Iron Man Of The Month


| November/December 1969



Old Case engine

Up the Hill goes Harry Woodmansee, Pipe, red polka-dot cap and old Case No. 9. These are sights that thrill the throngs at midwest reunions, matched only by performers at the Old Big Top years ago.

UNION CITY, INDIANA.

'Running a thresh engine is more difficult than that of handling a railroad locomotive,' is the way Iron Man Harry Woodmansee puts it. 'Railroads are usually level, whereas running a traction engine a fellow has hills and valleys to go over, and he has to keep stricter watch on water levels and the loads he's pulling.'

But Harry Woodmansee, once the proverbial farm lad who looked up from his horse-driven plow to wave at the passing train - and who dreamed of someday becoming a locomotive engineer has realized the fruition of all those boyhood ambitions, coming of course in their proper order.

'I was about six or seven when I began pestering my father around his steam threshing engine,' muses Woodmansee. 'From that time on I had steam in my blood. When I grew up, I signed up with the Grand Trunk Railroad as a fireman, but though I ran some of the engines now and then, I never actually was promoted to the right side of the cab.'

Some of Harry's fondest, most colorful memories were the years he helped the late Louie David work on some steam traction engines at Northfield, Mich., shop.

'Once Louie and I got the job of rebuilding, from the ground up, a 40-horsepower Avery undermounted. It was a wreck, but after thirty days of making rods, crosshead guides, injector, drilling out broken lugs and installing another boiler, we had this Avery performing in mint condition, and then it was taken clear up to Alberta, Canada, to a big show,' reminisces Woodmansee.