Alvord ton, Ohio
I am writing this authentic history of a steam traction engine
that I believe very few engines can equal. This engine is a 24-75
hp. Port Huron ‘Longfellow’ serial No. 7948. I have a copy
of the construction record that is on file at Port Huron and it
shows the boiler was finished and ready for testing at 8 A.M.
February 8, 1917. A water test of 275 PSI was given by Isadore
Gardner and OK’ed by D. J. McPhee, also a steam test of 100
lbs. No doubt this boiler was filled with steam from the plants
boiler to see if there were any leaks. I am sure it was not
internally fired before it went to the engine erecting room.
After erecting, it went to the engine testing room at 10:30 A.M.
February 13th, and after 35 man hours, including helpers, it was
delivered to the painters at 2:30 P.M. on February 15th. The test
house record shows the engine developed 75 hp. at 220 RPM with 175
PSI. It also shows the boiler capacity fully equals the engine and
it worked dry steam.
This engine was sold and shipped to C. J. Snyder and Son – Road
Contractors of Ann Arbor, Michigan on August 29, 1917. This engine
was used to pull a loading-excavator for putting up a large road
grade just to the northwest of Ann-Arbor I was told by one of the
men who helped with the engine that they would throw the clutch out
after filling a dump wagon that was pulled by a team of mules, and
let the engine run idle until the next dump wagon drove up to be
filled, then the clutch was engaged to start the engine in the
traction. This engines list price at that time was $3750.00 and
$200.00 extra for the 26′ wide drive wheels which were the
32-100 hp, size.
It has an Ohio Std. boiler, the construction record is on file
with the Industrial Commission at Columbus, Ohio. It shows this
boiler had a mathematical bursting pressure of 1102 PSI., or a
factor of safety of 6.3 to 1, or by using the standard 5 to 1
safety factor, it could safely carry 220 PSI.
After the road contractor finished with this engine he wanted to
sell it. It stood idle part of the year 1918 and looked pretty
tough. The bull pinions, main pinion and intermediate gear were
worn out, draw bar broken in the middle and the engine was covered
with dirt… Jim Stevens of the Advance-Rumely Company looked at it
and told the road contractor it was not in very good condition to
sell. Albert Hoxie-the Port Huron agent at Adrian, Michigan heard
about it and bought it for $1500.00 He cleaned it up and sold it to
Gil Furman of Sand Creek in 1919 for his use threshing, silo
filling and running a corn husker-shredder.
Now here is where I come in- on March 11, 1920 I bought this
engine and a 36/58‘ Greyhound grain
thresher from the Advance-Rumely Co., and they sold a new Oil-Pull
complete outfit to Mr. Furman.
When I fired the engine up to move the outfit home a distance of
about 20 miles, I noticed the crankshaft was sprung and the crank
disc ran about ‘ out of true, also the crank pin was rough and
scored. I got along with it until February 1921 at which time I
sent the crank disc over to Port Huron and had a new crank shaft
and crank pin installed.
Soon after buying this engine I realized this boiler should have
a jacket, so I spent a week putting on a new jacket in June 1920.
Also put new pinions and intermediate gear on it, and platform.
Besides the regular work of running the grain thresher on a
large run, silo filler and corn husker- shredder, it furnished the
power to saw one million feet of mostly hardwood lumber the first
four years I owned it. We carried 190 lbs. working working pressure
on it and the reverse lever was hooked in the next to the corner
notch for economical reasons. Have had many old sawmill men watch
it while running and they told me they never saw an engine have the
‘wind’ that it had when sawing large logs.
In the Spring of 1923 when I had it on a 225,00 foot job of
sawing mostly hard or sugar maple, I equipped it with a two inch
It was pulling a No. 3 Enterprise sawmill with 56′ saw,
sawdust blower, two saw edger and slab saw. My job was firing the
engine helping unload the lumber truck, and throwing away the slab
wood from the slab saw. I was a busy man but I liked it. We
estimated we had 200 cords of slab wood besides what the engine
By 1922 I had three complete Port Huron steam outfits in the
field. Each 33/54‘ Rusher thresher was
equipped with a Garden City feeder and a Wild Cat agitator in the
In 1924 when some of my help were moving from one job to another
with the above mentioned engine, they had to go down a long steep
hill two miles North of Hudson, Mich. known as ‘Ames Hill’
and had gotten to the next job, the countershaft broke letting the
heavy differential gear drop to the ground. How lucky it did not
break going down that hill with the thresher pushing the engine all
the way. Examination of the broken countershaft showed it had been
partially fractured for some time, due no doubt to the rough
treatment it had when new.
The first year I owned this engine (1920), A Fellow thresherman
wanted me to pull his big 21 inch Rosenthal cylinder cut silo
filler to fill about 20 silos in the Fall. Cramer Bros, two other
fellow threshermen who owned a 30-60 model ‘E’ Oil-Pull
told me they were a SOB to pull and their tractor could not run it
satisfactory. The ‘Longfellow’ steamer kept it right up to
speed with two wagons unloading at the same time, and four men
throwing bundles of corn in the filler at times. On Moore Bros.
14’s by 58 foot silo (the largest in the country) at times my
engineer would have to drop the reverse lever down in the corner
About the time this engine was built, the builders were putting
sheet iron shields in the crank-discs as the photo will show. I was
told someone had gotten their hand injured when the engine was
running by getting it caught between the connecting rod and
Up until about 1915 the Company had been paying the Woolf Value
Co., of Minneapolis, Minn., $25.00 royalty on every Woolf compound
engine they built. About that time the patent expired, no more
royalty was paid and the name plate on the low pressure cylinder
read- PORT HURON LONGFELLOW HIGH PRESSURE COMPOUND.
In 1934 it was equipped with a Port Huron cross-head pump to
feed the boiler. Before the engine was used for threshing the next
year, I instructed my. engineer-Clarence Kelley how to use it, but
told him if he didn’t like to hear the click of the pump valves
to loosen the plunger packing and feed the boiler with one of the
injectors. Several days later I asked him how he liked it- he
replied, ‘it was a steady economical way to feed a boiler and
the click of the pump valves is just music to my ears.’
Besides about 150 days of road work when it was new, it has
furnished the power to thresh one million bushels of grain, fill
200 silos, run a corn husker-shredder about 100 days, run a clover
huller some and saw 3,000,000 feet of lumber.
The last threshing it did was in 1945, but it has been used
every year-about 50 days in the covered sawmill. It has had its
third set of boiler tubes, runs good and is an easy steamer.
This engine was steam cleaned last Fall and painted and will be
working at the National Threshers Assn. reunion at Montpelier, Ohio
next June 28, 29, 30, 1962.