FILLS A NICHE
Check is enclosed for renewal. I enjoy the ALBUM immensely and
am sure you are filling a niche in the lives of a great number of
our generation. Am also enclosing two pictures taken in the
district about 90 miles east of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. I have
operated threshing machines about 24 of my 64 years. And this
includes 6 years in Canada where I went following release from
service in World War I.
The Rumley pictured is a 36 hp. double simple compound and
weighed 63,000 less fuel and water. This engine was, I felt, a
wonderful engine. And like the Reeves Cross Compound in both the 32
and 40 hp., all did their share in the development of our own
northwest and that of our great neighbor to the north. This Rumley
carried a larger boiler however, than the Reeves 40, and pulled the
same load. We were at this time pulling 18 disc plows in an
extremely heavy gumbo. We made from 18 to 24 miles a day and were
26? days plowing a section. Used from 9 to 12 tanks of water a day.
Water was transferred on the move. I am leaning against the
drive-wheel and my fireman is standing next to the water tank. He
was another Iowa man, Andy Anderson, of Audubon County, who was a
wonderful chap to work with and the very best of help. We had just
finished cleaning the boiler when this picture was taken in August
The threshing scene was taken in the fall of 1922, and shows a
Port Huron 26 hp. This engine was a tandem compound and burning
straw. Pulling a 40×62 Case separator equipped with Garden City
extension feeder. Straw made a good fuel and especially flax straw
since it had a great deal of the natural oil in it. I went to this
engine but one morning before breakfast during the entire fall.
This being the duty of the fireman and of course a lot different
from an engineman’s duty which I had been used to here in Iowa.
My fireman on this engine was a young fellow named Tom Pontek, from
Poland. He had fired it a number of falls and was a good fireman.
This engine was cursed with having the differential torn out of it
about every fall. But true to a lot of our clan, I too like to
boast a bit, by saying, ‘It did not happen during this fall of
Would like to write more in time about experiences. Have burned
straw in the Case also. Have a lot of respect for their engines,
the 75 and 80 plow engines. I do feel however, that the 110 was
their poorest job. The Rumley Oil Pull, I refer to is the early
ones before they got to monkeying with them, it was a great machine
among oil tractors in my mind.
Best wishes for you and the ALBUM
‘RALPH THOMPSON, Maxwell, Iowa
NEEDS NO IMPROVEMENT
In your issue for January-February you printed a letter under
the title, ”We Don’t Please Them All’. I wished to
express my feeling at that time but did not get down to it, however
will do so now. As far as I am concerned, I think you have been
doing a swell job and see no room for improvement in your magazine.
It sounds to me like the writer of the letter was rather sore
because his letter was not printed, but I have a notion you knew
what you were doing in not doing so. Keep up the good work.
I have been intending to try to get a few pictures of a little
of the steam equipment which we have here in this museum as I think
some of them might be of interest to you and perhaps some of the
Again assuring you of my great interest in your magazine, I
RANSOM MATTHEWS, Curator of Mechanical Science, Los Angeles
County Museum, Los Angeles 7, California
ARMY BOYS LIKE THE ALBUM
I received a copy of the ALBUM and am glad to see that all of
the ‘Iron Men’ of the farm are not gone. I still like the
steam and want you to place me on your subscription list.
PFC. JAMES HAYES, Co. I 129, Inf. Reg., Fort Lewis, Wash.
FROM FRONT TO BACK
I really enjoy your magazine from front to back, it’s all so
friendly. It seems to be written to everyone, personally. Am
sending an extra quarter to help smooth out some of the low
FRANK PURSEL, Carmel, Indiana
By ED. L. HALL 600
Forest Ave., Fon Du Lac, Wis.
In your May-June issue, W. T. Richards Huber brings back fond
memories. When I was a kid I operated the blower on a rig powered
by just such a Huber, but tell Mr. Richards to fix an extension on
his separator pole to get the nose of that feeder farther back,
away from his engine. I knew a man, Bill Gardner, of Loraine,
Illinois, who nearly got killed on such a hookup. He had a 16 hp.
