmers were always well pleased with
his work.’

The other letter is from E. J. MATHEWS, 1609 Lenox Road, N.E.,
Atlanta, Georgia 30306. He told us: ‘When I wrote the ALBUM the
letter that appears in your column of Jan.-Feb. 1971, all I
intended was to let you know we readers do appreciate all the hard
work you do to let us have the ALBUM and enjoy and to say Thank
You! I didn’t expect it to be printed, although of course, I
had no objections. And now I’m happy that you did.

‘I have just received a nice long letter from Mrs. Peter Moe
of Crosby, N.D., saying how much she appreciated seeing it in the
ALBUM. Mr. John J. Lee of Bordu Lac, N.D., was her father. She was
only 5 years old when I ran her father’s engine in 1925 and of
course did not remember me but was happy that I remembered her
father. He was a real fine man and a good thresherman and I enjoyed
working for him.

‘I thought you would like to know that the ALBUM does get
around and gives pleasure to a lot of people.’

Thank you Mrs. Moe and Mr. Mathews for writing us and letting us
know of your communication. It’s nice little things like this
that happen that makes our job more inspiring and interesting.

Congratulations to the new group that has formed a Historical
Engine Society in Kirtland, Ohio, which is in Northeastern Ohio, 20
miles east of Cleveland. The club was started in December of 1970
and has had two meetings as of this writing and two Newsletters put
out which is the way to ‘get the ball rolling.’ They have
over thirty names on the list of members already. The meetings are
held the second Thursday of each month.

Ed Deis, Ranger, Chapin Forest, 10373 Hobart Road, Kirtland,
Ohio, and Bill Hatchel of Waite Hill were the two spark plugs to
get the organization underway.

As I understand it they haven’t officially named the club
yet, but we wish them the best of luck in their venture.

That’s all for this time but remember: No one can improve
his work by tearing down the work of another. AND Share your joy it
takes two to be glad.

  • Published on May 1, 1971
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