Box 167, Starks, Louisiana
The steam traction engine had a comparative short span of life
on American farms in view of the great amount of work that it did
so well. Not more than about fifteen years marks its heyday and
period of greatest use. But even in that short period the impact of
its mighty tread as we turn back a page in the great book of years
is felt until this day.
I believe every well known make of engine would do the work that
it was built to do, and also, there were some real good engines
built by smaller shops and not so well known.
There were a good many splendid belt engines that were not at
all suited to heavy drawbar work because their transmission and
draw works were not intended for that work, but for just hauling
the separator or such and doing belt work.
My favorite for any work is the undermounted type. Some claim
that dust and dirt cut them out but years of use proves that is not
true. If it was, then the countershaft and differential gears that
are bolted to the front of the fire box on Advance and many others,
so mounted would cut out as fast as they could be replaced. In much
experience with both under-mounted and top mounted, I have found
the undermounted Star collects less dirt and is much easier to
clean and and care for than any top mount and I stand second to
none in my liking for any good top mount.
The crankshaft on the Star has 4 bearings and was never broken
in many years of heavy use. It is built up of 3 straight shafts
with side crank type discs pressed on and is practically a double
side crank. Should it break, any good local machine shop could
replace the broken part. In my opinion, the Star crankshaft is
better than any forged center crank ever built. A forged center
crank breaks where the shaft is bent to form the crank.
However, all Avery crank shafts did not break by any means, but
some did, especially in the 7 x 10 engines. There were only 2 sizes
of Avery under mounts, the 7×10 and the 6 x 10. I have heard in
recent years that the welding of an additional cross member under
side of Avery frame would always prevent crankshaft breakage. I
have no personal knowledge of this.
If bearings on all shafts are kept full of oil and the oil wells
full of waste and the lids closed, no dust can get in the bearing.
I do this on all engines. Dust never cut out an Avery shaft except
in case of gross neglect.
Our friend, Lyle Hoff master, discussing Springer valve gear in
his letter in the January-February Album, asked, in effect, if a
swinging arm valve gear does not give the same action as the
Springer with sliding block. The answer is no. If Lyle will put his
Baker on dead center and move the reverse lever back and forth, I
think he will find that the valve stem moves, therefore, the lead
and admission is not the same at all points of cut off. The Woolf
Springer and other slide block types are the only traction engine
valve gears that I know about in which the lead is absolute at all
points of cut off.
The Baker is a good valve gear but lets keep the record
I have been running a Minneapolis engine several years. No valve
gear is easier to keep in order than a Woolf type, nor does
the sliding block take a sharper angle even in full gear than does
the swinging arm type.
The old nominal horse power rating of engines was absolutely
without meaning except for the purpose of identification.