Courtesy of Donald Madison
ATTENTION: Young Engineers Wherever You May Be
Hi There Young Engineers!
By the time you out there read this most steam shows will be in
progress. I do not believe that I will be able to travel to the
shows this summer. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t
want to and this is one of those times for me.
My Grandfather, James C. Madison, of Alexandria, Virginia,
suffered a heart attack this past winter. He wished that I would
spend my summer vacation with him. He has quite a bit of work to be
done on his property. Even though he has a small lot it is wooded
and he needs my help to clean it up. I could not refuse him and I
am sure you will understand.
My friend Sheldon will have to do without my help this summer
which I regret. He will gather information for me and I will write
the articles from this. I hope to have a report on one of the steam
shows in the next article. I will miss coming to the shows and
seeing all of you. I love the smell of smoke and engine oil. It
creates an exciting atmosphere at the shows. We burn maple, cut in
small pieces, in our model boilers and it produces a smoke which is
good smelling. This adds to the realism; of the models. At the
writing of this article I have just gotten out of school for the
summer, but when you read this it will soon be time to return.
Where did the summer go?
I think Sheldon is getting some stationary model steam engines
ready for the shows. Without my help this summer he will be behind
in his work and unable to travel to as many steam shows as he
wanted. Not everything works out the way you want it.
For the past eight months Sheldon has had to neglect his model
engines and Torque Power in order to help his father in the
production of hardware for guitars. Sheldon’s father helped him
get up his shop and in return he is helping out his father. I am
going to buy one of his father’s guitars at the end of this
summer. Sheldon now has his shop set up to do light machine and
foundry work. This has taken a great deal of time and money which
he had not expected. But, he says its all worth it.
We are putting a map of the United States on display at Torque
Power. On it there will be a pin placed where each young steam
engine, and other, enthusiast is from. I thought this would be
interesting to all who visit Torque Power. Each pin is numbered and
a matching card is placed in a catalog of everyone who writes to
me. I have received many nice letters and I enjoy them very much.
The age range of enthusiasts so far is eleven to twenty-six. I have
even received a letter from a girl. So come on you girls, get on
the ball and let’s hear from you, too. Here below are some of
the letters I have received.
Dear Mr. Madison: June 10, 1969
I guess you will be much surprised to receive a letter from me
for I am a girl, age 14, and am very interested in steam and
gasoline engines. I am enclosing a picture of myself and the steam
traction engine my father built and which I like to drive very
much. You can hear the whistle blow for four miles. The engine is 6
horsepower, it runs good and drives fine. I have two sisters
younger than I and sometimes we almost come to blows about who is
going to drive (ha!). Sometimes I help my father rebuild old
gasoline engines, he has 22 of them now and most of them are
restored to running condition.
I sometimes read my father’s copy of ‘Iron-Men
Album’, when I can get it away from him long enough.
I wish to compliment you on the nice article in the July-August
Issue of ‘Iron-Men Album’. I guess I caught this hobby from
my Daddy and it sure is interesting. I like to see the wheels go
round on antique machinery. Also, I am always glad to hear from
someone interested in the same hobbies as I am.
Sincerely, Martha Ellis, Route 2, Kevil, Kentucky 42053
Don: June 14, 1969
I got my Iron-Men Album today and was surprised to see your
article in there. I am looking forward to future articles you may
write. I would like to suggest that you try to put in articles that
are educational – by that I mean articles that give a young fellow
a real good idea what makes such things as injectors, pop valves
and other things associated with steam engines and boilers tick and
how to adjust and fix them.
I am 27 years old and own a 50 hp. Case traction engine. I was
always fascinated by steam engines but I never expected to own an
engine. I started collecting a few things here and there to build a
model. Then a 50 hp. Case came up for sale in this area. It was
reasonably priced and I decided if I was going to own a steam
engine I’d better get busy while the getting was good. I built
a building last fall and put it inside. I worked all winter and am
still working on it. It was missing a few parts but, with the help
of a lot of good people all over the U. S. A., I’ve got about
all the parts I need. I expect to have it all fixed up and painted
by next spring. Everything I ever learned about engines was from
hanging around and listening, but a lot of times a young fellow
doesn’t know exactly what is right as there are a lot of pits
with the peaches – if you know what I mean. Some real good
informative articles would sure be welcome.
