LONG TIME THRESHERMAN Courtesy of H. W. Schermerhorn, Lena, Illinois 61048
Alvordton, Ohio 43501
When I was a young lad living at home near Minden, Nebraska in the late 1890's, I remember hearing a true story about a boy being thrown into a threshing machine head first by an angry man feeding a grain thresher.
In looking over some of my old copies of IRON-MEN ALBUM magazine, in the September-October 1952 issue in 'Cobs From Elmers Corn Crib', a Mr. H.H. Scanland of 1240 Burlington St., N. Kansas City, Missouri, wants to know if any of the readers of the ALBUM remember a case back in the 1880-85's when a feeder cut by a boy band cutter, threw the boy into the separator and the crew hanged the feeder on the straw carrier.
I well remember hearing that story and perhaps it is the same story Mr. Scanland asked about. It seems the boy was cutting bands on the bundles and accidentally cut the feeders hand. The angry feeder told the boy if he did it again he would throw him into the revolving threshing cylinder. This made the boy rather nervous and he accidentally cut the feeders hand again. Thereupon the feeder picked up the boy and threw him into the machine, thus killing him instantly.
The crew seeing what happened, overpowered the feeder and hung him on the spot. When I was visiting a cousin and her husband, Jay L. Smith, in Hastings, Nebraska in March, 1953, I asked them about it. They said it was a true story and they heard it when they were young also. My cousin said the murderer was hung from the end of a propped up wagon tongue as no trees were available for hanging out on the prairie.
When calling on our old thresher, Bert L. Smith, who lived about 10 miles northwest of Minden, Nebr. in August, 1965, he verified the above true story. Bert Smith passed away several months later well past 90 years of age. This story is similar to the one on page 9 of the November-December 1952 issue of the ALBUM, but I am sure it is another incident as the ALBUM'S story occurred many years earlier.
I was interested in the articles on boiler explosions in the issue (March-April, 1966) of IRON-MEN ALBUM, as it concerns all of the many thousands of us who attend the various steam reunions and gatherings. Some of those explosions were caused by careless operators who let their water get low causing the firebox sheets to overheat and weaken, and others with inaccurate steam gauges and stuck safety valves. In my over 60 years experience, I have never had a stuck safety valve.
A few boilers may not have been equipped with large enough relieving capacity, thus the pressure built up to the danger point, although most new boilers were built with a safety factor of 5 to 1. The butt-strap Port Huron 24-75 hp. was built with a safety factor of 6.3 to 1, and the 19-65 hp. 'Longfellow' had a safety factor of 7.3 to 1. All Port Huron butt-strap boilers were built according to A.S.M.E. code and their boilers stamped Ohio std. with the clover leaf insigne, and the inspection company's name on it cost $100.00 more, were no better than the unstamped boilers.
Several years ago when I had one of my 24-75 hp. Port Huron engines out to an Indiana steam show, their chief boiler inspector Milton complained about my 1' diam. Scott safety valve not being large enough, although it was an A.S.M.E. Std. stamped with over 2100 lbs. per hr. relieving capacity He said 5 lbs. per hr. for every sq. ft. of boiler heating surface was sufficient. I disagreed with him and told him every book I had called for 7 lbs. discharge per hr. for each sq. ft. of heating surface. My boiler has 269 sq. ft. of heating surface, thus 7 - 269 is 1883 lbs. of water or steam by weight at full capacity of boiler.
I was especially interested in the article 'TRADEGY' on page 41 of the issue. This concerns an Advance boiler that exploded in July, 1922. I saw an Advance engine that exploded Feb. 14, 1918 a few miles northwest of Swanton, Ohio, and the owner and operator-Arthur Perkins is still living and told me the story.
Mr. Perkins was a farmer-thresher and part time employee of the A.D. Baker Co. at Swanton, O., and had bought a used 22 hp. Advance engine of the Baker Co. in 1915 when it was only 7 years old. He fired it up to hull some clover seed on the above mentioned date, and was standing on the engine platform when the double riveted lap seam in the boiler shell ruptured, and blew Mr. Perkins about 50 ft. with some injuries that laid him up for a couple of weeks. He was lucky to escape with his life.
The next day, Abner D. Baker and his test house foreman-John Albeck went out to examine the wrecked boiler. They ruled out electrolysis as the cause, but the inside of the lap seam showed channeling and grooving that made the plate very thin on the inside next to the lap seam.
The Advance Co. built good boilers and used good material, but they lapped the longitudinal seam over the other way from the conventional style, and that left a ledge on the inside of the boiler shell for scale and mud to lodge and unless it was dried out thoroughly, it stayed damp and caused corrosion and weakness at this joint.
The above mentioned accidents warn all of us engine owners and operators that we must be very careful in operating our engines at the various steam shows and see that they are tested and operated safely.
I prefer the hammer and warm water hydrostatic test of 50% more than working pressure, as well as close inspection of all the boiler sheets.
Also have seen V's cut in lap seams to determine if the plate has started to fracture at this joint, which I think is O.K. for an inspector to do. Another article on a boiler explosion was in the Winter, 1947 issue of IRON-MEN ALBUM on page 11. A Peerless engine boiler exploded near Ottawa Lake, Mich, in 1938, killing two men I believe. The boiler barrel was thin on the under side and weakened due to corrosion.
Charles G. Armagost, Lena, Illinois, long time thresherman celebrated his one hundredth birthday the week of June 6, 1967.
There was open house at the family home on Sunday afternoon June 4th. Two hundred friends and relatives called to greet him. Gov. Kerner wired congratulations and Congressman John B. Anderson sent a congratulatory letter.
Mr. Armagost with the help of 3 sons, owned and operated threshing rigs for about 40 years beginning at the turn of the century.
His first engine was a 10 horse power case. Later he used a Reeves and then a Port Huron. All separators, as he recalls, were case.
He has fond memories of his threshing days and even in recent years has attended some thresher reunions.
HOME OF THE 'PEERLESS' MACHINERY
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Fifty years of tireless energy and honest effort, of perfect faith and confidence, of dauntless courage and unswerving purpose, until the 8 x 10 shop of the wagon maker becomes one of the largest and best equipped manufacturing plants of its kind in the world.
It was Emerson who said, 'If a man build incomparably well, the world will make a beaten path to his door, though he build in a forest.' From isolation and obscurity to a piston of prominence and importance, exceptional in its character and remarkable to a degree, throughout the world.