Advance engine and separator moving at night with one other fellow
to help him. Going up an incline the front wheels of his engine got
off the shoulder of the road. He stopped, blocked his separator,
got back into the center of the road and backed up to recouple. His
helper held the pole in the dark, missed the hitch. The engine
being on an incline, did not stop at once, and Bill found himself
pinned under the feeder apron, down on top of the boiler. His
helper kicked a block under the rear of the engine wheel, grabbed
the pole axe from the coal bunker, and ran back to the separator to
knock the block from under the back of the rear wheel. This was
difficult because the wheel kept riding the block, but he succeeded
in moving the block enough so that Bill could wriggle himself free.
The boiler had no jacket so the front of his shirt and undershirt
were burned off him. He was so badly burned that he spent several
months in the hospital … A LONGER POLE PLEASE.
Forest Crassen’s article and photo reminds me of an
experience I had in the summer of 1910. I was riding with a dry
farmer in his new Rambler car, headed for his place halfway between
Denver and Castle Rock. When still several miles away I noticed a
belt of cottonwoods winding down from the foot hills and continuing
across the prairies for miles. Now the prairie in July is brown and
parched but those cottonwoods were green as all get out. I asked my
host ‘How come,’ and he replied, ‘We will cross that in
a minute and then I will stop and show you’. We stopped and got
off. There was a ribbon of sand perhaps 35 feet wide and the
cottonwoods stood on each side of this. He scooped out a hole about
a foot deep with his hands and in a moment there was about 5 inches
of water in it. This was snow water from the mountains, a dry
stream. In it’s valley about a mile wide and 20 miles long were
prosperous farms, growing wheat, oats, barley and pasture. ‘DRY
FARMING’ they call it. The grain was still on the stalk so I
helped him cut it. I had 3 horses on a 7 foot McCormick. In the
afternoon Pikes Peak had a hood over it and about 4 P. M., the sky
got black and she looked as though she was really going to
‘Down’. A few big drops and I loosened the apron, covered
the binder and headed for home. I got about a half mile when the
sky cleared, clouds disappeared and no rain. Next day about the
same time old Pike had another hood and the sky got black, but I
had smarted up by this time so I said to myself, ‘you’re
not fooling me this time.’ Before I could get the aprons
loosened and the binder covered I was soaked to the skin. It came
down in buckets and what’s more it rained all night.
This is not exactly whistle steam but I can give you some of
that from time to time as your ALBUM reminds me, about engines
I’ve owned, opinions on them, sawmills, etc. It seldom rains
like that in Colorado east of the Rockies, in fact it seldom rains
at all. I have also turned Alfalfa with a fork in that land where
it is irrigated. I never saw such Alfalfa anywhere else.
Hope your waste paper basket is handy.
IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY
Am sending four dollars for a years subscription and a copy of
the Steam Engine Guide. I am also enclosing a picture of myself on
Ernest Kieker’s half-size Advance Rumley.
I drove to Hector on Sunday morning, October 17th. It was a
beautiful day and I arrived at Ernest’s place about 12:30 P. M.
After Ernest had finished his dinner we went out to the shed where
he keeps his engines. He has two, a Case and an Advance Rumley. The
Advance had a nice wood fire and about 75 pounds of steam, and
after Ernest had checked it over we backed out of the shed. I run
the engine about the yard for a while and took some pictures. In a
short time more people came and we got out the Buzz Saw and started
sawing wood, having only 35 pounds of steam when we started. We
were burning damp wood and the steam pressure came up slowly and
when it neared the 100-pound mark we used some coal and you should
have seen her steam then. We sawed seven inch logs without any sign
of pulling the engine down. That little engine would bark in a
fashion that would warm the heart of any man who loved engines. The
governor worked perfectly. They used a Marsh valve gear and that is
a simple and highly efficient valve gear. The engine pops off at
150 pounds and was made of scrap parts and is certainly a credit to
Ernest Kieker and Ted Lange, the men who built it.
About 5:30 we ran the mighty Advance into the shed and went to
the house where Mrs. Kieker had prepared a wonderful supper for us.
We had homemade sausage and home baked beans and I never tasted
better. After a little sociability I started the 120-mile trip
home, thinking it was a wonderful day. I don’t think any person
could have a hobby so interesting and enjoyable as the steam engine
boys and I am glad to be one of them.
