Past & Present: Traction Engines and Threshers Roundup Includes a Return-Flue Case

Memories of machines like Nichols & Shepard Steam Engine, plus Midwest Old Threshers Reunion prizes

| Winter 2008


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 to 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. Yes, the engine in the photo from the book This was Wheat Farming looks to be the same engine in the photo submitted by Paul Harris for identification. Your 80-year-old eyeballs and knowledge is what we depend on to help and teach our readers, since readers like you have been there and done it. Thanks for your help.