The report chart shows the 24 Port Huron evaporating 8 lbs.
water per lb. of coal. This is normally considered a fair
evaporation factor in power plant work with even some water tub
boilers fired by mechanical stokers, with a 12500 b.t.u. coal
(2′ screenings). The fact that the Port Huron had a crosshead
pump and a feed water heater (heated by exhaust steam) accounts for
approximately 10% more efficiency in Port Huron above the Advance.
Mr. Blaker did not say if the Advance was a simple or compound, nor
did he give the condition of fire-box, flues, etc. Also the
mechanical condition of the engine, especially the piston rings and
The writer would be happy if Mr. Blaker would supply me with
Indicator Cards taken at full load of each engine, giving the size
of cylinder bore and length of stroke, the r.p.m., steam pressure
(gauge) when card was taken and scale of spring used. I would be
happy to analyze them. In particular, the Baker engine which may
have been a Uniflow with piston type valve.
I have owned 7 different engines excluding two of the same make
and regarded the Advance, Russell and the little 10 x 11 24 hp
Minneapolis engine equipped with Baker Balance valve as the three
most economical ones. I still own a 25-85 twin cyl. Nichols &
Shepard, but it is not one of the most economical. Somehow my
liking had fallen to the 30 hp Avery Undermounted wish I had it
E. G. ROSEN, Benson, Minnesota
FROM CALIFORNIA –
Received the Nov-Dec copy of the ALBUM which I just subscribed
to, and find the articles and illustrations quite interesting.
Came across a couple of old copies of Iron-Men Album a few weeks
ago and was very much interested in an illustration entitled,
‘Harvest hands on their way to the wheat fields of the
Northwest 1890’ made at Casselton, North Dakota. That is where
I started my harvest career some 40 odd years ago.
When I alighted from a Northern Pacific passenger train that
fall afternoon, a boy of 16, and took one look at the assortment of
‘Bindle stiffs’ down the track in the hobo jungle (very
much as the picture shows), I decided I didn’t like the looks
of it and started out across the prairie with my suitcase on my
back and landed a job shocking wheat in a couple of hours.
As I recall, on the Dalrymple farm between Wheatland and
Casselton, Mr. Dalrymple planted several acres of potatoes, along
the track not far from Casselton for the benefit of the hoboes,
with the admonition, ‘Use these and stay out of other
people’s potato patches’.
I remember, too, the days following a threshing outfit through
North Dakota, from one farm to the next. Up at 4:45 a.m. to feed
and harness a team of horses, then thresh from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.,
with an hour off for dinner and then supper and take care of the
horses and into blankets, usually in a barn loft or a strawstack,
or a bed down under the bundle wagon with the team tied to the feed
rack on the back end of the wagon.
The morning after an early snow storm when the ‘get up’
bell rang from the cook car, I’d fumble around in the dark to
find my shoes (nobody undressed any further than that); find the
shoes, shake the snow out of them, and then break the ice on the
horse trough to get water to wash with – and then find towels which
had been hung on the outside of the cook wagon overnight frozen
stiff with the ice and snow.
Good old days to look back to only! from a little more
Iremembersome of the old separators and steam engines we used in
those days. Pulling the straw back out from under the stacker,
usually a blower, back to the engine, where the fireman stood and
shoved one forkful of straw after another into the fire box all day
long. Filling the water wagon out of the water trough with a hand
pump and hauling back to the engine.
The most envied job, short of the engineer and separator man was
the horse team job on the grain tanker-those lumbering wagons with
their 130 bushel loads of wheat – which rumbled between the
separator and the granary and later over the dirt roads into town.
(Those gumbo roads were passable only when the weather was
Later on, plowing on the prairie with seven and sometimes nine
horses on a triple gang plow and still later on, the 10-20 and
15-30 Internationals, the oil cooled 2 cyl. Rumely, the Averys and
others, when every morning that you could crank up and get started
on time was a victory.
The log hauler pictures in your October 1958 magazine antedates
my experiences in the woods, as they were replaced at that time by
the more modern 10 ton Holts. (I was one of the first cat-skinners
in the Minnesota lumber woods.)
