| May/June 1963

  • Steam Tractor
    Early Steam Tractor This giant of iron was used in experimental hauling near today's Trona. It did good jobs but suffered frequent breakdowns.
  • The Back Shop

  • Steam Tractor
  • The Back Shop

Route 1, Box 1015, Yucaipa, California

I always enjoyed accompanying Mel or Manfred, his able foundry and machine assistant, on any short jaunt into the surrounding country in response to some distress call. Even if I could be of no direct assistance in diagnosing troubles or making repairs; for I could at least learn something of interest in connection with such events. Not quite like one of the elderly Swedish neighbors who once asked Mel to show him how to fix something so that the next time anything went wrong he would know what to do.

It was upon one of these occasions that I found myself sitting on the left side of one of Rankin's nice little side-sprung buggy transports while Manfred kept a fine span of bay trotters headed out to Harry Wilson's place with a layout of plumbing tools and a small collection of odd pieces of piping and valves. Rankin's livery barn was just across the street from Mel's shop and could always be depended upon to furnish the best of transportation when needed for any unexpected emergency.

When we drove up alongside Harry's 60 horsepower Case that had just been put back into service after a bit of summer overhaul and modification, his first words were, 'Well, I sure hope that you brought along enough pipe and valves to get me going again this afternoon. Take a look at my left side.' After a glance as directed, Manfred let out an earlyday wolf whistle as he observed that the feed water heater was split from stem to stem. The cause was made more evident when Harry revealed that he had taken advantage of a fine opportunity to install the more efficient geared pump from a 65'er in lieu of the Marsh pump as originally equipped. But it appeared that he had overlooked one little item.

Then Harry continued, 'Some Rookie wanted a pail of warm water to wash up in just before dinner. Instead of shutting off the tap and drain line, he shut off my globe just behind the boiler check. Then all heck broke loose, but I can't see why.' 'Hmm,' said Manfred. 'Well, if you are going to use this geared pump you had better play it plumb safe and leave all cut off to your boiler and pump checks. This is not only a 'Case' of positive displacement, but one in which something just had to give.'

'I never had any trouble like that before with the old pump,' replied Harry. 'No,' returned Manfred, 'but with the old pump you could not get over 30 percent above boiler pressure in your delivery line because that was all the difference you had between steam end and water end pistons, and there was no momentum to worry about. Now, here you have a 10 to 2 ratio on your engine and pump piston diameters, plus about 3 to 1 on your back gearing, which gives you about-well, let's see,' he continued as he drew a pencil out of his bib pocket and began making a few figures in the dust on the side of the old girl's bunker.


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