361 Hawthorne Street, Glendale 4, California
As one of your interested readers, I have often wondered what I
could do that might be interesting to other readers, so maybe this
will do. I am sending you a print of an old picture which I cherish
We were breaking bush land in the north edge of the Turtle
Mountains in southern Manitoba and about eight miles north of the
International border, in the year 1913. The engine was a J. I. Case
early model 20 hp. pulling a John Deere 24′ Jumbo brush
breaker. All trees small enough for the engine to run over were
ploughed under, as we plowed 6 to 8′ deep to cover them
Larger trees had been cut years before and when the stumps got
in the way we would take time out to blow them out with 40%
dynamite, as the timber was mostly poplar one stick of dynamite
usually did a nice job.
There was a creek on the farm which supplied the water, and we
used wood off the land for fuel. And it was not so hot.
Once in a while when we encountered rocks or willow bunch roots,
or a combination of both, we would have the misfortune to upset the
plow, and when that happened we would have to uncouple and pull the
plow back right side up with the engine.
We had many experiences on that job, such as one time we broke a
tooth out of one of the master gears, had it replaced in Boissevain
by the first welder I ever saw work. Even in that day he must have
done a good job for it did not break again after I corrected the
cause. On that early model there were no turnbuckles between the
countershaft and axle to adjust the gear mesh. Bolted plates were
used, and one of them had loose bolts unnoticed long enough to
elongate the holes so that gears were not meshed deep enough. A new
plate properly bolted fixed that.
As there were no heavy jacks available, I had to use a little
ingenuity, so we used steam power by backing the drivers on a
suitable log under each, then bridging with more logs under the
open bottom fire box always used on Case boilers, then by rolling
the drivers forward again the weight rested on the logs and the
drivers kicked out the ones they had been resting on, we had the
weight off the axle, so that a team of horses could pull it out. I
think our biggest job was to get the driver backup from laying on
its side after replacing the gear.
I wish it was possible to live some of those old days over
again, and I want to congratulate you for the revival of steam