Farm Collector


I have previously related to you of the tale of ‘Squeaky
Pete’ the rather Odd Ball of our little community, and his
brother Einer Peterson who was an engineer on the passenger train
which always drew a crowd of curious railway station visitors on
every summer Saturday afternoon. It was upon another of these
occasions when every otherwise unoccupied steam man about town
clustered about the station platform awaiting for the drive wheels
to come to a pause, when by coincidence Einer again happened to be
at the throttle and queried the crowd after a high-waved greeting,
‘Well, what do you think of this new edition?’

Sure enough, this newcomer loco on the line bore some
interesting differences in its front-end appearance to all the
former little saturated steamers which had chugged their loads
through Prairie Center for so many years. ‘Just what have you
got under that smokestack, anyway?’ asked Max Ward, who owned
an Aultman double under mounted return flue job that, for some
undetermined reason, appeared to have earned the dubious moniker of
‘camel’ for its heavy thirst every time the water wagon
hove insight from the creek. Its home port was in Camelot, some
eighteen miles distant.

‘The Company is trying out what is known as a Schmidt super
heater,’ replied Einer. ‘With this device, the steam from
the dry pipe goes through a sort of auxiliary flued boiler section
up front, without any water in it, where the steam is further
heated and dried. It seems to be working out pretty good because we
have used about 3000 gallons less water so far on today’s

‘Gosh,’ spoke up Max, ‘with a contraption like that
on my old kettle I could almost get by with one less water
wagon.’ And there was more than passing interest in his remark,
for during the next week he brought the Aultman up in front of
Mel’s shop and proceeded to do a bit of inventing on his own.
While the plan of building an extra drum up front to allow the heat
of combustion to get in another lick at the steam while passing
from the main to the return flues would have been quite a task in
its own

right, Mel’s assistant Manfred and Max had gone into a
huddle and came up with the idea of installing three I courses of
two-inch pipe with return bends in the main flue. Steam from the
throttle was routed through these pipes and then allowed to pass on
to the cylinders. This made a pretty close circuit and required a
bit more of plumbing than anything else. While this operation was
in progress, Squeaky had to come by and pass his inspection.
‘What will this do to your latent heat of vaporization?’ he
asked of Max. ‘I don’t recken we will disturb that one bit
so long as we keep on burning coal,’ kidded Max Manfred was
quick to chime in, ‘But we may have to check on her heat of
entropy if we get any water knocks in these elbows.’

At this moment, Mel saw a good chance to interject his thoughts
aloud. ‘Now, Pete,’ he said, ‘all we are going to do is
build up this lady’s enthalpy, and if there is any doubt in
your mind about that, just come around on her first working day
next week.’ Pete became quite lost for words, even if he could
have uttered them. It did appear that he might be cooking up an
answer as he drew his medicine flask out of his pocket and took a
brisk swig of good XXX, but he just looked disdainfully at the two
mechanics and engineer at work, turned on his heels and trod off
down the street.

And while Pete was not on the scene the following week to
witness the results of this new experiment, he never did follow any
such thing through, Max became very highly elated with the results
of this attempted improvement. The old boiler did its usual
day’s work on thirteen barrels of water instead of the usual
sixteen. These were light runs, but it appeared that the saving
would be commensurate on any job. Mel had suggested that Max might
mix a bit of colloidal graphite with his cylinder oil if the
temperature of the dried steam proved too hot for the 600W, and
this was found to be beneficial.

Since those days, the Schmidt super heater actually did not
prove to be so successful for railway work, and it rather gave way
to the improved design which became standard and resembled that old
experimental job on the Camel of Camelot.

  • Published on Mar 1, 1964
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