I also collect old gas engines and have a couple rare and very
old engines. I like them also, but once you get a little coal smoke
and cylinder oil on you you’re done!
It is nice to visit with a young fellow interested in steam, but
you rarely run into one. It is too bad a lot more young guys are
not interested. They just don’t realize the real fun they are
missing. I’d like to wish you all the success in the world with
your articles. Good luck and so long for now.
Don Messing, Route 2, Box 30, Sidney, Nebraska 69162
Dear Donald Madison: June 16, 1969
I am a young enthusiast (15 years of age) and approve of what
you are doing. I come from a family that is not interested in steam
engines. I cannot remember how I became interested in steam
traction engines as I have never been in close contact with anyone
who has. Living in Kansas (wheat country) occasionally pictures of
old threshers would appear in the paper where they were promptly
cut and filed. My father is in a farm related industry (tires) and
first heard about the Iron-Men Album from an old farmer who took
it. I obtained the address and subscribed. I read the magazine
faithfully but still was of contact with any real
‘engineers’ and equipment. I managed to get my father to
take me (reluctantly) to the McClouth Kansas show. I have learned
all I can out of books and magazines but remain out of touch. My
main pitfalls in my hobby are a busy non-enthusiastic father and
unavailability of equipment. It is not too far out of range but my
father has trouble making time to take me.
From my interest in steam tractors I have become interested in
other types of steam power, including cars. Yesterday, by chance, a
man pulled in across from my father’s store who was traveling
from Kansas City to Tuscon, Arizona (I think) to the steam meet
(cars) there. He was going all this distance in his Model E (I
think) 1926 Doble Steamer. If you know anything about this car you
would understand my amazement and delight. I barely got to meet the
gentleman but hope to stay in contact with him. There is also a
gentleman in Hesston, Kansas (about 90 miles southeast) who owns a
car museum with a Stanely Steamer.
(I finally got my father to take me once.)
I would appreciate your correspondence as a young engineer and
would appreciate any information on enthusiasts in this area and
wish to know of any other steam engine periodicals other than the
Iron-Men Album and Light Steam Power. I am familiar with the Clymer
Publixhing firm also.
Sincerely yours, Richard L. Friedeman, 2603 Forest, Great Bend,
Dear Donald: June 23, 1969
My name is Kevin Earley. I am fourteen and my interests are
steam engines, old water mills and motorcycles. I have a motorcycle
and a model steam engine. I thought you had a very good article. We
have a threshing machine and enjoy it very much. I have been
planning to build a model traction engine but am kind of slow. Well
I guess that’s all I have to say.
Sincerely yours, Kevin Earley, Preston, Minnesota 55965
I hope you have enjoyed reading these letters. In the future I
hope ,to be able to publish more of the letters I receive and hope
they will be of interest to you. I hope to have a report on one of
the shows in my next article. My address is: Donald Madison, Torque
Power, Live Steam Models, Firetower Road, Hyatts-town, Maryland
THE GOLDEN ROLL
Herman C. Watson who was born in Leavenworth Co., Kansas, July
12th, 1892, and passed away March 7, 1969 at the age of 76 years,
at the Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas following a
He lived in Leavenworth Co. all his life and was a farmer. He
was a charter member and organizer of the Antique Steam Engine and
Model Association Inc. which was held on his farm for seven
He owned his own threshing rig, a 22 H.P. Advance Rumely Engine
and 32′ Case Separator, threshing grain for his neighbors in
the past for many years. And it was with this threshing rig he
started the Threshing Bee in 1958.
Due to a stroke four years ago the Assn. purchased land at the
edge of McLouth, Kansas, where the show is now held.
Herman enjoyed getting ready for the show each year, also
attending others and helping out where he could, and meeting old
friends and making new friends. He will be missed by all who knew
Herman is survived by wife, Myrta of the home, daughter Mary L.
Hinds of Falls Church, Virginia and three grandchildren.
Sent in by Mrs. Herman Watson.
Charles G. Armagost passed away May 7, 1969, at the age of
One-Hundred Two. He was active and alert and was in the process of
gardening at the time of his death, which was sudden from a fall.
Mr. Armagost owned and operated threshing rigs for 40 years, his
first engine being ten horsepower Case. Refer to the Nov.-Dec. 1967
issue of Iron Men Album for picture of Mr. Armagost. Sent in by H.
