Ralph Hussong writes. . . . . . . . .
This company was widely known in the territory surrounding
Quincy, Illinois in the period following 1880 at which time they
built freight and passenger elevators, heavy iron castings such as
store fronts, etc.
Along about 1892 this company entered the light duty steam
engine field, producing a ROCKER valve engine, the engine
concerning which this article is written about. As you can note it
is a double cylinder opposed type engine. There are of course no
piston rods in the pistons proper similar to ordinary gas
This freak among steam engines surely must have been built as an
The writer of this article in later years became acquainted with
the man who was chief mechanic at the of its building. This party
was none other than the late A. H. Wiebmer, Sr., who later started
the Wiebmer Machine Shop which is still operating under that name
but under different ownership.
In assembling this information which, of course, could vary
slightly as to time, the writer is indebted very greatly to the
following people; Mr. A. H, Wiebmer, Jr., son of the designer, Mr.
Elmer Becker, a retired machinist of Quincy, Illinois, Mr. Edward
Long, a retired steam engineer of Quincy, Illinois, Mrs. Rhodia
Davis, Mrs. Piggott, also daughters of Tom Hill and a Mrs. Marian
The company who made this engine was the SMITH-HILL Elevator Co.
Along about 1898 these people merged with the OTIS Elevator Co. and
their headquarters was moved to Chicago, Illinois and Mr. Hill
moved to that city as an official. Soon after the turn of the
century Mr. Hill returned to Quincy and was instrumental in forming
the Quincy Engine Works about 1903 which specialized in heavy duty
stationary steam engines of the CORLISS type. This company operated
about ten years, then sold out to the OTIS Elevator Company, which
came back to Quincy, Illinois with its plant.
This about covers the history of SMITH-HILL and Quincy Engine
Co., but during the early part of this period they put out quite a
number of lighter duty rocker valve engines. One of their engines
was in the Adams County Home and continued to operate up into late
autumn of 1961 and then was sold as an antique. Two of their
engines operated beaters in the Quincy plant of the American Straw
Now back to the freak engine. The writer really wonders if it
ever saw much, if any, active duty, but about ten years ago it
showed up in a junk yard near Hanibel, Missouri and was purchased
by our well known friend and collector of steam engines, Milford
Rees of Franklin, Illinois. This engine was still workable but was
very loose when the writer saw it at the Illinois State Fair. Later
Mr. Rees had it rebuilt in the Hunsley Shop at Edin burg, Illinois.
It has since been on exhibit at every State Fair in Springfield,
Ralph Hussong, Camp Point, Illinois
H. F. Carlstrom writes . . . . . . . .
Concerning a query about Wolfe Valve Gear as asked by Mr. Jacob
P. D. Tiessen, a valve gear, be it a Wolfe, Marshall, Marsh or a
Hielman Stepanson Link or what have you, has just one function and
that is to change rotary motion to reciprocating motion and thereby
effect back and forth action to the valve proper. A Valve driven by
a Wolfe mechanism, if it is accurately adjusted and centered, makes
no difference whether the valve movement is actuated by an
eccentric and block as on the Wolfe or on the Marshall (Reeves)
which is an eccentric operating a bell crank, or the Marsh
(Advance) which is gear driven from crankshaft to a small counter
shaft with small disc wheel on crank pin which actuates the forward
and backward motion of the valve stem.
Naturally there are four functions or steps that the Dee type
must perform. It must open the port to admit steam to the forward
end of the cylinder. It also must perform this same function on the
back end of the cylinder. On a double action cylinder it must open
and close exhaust parts in their proper sequence. However, on
another type of engine with a uniform cylinder the valve has only
the function of admitting the steam and of cutting off the steam
since the exhaust parts of the uniflow engine are automatically
opened and closed by the piston travel.
Any valve used on any make of engine, regardless of type of
valve motion, if improperly set, will be late either on one end or
the other. This also holds true with Corliss, with Rocking or with
Poppet type valves. There are many kinds of valves and there also
are many kinds and types of valve operating mechanisms but the sole
function of all of these devices is to admit and exhaust steam to
and from the cylinder and if properly synchronized will neither be
late or early on these duties.
I have been a steam engineer for 50 years and have operated from
10 HP to 50 HP. I have had lots of valve experience and I could
name at least 25 different types of valve gears and am familiar
with all of them. I have built 2 steam engines of my own, 2′ to
foot scale, that is. On one engine I used the piston valve and on
the other engine I used the rocking valve. I would like to hear
from old time engineers and threshermen, also model makers.
H. F. Carlstrom, Chief Engineer, Gateway, Inc. P.O. Box 485,