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.
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?
Steam historian and author Robert T. Rhode,
4745 Glenway Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45238, e-mail:
email@example.com, 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,
The Labor and Industry Museum in Belleville, Ill., celebrated
its Grand Opening on Aug. 10, 2002. Over 1,400 visitors viewed
exhibits that included antique autos and new displays in what was
once the Beck Cigar Manufactory. Located in downtown Belleville,
this restored 1837 German Street House showcases the working
heritage of the community that once claimed to be the ‘Stove
Capital of the World.’ Over 20 restored stoves, early coal
mining, labor history, carpentry, bottle blowing, pattern making
and foundry exhibits tell of the work and workers who made our city
The highlight of the day was the unveiling of the 1895 Harrison
Jumbo traction engine built in Belleville. Museum supporters
purchased this 12 HP, 12,000 pound workhorse from the Henry Ford
Museum in 2001. After nine months of restoration, the team of
dedicated enthusiasts received their state inspection tag.
Jumbo’s keepers plan to operate the engine during special
Museum hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groups may make
reservations by calling (618) 222-9430. There is no admission
charge, but donations are welcome. The Labor and Industry Museum is
located at 123 N. Church St., Belleville, IL 62220.
1895 12 HP HARRISON JUMBO STEAM TRACTION ENGINE IN THE
COLLECTION OF THE NEWLY OPENED LABOR AND INDUSTRY MUSEUM IN
BELLEVILLE, ILL., WAS BOUGHT AND RESTORED BY VOLUNTEERS. HARRISON
WAS BASED IN BELLEVILLE,
Aultman & Taylor and More
Kevin M. Small, P.O. Box 92, 1279 Perry Hwy.,
Portersville, PA 16051, writes in this issue, thanking readers and
sending along some great shots. Kevin writes:
Thank you for a great magazine, and I also want to thank all of
the contributors. The Aultman & Taylor history series is
excellent, and the 45-120 HP Aultman & Taylor traction engine
in the September/October 2002 issue (Chapter 13) caught my
I am writing to let my fellow readers know there is a picture of
this 45-120 Aultman & Taylor engine in the March/April 1965
issue of IMA on page 41. Mr. Lloyd Hinker of Woonsocket, S.D.,
submitted the photo. His brother thought it was a 50-150 Nichols
& Shepard. However, Nichols did not build a 50-150 engine.
I am positive it is the Fred Udell 45-120 Aultman & Taylor
engine. The picture was taken near Faulkton, S.D., where this
engine was used. The photo shows the left hand side of the engine
and the huge intermediate gear. It is a very interesting photo,
I would also like to show some panoramic photos taken at Mineral
Beach, Finleyville, Pa., September 2000.
SMALL PHOTO #1: AUSTIN MONK MANS THE THROTTLE OF WILLIS R.
ABEL’S 1913 40-120 HP GEISER PEERLESS WHILE JOHN SCHROCK
Photo #1 shows the 1913 40-120 HP Z-3 Geiser Peerless engine
owned by Willis R. Abel. With his hand on the throttle, Austin Monk
has no trouble pulling the 20, 14-inch John Deere plows. John
Schrock is steering.
SMALL PHOTO #2: 1910 36-120 HP RUMELY, NUMBER 5675, 7-3/4-INCH
BORE BY 14 INCH STROKE DOUBLE CYLINDER ENGINE. IT HAS A 8UTT-STRAP
CANADIAN SPECIAL BOILER AND 12 INCH EXTENSION WHEELS.
Photo #2 shows a 1910 36-120 HP Rumely, number 5675. This is a
7-3/4-inch bore by 14-inch stroke double-cylinder engine. This
engine came from Dawson Creek in the Northwest Territories of
Canada. It has a butt-strap Canadian Special boiler and 12-inch
SMALL PHOTO #3: 1910 35 120 HP NICHOLS & SHEPARD, NUMBER
11149, 7-7/8-INCH BORE BY 11-INCH STROKE DOUBLE CYLINDER SIDE
MOUNT. IT HAS A BRODERICK CANADIAN SPECIAL BOILER.