LEO P. HUSTON, Watertown, South Dakota
GOOD IRON-MEN ALBUM
Got the good IRON-MEN ALBUM a few days ago and have read it two
or three times. Seems I enjoy it more each time, it sure is a fine
magazine for us steam thresher fans. I especially like the Model
Builders Page and I hope the model makers will make a special
effort to get out to the reunions this summer and fall. I believe
most associations would be glad to furnish steam for the models
that have no boilers. There are thousands of these fine engines and
I think they would show up by the dozens if they could run them. I
hope we have such an arrangement at our Wichita show this year and
I will be willing to help set it up if the other members think we
C. E. KAUER, 2511 N. Waco, Wichita 4, Kansas
MANY MOMENTS OF PLEASURE
First I want to thank you so much for the many moments of
pleasure I get from your magazine and here is another shovel full
of coal ($2.00) so you can keep the steam up and the ALBUM coming
in my direction for another year. I especially enjoyed the nice
picture of Frank Stohlers 20-40 Case tractor in the Sept. issue.
Please print more such pictures of these early huge gas monsters.
If you ever get a picture of a Case 40-72 please print it. These
were built in about 1926
WALTER C. BIERITZ, Yorkville, Illinois
MY DOUBLE RUMLEY
I am enclosing a picture of my double Rumley. I got it in the
sand hills of Nebraska, just north of Heisey in perfect shape
throughout, except the cab which you can see is off.
The flues were like new and all I had to do was repair the
valves and piston rods. Both injectors worked, right off. This
engine was in a shed by a dipping vat and had not been used for
years. I just beat the JUNKIES, as the owner was wanting to get it
out of there. It’s of 1913 vintage, 20-60 hp. and I now have
the cab off to put a new side rail on, and that is all it needs. I
chopped the grease off and what a job. I have a little painting to
do. I was always crazy over steam engines and used to lay awake
nights thinking about it when one was in the neighborhood doing a
threshing job, how I wished I was big enough to run one.
When I was 19 years old I walked four miles in 10 inches of snow
just to fire one up and to be around an engine, but I never got to
run one until I bought one of my own. My first machine in 1922
consisted of a double Rumley and 36×58 Minneapolis separator. Had
lots of trouble the first season as we had so much rain. This being
my first time at the head of a threshing outfit, I had a time
arranging the work as all the old farmers wanted theirs to be
first. They were glad to see you come and glad to see you go, so if
a little trouble would happen it was like a hail storm. The next
year went better and in 1929 I bought an Avery gas outfit at sale.
It was no comparison to the steam, just a big noise. The first day
out a belt from the grain auger jumped off and took my right hand
off at the wrist, so that was all for gas for me.
I have never lost the boyhood liking for the old steam, the
chuckle, oil and last but not least the fun everyone had, even my
mother-in-law was glad when the old steam came down the road and
turned in our drive. She liked to cook that good old Dutch food
that everybody liked and worked hard for. No baker’s bread, but
the homemade kind with plenty of meat, potatoes, gravy, pie, cake
and coffee, or tea, also cabbage. Those memories will never pass on
till I die.
I hope you all the success in the world with your magazine which
brings all these good old times back to our memories again. I will
be with you as long as it goes. Am sending you a picture of my
engine with me on the left side. I still handle it with one hand
and put it anywhere.
H. P. RENTZEL, Trenton, Nebraska
RENEW MY SUBSCRIPTION
Please renew my subscription. I love the little magazine and
don’t want to be without it. You know how it is and what
happens when an engine lover gets to working on a 1′ scale Case
65 model, I just can’t think of anything only J. I. Case.
I am enclosing an extra dollar for some extra copies if you have
any. If not just put a few more Case pictures in the ALBUM and I
will be happy. Thanks for making the little magazine so
ALBERT L. SAFFELL, Battle Creek, Michigan
FROM JOHN E. PETERS
Am enclosing $2.00 for my ALBUM. I do not want to miss a single
I sometimes wonder why they don’t put out an album on the
different kinds and makes of grain separators, like they have on
steam engines. I am trying to make a steam engine and have the
boiler about ready. The boiler is 52′ long, and shell is
13′ deep. I want to put on a cylinder with a 3’x4′
stroke. Best wishes
JOHN E. PETERS, Inman, Kansas
AN OLD LETTERHEAD
Find enclosed money order for another subscription to the ALBUM.
