Box 21, Wichita, Kansas 67201
Oh, that bright and cloudless morning 1890 B.C. (before combines) two black oxen by the name of Tom and Gerry seemed to be pulling a puffen' steam engine in the direction of our four round wheat stacks but neither Tom nor Gerry was pullen a pound and they knowed et. When they came to a steep place in the road the old engine was puffen louder, but didn't disturb the oxen one bit. The day of Great Mystery had arrived. There was an ingin (we called it) could pull itself. All the two big black oxen had to do was to guide it by holding up the tongue. Behind this was old Buck and Barney and George and Coley, that made two yoke pulling the separator and on the water tank pulled by Rond and Pete. The water tank consisted of a wagon with high wheels and a huge wooden box holding five barrels of water. Two empty barrels for the engine while the tank man was after another load that was dipped from the creek with two half bushel buckets that took an extra man.
The engine was a powerful six horsepower single cylinder made in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The crew consisted of Engineer, separator man, two to feed alternately and a boss, who was also an Advance man, usually chewing a yellow straw in his mouth.
Across on another hill from us was another machine with six horses horse power machine. Shucks, no fun threshing powered by horse flesh. Our machine had a whistle and the puffen, puffen of the big engine caused a thrill with every puff. This was the year 1890. I was 4 years old, and that was old enough to tell my big brother, Dave (now 95) 'I'd rather run that big engine than be president,'but alas, right there in the same neighborhood we could hear bout sundown the chime of a still louder whistle and this engine could not only pull itself but could pull the separator up the steepest hill and guided by a steering wheel. I told my big brother Dave, (not my drinkin' Brother) I'd rather run that engine than be King of the Universe.
This engine was a Springfield 8 Hp. made in Springfield, Ohio. Used tallow to lubricate the cylinder, no friction clutch. The engineer rode in a seat on the platform with two coal boxes. There were two tanks for water on the side, right and left, bout midway of the boiler there was a cross head pump and what they called an inspirator made by Hancock but not always worked. We have heard of cussen loud as an ox driver. I can say never have I ever heard such cursing as that old engineer did at that engine when the double darned old inspirator wouldn't work worth a darn. We could never imagine Hell being even tho times could be hot enough torment for such cursing and all was the matter was dirt on the screen at the end of the hose.
As time advanced, we had better engines and much better engineers who never said Damn in a season.
When Benjamin Harrison was president, the prettiest love song was 'I Can't Tell Why I Love You Like I Do.' -korse I was too young to kno much, but admiration. 1 had it for that super mysterious super something that could pull the separator.
And if it don't make any difference to you, I'd rather you wouldn't make fun of us happy healthy Hillbillys. We had iron oar, appels, peaches, wild plumbs and we could lift up our eyes to the hills and our tall skinny barber shop boys sing?? and the girls?? No doubt about it and they dressed at their best when they came out to see threshing machines.
We carried the new threshed wheat in two bushel cotton sacks to the grainery. Many boys were big and strong enough to shoulder a two bushel of wheat and was fit to go with the girls and they did. It was in the Gay 90s when we had the best songs, best compositions, best poetry and strange to say the best steam engines mostly single cylinder as they cost less to build, less complicated, slow speed, big flywheel and more impressive and right here I want to say and mean it that strange as it seems that the worst steam engine was the last one a double cylinder tandem compound made to the sorrow of three leading manufacturers and I want to add that the most outstanding engineering disgrace in all history of steam was that abominable compound either cross or tandem. I declared it an engineering disgrace.
Compound was a big word that meant nothing promised more and gave less. Cost more and a definite proof that the maker was insane. Of all the crazy things that plagued engine history, I would say that the compound was the worst.
We look ahead for a new book to be out soon covering merits and demerits in steam engineering and oh could we make a steam threshing and plowing engine today. Although, I don't believe old timers would like a higher speed, higher pressure all enclosed double cylinder, quieter running engine with very little smoke and rubber tires. Back before the century, we didn't kno the word 'Ssychology' or what it had to do in the life of a thresher man. In those distant thresher days the sound and smell, the feel as well as the pulse (that was slower) of the engineer and the engine 200 revolutions was fast and that was too fast to count the spokes in the flywheel. Soon the rpm went up 230 and as high as 260 rpm as the double cylinder came in. The sound not so good, a good loud exhaust slower and better. One old timer boasted you could hear his Advance puffen two miles away.
I would like to write again telling what I think of the different makes of engines and boilers but what would please me better would be to read what others in different parts of the country have to say.