Photo #3 shows a 1910 35-120 HP Nichols & Shepard, number
11149. This engine is a 7-7/8-inch bore by 11-inch stroke
double-cylinder side mount. It has a Broderick Canadian Special
I have enjoyed all the photos and articles over the past years,
but I have a question for Larry Mix: What exactly is a ‘corner
bracket’ Advance? Is this the forerunner of the 20 HP
Advance-Rumely? Are there very many corner bracket Advance engines
1908 ‘States’ 32-110 HP Reeves
Among the excellent photos reader Kevin M. Small, P.O. Box 92,
1279 Perry Hwy., Portersville, PA 16051, sent in for Past and
Present was this shot of a 1908 ‘States’ 32-110 HP
The ‘States’ moniker refers to its U.S. specifications,
the Reeves 32-110 HP also available as a ‘Canadian Special’
built to Canadian specifications. U.S. spec 32-110 HP Reeves used a
Brownell boiler, early Canadian spec units used Broderick Brothers
boilers and later Canadian spec units used Titusville boilers. Note
the 12-inch extension wheels on the Reeves.
Sitting to the Reeves’ right is what looks to be yet another
‘States’ 32-110 HP Reeves, while to its left sits an 18 HP
Gaar-Scott, a very popular engine in the Gaar-Scott line. Next to
the Gaar-Scoot is a Geiser Peerless, most likely a Z-3 judging by
the cylinder and piping. Kevin took this panoramic shot at Mineral
Beach, Finleyville, Pa., in September 2000.
Return Flue Inspections
Doug Reetz, 5011 Road 77, Potter, NE 69156,
writes in, looking for any one who might be able to give him
information about particulars of return-flue boilers. Doug
I have been reading a lot about boiler explosions, care and
maintenance issues, as well as about inspections and
certifications. However, every thing I’ve read is about
straight-flue boilers. Is there anyone out there who could tell us
about return-flue boilers and their dangers or weak points? Is
anything different required in their inspection?
We have a 1920 18 HP Huber that previously has been in running
order and that we played with for years, but it’s now in need
of repair and we could use some help. It has been in the family for
50 years, and I plan to write a history of it for readers in the
Groton, Westinghouse and Buffalo-Pitts
Reader Brad Vosburg, 10871 Vosburg Road,
Farmersville Station, NY 14060, sends in some wonderful shots this
issue, entrusting us to take care of these original photos and
share them with readers. Brad writes:
These three pictures were all taken some where in the township
of Allen, N.Y., in the early 1900s.
VOSBURG PHOTO # 1: GROTON ENGINE MADE BY GROTON (N.Y.)
MANUFACTURING CO., AND LIKELY A 10 HP ENGINE.
Photo #1 is a Groton engine and water wagon. It looks like they
are getting ready to move to the next job. Note the wooden front
wheels on the engine.
Photo #2 is the same crew in front of the Westinghouse thresher.
These machines were very popular in this area.
Photo #3 shows a threshing scene with a Buffalo-Pitts engine
supplying the power. On the back of the picture it identifies it as
William Lee’s machine. Barn threshing was popular in our area,
as most farmers kept dairy cows and used the straw for bedding.
In the January/February 2003 issue of Steam Traction,
reader John Spalding sent in a selection of ‘mystery’
photos, challenging readers to identify the engines shown. More
than a few of you responded, and our first response came from
faithful contributor Lyle Hoffmaster, 1845 Marion
Road, Bucyrus, OH 44820. Lyle writes:
I am going to make a try at identifying those wonderful pictures
John Spalding sent in:
Photo #1 is a 20 HP Case center crank engine with a Woolf com
pound, built some time between 1892 and 1898. What little we can
see of the separator leads me to believe it is also a Case. The
slat stacker is so high it must be one of the four-wheel
independent stackers. I hope they folded it down before moving!
Photo #2 is a McNamar steam traction engine built in Newark,
Ohio. It is a 12 HP or smaller, as it uses the bar guides. One
unique detail is the smokebox door hinged to the boiler
-there’s no smokebox door ring. The differential did not divide
the torque evenly, but in a ratio of 52:30, the left wheel carrying
the heavier load. The weight of the engine was distributed in about
the same proportions. The reason given to customers was that the
left wheel, running as it usually did in the middle of the road
where traction was better, should be pulling the most. Probably a
better point was that it allowed an assembly that was not as wide.
