Benny West writes……

By Staff
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Here is a picture of a threshing scene near Lancaster, Wisconsin in 1914. The outfit is a 16 HP Advance Steam Engine and an Aultman Taylor 36X58 Thresher Feeder Weigher and Sattley Swinging Stacker. I am the owner and operator.
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This is a Sullivan Channeling Machine that is being used at a stone quarry at Portageville, New York. This machine looked small to me when looking at it, until I noticed the men working about it and the height of the wall behind it in comparison to the me
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This picture was taken at the first steam engine display of real size ever to be held at the New York State Fair. My Land & Button was there the year before under steam all week and the Fair Commission was so pleased it decided to go all out for the year

I have worked with steam until the last 14 years in which I have
worked as a sewing machine mechanic. Quite a difference but I enjoy
my work. I have a nice bunch of girls to work with. What more can a
man ask for at 58 years.

I go to the steam shows once a year, never have the fun of
running any of the engines but still enjoy them. The last traction
engine I worked on was a 90 HP Baker with 190 lbs. steam in 1946
and it was a beautiful engine. I had it clean as a whistle. It was
in a saw mill and we never lacked for power. My brother was saw
man. We had a 5 X 6 engine for slab saw which made me busy sawing
slabs and keeping up steam. We were on green poplar for 7 weeks;
boy, was I happy when we went back on hardwood. We used to average
8 thousand feet a day but I never had my steam get away from me but
sometimes I did a lot of thinking. My brother could never keep it
hot enough so he tried to take it away from me. A good combination
to get work done. He would never let up and one day he said to me,
‘I have to hand it to you, you know how to fire.’

I have handled the big Frick on saw mills, which I prefer. The
Frick was a nice engine. I would enjoy seeing sizes of the Frick
engines in the Album as you did on the Case. I always pulled toward
the Frick.

Getting back to the Baker, I wish I would have bought it as the
engine was junked in 1949. It had never been used on the road, only
moving from one stand of timber to the other. The wheels and gears
were as good as new and the engine didn’t have a knock in it.
Sure was a fine engine. A quarry company bought it for the boiler
to heat water for the gangs in a stone saw mill at Sidney, New
York. The boiler was sent from Portageville, New York. I put new
flues in it the year before it was junked and it was New York State
inspected for 190 lbs. steam.

I was born in Pennsylvania and had the pleasure of working in
some fair sized saw mills, but I liked the portables the best. Not
so long in one place.

Well, enough for the lumber mills, so will go to the stone
mills. Here is a picture of a Sullivan Channelling Machine that is
being used at a stone quarry about a mile out of Portageville, New
York. The boiler gave out so it couldn’t pass inspection. It
was filled with sand to give it weight and is fed steam from a
stationary boiler, but with the little boiler on the rig, a man
wanted to know what he was doing to keep steam. I have seen a lot
of big boiler firemen bite the dust on this little teapot, as they
would say, until they had fired it for about 1 or 2 hours. Then it
began to look bigger than any boiler they had ever fired. It was
made for a 6 inch head, which is a 6 X 6 engine, and it had an 8 X
8 head on it with a 1 inch steam line and a 4 X 5 traveling and
feed engine with a inch line, 2 double B Penberthy inch injectors,
which you could leave open all the time and use the other to catch
up the slack when needed. The boiler was of the submergable type
with short 2 inch flues. I don’t remember how many and 15 inch
in the center and a firebox about 32 inches. If I remember right,
it took about 2 to 3 tons of coal to keep its hunger satisfied. As
it used a lot of water, the bottom of the water glass was about a
foot from where the steam line came out of the boiler. The main
engine had two sets of valves, one for a cushion valve so it
wouldn’t knock the heads out. I fired this rig for about 5
summers and ran it 3 or 4. It ran on rails. We channeled a cut
about 24 ft. long, 12 to 13 ft. deep. Every 10 hours the fits
started. 3 inch gauge to inch smaller for each set longer.
Sometimes there would be hard heads in the stone and break the end
off the fits and cause a lot of trouble. If you were lucky enough
to hit about the center of one of them, fine, but if you hit about
the edge of hard head on one side, soft stone on the other, you had
your work cut out for you as you had to keep the cut from running
to one side or the other if you expected to get 13 ft. down with
your channel.

A man by the name of William Kolowski, which has later been
changed to Shaffer, it is easier to say, he was from Brea, Ohio, a
suburb of Cleveland. There were some big sand stone quarries there
and he was born on a channelling machine. He was just about like a
father to me and he learned me all I knew about the machine and the
rest of the quarry machinery. When I got to be an engineer of the
machine he was put in as Super-intendant. I took his place and ran
the Channeler, spring, summer and fall and the Stripping Rig in the
winter which I enjoyed. It was a Sauerman 1 grade bucket slackline
with a Sauerman Engine. Then the war came and the quarry got pretty
slack: I went back and worked about 1 year after the war but it
wasn’t like it used to be so I had a chance to get the job of
fixing sewing machines in a sewing room and I like my job.

Benny West, Box 363, Portageville, New York

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