I am also sending one of my old letterheads showing some early
tractors. This tells what each piece seems to be. Am also enclosing
a picture of my 28-88 Minn. steam engine at the 101 Ranch at Ponca
City, Okla. The pony is blue stone, the best roping pony in this
world, from the ranch. He was at the World’s Fair in Chicago
with School Boy Scotty. That is me beside him and the pony was 24
years old when the picture was taken.
JESSE R. BARBER, Lavinia, Iowa
A YOUNG ENGINEER
In the March-April 1955 issue, page 15, at the bottom you will
find a picture and incomplete information sent by J. A.
Loffelmacher. Mr. Chas. S. Tunis of 855 Homewood Ave., Zanesville,
Ohio, knew he had seen the picture some where so he goes through
his American Threshermans and finds it in the Dec. 1907 issue, page
106. Both the picture in Popular Mechanics and the one in the ALBUM
had been taken from the same picture in the American Thresherman.
Here is the complete description as given in the A. T.
‘How many little boys and girls who read the AMERICAN
THRESHERMAN can equal the record of this young man? Marvin
Wilkinson of Winfield, Kansas, is eleven years old. His father says
he fired, oiled and kept water in his J. I. Case 20 hp. the past
season of 25 days without a stop or mishap of any kind, and offers
the affidavit of his customers as proof of the statement.’
Now some of you Kansans find out what become of this young
NEWS OF THE GOOD OLD DAYS
You will find enclosed $2.00 for another year of the ALBUM. I
sure do like to read the news from the good old days from the Old
Boys who had so much experience with steam. It was my mother’s
great uncle who invented the old Cooper steam engine that was built
in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. If I can get up to the National Threshers
Reunion and see any of you people there I will try to give you more
details on this.
BUNN F. BONER, Main St., Butler, Ohio.
NAVY BOYS LIKE THE ALBUM
Dear Mr. Kepner;
I received your letter last Monday and my first issue of the
ALBUM. You can bet your life you have another faithful subscriber
as long as it is published. It is really crammed full of the most
interesting articles and held my attention until I had read it from
cover to cover. You mentioned the Threshermens Reunion held at
Pontiac. I meant to mention in my first letter but it escaped my
mind. I live about 30 miles southeast of Pontiac and attended the
reunion every year until I joined the Navy. Since then I have not
been home at the time it is held. A reunion like that is something
no one misses around home.
I’m really too young to recall when we used to thresh with
steam engines, but it was right around 1935 or ’36, and I can
remember the old Buffalo Pitts setting behind the engine mans tool
shed until the second World War came along and on that time it was
sold for the scrap drive along with my dads old Aultman Taylor
gasoline tractor. It was a monster compared to tractors of today.
But what I cannot remember in my day, grandfather and uncle can
bring back just as though I had been there too. My uncle is always
telling about the pipes he would clean for guys when he was running
an engine. My dad’s favorite story is about the guys who were
not busy sitting around behind the engine. One day the boiler blew
at the back flue sheet but for some reason there did not happen to
be anyone there that day and what a good thing as it took the
grates, fire and ashes right out the back of the flue box. No one
got hurt, at least not there, but somehow some fire got up to the
separator and set it on fire. The water wagon was pulled up by the
machine and as the man on the pump was pumping the handle broke and
he fell off and broke his arm. He was the only casualty of the
affair. Those were the good old days and I wish I could have been a
little older and could have gotten in on it.
About all I can do is go to Pontiac when I can and see Dan
Zehr’s engines. He has at least 2 engines, one being an Avery 2
cylinder undermounted. Last time I was at the reunion was in 1952
and he had it running and unless you saw it running you
wouldn’t have known it because it was so quiet and run so
smoothly. Of course at the time it was hauling no load.
Here aboard ship anything that turns is steam driven or driven
by electricity which is generated by steam driven generators, but
sad to say there are no reciprocating engines, all steam turbines.
I guess they are so much better there is no comparison but you
cannot get the thrill of steam unless you can see those rods,
crossheads, eccentrics, etc., moving around back and forth. I hope
you don’t mind my rattling on but when I get to thinking about
steam engines, I can talk and talk.
I am hoping I can get home for the reunion this year or to some
other affair of the same kind. Am enclosing $2.00 for the ALBUM and
in my opinion it is the best magazine east or west of the
DONALD E. STADLER, U. S. Navy, USS McCain, Care of FPO., New
York, N. Y.