It was also cheaper to build.
McNamar engines used all-steel gears. A light-built engine, they
were well liked in hilly country and where there were poor bridges
– and lots of them! They were well thought out, lasted well and
were well liked.
Photo #3 may say Bowen & Quick all over it, but it’s a
Stevens engine and I believe also a Stevens apron separator. When
men of the stature of A. J. Goodban liked a Stevens engine, they
must have been okay.
Photo #4 is an Aultman Star under-mounted engine. My son-in-law,
Dan Greger, has one of these engines in running order. Dan also
suggested that Photo #2 was a McNamar.
For the new year, let’s keep the crown sheet up, the steam
up, the water up and the reverse hooked up!
John Spalding’s photos also got the attention of Thomas
Downing, R.R. 3, Box 149A, Ellwood City, PA 16117. Thomas
My congratulations for the photo collection of John Spalding. I
just had to drop a line and give an opinion as to the make of the
I’m going to say that Photo #1 is an early Case. Is it just
center crank, or is it a tandem-compound like later Port Hurons? I
know Case made some center crank engines in the early years, and
some engines were jacketed, as this one is. In addition, the wheels
are Case type, as are the step sides. For a bit the front pedestal
had me thinking Port Huron, but some early Case photo’s in
Full Steam Ahead appear to be like this one, rather than
the pressed steel bracket on most later Case engines. The smokebox
door looks like one on a portable Case dating from circa 1886 that
belongs to the estate of the late Morgan Hill of Linesville, Pa.
What in the world is the iron ring and rod sticking out of the top
of the smokebox area?
Photo #2 really challenged me, and Scheidler is the best I can
guess. Is the original good enough to read that oval tag on the
engine bed? Whatever it is, it is again an old one. I notice it is
sit ting on planks is this a factory photo?
Photo #3 is also a bit of a problem. I will guess it’s an
A.W. Stevens. With the drop canopy curtains, headlight and that
water tank(?) by the fly wheel, it is a bit confusing. I would say
all those amenities were added by the owner/operator. By the looks
of the smokebox door it could also be a Canadian Waterloo engine
slipped across into New York. They are quite distinctive.
As John noted, Photo #4 is easy, and what a nice photo of a
Double Star by C. Aultman of Canton, Ohio. Aultman closed up about
1905, so it is also quite a vintage machine and one of a rather
small production. I wonder if it is one of the two or three
Finally, I rather took a shock yesterday when I pulled out the
magazine from the rural mailbox. I thought some other publisher was
starting a new one. I suppose you will get some flack over the
change, but not much from me as the new title is perhaps more
appropriate. It is hard to lose an old friend, even if it is
inanimate. Keep up the good work.
Foundry Info Sought
Patrick Martin, professor of Archaeology and director of
graduate studies in industrial archaeology at Michigan
Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI
49931-1295, (906) 487-2070, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, is looking for
information regarding the old West Point Foundry that once occupied
an important place in Cold Spring, N.Y. Patrick writes:
Founded in 1817, and stimulated by government support to develop
and produce ordnance, the foundry made a wide reputation for its
cannon and shot, especially in the Civil War. It was one of four
facilities supported by the government following the War of 1812,
and received a steady stream of contracts during nearly 100 years
of operation. The foundry was particularly noted for the
development and production of the Parrott Gun, a reinforced, rifled
cannon, named after its inventor, William Parrott, the
superintendent of the foundry.
In addition to ordnance, however, the foundry also produced a
range of other items including stationary and marine steam engines,
locomotives (including some of the earliest in America), water
power turbines and transmission systems, iron buildings and pipes
and valves for large water systems (including the Boston Waterworks
and the Croton Acqueduct that served New York City).
After falling on hard times in the late 19th century, the large
facility was largely unused and deteriorated in the early 20th
In 1996 the property was acquired by Scenic Hudson Inc., an
environmental and land preservation organization, for eventual
public interpretation. In 2000, Scenic Hudson began a partnership
with the Industrial Archaeology Program at Michigan Technological
University to conduct historical and archaeological research at the
site in preparation for interpretive programs that will develop.
