Letting off Steam


| May 2005



Richard Backus

PRESENT AND PAST

As we head into spring and summer - the heart of the show season - it seems an appropriate time to plant of few reminders for those of you planning on submitting articles or photographs about your shows or the shows you attend.

Mostly, I want to remind folks who are using digital cameras to take photos at the camera's highest-quality setting. Photos taken on a typical digital camera's lowest-quality setting generally won't make the transition to print. The photos can look great on your computer screen at home, but by the time we're done formatting them, they're a quarter of their original size. Truth be told, at some levels plain old film is still much better, but it's hard to argue with a digital camera's ease of use - not to mention the almost absolute lack of film processing costs associated with digital photography.

And on the subject of photographs, I'd like to repeat a request I've made in the past for old photographs and steam-related artwork. We're actively archiving all the images we have already published, and we'd like to build on that archive with material we can show off in future issues or even in a special issue or two.

What we're really wanting are original negatives, because working from those we can work up stunning photographs. We're especially interested in any old glass-plate negatives showing steam traction engines or other agricultural scenes of yesterday. Shipping that type of precious cargo can be a little nerve wracking, but if any readers have material along those lines I'd encourage them to contact me - we'll help in any way we can.

PAST AND PRESENT

This issue has a great mix of material, ranging from Donald Thoma's threshing memories as related by Bob Rhode (page 14), to Bill Vossler's report on the massive 350 HP Wetherill Corliss engine belonging to the Stearns County Pioneer Club, Albany, Minn. But the article that grabs me the most is our feature beginning on page 6 highlighting the love for steam shared by Harold "Bud" Thomas and his family in Cumming, Ga.

Harold, who's been around steam all his life (his family's the "Thomas" in Cumming's annual Thomas-Mashburn Parade), has successfully infused his interest in just about every member of his family, including his 22-year-old granddaughter, Caroline Chester, and his 13-year-old grandson, A.J. Nahlik. Caroline's now the proud owner of an ex-Rynda 50 HP Case, and it's doubtful that A.J., who's now on his second scale engine, a 23-90 Barker, will be satisfied for long. We expect to read about his first full size engine before long.