Here is an interesting article by the greatest living Farm
Equipment Historian, F. Hal Higgins. It is somewhat unintentionally
belated but it is good anytime. Ed.
REMEMBER THAT OLD steam traction engine that the Angels Camp
Museum had rounded up and given a pedigree that cast considerable
doubt on its ancestry? Well, B. B. Brown, veteran
ex-Aultman-Taylor, ex-Advance Rumley, ex-Cat and ex-Canadian steam
thresher expert, had looked at the picture of it as put out by the
museum and said it looked more like an Owens, Lane and Dyer engine
of the 1870s than anything else he had ever seen. After my letter
appeared with picture in the IRON-MEN ALBUM, another old-timer down
in Florida put the OK on Brown’s first look. So, just to try to
officially pin it down to that or some other manufacturer, the
writer journeyed up to Angels Camp one day last September with big
Lloyd Burr, who took his Saturday off for the trip. At the last
minute, B. B. Brown couldn’t make it on account of some U. S.
Navy work he was on. But he phoned his regrets and promised to give
our pictures close scrutiny to determine if this mystery steam
tractor at Angels Camp was what he had first concluded it to be. So
have a look at the pictures Burr and I got up at ‘Angels’,
as the natives call it in deference to the past ’49-er Gold
Rush residents. It is Mark Twain Jumping Frog capital, too, and has
an annual day to celebrate that tall tale of the ex-Missourian.
The little old steam engine in question stands out in front of
the Museum within a few feet of the road leading into Angels. It
stops the tourists, too, as we noted in the hour we were there
looking over this engine. We also saw a big 110 hp. Best that had
been brought in from an old logging job and parked on the back of
the lot. While it was a dull day, I shot the engine from both sides
with Burr in conversation with the owner of the museum, an
ex-Oklahoman who started his museum just because he thought the old
engine and other pioneer tools and gadgets should be saved while
there was time and opportunity.
Says Brown: ‘As we check our material on the old engine at
Angels Camp and compare data, we find the following points check
Smoke stack hinge same; bracket on dome for supporting stack is
Brackets on front end of smoke box the same; box section from
front axle under boiler identical with all my pictures of Owens,
Lane & Dyer.
Wheels have been re-worked but show indications of basic
Flywheel between drive wheels and boiler has been done to narrow
overall width to use engine on rails as shown.
Cylinder, same position. However, they were built on both sides
Same valve reverse (link) shown on all my data.
Governor and weights show same.
Valve mechanism on outside of crank disc, two eccentrics to
drive link reverse valve.
So, my view of all points of similarity, I still say that the
old relic is an 1876-78 Owens, Lane & Dyer engine. We had
contacted some fellows who claimed to have much old material on
this engine. However, they did not show me the courtesy of a reply
when I wrote them.’ ‘B. B. Brown’.
Left side of the ‘Old One’ at Angels Camp on a dull day
with the sun hitting on the opposite side. See F. Hal Higgins
The big boy Lloyd Burrwhips out his rule and measures this old
one cylinder steam engine to figure whether it had more than the
one horse power he was hunting for to take home, clean up and put
to work on one of his pet steam projects. This old item was turned
out by the Century-plus old Angels Foundry sometime since that
little world-shaking affair known as the Gold Rush of ’49. The
old foundry could and did build anything wanted by gold miners,
loggers or freighters in its halcyon days when ‘Gold was the
incentive,’ it took too long to wait for sailing ships to carry
an order ’round the Horn and bring back the bigger and better
machine needed by the boys in the Gold Bush. Hence, the wages of
the young skilled mechanic, foundry man, wheelwright and blacksmith
were the top of the world and no order was too big or impossible of
filling, practically speaking. See article by F. Hal Higgins.
Early threshing scene showing Owen, Lane & Dyer outfit at
work. Furnished by the Modern Company Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton and the
Burr had two or three little visits on his holiday program. So we
lunched in Angels Camp with his boss and wife and then drove out to
the edge of Angels and stopped at the century-plus old foundry
while Burr looked over the old scrap piles for a small one-cylinder
steam engine he sought for powering some of his hobby jobs back
home. The snap shows him carefully measuring the old steam engine
built at the Angels foundry a half century or more earlier. It was
just a mite too big, he decided. Some of the old machines in this
1849 foundry came round the Horn more than a century ago, and
anything and everything needed by miners, loggers and freighters
was turned out here steam engines, pumps, wagons, ore crushers,
gold pans, shovel, water wheels, turbines, etc.
The day was still young, so with a glance at watch and the
mileage sign that pointed toward Murhpys, we climbed back into
Burr’s Plymouth and went over to see Matt Manuel, now at the
ripe retiring age but full of recollections and with photos to show
how his father and brothers logged in ox-horse and steam days.