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LONG TIME THRESHERMAN Courtesy of H. W. Schermerhorn, Lena, Illinois 61048
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Courtesy of Jesse S. Byers, Route 2, Littlestown, Pennsylvania 17340 These pictures were taken from a Geiser M.F.G. Co. Catalog 1907, Waynes-boro, Pennsylvania.
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Steam Engine and Thresher Plant, Waynesboro, Pa

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

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

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

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

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

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

He has fond memories of his threshing days and even in recent
years has attended some thresher reunions.



Courtesy of Jesse S. Byers, Route 2, Littlestown, Pennsylvania

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

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.

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