LETTERS

By Staff
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Pictured with the engine is my son.
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35 HP Advance compound straw burner I operated in 1926.
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Playing time is now on. The J. I. Case Separator seems rather out of place here at the edge of the woods. It did give the old timers a chance to line up again. The pickup load of baled hay did for a short time simulate ear threshing.
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This picture was given to me recently by a good friend, The Rev. James Bailey, pastor of Oak Lane Methodist Church, Phil. Mr. Bailey's aunt gave it to him from an old picture album. He knew I am crazy about steam engines so he had me in mind when he obtai

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.

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