I have enjoyed reading the two books I received from you,
namely, ‘When Pine Was King’ and ‘Paul Bunyon and His
Men’. Many of the stories related by Reiman have a familiar
ring to compare with the incidents I experienced and people I knew
in those early years in the Northern Minnesota woods.
The ‘Paul Bunyon’ yarns reminded me of those evenings of
long ago when the old timers would line up on the deacon seats
beside those roaring wood stoves and outdo each other in relating
many of those same yarns. Sometimes I think it was done largely for
the benefit of a greenhorn.
Sure am anxious about what connection there may be between the
little steamer, ‘Helen Mar’, which I last saw
many years ago after helping pull it up on shore at Camp 75 on
Namekan Lake; it was too small and too low in the water to trust
out in the fall storms on Namekan and Kabetogoma Lakes although it
had done alright towing log booms on Fall and Basswood Lakes for
many years; and ‘The Helen Mar’ the author mentions in
Chapter 14 of his book.
Some years ago I saw a short article in the Virginia
‘Minn.’ Daily Enterprise regarding a book being written by
a farmer timekeeper and clerk in one of the old Virginia Line Camps
about his experiences in the woods. Have tried several times in the
intervening years to get a copy of this book, but have lost the
author’s name and have never been able to locate him since.
Would be very much obliged if anyone could furnish me with this
O. M. JOHNSON, 1450 Callecita, San Jose 25, California
ANYONE KNOW THE VAN DUSEN?
The little city of New Holstein, Wisconsin, has had something to
do with engines of any kind since at least 1895 when Henry
Oftenberg built 4 return flue and, I believe, 2 cylinder
steam engines. He then sold out to John Lawson who organized the
John Lawson Co., which made steam boilers and shipped all over the
States. I remember that one of the farmers nearby had to buy an
extra strong wagon to haul these boilers to the depot.
A few years later the Lawson Co. began to manufacture gasoline
engines. Farm engines at first, then tractors, both of which got to
be quite famous and were shipped to quite a few foreign countries.
made farm engines up to 25 hp and I imagine quite a number of
Album readers have used them.
They sold out to the Hart-Carter Co. which kept up the small
engines besides improving the air-cooled outboard engine.
Hart-Carter sold out to the Tecumsey Products who still produce
about 8000 engines a day.
The real reason I’m writing this letter is this: I would
like to hear from somebody that knows anything about a gasoline
tractor called Van Dusen. It must have been made about the middle
or late 90’s. There was one in the town of New Holstein about
that time and I would like a picture of it if possible and also
We are trying to get pictures and material to show the power on
the farm as time marched on and to make a display in our public
You know, there are any number of people who have never seen a
steam engine or a threshing machine and a display like this would
be quite interesting. In our case we would start out with horse
power and work up to a combine.
I got into this through an argument with the Oliver people when
they claimed the Hart-Parr was the first tractor and I think the
Van Dusen has that beat. Any help will be appreciated!
WILLIAM REE, Route 4, New Holstein, Wisconsin
INVENTOR FOUND GUILTY OF FRAUD ON 6 COUNTS
Investors Spent Nearly Million On Fueless Steam Engine
MADISON, Wis. – A federal court jury has blown the whistle on
inventor Clark ‘Pappy’ Fry, who sold dreams of a fueless
The bespectacled, graying inventor, who also envisioned a
vermin-proof, fireproof ‘backbone’ for building materials,
was found guilty on six counts of a 10-count indictment for
Seven men and five women deliberated almost six hours before
returning the verdict. The 69-year-old Necedah, Wisconsin,
inventor, a devotee of bright red shirts and suspenders, called it
Fry had argued his investors knew they wouldn’t be paid
until ‘the whistle blew’ his expression for success. The
government said investors spent between $250,000 and $1 million
waiting to hear it blow.
Fry could draw 30 years in prison, five on each count. Judge
Patrick Stone ordered further investigation and said he would pass
sentence in 10 days to two weeks.
Stone said the ‘robbery of innocent people of their savings
did not entitle Fry to too much consideration by this court. I
don’t think there was any other verdict the jury could have
reached on the basis of evidence in this case.’
Above article was taken from the Bellefontaine Examiner, Jan.
