MR. PARRETT WRITES
I began my threshing career in 1899 as a pitcher for a rig owned
by Bowen-Koepke & Mielke. I am enclosing a picture of the Bird
sell engine No. 2345 owned by them. I am on top of the separator
with bundle on my fork. I pitched bundles in 1899 and 1900, and in
1901 worked as water boy or sometimes called Water Monkey. I was
more interested in the Water Monkey job as that put me nearer the
steam end of the outfit as I always wanted to see what made it
tick. In 1902 this outfit was bought by Albert Koepke so I bid for
the job as engineer and fortunately got it. I thought, BOY am I in
the money, getting 2.00, as pitching bundles only paid $1.00 a day.
This was my first trial at running an engine and the first attempt
to set a slide valve as it had not worked right for the past two
I was a little in doubt, perhaps scared a little, but I made my
own tram rod, center punch and I had a ball pin hammer and a couple
of wrenches. You realize in those days a farm boy was not blessed
with very many tools. I tackled the job on Sunday, so as not to be
troubled by any company asking questions. Took me some time to find
dead center on both head and crank ends, but finally got it and
took it off the steam chest cover and proceeded to put the valve
where it would or as I thought should work. When I had it finished
I wondered, Will it or won’t it. Every time I woke up that
night I had my mind on that valve and wondering if the engine would
run backwards when it should run forwards. On Monday morning I was
on the job early so I could try it to see if I had accomplished
anything. You can just imagine how happy I was when the old kettle
rolled either way as I used the reverse. Guess I had a BIG HEAD,
anyhow I felt proud of a job well done.
Looking back now on that job I see how simple it looks to me.
After many years with steam engines, both traction and stationary,
I have an idea many other old engineers can look and think back to
some such time as experienced by a new engineer. I still love the
memories of the old days with the steam thresher. Many in the
picture have gone out on that river of no return.
JOHN B. PARRETT, Portland, Oregon
RUBBER TIRED UNDERMOUNTED
This is a description of a rubber tired under mounted steam
tractor built by L. A. Hansen, Rolph, Iowa. Mrs. T. H. Smith took
pictures of this engine at Mount Pleasant, Iowa reunion for the
ALBUM. It has a Hershel Spill man double engine 4 x5. I built a
roller bearing reverse gear on this engine, also counterbalanced
the crank shaft which works very nice.
The flywheel s 30×6. It has a four speed transmission with top
speed about 15 miles per hour. Rear tires are 12×38, front tires
7:50×20. The steam generator is patented and, built by Mr. Carl E.
Bishop of Carlisle, Towa. This is made to fit in the fire door. It
has 1000 lb. cold water test and we have the safety valve set at
200 pounds. I like this size engine and we have lots of fun with
it. It took close to a year and a half, mostly spare time, to build
it. This engine s not modeled after any particular engine, just
some of my own ideas put together. I am a road contractor and have
three D-8’s and one D-7 Caterpillar diesel tractors. I think
these are as fine pieces of machinery as ever was made. I was
raised around steam traction engines and somehow it got into my
blood. I guess one never gets rid of it. I also have a 20 hp.
Reeves and a 1918 Stanley Steamer which are in A-l condition.
L. A. HANSEN, Rolfe, Iowa.
For some time I have had the idea in my head about the boys who
subscribe to the ALBUM building a steam traction engine. You might
ask if this could be done? My idea was this: Many of you do not
like the thought of the time coming when we have to say goodbye to
the old steamer. If we could form a plan so all of us could
contribute a little in one way or another in, the designing and
building of an engine we could leave somewhere as a memorial to us
who knew. The joys and thrills that went with these days when we
held the throttle levee in our hand and had the faithful old
servant at our command. Some of us could contribute a little cash,
better than anything else, while others perhaps could locate some
parts that went into the assembled engine according to whatever we
would finally decide upon.
My idea is that I always thought the Port Huron engine had the
best boiler and would favor that. I believe the undermounted design
with an ‘I’ or angle bar frame could be worked out, and on
this mount a two cylinder engine. A simpler and perhaps more
efficient engine could be made without using a reverse gear. Then
behind the engine on the frame place the transmission. A
transmission built for some truck or tractor could be found to use
here. A pinion and a clutch on engine crankshaft and a gear on
transmission shaft, meshed together, could be used to transmit
power to transmission then a shaft mounted in bearing fastened to
frame this shaft to be coupled to transmission shaft by using
pinion on transmission shaft and gear on one end of cross shaft on
the other end of cross shaft which would have to extend beyond side
of firebox place a sprocket for a steel roller chain. This chain
would carry back to assembly on rear axle.
