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Past and Present

| December 2008

  • A return-flue Case
    Provencher Photo #1: A return-flue Case, built before 1900, powering a thresher with an extended drive rod shaft. (From This was Wheat Farming, page 95, by Kirby Brumfield.)
  • Bob Crowell, Batesville, Ind., mans the Steam Traction, Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine booth
    Bob Crowell, Batesville, Ind., mans the Steam Traction, Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine booth tables at the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 2007.
  • Nichols-Shepard double-cylinder traction engine
    Turnage Photo #1: A Nichols-Shepard double-cylinder traction engine. These engines came in four sizes, 16 HP, 20 HP, 25 HP and 30 HP. (Photo from a 1913 Nichols & Shepard Co. catalog.)

  • A return-flue Case
  • Bob Crowell, Batesville, Ind., mans the Steam Traction, Farm Collector and Gas Engine Magazine booth
  • Nichols-Shepard double-cylinder traction engine


Charles Provencher Jr., P.O. Box 81589, Cleveland, OH 44181; (724) 654-6066, has some interesting questions this issue. Charles writes:

I am writing to comment about Harris Photo #1 (Steam Traction, Fall 2007, page 8). This photo shows a traction engine powering a threshing machine by means of a PTO device instead of a belt. It might be of interest to know that in the book This was Wheat Farming by Kirby Brumfield, published in 1968, there is also a photo (page 95) showing a traction engine powering a thresher by a PTO rod, not a belt. The caption states the photo (no date given) was taken in Pendleton, Ore., and the engine is a Case return-flue, not mentioning if it was a straw burner. To my 80-year-old eyeballs, there are similarities in the two engines. Perhaps some young, sharp-eyed staffer should do a comparison and give their opinion. The results might help identify the engine shown in the magazine.

In the "110 HP Case" article by Bill Vossler (Steam Traction, Fall 2007, page 18), it was stated that good firing technique was to put "black on black." Did the author really mean to say that? When I first learned to fire boilers in September 1949, I was always told to put "black on white." That is, put the fresh coal on the hot spots on the grate to prevent them from becoming too thin. So, I am wondering if I correctly understand the author's meaning, not to criticize, just a comment.

I still fire, but now not for pay just hobby fun.

Editor's note: One of our sharp-eyed staffers took your advice Charles. Indeed, the engine in the photo from This was Wheat Farming looks to be the same as the engine in the photo submitted by Paul Harris for identification. Readers like you have direct experience with this machinery, and we depend on your 80-year-old eyes and knowledge to help inform our readers. Thanks for your help. 

As for the question on firing with coal, the actual quote Charles refers to reads, "They watched and opened the door, and looked in and tossed the fuel in right on top of the dark spots. They had a bed of coal and an efficient fire, and I'm willing to say they would use half the fuel, or less, than what is used today." 


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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