ENCOUNTERS WITH STEAM

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Double Uniflow ice machines I helped to build at York Manufacturing Company. Courtesy of Lester L. Lehman, R. D. 2, Red Lion, Penrsylvania 17356.
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Two boilers ready to go. Courtesy of Lester L. Lehman, R. D. 2, Red Lion, Pennsylvania 17356

R. D. 2, Red Lion, Pennsylvania 17356.

My first encounter with steam began in 1903 at age fourteen. I
helped fire a vertical boilered steam traction engine threshing
wheat on my father’s farm. I don’t recall the name of the
engine.

A little later I had the pleasure of riding in the cab of a
small saddle back locomotive hauling stone out of Small’s
quarry near York, Pa. Chester Kauffman was the engineer.

In 1910 we threshed using gasoline power, a 6 H. P. battery
ignition Flinchbaugh engine running a threshing machine built by
Samuel Leiphart of Hellam, Pa.

About a year after this I started working at A. B. Farquar Co.
York, Pa., in the boiler room where I stayed for two years. During
these two years the management put together an experimental
gasoline tractor. Due to the time and work spent in developing,
changing, trying and testing this tractor, it was taken apart and
put together so many times, the threads were worn out on the bolts
and studs. (That’s the way I heard it anyway.)

Once they tried to pick up a very large piece of machinery and
overloaded the crane. It stopped the big Farquar steam engine and
generator.

One old timer’s only job was chipping keyways in shafts with
hammer and chisel. Day after day he would do this. To break the
monotony he would let out a whistle every time the hammer hit the
chisel. This way the boss knew when he was working.

I got interested in motorcycles about this time and purchased my
first one by mail order from New York. It was a single cylinder
engine and did not have a clutch. Not very practical for todays
riding. I paid $75.00 for it. My second motorcycle cost $250.00 and
was purchased from Frank Reiff’s Indian Agency, York, Pa. I did
a lot of riding and all on dirt and gravel roads. Even coast to
coast Route 30 was gravel and a toll road.

In 1913 I went to Titusville, Pa. and worked as a boilermaker.
We made many types of boilers including some for the Reeves steam
tractors. During work at the Titusville Iron Co. a worker bet the
operator of the steam hammer that he could pull his finger out from
under the hammer before he could catch his finger. Needless to say
he ended up with a smashed finger. The management put a guard
around the hammer after that allowing no one but the operator at
the machine. The railroad from Titusville to Oil City was being
built during this time and when I had time I watched the steam
shovels and other steam equipment at work.

I met my wife to be, Miss Grace Litsinger here in Titusville and
we were married in 1915 and soon after we moved back to York.

I began working at York Manufacturing Co. They built ice
manufacturing equipment for cold storage plants, packing houses,
dairies, ice cream plants etc. They also built air conditioning
systems at a later date. These were powered in the early days by
steam engines, vertical, slide valve, Corliss and Uniflow. These
engines were from 15 to over 600 H. P. They were used to drive
refrigerating machines up to 600 tons. I helped assemble, set
valves and test all types of these engines. I enjoyed this work
very much. We did lots of hand scraping and filing on these
engines, scraping piston halves steam tight and filing to a line
cylinder blocks to crosshead guides etc. I worked for this firm 33
years although not on steam engines in the later years.

I am retired for 18 years now and last Dec. we celebrated our
57th wedding anniversary. I spend my time building miniature steam
engines, small air compressors and reading the Iron-Men Magazine
which my son passes on to me. I enjoy very much reading articles
from the old timers.

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