Courtesy of Mr. H. S. Fox, Mt. Royal, New Jersey
While at the Spring Reunion of the 'Rough & Tumble Engineers' Elmer asked me if I would write a little article on my 2' scale British type Traction Engine. Plucking up a little courage, here goes.
Having originated from England, I suppose it was natural that my engine had to be of this type, so with the aid of information from the British magazine, 'Model Engines,' I started work in 1961. As I had no plans of a 2' scale engine. I used the plans given of the I' scale. Here most model makers will show that the difference of scale is quite a mechanical difference if the machine is to be a working success. Studying this closely, I asked myself, 'how long will it hold up?'
Another thing I had to have was a simple engine. but at the same time powerful. T think the performance it gave at the August Meet at Kinzers in 1962 was good proof this little engine had IT. She was in steam about 16 hours during the 2 days I was there, pulling me around on a 4 wheel trailer, weight being about twice its own weight.
Starting with the boiler, it is a piece of 6' diameter copper, built Cornish style, with a round firebox 7' long. There are 19 - 5/8' diameter copper fire tubes and makes plenty of steam for the 1 x 2cylinders. Everything for this engine was cut from scrap material or bits and pieces that could be readily obtained.
The front wheels are 8 in diameter and the rear wheels are 12' in diameter. The flywheel is 8' in diameter. Safety valve lifts at 60 lbs. This pressure I find ample for the amount of pull as any more would only make the drivers spin worse than they do now. I fire it with pieces of hard wood cut about square x 7' long. I find that this fuel is better for steaming than coal as it eliminates constant cleaning of the tubes and firebox.
The smoke box carries a brass ring as per English style and stamped around in lettering is THE FOX TRACTION ENGINE. My son said I had to give it a name, so looking through some pictures, I found our little machine resembled a 1910 Ruston. Getting a piece of rock lathe, I carved out a mold, poured in some hot lead and came up with 2 good, but not so good, name plates. They are on the side of the boiler and read 'RUSTON.'
Pictured with the engine is my son.
Courtesy of W. L. Blakely, Jelloway Village, Danville, Ohio
I see my old buddy, Mr. C. M. Reed, made the front pages again. I thought while he is on the other side of the world and his brother in California trying to bore out from under a mud slide, it would be a good time for me to send in my two cents worth. In the March-April Issue the Gaar-Scott with all the trimmings looks like it just jumped out of the band box. It makes mine look pretty rusty. I regret very much we don't have any pictures of. some of the acts we put on down on Wakatomica some forty years ago. I think they would make the funny pictures in Barkers Almanac look a little dull but with all the hilarious performances we did a lot of good work (some not so good) but it all passed inspection. It gives me great pleasure to be so closely associated with such a good man for so many, many years.
The article in the last issue about Mr. Landis and the threshing cylinder interested me very much, although I disagree on some points very much. The cylinder and concave spikes is the heart of all threshing machines and you cannot thresh bundle grain without spikes and the more spikes there are in a cylinder bar the more threshing will be done and the more straw it will take through in a given length of time with a surprisingly less amount of power. The key to successful threshing is fast clean threshing with a minimum amount of power. A 32' - 12 bar cylinder should have 162 spikes in it with 3/16' spacing between cylinder and concave spikes. In ordinary threshing the cylinder spike should pass the concave spikes at a speed of about 5500 ft. per minute regardless of the diameter of the cylinder or the number of bars in it. Fine dust always collects on the inner side of the bars of a threshing cylinder, but there is never any wheat in it and the bars never wear bright more than one half their thickness. Therefore, the wheat heads ride through between the bars over and above the concave spikes and scarce and hard to find. All the threshing cylinders I ever saw built since about 1910 only had a little more than one half enough spikes in them regardless of the diameter.
I think I should tell one of my first experiences around a threshing machine. When I was a boy, about 1900, my father and uncle bought a used outfit made sometime before the gay nineties. It consisted of a 13 HP Mogul engine carrying 110 lbs. of steam (I don't know the cylinder bore) with a 15' stroke and 48' band wheel (that I could measure with mother's yard stick.) A threshing cylinder 32' - 9 Bar and so full of spikes it looked like a porcupine. I sat on the tool box of that old engine many a time when they would put on two band cutters and two feeders and feed from both sides (don't tell me they didn't thresh, I know they did) and the old engine would run all day on one half ton of coal.
Outfits made 20 years later with 20 HP engines and larger carrying 175 or 180 lbs. of steam, short strokes, a band wheel about as big in diameter as a wash tub, a threshing cylinder with about one half enough spikes in it; one half ton of coal wouldn't last long enough in that kind of threshing to get to stay for dinner. The above statement may sound a little rough to some, but the facts remain. After spending the best forty one years of my life at successful threshing I don't consider myself an amateur by any stretch of the imagination.
