R. D. -B. 3A, Yacolt,, Washington
During the summer of 1905, I was engine man for the Advance
Threshing Machine Company working in and out of the branch on Hast
Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon. My chief job was to unload
threshers and engines from the factory and reload outfits sold to
customers in Oregon and Washington.
I was asked to get a used 12 hp engine ready to ship by rail to
an eastern Oregon town. In doing so I noticed many holes drilled
through the face of the drivers. Upon inquiry I found this engine
had been fitted with wide bands over the drivers to make it
suitable to be used on the sand banks of the Columbia River near
Astoria, Oregon, for dragging out seines in Salmon
fishing-operations. If you have the right. Advance catalog, one
prior to 1905, you may see a picture of this engine in
The 12 hp was found to be OK and I pushed it on a fiat car and
made it secure for the trip. My pushing power was a 6 hp Advance
engine, one built. before friction clutches.
It was always a pleasure to use this little rig. Unloading one
of those 35 hp Advances it about reached its limit and in reloading
one the process was much like a battering ram.
I was pleased when told I was to take the train to Elgin,
Oregon, and to unload and deliver the engine some 40 miles east of
the town. On approaching the terminus I had some misgivings. Those
rugged mountains to the east looked very big to me.
In the hurry to get the engine on its way the water was not
drained from the boiler. So my work of unloading- was of short
duration. However, I often wondered if someone ever objected to
paying the freight for hauling that water some 300 miles.
Early on the morrow we pulled out. My draw bar load was a wagon
with tank for water and fuel. Most of the fuel was gathered along
the partly timbered road. My helpers were two young fellows with
team, wag-on and duffle. They were much interested in being cow
boys. Their dress and manners were familiar to me as but a few
years before I tried out for the cowboy life which did not
At the first steep hill encountered a steam chest cover leak
developed and no amount of tightening the nuts would stop this
leak. So I walked back to town where I got two sheets of thin
packing-and some door screen. This applied, with screen between the
packing sheets stopped the leaks. No more trouble was had with the
engine on the, trip.
After the hill we had several miles of soft, road so I put that
little engine to the limit of speed. Controlling it by the throttle
as I never use the governor while on the road.
In time the good road turned bad, that is for an engine. Rocks,
solid roadbed of rocks was now evidently our lot. We were
approaching the rim of a deep canyon. I stopped the engine and
walked over to take a look and found a river below, a mile below.
The grade three times in sight as it descended to the river. I was
getting scared, very scared for a tumble off the road meant almost
a vertical fall to the bottom.
Much of the grade was cut out of solid rock and experience had
taught me how easily a steering chain could snap and quickly turn
the front end, perhaps over the bank.
I went back to the engine and proceeded knowing that my safe
descent would be had only at the minimum speed. The grade was so
steep I had frequently to pull back the reverse lever to check the
No steam was used on that 3 miles and no trouble with the fuse
plug. The Advance engine with water bottom had a tight draft door
and the fire smoldered.
I was pleased and over my fright when I pulled up beside a log
cabin on the liver bank. It was the river Miaam. At another cabin
we learned we could get cats and for sleep we had all the out
It was declared a day and with blankets furnished by my helpers
I made my bed beside the engine. Seeing a bridge near by I decided
to investigate. Soon my previous fright was far surpassed when I
went out on that old 100 foot span with the swift cold water some
00 feet below.
Sleep I knew was out until T had that engine across the bridge.
So I walked on to locate a parking place. It was my intention to
move the engine over at once. In a quarter-mile walk beyond the
grade I found no such spot so returned but with no desire to eat as
the one thought in mind was the possible plunge into the river with
the engine on top.
It was a serious young fellow who retired, but not to sleep. To
add to my troubles a thunder storm suddenly broke and I made an
unsuccessful attempt to keep dry under the tank wagon the rest of
Morning did come at last and half dead I got ready to move. At
the bridge approach I dropped the tank wagon so as to have a
minimum of concentrated load, explaining, as I thought, to the boys
that we would pull it over later by hand.
With the slowest speed I could maintain I proceded, hoping and
watching the tie rods as they tightened and loosened as I moved on.
While in this stress I happened to look back and to see the boys
pulling the tank wagon as close as if the tongue was attached to
the drawbar. What a look and yell I gave them to stop in their
The June-Wood Engine
Coupled up again we were off on an easy grade and arrived in the
Wallowa Valley which is bordered on the east by the Wallowa
mountains described as the Switzerland of America.
At the town of Wallowa, 15 miles from the bridge, my job ended
and I turned over my charge to which by this time I was very much
After a restful sleep at the hotel I boarded the old time Stage
Coach with its six horse team and returned to Elgin and the train
which took me back to the city of Portland and my job.
This all happened in the Centennial Fair year of the Lewis and
Clark trip out West, year 1805.
For some unknown reason we got mixed up on the data on one of
the pictures in the last issue. On page eight of the March-April
1952 issue the man to the left of Jesse Hoke is Mr. Parker of
Pontiac, Ill. According to our informant of this error, President
Dan Zehr, Mr. Parker is very much alive. We are sorry for this
In the March-April issue of the ALBUM I was especially
interested in the writeup of the , but it did not tell how
Wood Bros., started to build steam traction engines. I am enclosing
a photo taken in 1917, of my first threshing outfit when I was 28
years old. This is the forerunner of the Wood Bros, traction
It is an 18 hp D. June and Co., ‘New Champion’ with
locomotive type boiler 81/2×10 single cylinder with piston valve,
Arnold type reverse gear, forty six 2 inch boiler tubes. In 1907
Wood Bros., bought them out and their first engines were similar to
the June, such as curved spole fly wheel, smoke box door without
ring, star in center of smoke box door and special style diagonal
type mud lugs.
L K ROY BLAKER. President
National Threshers Association, Inc. Alvordton, Ohio