What I had in mind on rear axle assembly was this. No doubt
quite a per cent of the readers know how an Aultman Taylor built
the rear axles on their engines in 1902 or 1903. The differential
together with the driving gear were all mounted on axle.
In this case, however, a sprocket for steel chain instead of
gears would have to be used. The chain to extend from sprocket on
cross shaft to the sprocket on rear axle.
For rear wheels: here again wheels from a tractor could be found
that would be suitable. The same would hold good on front wheels
and axle assembly. All wheels to be mounted on rubber.
Now as to size of the engine. I feel that would have to be
decided somewhat by the size of the parts we could best get to use
in building the engine.
My self I had in mind to plan about an 8 or 10 hp. engine as
they were usually rated. What do you think of the idea boys?
PERRY NEWBERN, Green, Iowa.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A WOMAN
When the officers of TNT (The National Thresher women) decided
to have 3,000 copies of their TNT Cookbook printed, it seemed to
several of them that it was an extensive order and would be a
tremendous undertaking. But feeling sure that there was a place for
such a piece of ‘Literature’ to go along with all the
material published on steam for the men, they gave the order and
hoped that they could discharge the debt.
We are delighted to report that, with the work of many
enthusiastic women and the gallant response of many of the men, the
debt of nearly $2200 has been disposed of with the small remaining
balance of a little over $500. This accomplishment in only four
month seems truly worth recording and rejoicing over, everyone will
agree. We feel sure that the balance will be easily met next June,
and the demand for the book is so heavy we have no doubt that many
will wish for a copy and be disappointed. Our thanks to all the
women who contributed to the book, to the sponsors, and to all
those who have purchased the book in such quantities.
MRS. LEROY BLAKER, Alvordton, Ohio
BEST OF ANY PUBLISHED
Enclosed find check for amount of $2.00 for which kindly mail me
one copy of ‘The Threshers Guide’ Vol. 1, of 119 pages
about 1906-1910 as this adv. appeared on page 2 of the magazine of
Congratulations and best wishes, to you Elmer, Mrs. and
daughter, with a long and prosperous life to each of you.
I wish to say as all steam-minded men state, your publication is
the best ever published in these United States of America, to date,
this covering a large territory, however, it is the truth, and keep
up this good work. You know as well as I there are hundreds more to
subscribe, old experienced, and younger inexperienced, but who have
learned it is a real interesting, educational hobby, none to equal
it, where a persons mind is in this mechanical line.
I have been in direct contact with the steam traction,
stationary, portable, locomotives and automobile engines for more
than 65 years in the USA and Europe, carrying an engineers license
in many places even the state of Montana, engines ranging from the
smallest to the largest.
I have built four stationary steam engines and boilers, from
salvage. I now have four more under construction and later on will
send you photos and write ups, also on some of the large
‘boys’ and sawmills in and around this territory as each
and every photo and write up from any of the Steam Boys is more
than interesting. Each and every one is always a bit different to
others and that is what makes it interesting.
This coming winter I intend to build a 2′ or 3′ scale
model steam traction engine and will remember you for a write up. I
note in the ALBUM your subscribers are increasing. Yes, and they
will keep up from now on as the steam men learn about it. The
reason I cater mostly to the steam traction engine is, all moving
parts are visible to all and it can be driven around anywhere. The
locomotive has a track and that is a big job to build a track. The
stationary is still, all moving parts are visible and in the
locomotive most moving parts can’t be seen very well.
I also wish to compliment Mr. Karl A. Kepner and The Juniata
Globe for their efficient work in compiling and printing THE
IRON-MEN ALBUM. It is gotten up in a neat manner, precision work,
and YOU Mr. Ritzman, play a part just as efficient.
Later I’ll send you some photos of miniature stationary
steam engines and boilers, as well as photos of the BIG BOYS, also
sawmill pictures, anything on the steam engine makes more
I joined the National Threshers Association, Inc., Montpelier,
Ohio, last month, through the columns of THE IRON-MEN ALBUM
writeups of the various associations I chose it. Received badge,
membership card and 24 page STEAM-O-GRAM published in the interest
of ‘Keeping Up Steam’, also large sheet program of the 10th
CHARLES L. LEEPER
Leeper Machine Company, Metal & Wood Machine Work, P. O. Box
147, Ash Grove, Missouri
A LIVE STEAM FAN
First let me admit that I am a live steam fan. When I ‘was a
lad and up until I was near 20 years old , worked around threshing
rigs powered by different makes of steam engines.
