Steam Engines & Threshing Machines
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?
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.
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.
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:
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 prosper.
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 events.
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,
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 attention.
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, indeed.
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 STEERS.
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 extension wheels.
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 boiler.
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 left?
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 Reeves.
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.
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 writes:
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 future.
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 writes:
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 engines.
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 survivors?
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.
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 century.
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 welcome.
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. Melvin writes:
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., in 1919.
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 them.
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 work.
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 interest.
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.
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 the U.S.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org