Just received my copy of The Iron Men Album and is a very
interesting magazine. I am on my 86 birthday in April and have had
54 years of running engines of nearly all makes and plowing and
threshing in North Dakota and most of time in Winnebago County. The
first engine I ever ran was a Stillwater I think with upright
boiler with a chain drive at the age of 18. I had quite a few
pictures where I went through old wooden bridges but don’t know
where they all went to also went through one bridge with a steam
roller which I operated for a number of years for the township. I
operated the first traction well drill in this state owned by a Mr.
Earl Dickerson. I had a picture of a J. I. Case engine that
exploded while threshing in a barn throwing engine upside down,
coming down on top of coal wagon. They had a three quarter nipple
by two inch nipple in with a cap on it for a safety plug. Crown
sheet was torn to pieces like a piece of paper no thicker than a
silver dollar. I also saw a new Rumely that exploded when I was
running engine up in North Dakota. Had no safety plug in.
All the years I ran an engine I never had such luck but had to
stop a few times to get water going in before it got too low. I was
pulling to another job early one morning crossing the Northwestern
Railroad when the left rear wheel of separator broke through a
small culvert and before I could get the thing jacked up and off a
west bound freight came along knocking off the Satley Stacker.
The last year that I threshed I ran a Port Huron and was the
nicest running engine I ever pulled a throttle on and had run a lot
of new ones as I was agent for three different companies and we had
the first Port Huron outfit in Winnebago Co. and was a dandy.
I ran a Garr Scott engine for a friend of mine for eight years
not knowing what danger I was in when crossing old wooden bridges
until a friend of mine who was running one for some one in or near
a little town called Byron, Illinois, one Saturday evening he was
moving to another job crossing abridge which was about twelve feet
across and quite deep. A dry run when the engine broke through and
platform folded up on him pinning him and another helper up against
the boiler breaking water gauge glass and other pipes as engine was
standing nearly on end and they were yelling for some one to knock
them in the head but hot water and steam was flying all ways so no
one could get near them.
I went down where it happened and the flesh was cooked right off
their bones. Worst sight I ever see in all my life and never want
to see another.
Everyone worked faithfully and were happy. The ladies were the
same when we went in for a wonderful dinner. Their faces were
beaming with smiles. It made me think of the earlier years of my
Well the Gar Scott I was running had a very poor head in it and
the last few days that I ran it I had to be very careful not to let
the steam above a hundred and twenty pounds or it spring enough to
burst the water gauge glass so I told him I wasn’t running the
old thing anymore.
When I put an engine away for the summer I would take about
three quarts of steam cylinder oil mix in about two gallons of
kerosene pump the boiler full of water and put in my mixture warm
it up a little and let stand a few days then draw it off. But wash
out boiler and get mud and lime out of bottom first.
I was called one time about 20 miles south of Rockford to see
what was leaking in the bottom of the firebox. I got in firebox
with hammer and a small punch and could drive the punch through the
bottom anywhere he had left water in firebox too long with wet
ashes. I used to give boilers the cold water test when they wanted
their boilers tested and is a good way I think if the throttle or
valves don’t leak.
I was called one time to test two A very return flue boilers one
time and one of the old engines I could put my hammer through shell
anywhere. But one was pretty good shape.
I have put in stay bolts where they have been pulled by letting
them freeze up with the mud in bottom many of them.
I was called down near the town of Byron, Illinois where a
fellow was working on the highway with his 20 horse Garr Scott run
into a big hard-head and wheel came down so hard that it pulled the
threads off the stay-bolts in firebox. The only way I could make a
quick repair job was to drill a small hole in center of stay bolt
and expand it in the sheet. But it held O.K.
Could name a lot more but this I think is enough for this