MY FINAL THRESHING RUN

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''Jump'' Upright Hap Press operating 1967 Pageant of Steam at Canandaigua, New York. New York Steam Engine Association.

Bismarck, Mo. 63624

It was in the early summer of 1937, while living in Mulberry
Grove, Dlinois, that I was approached by a local farmer who
inquired if it were true that I had had some experience in running
traction engines, and when I informed him that the report was true,
he told me he owned a 20 horsepower Nichols & Sheppard engine
and a 32 inch Keck-Gonnerman thresher. He went on to say that the
engine was sitting in the middle of a farmer’s field, where it
had been for four years. The farmer who owned the field moved out
of the way in time for the fall plowing of the fields. Not being
too busy, and having a yen to get back on an engine again, I agreed
to help him get the engine out of the farmer’s way.

The engine was located about 3 miles east of Coffeen, III., and
the owner decided we would drive the engine to Coffeen. Taking a
truck with the water tank loaded on the back, together with a
supply of coal and a number of accessories that had been removed
from the engine, we made our way to the scene, arriving about 9
o’clock a.m. I looked the boiler over and decided it was
reasonably safe, from what I could see. The hand hole plates were
put into place, and while the owner filled the boiler, I busied
myself putting the injector, steam gauge, whistle, pop valve, and
various other parts in place where they had been taken off shortly
after the engine was last used. To my surprise, no leaks showed up
in the flues, so when the water began to show in the bottom of the
glass, I started a fire in the firebox, keeping a lookout for leaks
as the steam pressure began to show on the gauge, but no leaks
showed up.

When the pressure reached 40 pounds, I tried the engine and
found it ran reasonably good. Letting it roll over slowly, I turned
the crank on the oiler for several minutes to work a good supply of
oil into the cylinder.

When the pressure reached 75 pounds, I put in the pin (The
engine had been relieved of some of the clutch parts) and with
little effort, the drivers climbed out of the holes where they had
sunk while standing for four years. The owner told me that the pop
valve was set for 150 pounds, but before it reached that point, I
took the fire poker and pulled the lever on the pop to make sure it
wasn’t stuck. We started down the road toward town and had not
gone very far when I noticed the exhaust was a bit sharper than it
should have been. The steam guage was mounted on the dome, and a
bit hard to read, but looking at it closely I saw that I had
considerably more than 150 pounds of steam. Not wishing to subject
the boiler to the added surge of pressure that results from
suddenly closing the throttle, I jumped off the platform, grabbed
the hooked fire poker and ran up beside the engine and pulled the
lever on the pop valve. I fired lightly the rest of the way and in
due time the old ‘Nick & Shep’ was parked in the rear
lot of a public garage.

Pictured is Phil Rowley, Treas. (cigar and white hat) on
platform Feeder and Jump. Jim Ertle, director (back turned)-also on
platform Feeder and Jump. Phil operates Buffalo Pitts Twin and Jim
owns Baker Uniflow and also several large and unusual gas tractors.
Both show and parade these nicely restored engines.

A few days later the owner approached me again and said he had
decided to bring the engine home, if I would agree to run it for
him. After a bit of hesitation, I agreed. If I remember correctly,
the distance was about 18 miles. So, went back to Coffeen, built a
fire and waited for the pressure to come up. When the gauge showed
40 pounds, something tore loose in the fire box, the steam started
rolling out in billows from the fire door, draft door and the
stack. My first impression was that the soft plug had let go, but I
was sure I had a half-glass of water when I built the fire.

When the boiler had cooled sufficiently, I crawled into the fire
box and found a small hole in the crown sheet, just at the edge of
the hole where the soft plug screwed in. (The plug was still
intact.) Removing the plug it was found that the thin portion of
the crown sheet was no larger than a dime, while the hole that had
blown out was not quite large enough to admit an ordinary lead
pencil. It appeared that the threads on the plug had been leaking
over a period of time, resulting in the flue sheet wasting away at
that point.

Several methods of repairing were suggested by various people,
ranging from calling the scrap buyer, to welding the entire hole
and redrilling the soft plug hole at another point. The owner left
it up to me.

The original plug was 3/4 inch, so I took a pipe reamer, reamed
the hole large enough to thread for a 2′ pipe. Fearing to use a
cast iron plug inside the firebox, I went to a machine shop, had a
plug turned from a piece of steel shaft, and drilled for fusible
metal. The plug was allowed to extend slightly above the top of the
crown sheet, after being screwed in with a 24 inch wrench.

In the process of reaming the hole to the larger size, we were
able to get rid of the thin portion of the crown sheet. The engine
was driven home without incident, and was used to make a
neighborhood threshing run that fall. And that was my last steam
threshing run.

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