The Case straw burner mentioned in Mr. Lund's article
Twin Valley, Minn.
I became quite interested after seeing the two photos on page 36 of the Iron-Men Album of the Nov.-Dec. issue. I take for granted that these photos were taken by you at a threshing union at Montgomery, Minnesota on October 1961. The same being owned by Mr. Fred C. Schmidt of St. Paul 13, Minnesota. This engine, I firmly believe, is like the one my father, Gunder O. Lund, had in the year 1890 or 1892.
I am enclosing a threshing scene photo of this rig which was in use until 1900 doing custom threshing in Flom Township, Morman Co., Minn. Sitting on the left tool box, is my oldest brother, Olaf. On the other one is the fireman, Theo Orvold. Standing on the side is Gunder O. Lund, the engineer. The rest of the Lund family pictured is an 8 year old brother in front of the water tank, two sisters (still living) standing with my mother.
This Case Return Flue engine was considered 'delux' as this new model was self propelled. There was no fly wheel clutch. However, a loose idler gear had to be pushed in for traction purposes, meshing up with the large gear. It was quite a strain on the gear as the engine had to start on direct load. At times a cog would break. To repair that, was to drive with horses some 8 miles to an inland blacksmith shop. The operator of same was A. 0. Stein, a very good blacksmith who made most of his own tools and rigs. His son related to me that a new cog was dovetailed into the large gear and made fast. This engine had a steam water pump which I thought then was limping but in later years came to understand that the jumpy action was caused by a load and no load while pumping water into the boiler under pressure.
My mother related to me that it generally rained when it was time to thresh on our farm. This meant that practically the whole crew, some 20 men, had to stay until time to thresh again. That made a lot of extra work, Mother said most of the crew wouldn't help with the chores etc. They just ate, slept, or played cards, or tried to see who was the best man in wrestling. They were all young men then so life was merry and promising whether it rained or not.
This threshing rig made its regular runs until about 1900 when the engine was pulled and placed near a repair shop at Twin Valley, Minn. This, I believe, was a Center Crank engine. I still have two worn bronze half bearings from this engine. The number 183 E is stamped on each half.
My brother related to me that it was a straw burner also but was fired from the side of the engine and was pulled around by horses. I would appreciate it very much if someone could tell me as to what make of an engine that could be.
I can recall that there was also an old 3 or 4 sweep horse power machine which in the later years was used to elevate grain into a 5000 bushel grainery, using only one horse to pull it. I am sorry to state that this machine I junked a number of years ago. However, I still have a few parts of it yet.
I was a fireman on several rigs using straw for fuel, which was the rule to do in this area. Some day I intend to write an article on firemen whose duty it was to have 126 pounds of steam available for the engineer, but to date have not been considered much. I can say that the fireman was also engineer at times when there was a hurried signal to stop and the engineer was not close by.
In closing I will say that the Iron-Men Album is very much enjoyed by all of us firemen who were very much connected to this by-gone scene of steam threshing.