LETTERS

By Staff
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56 YEARS AGO, FEB. 15, 1906

Marriott’s record on a Stanley Steamer of a mile in 28 1 – 5
seconds is the fastest mile ever covered by any means in the
world.

The best mile records are:

Railroad, 30 seconds; Charley Murphy on a bicycle behind a
train, 59 seconds; bicycle, paced, 1 minute 6 1-5 seconds;
Salvators, the running horse, 1 minutes, 35 seconds; Dan Patch,
pacing, 1.55, trotting, 1.58; ice yacht, 2 minutes, 18 seconds;
ocean steamer, 2.30; skating, 2.36; running, 4.15 3-5; rowing,
5.27; walking, 6.23; swimming, 24.36 1-5.

‘Fortunately the hostility of the rural population toward
the automobile is sensibly declining in certain sections of the
country, and may in time die out everywhere.’

Enclosed is my renewal for your good magazine. Like the sap
rising in the trees and the groundhog coming out of his hole, at
this time of year all the steam fans begin to stir with plans.

Leonard J. Mann, Ottenbein, Ind.

AN AIR FORCE MAJOR

I am a subscriber to your wonderful magazine and needless to say
enjoy it very much. Being in the service one moves around quite a
little and I am no exception. Next month March the 21st myself and
family are shipping to Holland ‘The Netherlands’ for a
three year tour, so will need a change -of address. My new address
will be

Major Johnny P. Hansen, 32nd Ftr Interceptor Sq. APO 292, New
York N.Y.

Here is a write up that I recently got in the Local paper and am
wondering if it was worth anything to you for print and I am
strictly a steam Man in spite of the fact that I am always around
Aircraft.

This Article is taken from ‘The Daily Monitor – Leader’
Mt. Clemens, Mich. . Elmer.

MEMORIES OF BYGONE DAYS Air Force Maj. Johnny Hansen, of 210
Riverside drive, is pictured with his unique collection of steam
whistles, one of which came from one of the most famous of all
‘iron horses,’ No.5601, of the Chicago, Burlington and
Quincy Railroad, which is shown at right. Hansen has mounted the
whistles on a homemade air compressor, which serves as a substitute
for a steam boiler and enables him to serenade his neighbors with
almost-forgotten sounds. Hansen is being transferred to the
Netherlands in March after a 7-year stay at Self ridge Air Force
Base.

MARVIN W. SIMONSON, Staff Writer

Air Force Major Johnny P. Hansen is a man reconciled to the fact
that he can’t keep any secrets from the neighbors when he’s
‘out on a toot.’

Every now and then Hansen ambles into his driveway and serenades
residents on the east side of Mount Clemens with lusty medleys dear
to the hearts of the brawny railroad men and farmhands of bygone
days.

Not everyone knows the roars emanating from 210 Riverside drive
are not the result of any pub prowling on the major’s part.
He’s just giving his unique collection of steam whistles a
workout.

The variety of almost-for-gotten sound’s can be heard for a
considerable distance so Hansen exercises great care to enjoy his
hobby only when he knows he won’t annoy the neighbors.

Even then he sounds off with a brief warning ‘toot’ or
two, which automatically informs them the louder blasts that follow
aren’t coming from a fast freight roaring through their
backyards. Hansen never blows the whistles at night except, of
course, on New York’s Eve.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, after a whistle concert, one of
Hansen’s understanding neighbors appeared with a packed
suitcase and jokingly asked the departure time of the next
train.

Needless to say, Hansen is a big hero with kids in the
neighborhood, many of whom have never seen a real ‘iron
horse.’

What’s more, Hansen gives them firsthand demonstrations of
how old-time steam engineers used their whistles to call the
railroad yard signal tower, call in their flagmen or blast away
approaching an unguarded crossing.

Hansen’s collection consists of three separate whistles
mounted on a homemade compressor unit. He affectionately calls the
assembly ‘Old Number Six’ after a famous eastbound
passenger train operated by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy
Railroad.

Hansen, 46, is a native of Buda, Ill., a farm community and
significant railroad hub near Peoria.

Hansen was raised on a farm and went to work for the C. B. &
Q road in 1937. Starting out with the ‘track gang’ he later
shifted to the roundhouse, where he worked as a mechanic on the
Burlington’s engines and cars.

Hansen left the railroad to join the air force in 1940. He
decided to make the service his career after World War II
ended.

The largest whistle in Hansen’s collection is a cast brass,
five-chime (tone) beauty. It has five chambers in one casting, all
of which blow simultaneously from one ‘bowl.’

The instrument rode on top of Burlington Railroad Engine No.
5601 when the big locomotive was in its heyday. Hansen was
railroading when this engine was made in the Burlington shops and
he can remember working on it when it first hit the rails.

Hansen also has movies of No. 5601 which show it pulling a full
load of 118 oars.

The major had a hard time locating an authentic whistle from one
of the Burlington 5600 engines hut came across that of No. 5601
about a year ago. It had been removed when the big engine was
scrapped and thrown into the C.B. & Q storage yard in
Galesburg, Ill.

Mounted on Hansen’s compression tank, it sounds exactly the
same today as when old No. 5601 popped off with a full head of
steam.

Another whistle came from a Port Huron steam traction engine,
manufactured by the old Moak Machinery company in Port Huron.

Hansen searched many states for a whistle of this type before
finally locating one for sale in Alvordton, Ohio.

In the old days the steam traction engine was the backbone of
the farmer’s threshing operation.

Many an old thesherman has heard the sharp ‘toots’ of
Hensen’s whistle as it sounded the call for more water for the
engine, more grain bundles for the threshing machine and, more
important, the calls for dinner and quitting time.

Hansen refers to the third whistle as the ‘jewel’ of the
collection. It is a single-chime whistle manufactured in Italy in
1895 and used on the Italy State Railroad System.

Its engine’s run was in the Italian Alps through the town of
Brescia end its calls were heard by many Alpine soldiers during
World War I.

A cousin of Hansen’s wife, Lillian, lives in Italy and
supplied this addition to the unit.

Hansen, stationed with Headquarters Fifth Air Force Reserve
Region, will end a tour at Self ridge Air Force Base in March. He
and Mrs. Hansen and their two children, Serena, 4, and Christian,
14 months, will be transferred to Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Hansen won’t be taking ‘Old Number Six’ with him as
he plans to ‘put it in the roundhouse for temporary
storage.’

He plans to start another collection in Europe, however, and
this time he hopes to include a steamship whistle, if he can find
one.

WANTED

Detailed dimensions & drawings for 32 hp Reeves both double
simple and double compound, as used in Western Canada (about the
latest model I think). Am interested in the power or engine unit
ONLY (not the complete tractor), want Clay reverse gear; the
compound to simple valve; throttle horizontal governor, and all
parts of the Engine unit. Plan to reduce to scale and build a
working model 2 or 3 inches to the foot as a stationary job, using
120 psi. Willing to pay Photostat charges, or other costs involved.
Also interested in any castings close to above scales. (Using 5 hp
Babcock-Wilcox boiler for two stationary engine models – 110 Case
2.5′ to the foot and similar for the 32 Reeves.) I have all
details on the Case 110 (1912) and later changes, e.g. crank pin
diameter. If anyone knows where I can obtain this information, will
appreciate hearing from them and will pay for same. Thanks from any
chaps who know and like the Reeves.

C. SYD MATTHEWS, Suite 714, 137 Wellington St., West Toronto 1,
Ontario, Canada

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