26, 1961, and sent to us by W. B. Green, R.R. 1, Rushsylvania,
A. L. GILL STRAW THRESHER
On Page 23 of the Mar-April 1961 issue of the ALBUM you picture
an old A. L. Gill straight straw thresher. It was originally built
by Mr. Gill. He was an Englishman and built the first straight
straw thresher in this country. He also built tread powers, small
threshers and feed grinders at South Harren St., Trenton, N. J. He
was a very nice man.
His first straight straw machine was built on a frame about 4 x
6 ft. It stood on legs about 30′ high, tablelike. Bearings on
each end and the rubbing or rasp cylinder between the bearings. It
was run by a tread mill and a man would feed the rye to the
cylinder, or rather under it, with rasp concaves under it. Back of
the cylinder was a table, leaf-like, that could be taken off for
moving or storage. In threshing a man stood behind this and bound
the threshed straw, using straw for the band. He kept building to
this until he got the machine you have in the picture.
BRUCE BUNTING, Burlington, New Jersey
FROM A SUBSCRIBER
Thank you for the notice of the expiration of my subscription to
the IRON-MEN ALBUM Magazine. I do not want to miss a single issue
of your splendid little magazine. I like it very much and always
look forward to its arrival. I wish it came every month or
I, too, am an editor of a small church paper known as The Iowa
Friend, and I know something of what it means to keep up with the
expirations. Sometimes one just doesn’t.
The Iowa Friend is a paper which we edit for The Iowa Yearly
(annual meeting) of the Friends Church, commonly known as the
Quaker Church. Along with all my other duties, I inherited this job
as well. We publish it bi-monthly.
Keep up the good work. We like your magazine and are looking
forward to attending the Old Thresherman’s Reunion at Mt.
ORVAL H. COX, William Penn CollegeM, Oskaloosa, Iowa
MY BIT ABOUT THE WINDSTACKER
After reading the Windstacker Story by Haston S. St. Clair, I
decided to add my bit. Two windstackers were invented in the
country where I grew up. The nearest one ‘the Maple Bay
Windstacker’ at Maple Bay, Minnesota. I knew both the men and
saw their first outfit.
It had two fans about thirty inches in diameter, one on each
side of the machine with a single shaft running across the top of
the machine and a long funnel going down to the rear of the
machine, just below the sieves. The straw and chaff fell into a
hopper and was blown out through a spout about three feet wide and
sixteen inches deep.
This rig did not work so good so they changed it and put one fan
right below and back of the sieves. This fan was about three and
one half feet wide and about two feet in diameter. A large hopper
caught the straw and chaff and the blast from the fan coming
underneath carried it through the long chute to the straw pile. I
worked around four of these windstackers. Three of them had two
wheels to carry them and they had to be lined up every time we set.
One was attached directly to the machine and it made an awful load
on the back-end of the machine. More than two-thirds of the load
was on the rear wheels.
The other windstacker, the Fosston Minnesota. It had one fan at
the left rear end of the machine just back of the rear wheels. It
had a round spout about eighteen inches in diameter and stood back
from the fan at a forty-five degree angle. It was hard on the
machine when traveling over rough ground, so we had to travel
carefully and slow.
The Minneapolis Thresher Machine Company bought this patent and
made some improvement on it. They put an elbow near the top of the
machine, and a full circle table so the spout could rotate a full
circle. The spout rested on top of the machine when in
transportation. I ran one Minneapolis with the first style stacker
and one with the improved later style. They were good stackers and
put away a lot of straw. The windstacker that put away the most
straw that I know of was the Gaar-Scott, Uncle Tom’s stacker.
It had a large fan about three feet in diameter. It was on a
Gaar-Scott machine with a 44′ cylinder and a 66′ rear
separator. It was shown in a Gaar-Scott catalog from a photograph.
The catalog was printed some time between 1890 and 1900. Prom this
mountain of straw was threshed 29,680 bushels of grain without
moving the machine or resetting it. The machine looked like a toy
beside the straw pile. I do not know what kind of grain was
threshed but it was the largest straw-pile I have ever known.
C. B. GULLEKSON, 908 Chestnut St., Grand Porks, North Dakota