Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
IT WAS IN 1892 AND 1893 that the last portable threshed at our place in the town of Friendship. I remember this engine very well. The crankshaft was in front of the dome, just back of the smoke stack, the flywheel was fairly large and had curved spokes. The crosshead guides were 4 bar locomotive type, held together on the out end by a yoke bracket.
ACT 1. This is the Otto Fennier's Huber in distress. Happened at the West Branch of the F. D. L. River in 1914. The horse shoe on the grease box symbolizes the luck had by the riders of this Huber. Their lives, hung on the last few inches of the rear end of the bunker frame. She. will be in worse shape before she gets out of this. It is Saturday afternoon.
Old wood cuts in newspaper files of the Fond du Lac 'Journal' for 1868 and 1867-68, show Russell portables and these fit the picture that I have in my memory of this old engine but remember that I was too young to read so I don't know what make it was same holds for the separator, hand fed, of course, with integral apron stacker. The rig was owned by Bob Grallop, farmer, thresherman and saw miller a fine, orderly, responsible man. I, threshed for him when I had a rig years later, of which more later.
In 1894, the 'Lamb Boys' (the 'red Lambs'), 7 boys, sons of Peter and Mary Lamb. Not one of them ever went to school a day in their lives. Old Peter, a devout man educated them himself. When he first settled in the town he built his buildings a quarter of a mile from the road so the children wouldn't come in contact with the wicked world. There was Joe, Henry, Tom and John (twins), Willie, Mike and Dick, and Mary. Henry and the twins, and Dick had the threshing outfit. Henry was boss and fed the separator. Tom ran the engine, John was separator man, and Dick hauled water.
I remember very clearly the day in the fall of 1894 when the Lamb boys pulled their new rig into the yard, a Rumely self-propelled 10hp. Link reverse (the first ones had the Stephen-son link motion) and Rumely separator all painted and striped brand spanking new, with separate stacker, the whole a grand and exciting thing to a young kid of 6 quite unforgettable. As soon as the separator had been set between the stacks and Tom had backed into the belt and the threshing job started, I got myself a large piece of stove wood and fixed myself a grandstand seat in back and to the left of the engine. I was curious about the crankshaft and flywheel being on the back end of the boiler. After Tom had gotten his fire fixed and his holes in the barrel, he came over to where I was sitting and asked me how I liked it. I told him that his engine was built wrong. I wanted to know why they put the engine on top of the boiler backwards. Tom explained that this was a self-propellor, 'it goes along the ground by itself', and as a result it was necessary to have the flywheel in back because of the gearing. His explanation satisfied me somewhat. Soon he came around again and asked if I thought I could get used to it. Now the Rumely had a cover over the crank to keep the mud carried up by the drive wheel, out of the brasses. I told him that I didn't like that feature because I couldn't see the engine work. 'Well,' he said, 'we can fix that.' He stepped over and turned the cover over so the crank and rod could be seen. It's an odd thing but from that time on when that engine was running in the belt that cover was always open. As a matter of fact, this was true even on the twenty horse which they brought out later until somebody started away from a setting having forgotten about the cover and it was torn off.
ACT 2. Sunday morning. Otto Fener was in church. Bill, his son, steamed her up and attempted to throttle her across on two propped up timbers, one of them slipped and flipped her over on her dome, wheels up. This is bad for canopy, crank shaft and steam connections. It took 'Fisher' Jewson, the house mover, to get her out of this. No one was hurt. Bill must have had a horse shoe around his neck.
The Lamb boys bought a new 20hp. and a 30-60 Rumely with gear driven blower in 1897-98. It was hand fed but later added a self feeder. I ran this engine in 1919 which was the last season that it operated in our neighborhood. I have never seen any other make of engine in its power range that would out-perform that old Rumely in the belt for steady motion with intermittent loads of tough straw when the bundle pitchers were throwing them in one on top of the other, crosswise. The governor would reach lor the ceiling and she would bark till the women folks could hear 't above the conversation in the kitchen. She kept a steady, even motion regardless.
Now in order for the governor to grab for extra steam, there has to be some slackening in the motion but I have stood on the left side and tried to tell the difference in speed or any unevenness in the motion and was not able. You couldn't tell when she was laboring with the eye alone. I often wondered how the governor knew when to open up. True, she shook back and forth on her wheels as she had no dynamic balance or fancy valves, simply the old static balance and ancient slide valve. She burned a ton of fairly good coal a day but on the other hand she didn't allow the separator to send straws into the stack full of grain because there had not been enough steady speed to shake it out properly.
Although the old Rumely was a splendid performer in the belt she wasn't so good on her wheels. She had only one bull gear, with the differential on the main axle, the tork was transmitted to the left drive wheel through the hub and trough, the axle to the right drive wheel also through the hub. Each hub had three spider legs cast integral with the hub, and each of these legs had a two way stay brace to the rim. The right drive wheel was extended away from the boiler to accommodate the shot gun type water tank. As a result the left wheel carried more than its share of the load and in a hard pull the right wheel would slip but the left wheel wouldn't, and being connected more directly to the differential, the spider legs, being fairly short, would exert such a strain on the stay braces as to distort the rim to such an extent that it would pull the spokes out of the rim and break them in two. The last time I saw Schulze's Rumely she had a half a dozen spokes pulled out of her left wheel in this manner. There was another one which had so many spokes out of that wheel, that the wheel had to be blocked with wood, wedged between hub and rim before she could be brought into town for repairs. But the great majority of these old Rumely's went through their whole useful life and were scrapped with their wheels intact but they just were not made to move houses with or to skid a corn crib half full of corn.
On the other hand, they were easy to operate with their low silhouette and big fireboxes. They were good steamers and were easy to take care of. Their crosshead pumps always worked provided you put in a new check valve every season or so. This only goes to prove that the pump was effective and that it was being used and that is the main thing.
I used to like to hear that check valve rattle every time that you closed the throttle I can still hear it.
As for my experience with engines, 1 only operated six which is not very many. Two Rumelys, two Advance, one Russell, and one Gaar Scott. I owned and operated at different times one fifteen horse Rumely with the Stefenson link for five seasons; filling on the average of fourteen silos. One twenty horse Russell with 36-60 Advance separator I ran for five seasons, and one twenty horse Gaar Scott for four years on a sawmill. I rented a twelve horse Advance in 1915, the first fall that I filled silos, and liked it very much indeed. She was an easy steamer and had a quick response to the governor.