See http://www.industrialarchaeology.net for information about the
program and the project.
The project includes extensive documentary research, combined
with traditional archaeological investigations. As a part of the
historical research, we are seeking surviving products of the
foundry, such as steam engines and other heavy equipment. We know
of a surviving engine at the Cornwall Furnace in Pennsylvania, and
a fine beam engine and water wheel on a sugar plantation in Puerto
Rico. We expect that other examples are scattered around the world,
and would like to hear about them in order to make an inventory
list and possibly examine them. Any information would be
Case Engines and Nichols & Shepard
Steam engine fan Melvin Kestler, 1954 W.
Minbush Drive, Green Valley, AZ 85614, sends some photos this
issues, with some insight into what’s going on in each picture.
KESTLER PHOTO #1: 25 HP 1909 CASE PLOWING OUTFIT NEAR HUXTON,
COLO. STANDING BEHIND THE BUNKERS AND WEARING A WHITE HAT IS MELVIN
KESTLER ‘S FATHER, GEORGE.
Photo # 1 shows a Case steam-plowing outfit owned by my father,
George Kestler (George is wearing the white hat), breaking sod near
Haxtun, Colo. This picture was copied from a post card dated June
28, 1915. The engine is a 1909 Case 25 HP. My father wrote on the
card that he had plowed 1,000 acres and had 1,500 more to do. Note
the wide, 36-inch drivers and the steering arrangement.
KESTLER PHOTO #2: MELVIN’S 1915 65 HP CASE, NUMBER 33090,
40-INCH CASE SEPARATOR AND CASE WATER WAGON.
Photo #2 shows my steam engine outfit at the Tri-State Antique
Engine and Thresher Show held at Bird City, Kan., where the outfit
was shown and demonstrated for 17 years before being shipped on the
railroad to Twin Falls, Idaho. It was loaded running on its own
steam. The Case engine is a 1915 65 HP, number 33090. The separator
is a 40-inch Case, and the water wagon is a Case.
KESTLER PHOTO #3: 1919 PHOTO OF 1918 25-85 HP NICHOLS &
SHEPARD THRESHING OUTFIT OWNED BY GEORGE KESTLER. GEORGE IS
STANDING ON THE SEPARATOR.
Photo #3 shows a Nichols & Shepard steam-threshing outfit
that was also owned by my father, George Kestler. Dad is standing
on top of the separator. The engine was a 25-85 HP double-cylinder
rear mounted. The 44-inch wooden separator was shipped new from the
Nichols & Shepard, Lincoln, Neb., factory branch in 1918. This
engine did considerable plowing, and unfortunately, the junk man
beat me to this outfit. The picture was taken near Haxtun, Colo.,
More on Spalding, Thoughts on Steam Traction and Photos
Regular contributor Gary Yaeger, 1120 Leisha
Lane, Kalispell, MT 59901, email@example.com, writes in this issue
with thoughts on the magazine, a shot at John Spalding’s
‘mystery’ engines, and of course notes on some great photos
of steaming in Montana. Gary writes:
Richard, I have to say I think you and your crew have done a
fine job with our magazine, Steam Traction. As much as I
miss the old steam men I was lucky enough to visit with, most of
them are gone, but Steam Traction still speaks to and for
I am becoming one of the old timers of the hobby, and as much as
I am not ready to be phased out of the hobby because of age, I am
glad I have gotten to witness the hobby’s beginnings and ride
as long as I have, and I’m glad I have a son and grandson who
will still fire up steam engines long after I am gone.
Change can be an integral part of progress, it’s a fact of
life, and I am very impressed with your format. I first subscribed
to Iron Men Album in 1955 it has been a good ride and I am
still on board! Richard, you and your staff keep up the good
I am ready to guess Mr. Spaulding’s engine quiz.