This work was done in central Missouri. However, it has now been
over 25 years since I have seen one running, that is, until I built
one which I will mention later. I am now 45 years old and the steam
engine has always fascinated me. I am now an engineer for the
Natural Gas Pipeline Company and have worked for them for the past
20 years. Though the engines we use are 4 cycle horizontal type run
Am enclosing check for $2.00 for ‘membership in your steam
fraternity’. The steam engine that I built is perhaps different
from others, in that I never had any original plans made it from
memory of them and not patterned after any certain make. I more or
less made it as I would like to have one made, I suppose. It is
traction type, over mounted, the boiler is 6′ long with 1′
flues rolled in for a total of five 20′ long with
13’x6’x7′ fire box and 5′ smoke box door, has
1′ water jacket that is 1′ water capacity around the fire
box. Grates and removable ash pan. The engine is single cylinder
1′ bore x 2′ stroke, power driven force feed lubricator to
steam chest. I have a valve gear assembly of my own design, gear
ratio and chain drive to rear wheel. It has 7’x ‘x1′
flywheel, bronze bearings adjustable throughout. Fired with wood or
coal steam working pressure 60 to 100 pounds. I also have a
three-tone whistle. All of this I built from scrap, except I did
have the boiler welded as I had no means of riveting or welding.
The boiler is made of three-sixteenth and one-quarter inch steel,
all arc welded by a very good welder. The engine weighs near 200
pounds, about 30′ high to top of cab and overall length of
48’. Drivers are 12′ in diameter by 4′ face, front are
8’x2′ face. I made the traction wheels from pulley wheels,
re-spoked them, etc.
BURL F. BOHLING, Gray, Oklahoma
THE SCHOOL MARM
Well with these warm days it sure makes one start thinking of
steam engines and Reunions. Doesn’t it?
We’ve just had a very enjoyable and inspirational experience
this past week. We attended the Central Pennsylvania Annual
Conference of the Methodist Church, held at York, Pa. Now that we
are back home and settled for another church year our thoughts turn
strongly to our days with you nice people.
My acquaintance with the Conference and Reunion folks are both
very new to me. The two groups are alike in many ways; both are
good, wholesome, kind, genuine and true friends.
With great interest and enthusiasm I look forward to seeing you
at the Reunions.
Chaff & Dust
I wonder if you would mind stopping just long enough to get the
envelope in which this ALBUM came and cutting your name, address
and the code number which is directly behind the name and putting
it in your pocketbook or a safe place. Thanks so much. Now, when
you renew please send this code number. If you renew at a reunion,
be especially sure to have it. This is really important. Let me
give you an example: We have six ‘James Smiths’ on our
records. We have many others that are the same. Now if we get a
renewal with just the name no code number or middle initial, it can
cause a mix up in your expiration notice. So, please folks,
won’t you do this? Thanks.
Reunion time will be coming soon. It is not possible for Mr.
Ritzman to attend all of them, so why not send your renewal direct
to me and save a mix up in your time? We have had complaints from
persons paying their renewals at various reunions and no record or
money being sent to us. This is another reason for sending it
If the letter in your code number is ‘M’ that means it
runs out with the May issue. If it is ‘A’, then it expires
with the July issue, and if ‘S’, that it expires with the
Sept. issue. If your renewal at a reunion please know your code
number and tell whether it is a renewal or not. Best of all, mail
it to me and save all confusion.
YOUNGEST LICENSED ENGINEER
Received my sample copy of IRON-MEN ABLUM MAGAZINE and was very
pleased with it. Read it through several times. I am sending my
subscription for one year as I do not want to miss a copy.
