'OLD MIKE'


| July/August 1962



Old Mike

'OLD MIKE' in his last days.

RAYMOND LAIZURE

RFD No. 3 Cadiz, Ohio

The given name of one of the best Steam traction engines that ever turned a wheel in this community. 'OLD MIKE' an 18 HP. Gaar Scott that was the rating, but would develop 22 HP. Not very handsome and had its own particular faults, as all of them had. One was that it took two men to reverse it going down hill. But a person soon forgot its looks and faults, after being around it a few days, and realizing the power it had. If something suddenly got tight out at the mill, Mike would keep it turning or throw the belt.

The Engine first came into my sight one hot Summer day, while plowing corn, with the Side wipe and an old white Mare that had recently escaped from Alcatraz. I could smell the smoke and heard the Engine coming down the road. They stopped by a bridge in the valley below, to take on water. I snubbed the old white Outlaw to a Dogwood bush, not caring if she was gone when I returned. When I arrived at the scene, they were using the crosshead pump to fill the boiler, the artistic paint job of red and green commanded attention, along with the stately Elm trees which lined the road banks. After looking the Engine over, I thought to myself, that something worthwhile had been added to the community. I also took notice to the Big Tiger on the head tank.

Folks around declared, it was a well known fact, that a person didn't have to know anything to off hear on a sawmill, so they came after me, and I landed the job without any difficulty. Every time I would start away with a slab, I would come face to face with that Cat on the tank, naturally I couldn't figure what prompted the makers to come up with that trademark. We had just started to saw one morning, when the packing let loose in the Governor base. The force of the steam past the loose rubber made a squalling sound that could be heard for two miles, and kept it up till noon, as the throttle leaked, and no shut off valve. If there had been any wildcats in hearing distance, their feet would of went in reverse. Mike was hard to cool off, as it had a large short boiler with jacket, and I have seen 69 pounds of steam many mornings when we returned to work. A one armed man could of fired it and set on the tool box half the time.

After several years sawing, they made a sad mistake by trading the engine off, for five or six old Jersey cows that were on their second trip around the world, and badly in need of a set of uppers. Along to boot was a popular make of tractor of those days, which caused more vile language than anything that had appeared on the scene up to that time. By jacking up one hind wheel, and repeating the 23rd Psalm backwards, if the moon was in the last quarter, it would mostly start. But no one seemed to have legs long enough to disengage the clutch, and the second Day at its new home it had a chance to prove its ability by tearing down about half of the yard fence, and made kindling wood of the old Plymouth Rock Roosters Mansion which formerly stood in the corner of the yard. Luck was on the Rooster's side, as he had just left home on one of his regular trips to the truck patch for worms, and narrowly missed being wheeled off to the Morgue.

Along with this up and coming oil eater, came an overcoat, to be put on at sundown. The agent remarked there were Bumblebees in a box on the side of the motor, and would refuse to sing if moisture got on their vocal cords. Not many days passed until a sneaky thunder cloud approached from behind a knob, and down came the rain. The Bumblebees kicked up their heels one at a time, and the smoking contraption got choked on kerosene, and passed out dead as a Mackeral.