W. Schermerhorn Lena, Illinois
May 24th was a sad day for members of the Stumptown Steam
Threshers Club, including the immediate Family and others, as our
former Secretary and cherished member was laid to rest in the Cadiz
Ralph Dickerson was born June 4th 1897, and served in the first
World War. After returning he went to Kansas City and took a course
in Automobile repair, and this was his life work. But one of his
main interests was the Steam Traction Engine as he grew up in this
environment. I, having personally know his Father and Grandfather
who was a Civil War Veteran who after returning from the
Battlefield started in the Threshing game with Horse Power. Their
first Steam Engine was a Blandy for the Saw Mill. Then a wood wheel
Peerles for the Thresher next a 10 hp. Russell, then a 16 hp.
Huber, next another 14 hp. Peerles, then a 12 hp. Advance and
finally a 16 hp. Aultman Taylor. Ralph at age 13, started firing
the Advance on the Sawmill, this was one of his favorite Engines.
His Grandfather went by the name of Sawyer John and was a Music
teacher besides, and many are the delightful hours I have spent
listening to him relate his threshing experiences. One time the
Governor belt broke on the Peerles and before they got it shut down
the Cylinder left the hand feed thresher and part of it stuck in an
over head Beam in the Barn, with no one hurt. I still remember a
song that Sawyer John would sing, it went as Follows. ‘WHAT IS
THE USE OF REFRAINING. FOR WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE’S A
WAY. TOMORROW THE SUN MAY BE SHINING, ALTHOUGH IT IS CLOUDY
After retiring from his Machine Shop, Ralph just could not
resist getting a Steam Engine to spend some happy hours with. In
the enclosed Photo, he is standing by his 24 hp. Greyhound. After
surviving several heart attacks he was forced to give up his
favorite past time and had to let the Engine go. He was
everyone’s Friend and took on the responsibility of seeing that
the other fellows who needed help came first. He and his Wife
Genevera were very active in our Club and it’s no easy task to
write this up for one of your best friends. But as the Spring
Flowers and Trees were bursting forth in all their Glory and the
hazy Afternoon Sun was Wading far in the Western Sky We bid Ralph,
Sent in by Raymond Laizure, RFD 3 – 43907, Cadiz, Ohio
The only thing he ever takes out on a moonlit night is his upper
A Letter From Kentucky
By Forrest Cunningham, Route 2, Harrodsburg, Kentucky 40330
We steam traction engine fans could not do without THE IRON MEN
ALBUM so don’t apologize or give any explanations for the price
rise. What else could you do. Just discontinue the publication.
Well, if you did, we devoted engine men would be right on your
neck. I am a charter subscriber. I have every copy in prime
condition, and would not take anything for them.
I am proud of having been a locomotive fireman and thresherman.
Now a farmer, I still have a passion for steam engines. I have
quite a collection of literature and pictures of steam traction
engines and locomotives. These subjects are now my hobby. I began
as a subscriber to THE AMERICAN THRESHERMAN in 1910 and have every
copy published from that date on. My favorite hobby magazine,
besides IRON MEN ALBUM is TRAINS. Besides my early collection of
threshing machinery catalogs I have added a great many through
advertisements in THE IRON MEN ALBUM.
I suppose we have our favorites in most everything. When it
comes to the traction engine, I was a booster for the Avery
undermounted, Reeves, and Nichols and Shepard or any double
cylinder rear mounted job. Back in our big steam railroading days
nothing could out pull one of those big flexible Mallet type
machines. They were rather expensive house hold pets for the
railroad companies as they had enormous appetites like our great
St. Bernard dogs. Some old engineers would say not to take them too
far away from a lake or mine, but I think they paid well for their
keep, like an old Reeves.
I am a member of The Pioneer Engineers Club of Indiana, which
meets at Rushville. We have a fine membership. Generally about 15
or 20 engines and a few threshing machines in wood and steel are
shown. Our honored friend, Mr. John Menchhofer of Indianapolis, is
always with us. If you could attend our reunion, you would enjoy
being with Jack Tucker of Georgetown Ky., Laurence Porter of Rush
County, and many others like us.
I am also a member of The Reeves Historical Society of N.A. We
get lots of interesting literature from Cyd Matthews who is
compiling a history of Reeves and Company.
