One cold, stormy day in February, 1906, Mike Jensen signed an
order in a room of the O’Pelt for a 35 hp. Advance tandem
compound engine with La Fever boiler and a three section plow, each
of four, ’14’ breakers.
The La Fever was the first successful straight flue straw burner
boiler built and was patented by M. La Fever. That boiler was more
economical on fuel and more serviceable in hard water than the
Advance coal burner and that was highly efficient.
In the hard water of northwestern Iowa and southwestern
Minnesota, where cold weather was encountered in the fall, flue
trouble developed in straight flue coal burners the second or third
fall and sometimes the first fall. In hard water sections of
Kansas, new straight flue boilers were re-flued the first fall.
Little or no fire-box trouble developed in Le Fever boilers in
Iowa, Minnesota or Kansas. No boilers of that type, on the Salina
Block, to my knowledge, ever was re-flued.
Cold air from the fire-door did not come in contact with he
flues, causing expansion, contraction and leaky flues. The heating
surface was greater and the combustion better in the La Fever
boiler. The water-leg was a source of intense heat, gasses were
consumed in that fire-box and little black smoke came from the
The Advance tandem compound was powerful, economical and when
mounted upon a Le Fever boiler was highly efficient. I consider
that combination the most serviceable engine built by Advance
Thresher Company and sold Mike Jensen what I believed to be the
The engine and plows were promptly shipped. The engine weighed
32,000 and was equipped with jacket, cab and cast stack. All
compound Advance engines and engines with La Fever boilers, were
equipped with jackets. A cast stack was special order on a La Fever
boiler. Train gears were five inches and bull gears were six
inches. The main pinion and bull pinion were all steel. All other
gears were semi-steel.
Mr. Schnelle sent a young man in whom he had much confidence and
of whom he thought a great deal, to unload, deliver and start the
engine. He had rebuilt engines, was friendly and his being sent
pleased Mike Jensen.
The engine had been delivered and the time had come to try it on
the plow. The field was long, buffalo grass sod and nearly as level
as a floor. The engine was ready about one o’clock and he
started through the field but did not go far until the engine
stopped because of low steam. I realized before he really got
started he did not understand firing and handling the water when an
engine was heavily loaded. He turned on the blower and injector,
put the steam and water, where both belonged, tried again and
several more times that afternoon but always with the same result.
The engine’s showing, before on-lookers, could not well have
been worse and Mike Jensen grew restless.
The afternoon had been a trying one for the service man. We were
10 miles from Colby. In the dusk of evening, as we were hitching up
the horses to drive to Colby, he said to me, ‘If you do not put
on your overalls and jacket in the morning, we will have an
engine’, and I replied ‘It looks that way.’ I have
since thought well of him because he was man enough to admit he
could not operate the engine and did not wait for me to remove him,
which I should have done the first round.