LETTERS

HIMSELF AN EDITOR


| January/February 1955



The Russell Ring-Balanced Valve

The Russell Ring-Balanced Valve

Laurence J. Hathaway

Ever since receiving your letters I have had it in mind to write you, but being 67 years old, I find it very hard to keep up with the things I like to do and the things I have to do.

You spoke of being amateurs in the publishing business, but I don't share this view, as I think you are doing a swell job on the ALBUM magazine. I too, like it's informality and I should be a fair judge as I edited a small magazine for 14 years and we weren't too formal, either. I am surprised to learn of your losing so many magazines in the mailing. Seems something is wrong someplace. Have you taken it up with the proper authorities?

I fell in love with steam at the age of five when my uncle gave me my first toy steam engine for Christmas. This was of course, followed by othersa toy pumping engine that would put out a sizeable fire if given time, a pile driver that would drive match sticks into soft ground, toy steamboats, stationary engines, a steam locomotive with cars and a circular track, etc. Then another uncle built me a beautiful model mill engine, 11/8' bore and a 2' stroke and what a time my friends and I had with that. We gave it all sorts of jobs to do until it just bogged down and refused to pull the load. Then my father gave me one Christmas (I was 13 or 14 then) a 1 hp. marine engine with oil fired water tube boiler, and that laughed at everything we gave it, including a wood lathe used to make me breathless from pedaling it. When I had this set up (in an old chicken house), I used the model engine to drive a small dynamo that lighted a 6 candlepower light by steam and water gauges-just like the big ones. Then I went away to school and then into Nordberg's shops as an engineering apprentice, which put an end to things at home. Nordberg's were building steam engines then, mostly beautiful Corliss and Poppet valve engines; also quite a low big pumps, air compressors, and mining hoists up to the largest ever used up to that time. My health gave out and the doctors ordered me outdoors, so I got into construction work, running steam pile drivers, steam rollers, pumps, etc. This was around Milwaukee and Evanston, Illinois. In 1914 my health became so bad that I returned to my native country.

I thought I never wanted to see a steam engine or other piece of machinery again, but a good friend told me the old love would return in time. He advised me not to sell my tools. I took his advice and long years after, about 1930, I began to feel the old love coming to life again, so I set about finding an engine and boiler from a Stanley steam automobile. I had trouble at first but in the end I found ten, in four different sizes. I wanted only the smaller ones, so I gave three to the National Museum in Washington, traded one and sold two for more than the whole ten had cost me. This leaves me with two of the smallest sizes 2x3 and two of the next larger size 3'x4'. I have picked up quite a few other engines since then, and a fine boiler with about 400 half-inch copper flues. I stored it all in my garage and attic waiting for a place to set it up and play with it (we were living in the suburbs of Washington then), but since moving here in 1948 there have been so many things to take time, money and energy, that the steam power has had to wait. Last fall I put up a little shed to house the stuff in and nowwe'll see.

Keep up the good work, it is nice to know we have a good Christian man at the helm. More power to all of you.

LAURENCE J. HATHAWAY, Easton, Maryland