My last engine was a Nichols & Shepard 20-75, D.C., R.M. No.
13963 which was sold to a tobacco bed steaming operator. Now I wish
I had kept it. I still have a separator, a Minneapolis 32-56, in
wood, No. 17969. It is in good condition, having been housed. I
have donated it to a state museum near Lexington, Ky., where it
will be preserved when a building is completed.
I wish others would donate their machinery and mementos to such
places, as did my esteemed friend Hollis Cortelyou of Higgins
Texas. He donated a big Case emblem to the Agriculture Hall of Fame
at Bonner Springs, Kansas. Hollis was one of the big thresher
operators of the midwest, who used Frick and Advance machinery. He
wrote many interesting articles and sent pictures for our
MY FIRST THRESHING MACHINE
Leroy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501
The enclosed photo shows a No. 4 Owens bean thresher I bought
new in 1914 from the J.L. Owens Co., of Minneapolis, Minn. It has
slow speed double cylinders 16′ wide, and rotary straw racks. I
made the bean elevator and bought a new Rosenthal No. 1
husker-shredder blower for it. This thresher had a capacity of 10
bushels per hour.
I used it to thresh my navy beans and Ito-San soy beans that
first year I grew soybeans, also did custom bean threshing with it.
At home, I ran it with my 3 hp. Chas. P. Willard vertical steam
engine that had a new Dutton vertical boiler made at Kalamazoo,
Mich. The year previous doing custom work, a neighbor ran it with
his 7 hp. New Way opposed cylinder gasoline engine.
My first year of grain threshing was done in 1917 when I put my
16 hp. D. June & Co. steam traction engine on a neighbor’s
30-46 inch Ruseel thresher for the season run. In 1918 I bought my
first 33-54′ Port Huron ‘Rusher’ grain thresher. In
1920, I bought another used complete threshing outfit of the
Advance Rumely Co., consisting of a 36-58′ Greyhound thresher
and the present 24-75 Port Huron ‘Longfellow’ steam
traction engine that I have owned 49 years. This engine looks
better today than when I bought it and it was 3 years old then.
In 1922, I bought another complete Port Huron outfit and in 1924
another 33-54′ Rusher thresher to replace the Greyhound
thresher that my customers said wasted too much grain. In 1928,1
bought a new complete McCormick-Deering outfit consisting of a
15-30 gear drive gas tractor and 28-46′ thresher. In that year,
all three of my Port Huron steam outfits were running, in addition
to the new gasoline outfit. Later on, I bought another
McCormick-Deering used steel thresher. The Port Huron
‘Rushers’ were my best threshers for cleaning and saving
grain. My last year of threshing was in 1950 and I bought a combine
in 1951 that I like real well. It solves the scarce help
50 YEARS OF SAWMILLING
Leroy W. Blaker, Alvordton, Ohio 43501
The enclosed photos show a sawmill scene that was taken 46 years
ago. The 24-75 hp. Port Huron engine was owned by me, and the No. 3
Enterprise sawmill by my partner- Dewitt Culbert. It was located 12
miles northwest of Hudson, Michigan in Hillsdale county.
This outfit sawed 400 thousand board feet of lumber on two jobs
the year previous. My engine carried 190 lbs. steam pressure, and I
hooked the reverse lever in the next to corner notch in reverse
quadrant for economy reasons. The engine had a big load pulling the
56′ new circular saw. sawdust blower, and a two saw edger.
Steam was taken from the boiler all the lime to run a 3 hp.
vertical engine that ran the buzz-saw for sawing slabs and trimming
waney edge boards.
These photos were taken by me when we were sawing on this job in
February and March 1923, when 1 was 34 years of age. The photo of
the 18 men were log cutters, sawmill help, log skidders, and tree
top wood cutters. The timber was mostly hard maple and consisted of
225 thousand board feet of lumber, and 200 cords of slab wood
beside what the engine used. My job was firing the engines on slab
wood, helping push out and unload the lumber truck, and throw away
the slab wood. J. was a busy man but I liked it.
That year was my last year of partnership sawing. In 1927, I
bought a used Reeves sawmill near Lansing, Michigan that I have
used for custom sawing over 40 years. When Reeves & Co. had a
branch office at Lansing, they had more Reeves mills sawing in that
vicinity than all other makes combined.