An Interview With Mr. AM. (Andy) Hess

6260 Main Street, East Petersburg, PA 17520

The following is a transcript of an interview with took place on
December 13, 1958.

On the first Monday after Easter in the year 1892, Mr. Hess
began his employment with the Geiser Company of Waynesboro,
Pennsylvania, as a thresher shop helper at the age of fifteen.

Mr. Hess took up the building of threshers designed by Mr. F.F.
(Frank) Landis, and worked all through the Geiser thresher shop
including testing in the field until June 1, 1896.

Immediately after the termination of his employment with the
Geiser concern, Mr. Hess started to work for the Frick Company,
also of Waynesboro. He continued there for one year at which time
their Frick ‘Landis’ thresher was taken out of production
because of litigation between Geiser and Frick concerns. During
this period when the Frick Company was temporarily out of thresher
production, Mr. A.E. Price approached Mr. Hess to come back to work
for Geiser Company, which he did.

Mr. Hess’ father learned his trade from Frank and Abe
Landis, steam engine builders of the ‘Best Engine’ built in
Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876,
Mr. Peter Geiser induced Mr. F.R. Landis to come to Waynesboro to
work for Geiser.

Mr. Landis designed steam engines and threshers for Geiser.
Among the machines designed by Mr. Landis was the once popular
Landis type ‘Peerless’ steam traction engine. Mr. Landis
did not receive a salary from Geiser but was under contract to
receive $2.00 per horsepower per engine and $1.50 per $100.00 of
selling price per thresher. Therefore a Class ‘E’ thresher
selling for $600.00 yielded Mr. Landis $9.00 royalty.

In the year 1892 Mr. F.F. Landis resigned from the Geiser
Company. In 1894 Mr. Landis joined the Frick Company as a thresher
designer. This same Mr. Landis served as the guardian of Mr. A.M.
Hess. Mr. Hess suggested the idea of lateral moving rolls and this
feature was designed into the grain cleaning system of the Frick
Landis Thresher.

During Mr. Hess’s career with the Geiser Company he crossed
the Atlantic ten times. One trip was to investigate the death of a
Mr. Francis Dalton who had been killed by an engine in Fodia,
Italy. The investigation disclosed that the steam outfit, a new Z-l
Peerless with six-gang plow, had been steamed up and run along the
curb where Mr. Dalton wished to park it for the night. It was a
nice outfit with jacketed boiler and Mr. Dalton had filled the
boiler, planning to move it next morning when officers requested
him to move it immediately. He complied with their request but the
engine was on dead center and as he pulled the band wheel the
engine started suddenly, causing Mr. Dalton to be thrown off
balance and in contact with the drive wheel where he was crushed
between the wheel and the engine water tank because of the reverse
motion of the machine.

The last trip to Europe made by Mr. & Mrs. Hess in May 1912,
which was two weeks after the sinking of the Titanic and the
sighting of icebergs, caused concern on the part of Mrs. Hess and
other passengers. The ship’s captain reassured the passengers
that they would not hit any of the icebergs.

This trip lasted two years and took the Hess’s into Turkey,
Italy, Romania, France and Spain. During this time Mr. Hess
arranged to receive, erect and run 200 steam engines and 200
threshers, all of which were shipped, knocked down or boxed. The
engines included some Landis Traction Class ‘T’ and
‘Q’ engines, some portables and some Anderson Tractions.
Incidentally a ‘Q’ engine was customarily sold with a Class
‘E’ 24′ x 38′ thresher. The Hess’s returned to
this country about May 1, 1914.

The original Geiser Company was sold to the Emerson Brantingham
Company on August 1, 1912. Therefore, Mr. Hess went to Europe as an
employee of the Geiser Company and came back as an employee of the
E-B concern. During the years with the Geiser and E-B Companies,
Mr. Hess broke in and trained many individuals in the selling and
servicing of Geiser products. One of these men was Mr. W.G. Runkle
of Trenton, New Jersey.

The first 50 HP Landis type E-B engines were built about 1912.
Emerson Brantingham engineers tried to abolish the Geiser styles
and built an experimental traction engine with a 4′ piston
valve which was no success (could not hold steam in it). And so,
after a career of building equipment for the U.S. Government and
Army, the Emerson Brantingham concern failed.

The old Geiser plant was revived in 1928 by interested parties
and former stock holders. In its brief career, this reorganized
firm built some traction engines and threshers, but failed in its
attempt to successfully produce ice machinery and a revolutionary
Landis design centrifugal thresher. So after about two years of
operation, the plant ceased production and some years later was
completely sold out.

Mr. Hess did not continue with the Emerson Brantingham Company
after his return to this country. On May 1, 1914, he started again
with the Frick Company and continued with them until the first
Friday in August 1957. During this time he designed and refined the
Frick Steel Thresher.

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