Photo #1 is of a very late Case tandem-compound (not to be
confused with the ‘trunk compound’ Lyle Hoffmaster educated
me about) center crank engine. This was the last style of center
crank Case used before Case brought out their late spring-mounted
side crank engines. It appears to be about the same size as my 15
HP Case, but J.I. Case rated their compound engines at different
horsepower ratings than their simple models at that time. Also, I
have a question for Tom Stebritz, Don Bradley, Tommy Lee, Chady
Atteberry and any other Case authority who wants to jump in: Why
did Case shorten their smoke boxes after this model?
I honestly don’t know what Photo #2 is. Since these early
engines seldom made it as far west as Montana, they aren’t as
familiar to me. This is quite an early traction engine, and it
could have been built by Geiser or Frick. It could even be an O.S.
Kelly or a C & G Cooper. Like I said, I don’t know.
Photo #3 is of an A.W. Stevens, I am pretty sure.
Photo #4 is of an under mounted C. Aultman Star. I believe they
were referred to as the Star Mogul.
Now for my own photos, which I hope will be of some
Photo #1: Avery authority Don Bradley, Forsyth, Mont., sent me
this photo of a 1913 under mounted Avery. It’s either a 30 or
40 HP Alberta-Saskatchewan Special. Illinois Steel built these hump
back ‘keyhole’ style boilers. Broderick Brothers also built
special boilers, but not with the hump in the wagon top. The 30 and
40 HP engines appeared identical on the outside, except for the
stamping on the safety valve and whatever was stamped on the main
I-beam near where the pipe braces from the smokebox bolt to the
beam. Some say the 40 HP have larger stay bolts.
Don says the engine shown here is threshing in South Dakota, and
was later scrapped in 1918 during the war. Notice the calcium and
lime deposits below the safety valve on the boiler barrel jacket.
The water in South Dakota was bad, but old timers have always told
me that manufacturers only intended steam boilers to last for
around seven to eight years in normal usage. In spite of the scrap
drives of World War II, leading to the demise of a huge percentage
of steam traction engines, I am sure those early manufacturers
would be astonished at the numbers of surviving, operating engines
displayed at today’s steam shows, if the seven- to eight-year
life of boilers was a fact.
Photo #2 shows a 110 HP J.I. Case freighting in Browning, Mont.
This photo is courtesy of Browning High School Library.
YAEGER PHOTO #3: 32 HP REEVES CROSS-COMPOUND PULLING LOGS TO A
SAWMILL, DATE AND LOCATION UNKNOWN.
Photo #3 comes from a Reeves catalog, and it shows an early 32
HP cross-compound pulling logs to a sawmill.
Finally, looking at the 1893 Geiser article and factory
blueprint (page 25 of the January/February 2003 issue of Steam
Traction) sent in by Pierre Bos of Marseille, France: Has
anyone else observed the fact that this boiler has a ‘wet
smokebox?’ By that I mean that the water and space extends to
the front of the boiler barrel, and notice that the front rivet row
is at the front of the barrel instead at the knuckle of the front
flue sheet. I had a 16 HP Russell compound with a wet smoke-box at
one time. The late Harvey Mikkelson had a Russell like mine in his
collection at Silverton, Ore. I have no idea how much heat a wet
smoke-box captured, but in a heavy belt load it would have to help
some, I would think.
A Geiser trademark was their sloping crown sheet. With the rear
lower than the front, it could endure a steeper downhill situation
than an engine with a level crown sheet, as the rear would still be
covered with water to a certain point.
1893 Geiser – Second View
As promised last issue, here’s another drawing drafted by
Geiser Manufacturing Co., Waynesboro, Pa., and exhibited at the
1893 Chicago Exposition. This is one of three drawings sent in by
reader Pierre Bos, La Cerisaie, 16, BD. Die,
F.13012, Marseille, France.
According to Pierre, these drawings made their way to France
where they were part of a display on agricultural mechanization in
Last issue’s drawing was a detailed look at the Geiser’s
boiler construction, while this issue’s drawing shows the
Geiser’s mechanical layout. Details of the engine, plumbing,
wheels and steering linkage show up particularly well, along with,
we’re sure, other details that Geiser fans will be sure to clue
us in on.
If you have a comment, question or reminiscence for Past
and Present, please send it along to: Steam Traction, 1503 S.W.
42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265, or e-mail: