'Wentlea' Capel St. Mary Ipswich, Suffolk, England
THE IRON-MEN ALBUM continues to make and keep friends over here and Elmer has suggested that a paragraph or two now and again to tell our American cousins just what we are up to, might be acceptable.
I attended the annual General Meeting of the East Anglian Traction Engine Club recently and at the class of the business part of the meeting, we had a real treat when my friend and fellow committee member, Arthur Clark, showed us some of the coloured slides covering his visit to the United States last year. We noticed a lot of things that differ between your engines and ours (greater differences between our respective engines than between ourselves). Quite the 'most noticeable among these differences is the large number of engines apparently built and used in your country without boiler lagging (jacket) and although I can see here a big advantage in this when it comes to having a boiler inspected, we just cannot see how you can get the same efficiency or is it our colder climate I am forgetting? Several of the Club members who saw these pictures, gasped when they saw the long pipes on many of the engines for taking the steam from the boiler at one point to the cylinder at another didn't this mean the steam getting 'wet' before it reached the place where it had to do the work? Then you have engines with return-flu boilers quite strange to us, as also the cast-iron rims to the wheels with lugs cast in. The practice over here was to build a wheel up but of course we mustn't forget the very different conditions under which your engines had to work. Then there are the different fuels you used. Straw as a fuel was never used in this country nor wood fuel unless it was in the firebox of a portable engine driving a saw at a lumber mill whereas with the wide choice of coal available over here, drivers would argue all night on the merits or otherwise of a particular kind of coal from one mine as compared with the coal from another. While on the topic of fuel, we will from now on have to be most careful in this country, as in certain areas there are to be smokeless zones, where no smoke is to be permitted (even steamships going up rivers will be affected!) so as there are still a few town councils retaining their steam road rollers, we find them turning over to coke as fuel, as in the City of Norwich. Not unconnected with this question of fuels is the long belt used on all the pictures of American threshing rigs (or 'tackles' as we so long-windily call them). I hope to have my engine on the Local History stand at our County Show this summer, it was built here. It will be belted up to a threshing machine. We did this a year or two back and I well remember the interest it caused, particularly among a Party of American from a near-by airfield; they just couldn't take their eyes off the engine.
We have no enthusiast with the number of engines owned by 'Steam Engine Joe' (48 isn't it?) Arthur showed us some good shots of these but we know someone who has 32 and is still collecting.
Arthur explained that not all the slides he was showing were of his own taking, but acknowledged some as being presented by Gilbert Johnn, George Bedner and a Mr. Keep of New York. If any of these gentlemen read this I want them to know how much we were able to appreciate their kindness. Why don't they come over and take some of ours? We would go 'all out' to make ours look good if they did.