3173 Page Green Road, Cortland, New York 13045
I started my threshing career in 1908 as a band cutter on an Advance outfit owned by Ezra Dutton about four miles north of Janesville, Wisconsin. I was eight years old. I have always been a steam buff, although I never owned one except a couple of toy ones. I worked around them a lot and my one ambition was to be a railroad engineer. I applied for a job as fireman on our local railroad and was told by the road foreman to get a job in the roundhouse to acquaint myself with the engines. I was given a job as engine watch, keeping the fires going and water in the boilers on the engines that were waiting to go out and build new fires in those which had been serviced. I had a little trouble learning how to operate the Hancock Inspirators they were tricky things, but they sure could put water in the boilers in a hurry. I also fired the stationary boilers on the regular fireman's days off.
After a few months, I went on the road firing a big 4-6-0 camel back. These engines had an enormous fire box built to burn rice coal, which is nothing more than hard coal screenings. The fire box was so big that there was no room for the cab in the rear, so they put it in front of the fire box. The rice coal idea was a complete failure, but as they steamed very easily on soft coal, they were run until they were worn out.
After I was on the road about three years, business began to diminish, the passenger trains were taken off, and most of the firemen were laid off and a lot of the engineers went back to firing. By that time, I had saved up enough money to make a down payment on a run down farm with good potential and with my wife and son and daughter, I went back to farming. I had to work at other jobs for eleven years and farm nights and week-ends before I got the farm stocked and equipped and on a paying basis.
I have owned two threshing outfits, an Avery Separator and a Samson tractor and an Advance-Rumley Separator and an Int. 10-20 tractor. About ten years ago, I sold the thresher and bought a combine. I have done a lot of custom work for my neighbors with both outfits.
Pictured is a model I made from bits and pieces found in my junk. It is not a true model of any engine, but I call it a Case. It runs off of flashlight batteries and a small electric motor hidden in the boiler. It was a lot of work, but worth it.
I am retired now and rent my land to a neighbor, but I am keeping machinery as I have a grandson who is determined to be a farmer and I hope that he will be able to continue on where I left off.
In your September-October 1975 issue of IMA, on page 2, there is a letter from Laurence Graves, who seems to be a bit confused about the horsepower rating of tractors. In the case of steam tractors, it was estimated that it took approximately two thirds of their power to propel themselves in a level field thus a 25-75 engine was 25 H.P. on the drawbar and 75 H.P. on the belt. Friction on the gears and bearings had very little, if anything, to do with it.
Then came the kerosene tractors, which delivered more horsepower per pound of weight than the streamers, or about one half of their power was required to propel themselves so they were rated 10-20, 15-30, etc. With the advent of Diesel motors and pneumatic tires, this ratio was further reduced and I would feel safe in saying that some of the modern tractors require as little as one third or less of their power to propel themselves. Most of all tractors are now rated by the actual horsepower delivered at the P.T.O.
On page 20 of the same issue is a request from Charles Scheetz requesting the make of a steamer in his picture. The low mounted boiler, the high steam dome, the tall stack, the right hand engine, the left hand belt pulley, and the single spoke construction of the rear wheels leads me to believe that it is an early Peerless.
My wife and I have a motor home and we plan on visiting some of the steam shows every summer. We have attended them as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Iowa, but the best one that we have seen yet is right here near home and we never miss it. It is the Spring Grove Show, put on by Mr. Charles Hitchcock at Levanna, New York. Though not by any means the largest, it is the most complete and varied show that we have ever seen. You name it they have it and they do it.