George Searson writes……..
I have been working with steam traction engines for the last
thirty-five years. In April, 1928 my father and I bought a second
threshing outfit, a Sawyer-Massey engine and a Goodison separator.
In July of the same year when the boiler maker came out to repair a
leak in the firebox, and found the corners very thin, he advised us
to trade it which we did on a rebuilt 22 HP Sawyer-Massey with the
John Goodison Co. This engine I ran up to December, 1954, having to
quit the threshing in 1943 but kept the engine on the sawmill which
I started in 1934.
This picture shows the engine and water tank on the road during
the threshing season in September, 1930, waiting for the team to
bring the machine from the barn where we had just finished to the
road to move to the next job. We had a total crew of 10 men,
sufficient to fork the sheaves to the machine from the mow as there
was mostly barn threshing in this part at that time with some stack
threshing at the beginning of the season. We threshed fifty
thousand bushels in fifty days that year of 1930 which was
considered very good with the moving from one job to another.
I happened to run across these old negatives last winter while
cleaning out some drawers in the old house after moving to our new
one and thought that the pictures might interest you.
In February, 1958 I bought another Sawyer-Massey, 22 HP Engine
from Bill Johnson of Burford, Ontario which I am using ever since
in the sawmill. I have sawed three hundred thousand board feet this
spring and summer, butting as high as 7400 board feet in a day.
This makes a total of three Sawyer-Massey engines for me.
George Searson, P. 0. Box 134, Watford, Ontario, Canada
Paul R. Woodruff age 71 of 212 So. 4th St., Ponca City, Oklahoma
died October 27 in a hospital following a heart seizure. Paul was
the first person to collect literature and the actual machines that
I knew of. He owned a 36 hp Case for years. His first machine was
purchased for the hobby of it in 1934. Many people remarked to him,
‘Why don’t you junk it?’ He bore the cross, so to speak
for many of us.
In 1939, Paul and I may have done The First Exhibition Steam
Plowing with a 20 hp Huber, No. 10003. Paul was a student of the
threshing machines. He will certainly be long remembered.
Lyman Knapp, Blackwell, Oklahoma
G. A. Saner writes………
Here is a picture of my boiler – a 3′ scale of a 65 Case
Engine. If you will notice, it has all the rivets that the original
engine had. I had not planned on the rivets. Mr. and Mrs. Chris
Busch paid us a visit and I was just starting to build the boiler.
Chris asked what kind of a boiler I was going to build. I told him
it would be a welded boiler. He looked at me rather disgusted and
said, ‘I like to see rivets in a boiler.’
We all know Mr. Busch is a collector of steam engines. He is
also a critic and when he said that, I had no choice, I had to put
in rivets. I like rivets too and I am glad he made that remark, if
it did set me back a lot of time.
The dome is bolted on with allen head cap screws with a
1/64′ asbestos gasket. The dome can be removed and gives a
3′ hole for inspection.
Mr. G. A. Saner, Peshastin, Washington
R. T. Lancaster writes…….
Here is the latest photograph of my model engines. The one on
the right is a model of a Peerless TT. It is 4 ft. long 21 inches
wide and 27 inches high. Bore 1 inches, stroke 2- inches and scale
The little fellow in the middle is of a Class R and is 9 inches
long, 6 inches high and is powered by battery in the boiler, a
regular 2 cell flashlight battery and is of one half inch scale. It
has reverse, forward and neutral for threshing.
The one on the left is of a Class S Peerless and is 36 inches
long, 20 inches high and 16 inches wide. Bore 1-13/32 inches,
stroke 1-inches. They work perfectly with 100 lbs. of pressure.
The latest or largest of the three is the result of about 1000
hours of work. Each steamer has one hand pump, one engine pump and
one injector to supply water to the boiler.
R. T. Lancaster, Mt. Savage, Maryland
Albert F. Meisel writes…….
My father and uncle owned one of the first machines in Hamlin
County, South Dakota. It was a Case Apron machine and 10 horse
power. Inside of three years there were three more of those in the
neighborhood owned by Pete Shealsta, Bill Wilson and Joe Rylie.
These four machines never wore out. They were stored in sheds and
Then the Iscason Brothers got themselves a Buffalo Pitts, 12
horse power. After a year went by there were more machines. Oleson
and Bravic got themselves an Advance, 16 horse power. In another
year Anton Brinic got a l6 horse power J. I. Case Agator machine.
The next year August Kimmon got himself a 16 horse power J. I. Case
When I was ten years old I saw my first steam engine. It was a
14 horse Return Flue Ames Engine and the next one was a Case Semi
portable. They used a yoke of oxen on it to steer it and pull the
The next engine was a 14 horse power Minnesota Chief Return Flue
Chain Drive. The engines my father and three of his neighbors
bought were a new J. I. Case Return Flue, 16 Engine and an 18 horse
power Roller, Center Crank and Agator, 36′ cylinder Separator,
hand feed and straw carrier. I learned to run that engine when I
was 12 years old.
My father had to have an engineer so he was in Watertown, South
Dakota looking for one. While in the hotel he made inquiries for
one. An elderly man stepped up and said to my father, ‘lean run
your engine but must have a boy 12 or 14 years old to help me, as I
was born a cripple. Look at my club hands.’ So he came out with
father and Dad put him on an engine that burned straw. I would fire
awhile and he fired awhile. I would look after water and oil. That
gentleman taught me many things and how to care for an engine.
The next fall they hired a young fellow just out of College from
Brookings, South Dakota to run a steam engine. He got fired up and
was to back out of the shed. He said to Dad, ‘I am afraid
to.’ Dad said to me, ‘Son, get up there and back it out and
pull the separator out.’ So I did and the young fellow said,
‘I guess I will go back to Brookings.’ Father had me
hauling water that fall. His partner was going to run the engine.
Dad told me to watch the engine as his partner wasn’t too good
with it. The next fall I ran the engine. The next fall Dad and his
partner sold the rig and I sure was disappointed as I was to run
the engine that year also.
Out of six old threshers in Hamlin County, South Dakota, I am
the only one left. The last one passed away December 16, 1961. His
name was Albert Jager.
Albert F, Meisel, 761 Lazella, Sturgis South Dakota
H. J. Nightingale writes…….
I was raised on a farm about 20 miles west of Enid, Oklahoma in
a real good wheat country. Enid, I think has the largest wheat
storage west of the Mississippi River so you can see if I don’t
know anything about steam engines it is my own fault. I ran a 16 HP
Port Huron when I was 16 years old and about every popular make
since including the Case 1550, Aultman Taylor, Under Mounted Avery,
26 Advance Tandem Compound, 35 HP Buffalo Pitts and 28 HP
Minneapolis. All were good but the one I really liked to hear bark
on a quiet morning when the bundles were a little tough was the 30
Avery U.M. I believe the Advance was the easiest one in the whole
assortment to fire and keep running but it just didn’t hit the
time of the Avery.
The reason for this writing is I thought I would like to send in
a picture of an engine I just finished that is going to be in a
parade soon, but has quite a lot of little things to do to it. It
is the fifth one I have built, all small, in the 30 inch class
except this one. I thought I would like a larger model so I am
getting invitations to all kinds of parades. I will give you the
low down as I built it. First, I have been building it for 2 years
in my spare time and Saturdays. I run an automobile garage and am
open 5 days each week. All my boiler is new material 5/16′
thick and 77′ long and 16′ diameter. Fire box is 24 x 22 x
12, stay bolts 110, flues 15-l’, 35′ long, rear wheels
35′ x 10′, front 22′ x 5′ all on ball bearings. I
made all the wheels Wolfe Reverse. Gear ratio 22-1, cylinder bore
3′, stroke 5′. I built my own governor and it really works.
I didn’t try to follow any certain make, I just built it my way
and it sounds just like one of the big boys.
I have a friend here in the city who is building a Case model.
He helped me on my boiler so I helped him on his engine. That
little engineer you see is Steve, the grandson of Mr. Joe Mikiski,
3910 N.W. 11, Oklahoma City, who is building the Case.
Oh yes, the big argument about whether Case ever built a 15-45,
I’ll say they did. There is one at Edmond, Oklahoma and I have
fired it several times and could get you a picture and numbers of
H. J. Nightingale, 1219 N.W. 10th., Oklahoma City 6,