Remarkable Port Huron Longfellow Steam Traction Engine

The authentic history of a very special steam traction engine: the Port Huron Longfellow


| March/April 2000



24-75 Port Huron No. 7948 just after I got it home in March 1920

24-75 Port Huron No. 7948 just after I got it home in March 1920.

Photo by LeRoy W. Blaker

I am writing this authentic history of a steam traction engine that I believe very few engines can equal. This engine is a 24-75 HP Port Huron "Longfellow" serial No. 7948. I have a copy of the construction record that is on file at Port Huron, and it shows the boiler was finished and ready for testing at 8:00 a.m. February 8, 1917. A water test of 275 PSI was given by Isadore Gardner and okayed by D. J. McPhee, also a steam test of 100 lbs. No doubt this boiler was filled with steam from the plant's boiler to see if there were any leaks. I am sure it was not internally fired before it went to the engine erecting room.

After erecting, it went to the engine testing room at 10:30 a.m. February 13th, and after 35 man hours, including helpers, it was delivered to the painters at 2:30 p.m. on February 15th. The test house record shows the engine developed 75 HP at 220 RPM with 175 PSI. It also shows the boiler capacity fully equals the engine and it worked dry steam.

This engine was sold and shipped to C. J. Snyder and Son. Road Contractors of Ann Arbor, Michigan, on August 29, 1917. This engine was used to pull a loading-excavator for putting up a large road grade just to the northwest of Ann Arbor. I was told by one of the men who helped with the engine that they would throw the clutch out after filling a dump wagon that was pulled by a team of mules, and let the engine run idle until the next dump wagon drove up to be filled, then the clutch was engaged to start the engine in the traction. This engine's list price at that time was $3,750.00 and $200.00 extra for the 26" wide drive wheels which were the 32-100 HP size.

It has an Ohio Std. Boiler, the construction record is on file with the Industrial Commission at Columbus, Ohio. It shows this boiler had a mathematical bursting pressure of 1102 PSI, or a factor of safety of 6.3 to 1, or by using the standard 5 to 1 safety factor, it could safely carry 220 PSI.

After the road contractor finished with this engine he wanted to sell it. It stood idle part of the year 1918 and looked pretty tough. The bull pinions, main pinion and intermediate gear were worn out, draw bar broken in the middle and the engine was covered with dirt. Jim Stevens, of the Advance-Rumely Company, looked at it and told the road contractor it was not in very good condition to sell. Albert Hoxiethe Port Huron agent at Adrian, Michigan heard about it and bought it for $1500.00. He cleaned it up and sold it to Gil Furman of Sand Creek in 1919 for his use threshing, silo filling, and running a corn husker-shredder.

Now here is where I come inon March 11, 1920 I bought this engine and a 36/58" Greyhound grain thresher from the Advance-Rumely Company, and they sold a new Oil Pull complete outfit to Mr. Furman.