I started in the threshing game at an early age, began firing
for Dad when about 11 years old on a little 12 hp. Huber steamer,
doing silo work and some wood sawing. Three years later he bought a
big 70 hp. Nichols and Shepard two cylinder steamer and 36×56
separator which I fired another three years and then took the
examination and got my engineers license, becoming the manager and
engineer. Am on record as being the youngest licensed engineer in
the state of Minnesota, where I was living at that time. I threshed
for a number of years, but the small farmer-owned rigs drove us big
custom threshers out of business. We could not compete with them in
any way. Mainly we could not get large enough runs in any one
vicinity to get enough crew to keep us going. We had to have 16
bundle teams to keep us supplied with material and with one or two
jobs in a locality it was impossible to muster that large a
Also the hard surfaced roads made it impossible to move around,
so in the year 1925 I threshed my last bundle of grain, sold out
and went to trucking for a living. But I kept in touch with the old
timers for a while soon losing track of them one by one until the
last ones had gone. In 1937 I moved away and have not been back
since so lost all contact with the threshing industry until a few
months ago with I received a letter from an old timers from Kansas
City. Informing me he had seen my name in an old copy of the
American Thresher Magazine of which I was a subscriber to way back
in the early ’20’s. He wrote to me at the old address in
Minnesota and somehow, someone had the foresight to forward it here
to me. We corresponded for some time and he mentioned your magazine
so I sent for a sample copy and greatly enjoyed it. Brings back
memories of long ago.
The pictures of the old timers in action; again thrills me. I
have a vast collection of snapshots of the old rig in action as
well as on the road but do not have the negatives. Could you copy
the pictures without them? I have some pictures that a good many
threshers may have never seen. I have pictures of the rig in action
threshing stacked grain, something that passed out of existence
I have pulled most everything but plows. Threshers, silo
fillers, corn shellers, saw mils as well as road graders. I have
pulled quite a variety of engines also such as N & S, Case,
Rumley, Buffalo-Pitts, and many others.
If any of you old timers care to write to me I will be very glad
to hear from you and will answer and exchange experiences and
memories. I am now working for the State, operating automotive
equipment, which I enjoy very much but it is not like the old
I will be looking for the next issue of the magazine and also
for some letters from some of the old timers as well as some of you
younger members of the game. Let’s hear from you and see if
threshing is still the same as when I left off some thirty years
H. G. YATES, 3775 Herman Avenue, San Diego 4, California
IT HAS BEEN 43 YEARS
Please find enclosed check for the ALBUM. I certainly enjoy it
very much. As a boy I used to operate our 10 hp. Buffalo Pitts
hooked to a Groton separator size 36×54. In this country that was
quite a large machine. It has been 43 years this fall since we used
I can tolerate gas power but still like steam far better when we
want real power. I also operated a Buffalo Pitts steam roller on
the roads for two years and loved every minute of it. There was a
thrill, when we got into a tight spot and needed a lot of power, to
see this engine get down to business and go through. You see, we
hauled one large grader and a small one behind with a wagon for
coal, behind the small one. Quite a pull for any outfit. On hills
we drove long lugs into holes in the face of the drivers. On the
level we drove these out. They stuck through the rims inside so we
could strike them with a hammer. They were a tapered lug.
I threshed with an E. M. automobile for two years, then two
years with a Lycoming auto engine of large size. This engine would
develop about 50 hp. at 1000 R. P. M., and furnished plenty of
power for threshing, silo filling or saw mill work. But give me the
good old steam, as I like the smell of the smoke and the
lubricating oil and the sound of the injector as it starts to bring
in the water.
I have a friend here that has a Pitts roller and a Stevens
engine as well as some small engine and boilers so I get to see
these old steamers perform once in a while.
Keep up the good work with the ALBUM. The late Eddie Edson lived
within three miles of me and it was with deep sorrow that we had to
lose him in such a cruel death.
W. J. PRESCOTT, Machias, New York
The Illinois Threshermen’s Jubilee is a new organization
recently form here and will hold their first reunion on July 23rd
and 24th this year at the Neal McClure farm 3 miles northwest of
Colchester, Illinois. This includes the McClure-Waddill reunion
which has operated a one-day reunion for the past several years,
and to which seven new directors have been added.
Many of the names which are familiar to the readers of the
ALBUM, are directors, elected as follows: Ray Ernst, Wayland, Iowa,
past president of the Mt. Pleasant (Iowa) reunion; Milford Rees,
Franklin, Illinois; Amos Post of Lewistown, Illinois; Carl Hagan of
Browning, Illinois; Carl Mowery of Bushnell, Albert Johnson, Neal
McClure, Ray Broad head, and L. C. Waddill of Colchester,
The directors of the new organization own a total of slightly
over forty steam farm engines, and with 16 of them permanently on
the grounds and plans to transport a portion of the others in, we
should be able to put on a nice show.
We hope that a large number of old-timers will be able to spend
the two days with us.
L. C. WADDILL, Sec, Colchester, Illinois