DEATH VALLEY

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(A) This early photo was taken during the time when the great Best tractor experiment was underway. It is now in the Pacific Coast Borax Company museum at Furnace Creek Ranch, California.
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(B) Remains of Daniel Best hauling engine at the entrance of Furnace Creek Ranch, Death Valley, Calif. Front wheel is 60' high with 14' face. Driving wheels are 86' high with 27' face. The machine stands approximately 15 feet high and
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(C) Engine isn't quite horizontal on frame of Best machine. Someone stripped the crank, connecting rods, and flywheel off the old engine. Measurements were hard to take, but bore seems to be about 8 inches, with 16 inch stroke.
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(D) Cross heads and guides are of generous proportions with ample, large rods and pins. Engine has piston valves, but dimensions could not be ascertained. There are cylinder relief valves with what remains of a linkage connecting to operator's compartment
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(E) Compensating or differential gear. None of the moving parts show much wear, indicating that Old Dinah didn't put in too many hours of work. On the flat side of the bevel gear you can read the following words painted there almost 70 years ago by some u
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(H) Top of boiler. Whistle lead pipe in center. At left and right are two feed water heaters with elbows leading into boiler. Shell is 48' in diameter by 74' high. It was virtually impossible to count the 2' flues through stoke holes, but a
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(F) Massive Borax wagon is one of two that old Dinah pulled across the desert. From size they appear to be 10 to 15 tons capacity. Wide wheel faces were protection against sinking in soft sand.
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(G) Close-up view of driving wheel. Note retainer ring that holds spokes into hub. Steel parts are in splendid state of preservation despite years of exposure. Serial number 205 was stamped on end of axle. No other serial could be found.

12020 S. Rives Avenue, Downey, California

On a recent trip to Death Valley, California I took the series
of pictures appearing on these pages.

Believing you may want to publish these photos, I have written
captions for them. The information on the captions I gathered at
the little museum in Furnace Creek Ranch and by the use of my steel
rule tape. This is an interesting relic, and it is a shame that it
has been picked apart.

The following story accompanies the picture:

‘Old Dinah was F. M. ‘Borax’ Smith’s experiment
in transporting ore from the mines at Borate to the railroad at
Daggett in 1894. Dinah was a traction engine. She burned coal 3
tons per day. Her speed was 3 miles per hr. on level ground, not
including time out for getting stuck in the sand. On steep grades
she slipped backwards faster than she could move forward. It took 4
men to keep Dinah in operation; an engineer, a fireman, a brakeman,
and a mechanic who worked all night every night to put her in shape
for the next day’s run. After a year of struggle Dinah was
abandoned, and the 20 Mule Teams, which had continued to haul
alongside of her, took over the entire job again.’

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment