Steam Engines & Threshing Machines

| March/April 2003

Frick Backhoe?

Gene L. McLaughlin, 231 Scenic Drive, Mocksville, NC 27028, sends in this interesting shot of what looks to be an 18 HP Frick, apparently modified for work as a backhoe. Gene writes:

I think this is an 18 HP Frick double-cylinder with the heavy, industrial-type wheels. Apparently it pushes the scoop pan (with the traction engine going backwards) into the soil, then lifts and swings the load of soil and dumps it into a waiting wagon or truck. Would you call this an early steam backhoe?

Lehmer Update

Steam historian and author Robert T. Rhode, 4745 Glenway Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45238, e-mail:, writes in, adding some information concerning his article on the Lehmer Model (see the November/December 2002 issue of Iron-Men Album). Bob writes:

I thank Brad Vosburg for calling my attention to an article published in the January 1901 issue of The Thresher men's Review and reprinted in Engineers and Engines for February 1960. Entitled 'The Story of an Old Traction Engine: Isaac Lehmer's Achievement,' the article features several illustrations and photographs, including a portrait of Lehmer and detailed drawings of Lehmer's traction device. Until Brad sent me a copy of the story, I was unaware of its existence. It does not alter anything in my recent article on Lehmer, but it does verify that W.N. Rumely, upon learning of the Lehmer traction device, 'took immediate steps' to have an engine with the Lehmer traction conversion kit 'put in evidence in the case' involving friction clutch patents that were then in litigation.

Boiler Safety Correction

Harold Stark wrote in to let us know a mistake was made in his article in the January/February issue of Steam Traction. Harold's article on boiler safety, Harold noted a study of boilers conducted by Hartford Steam Boiler Insurance Co. in 1893. We inadvertently omitted that the study covered the inspection of 151,000 boilers, not the 25 the article implied. Of those 151,000, between 10 and 25 percent were deemed defective and/or dangerous. The study also noted that the U.S. experienced over 300 boiler explosions that same year.

Labor and Industry Museum Opens

Jack Wittlich writes in to let readers know the long-awaited Labor and Industry Museum in Belleville, Ill., has opened. Jack, who is vice president of the recently opened museum, writes: