Common Sense & Safety

R 3, Hermann, Missouri 65041

I have noticed some issues in the Iron-Men Album of comments and
compliments this winter on which is the best engines, and I think
some of it has run in the ground. I have been a steam engineer for
forty-three years. I have operated about every make one time or the
other, and I have liked them all. Any of them will do the job they
were designed for. It’s most certainly true that a side mount
is very handy on a saw mill. I have a double Rumely 20 HP. I’m
not going to say it’s the best, but I’m happy with it, and
I would be happy with any other make. When it comes to sound, they
all make heavenly music when the valves are set correctly. I was
raised up with a 19 HP Keck-Gonnerman doing the threshing. It was
engine #1847 owned by Mr. Bill Timmerberg, Sr., now deceased. This
engine threshed for my father when I was a child. I remember the
first time Mr. Timmerberg threshed for my father. They got done and
rolled up the belt, and my dad said, ‘Well Mr. Bill, figure up
what I owe you and I’ll pay you.’ Mr. Timmerberg was
surprised, and said, ‘I wish I had more customers like you.
Sometimes I have to wait four to six months.’ When Father paid
him, Mr. Timmerberg reached in the tool box and brought out a quart
of fine whiskey and told my father to take a good snort. It
certainly was a happy threshing day, and now we’ll get to the
saw mill part.

My neighbor Mr. Bill Rohning had a 1919 model Frick, and it was
called an 18 HP. Mr. Rohning would saw for his friends and
neighbors in the fall and spring. I was going to an old country
school about a half-mile from the mill, and the teacher would have
to threaten me with the famous hickory sprout for paying more
attention to the heavenly music of the old Frick than on my
lessons. I am sad to say the old Frick fell victim to the junk
man’s torch in 1947, which was so stupid since the war was
already over. So my thought is, whatever kind of an engine you have
be proud of it. There was many a good engine melted down for
hardware to throw at Adolph Hitler and the Japs during World War
II. If it had been left up to the junk dealers and other
disinterested people, the steam traction engine would be as extinct
as a live dinosaur today. There may have been only a few pictures
of them left.

Those of you who own rare engines, such as the Illinois North
West New Giant, should be real proud. We should be glad there were
collectors like Mr. Neal McClure of Colchester, Illinois and the
others who played a big part in preserving an important part of
American history. Remember the steam engine, horses, mules, oxen,
and their owners and wives and children and all their hard work
made this country great long before nuclear and other modern
technology started poisoning us. If the exhaust from a steam
engine, horse, mule or ox ever did any damage to our atmosphere it
was so brief it wasn’t put on record that I know of.

As some have said, firing a Case engine was hard on the knees
and overalls. I well remember that the Peerless and Huber give the
shirt and coat factories business. But there there again, Case,
Peerless and Huber were very good engines. I once owned a Peerless
engine, #14164, and understand a gentleman in Bloomfield,
Connecticut now owns this engine. If he would wish to write to me,
I can give him some history on it and where it began its life.

So much for all the other. Now I would like to get to the moral
of this story on safety to all engine owners, you and me alike.
When we steam up for the shows in 1987 and the years after that,
whether we have been complimented or insulted on the brand of
engine we have, let’s remember these engines are like me and
lots of other owners they have age on them. As we get another year
older they do too. Let’s get more careful as the years go by.
They have boiler inspectors at a lot of the shows. Along with what
they say, let’s use our best of common sense. I’m not going
to try to tell you what to do, but what I do is keep plenty of
water in the boiler and not over pressure or over strain on such
things as trying to compete with modern day high powered diesel and
gas powered tractors. These old engines were not designed for
abnormal strain. I’ll not go into details on what a boiler
explosion would do at a show, but we must never let this happen.
What we want to do is keep these happy shows safe for the men,
women and children that come from far and near to watch us
demonstrate these relics of the earth’s past. And I decided
about 30 years ago that a steam engine, a woman, a fiddle, or a
shotgun all have the same thing in common. If you find one that
suits you, that’s the best one you can have.

I think I’ll close this story before someone gets tired of
me. Any young boys or girls who would like to be steam engine
operators, encourage and help them all you can as we won’t be
here forever. I think Chaddy Attebury of Pawnee, Oklahoma and Wayne
Kennedy of Danville, Iowa have a good thing going, having classes
on them. Hope to see as many of you as I can at some of the shows
in 1987.

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