Sawmill, Box 72, Ray, Indiana 46737
Many men ask me and have for years what make of engine was the
best all around for threshing and sawmill work. Well, of all the
engines I have had and engines that I have rebuilt and handled for
other men, here is what I always come up with; why I will explain
later. I am not saying anything against other makes for they are
The engine I loved the best and it did not belong to me, was a
19 H.P. Simple Port Huron, owned by Elmer Raymond, Shadyside Bird
Lake, Hill is dale County, Michigan. Mr. Raymond had a Port Huron
Compound that he traded in for this new 19 Simple. This all
happened 60 years ago. The new engine was shipped in to Pittsford,
Michigan on a flat car. As the depot did not have a dock for
unloading, we used railroad ties at the end of the flat car to make
a ramp, unloaded the new engine and then ran the old engine up on
the flat car to be shipped back to Port Huron. Mr. Raymond and
Frank Snyder had a sawmill out west of the depot. There was a shed
over the mill so we removed the canopy top from the new engine and
ran her in the mill. We carried the top in and wired it up above in
the mill to keep it out of the weather. This was in early part of
winter and Mr. Raymond was leaving for Florida for the winter. He
asked my father, Bert Earl, if he would let me run and take care of
the engine while he was gone. Father finally said yes and I was
happy about that, only I missed some school days as I was at that
time 16 years old.
As you know, at that time no coal and all slab wood to fire on.
That 19 had a jacked boiler with brass bands and was that a
beautiful engine. Here are a few of her points, impossible to take
your steam away if you had any wood. Mr. Bud Palmer, a friend of
mine and a good man and a good sawyer, tried to get me a number of
times. He never made it. He would watch when I was outside buzzing
slabs, then he would pour it on. I had laid away some 4-foot hard
maple slabs to give me a lift. Then to make him feel real good, I
would let the 19 pop. She was the best steamer I ever fired and her
drive wheels the best in snow or mud. Also her governor control
right handy to change speed. Also easy to handle and steer, like in
barn yards and on the road and setting separator and pushing them
up a barn grade with a bunting pole. Also her gears were a rather
fine pitch and she sure was quiet on them. She would work on 100
pounds or 150 pounds and you could start right up on 75 pounds. It
did not take her long to hit the pop. Her boiler was the best water
bottom boiler I ever saw.
She has been gone many years. I wish she had belonged to me. Her
exhaust sharp and true was a sound I will never forget. We would
shut the mill down at noon and would come back at 1 o’clock and
she would be setting right on the pop, with only a slab or two in
the fire box and January weather. Also on the intermediate gear was
a brake drum or brake shoe or band. This had linkage that coupled
to the foot pedal on the right side of the boiler under the
steering gear shaft. All right, back her in the belt, set the brake
and no blocking to monkey with. She was not quite up to date as she
failed to shake and shimmy and set real still while working.
Goldsmith’s hobby will steam you up. The prize of his
collection is a New Huber straw-burning steam traction engine, new
that is, around 1866, the last patent date mentioned on its iron
sides. The Huber is as cute as a child’s Christmas toy only 50
times bigger and about half as large as some of the steamers that
followed it. With its gaily decorated cab it is a parade stopper,
and the despair and envy of every steam enthusiast that sees
Don’t for a moment think that Goldsmith came by this prize
easily. When he bought it from Elmer Severson of Spring Valley it
was what the fraternity of steam hobbyists call a ‘basket
model.’ The old steamer was ‘stripped down, and everything
in pieces,’ Goldsmith said. It looked like a wreck and was one.
In putting it together is was necessary to install new flues, a new
stack and a firebox.
Yet the steamer was rebuilt within two and one-half months.
Goldsmith had plenty of help. The steamer was wanted in the
forthcoming Amery Fall festival and ‘three or four guys came
out every evening to help, and we would work until 11
o’clock,’ Goldsmith said.
Since its initial appearance the Huber has been under wraps, so
to speak, in Goldsmith’s garage. The reason is that ‘if I
didn’t cover it up I’d have so many visitors I’d never
get anything else done,’ he said.
Goldsmith’s garage looks like an all-purpose rambler run
wild. This is because he needs room to store his steam engine, his
separators, gas engines, and a collection of antique miscellany.
And obviously, it takes a room full of tools to restore all this
and put it in working order.