In regard to the article in the Album on page 48 of the January-February, 1962 issue, I would be very much interested in having the indicator cards published, and I wish to explain why. Many, many years ago I owned an engine with a double ported valve built in 1905. There were only 11 of this particular pattern built. I happened to get one of them and I have the names and the addresses of the men that bought the other ten. Under unfavorable conditions this engine was a hard steamer. It didn't use too much water and a reasonable amount of fuel, but in spite of all you could do that steam gauge just seemed to stand there like it was frozen. Anyway, I never could just exactly see the advantage of a double ported valve. I thought these cards might help to clear the mystery just for curiosity sake.
Courtesy of Mr. Emil Belsky, Box 436, Antigo, Wisconsin
It seems to me that all of the old thresher men are slowly going away to their days of rest. Now some suggested that we should form a school for the younger people and I am all for it. I am willing to help a young lad that wants to operate with steam. I'll tell you what the whole trouble is. Most of the old thresher men can't read very good and teach the same way. Not you got to have lots of patience with these young people. In the first place, some learn fast and others are kind of slow to catch on to whats new to them. But a fellow thats slow in getting started never forgets so quick. It is in his mind and he remembers it for a long while. It is just like a machine or a boiler, you can order two boilers just alike from the same company and they will not fire right the same. I know by my own experience.
An old fellow named Geo. Puogh, too bad he had to pass away last year at 89 years young, and I were pressing hay for a rancher. I ran the 20 HP Case and he ran the 15 HP Case. I could fill the firebox full but in his engine the fire had to be low. I could fill the furnace full and all I had to do was watch the guages.
I am going to have my unit on display at my insurance agency window, engine, water and separator besides a crew of four men.
I have gone to the Thresher man Reunions at Luxemburg twice and the last I had my small separator there. That was when I invited the Case president to come down and see it. Before that I challenged him to make a machine without any shop equipment. He sent a guy named Lawrence Hodge and I explained it to him. All he said was 'well, I have to go now and get back to Racine.' I told him he was supposed to have been sent down to get more details on the new tractor wheel I had invented. I told him that I had two pattern wheels, one is a complicated and the other is a simple but they both work the same way. I had to build a small tractor so that I could be sure they would work, which they did. I told Mr. Hodge to go back to the Case directors and tell them they would have to lay down $1000.00 to work on it. I just gave them a start on it. I have had this idea since 1902, when Carly & Goeman bought their first threshing machine, a little 13 HP engine and thresher. It was a Gaar-Scott. I told Mr. Hodge this 10 years ago and Case did not come out with their new wheel.
The incident portrayed on the picture he supposes took place about sixty years ago. It happened on the Deerfield Bridge, Deerfield, Ohio, not too far from Berlin Center and Youngstown.
The picture is good to look at when you're down in the dumps, because this fellow on the steam roller is up in the dumps with about 25 ft. of space between him and the ground below. There is this aspect of hope, at least seemingly so about it, and that is, the man at the controls who seems to give the feeling that even still he can do something about it without any other help. When one studies the structure of the bridge, it is discernable what happened and why the engine didn't go all the way through. Only the wooden planks and stringers broke. It came to rest on one of the heavy steel beams that run length-wise. At this point we can say that it was mighty good he straddled one of these instead of taking his half out of the middle.
It may be that some subscriber in that vicinity knows about this incident and can write in The Album and tell us how they removed the roller from the bridge. I would like also to know the make of steamer for it combines both American and English design features.
Letter by O. W. Bowen, Woodman, Wis.
I liked Mr. O. R. Aslak son's letter in the July-Aug. Album, page 56. I am an old Advance man myself. I had 2-16 HP, one 21 compound and one A. R. early type and a Star. I ran the top and under mounted Star. I have run a good many different engines, simple double, and compound. I burnt wood, coal and straw. I have run engines in 5 different states, starting in 1901 and saw a lot of different things happen back in 1914. I went to visit a brother thresher as I wasn't threshing that day. I was standing on the engine with the engineer. He said to me, 'If you will watch the engine I will go down to the machine and see how the grain is running.' I was standing on the engine platform when one of the bundle pitchers let go of his fork and it went in to the feeder so quick as a flash I shut the throttle and pulled the reverse over then pulled the throttle just enough to get steam to brake the engine, in a jiffy everything was stopped still before the fork got to the band knives and I never threw a belt. The engineer was very glad I was on the engine. He said if that fork had gone into the machine the boss would have given him the dickens. Now back to the Advance. I had one complete Advance outfit. A 16 HP simple and a 32 in. machine with feeded but a straight stacker. I had a 10 barrel water tank. I have been running 6 engines at the shows up to last year. I am 80 years and 7 months at this writing. I help to start a show up in Minn. and was with them for eight years.