‘AS THE PILE DRIVER TOLD IT’

By Staff

Yes, I’ve been runnin’ steam engines f’r more than
fifty years, 
An’ th’ more I studies their habits, the certainer it
appears
That human bein’s came closest to God an’ the angeles
when
They first created steam engines an’ set ’em to
workin’ f’r men:
F’r of all of men’s inventions, from now, way back to the
flood,
Steam engines comes the nearest to bein’ like flesh an’
blood.

Gas engines has their merits — they pack more power to the
pound – 
But that’s no great advantage, so long as you stay on the
ground,
An’ when it comes to flyin’ I’ll wait till they make a
machine
That ain’t so darnd dependent on havin’ its gasoline.

Steam engines now, are human, just like a man or a mule,
They ain’t at all particular about what they have for
fuel,
If there ain’t no cole pile handy there’s other tricks you
can turn,
F’r there’s no place on creation where you can’t find
somethin’ to burn
Blubber, hay or cactus — I’ve got up steam with ’em all

An’ I even fired a B’iler without no fuel at all.

That was up in the Andes Mountains, atop o’ the timber
line,
On a pumpin’ job — unwaterin’ the Cerro de Pasco
mine.
Seventy miles from a railroad, three miles up in the sky —
They bile at 180 when you get up that high,
We fired fer a while on cord wood, packed up on Llamas,
which
Is a stinkin’, half baked camel, till our cholo choppers got
rich
An’ quit in a bunch, one payday, we might have been shut down
yet
If me an’ th’ head geologer hadn’t ah’ made a
bet.

He said right where we was workin’ was an old volcano’s
spout
An’ there must be a fire in the mountain yet if we could only
get it out.

I told him if he’d locate it I’d hook it some way.
He said I couldn’t do it, so I bet him a whole months
pay.
I thought the youngster was bluffin’, but he was there with
the dope,
F’r he showed me a hot spring b’illin’ a short ways
down th’ slope.
Well, I screwed up a coil o’ steam pipe an’ shoved it down
in that hole,
An’ it turned that engine over just like we was burnin’
coal,
I couldn’t get up much pressure, but I rigged up a
condensin’ gear,
An’ we pumped them Spanish workin’s dry on half of an
atmosphere.

I never seen a gas engine that hadn’t a yellow streak,
But steam engines act like people, they’ll do everything but
speak.
A diesel comes in handy — if speakin’ o’
submarines:
But the whole internal combustion tribe — they are nothin’ at
all but machines.
They’ll deliver their rated horsepower, but when they’ve
done that they stop,
Just give ’em a pound of overload, an’ theres junk all
over th’ shop.
Now, a good steam engine is different, its got what you might call
guts
To tackle a job that’s twice its size without any ifs or
buts.
Like a man thats gone to his limit but still makes good on his
nerve,
It’s the same with your old steam engine — there’s always
power in reserve.

Throw all your drafts wide open, fasten your pop valve
tight,
Give her the steam an’ watch her pull you over the peak all
right.

At Rangoon, on a floatin’ derrick, I was loadin’ teak
onto ships
An’ I made good friends with an elephant who was workin’
th’ timber slips.
We used to chin in the evenin’s, when he came down f’r his
bath,
An’ I’d toot good night on my whistle, an’ he’s
answer back up the path.
One day we shifted our moorin’s, an’ when this big boy
came along
He started to wade up twords us, when I seen there was
somethin’ wrong.
He stopped short off in his splashin’ and hollered to me
f’r help,
An’ I never heard nothin’ more pitiful — like than to
hear that elephant yelp.
He’d stepped right into a quicksand, a dozen feet from the
scow,
An’ t’was up to me to save him, an’ the only question
was how.

I grabbed the end of a log chain an’ went right over the
side
An’ yelled to my Burmah fireman to open his dampers wide
An’ throw some pitch in the firebox, to get all the head he
could,
While I got a hitch round the elephant, a-sinkin’ there where
he stood.

I dived right under his belly an’ I hauled that log-chain
tight
Right back o’ the big boy’s shoulder, before he sank out
of sight,
Only Ms trunk was showin’ a-tootin’ a farewell
blast?
Before I could swing the derrick round an’ make the hist gear
fast.
Then I pulled my throttle over, an’ I recon I prayed a
bit
That my old steam engine’d tackle the load — and she stood
right up to it.

I don’t suppose no steam engine has ever took no such
strain
Since steam was first invented, an’ none won’t ever
again.
It streached that wire cable, it buckled the derrick mast,
It sprung the boom like a fish pole — but all the tackle held
fast.
F’r mebe a couple o’ minutes I didn’t know what to
think,
F’r instead o’ the elephant risin’, the scow was
beginnin’ to sink.
But just as the strain got tightest an’ the engine almost
stopped
The sand let go in a hurry, an’ up the elephant popped
Like a mud-cat caught on a fish-hook an’ squealin’ to beat
the band,
He looked more scared than happy as I swung him over to
land.
He pretty near wrecked the derrick before I could save my
chain,
Then he ran down the road a-tootin’ an’ I never seen him
again.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment