A PORTRAIT OF OLIVER S. KELLY

From Panning Gold to Melting Steel:


| January/February 1997



Traction engine

In order to get the learner started, it is reasonable to suppose that the engine he is to run is in good running order. It would not be fair to put the green boy on to an old dilapidated, worn out engine, for he might have to learn too fast in order to get the engine to running in good shape. He might have to learn so fast that he would get the big head, or have no head at all, by the time he got through with it. And I don't know but that a boy without a head is about as good as an engineer with a big head. We will, therefore, suppose that his engine is in good running order. (Maggard 17).

Readers of Maggard's book feel he is speaking directly to them, telling them what's what:

Photograph of cylinder side of O. S. Kelly 18 HP traction engine, Serial No. 2058, at factory in Springfield, Ohio. Note British design details. All four factory photographs of Kelly engines are from the collection of Dr. Robert T. Rhode.

Photograph of rear view of O. S. Kelly traction engine, Serial No. 2058. Note lever and gears to switch traction speeds.

I am well aware that among young engineers the impression prevails that a valve is a wonderful piece of mechanism, liable to kick out of place and play smash generally. Now, let me tell you right here that a valve (I mean the ordinary slide-valve such as is used on traction and portable engines) is one of the simplest parts of an engine, and you are not to lose any sleep about it, so please be patient until I am ready to introduce you to this part of your work. You have a perfect right to know what is wrong with the engine. (Maggard 36).

With an odd combination of solid information, acerbic wit, and verbal grandstanding, Maggard's chapters decoy readers into learning how to run steam engines safely and efficiently.