Report From The West


| March/April 1967



1121 Hilltop Lane, Modesto, California 95351

Well, the time has once again come to send in my annual report of steam comings and goings out here on the west coast as I took part in or had some word of. And by sending into all three magazines, will insure adequate coverage to all the steam men in the country.

To start things off with, I started the 75 Holt crawler tractor out at Miller's a few times during the summer and during the year, I added 2 more gas engines to my collection a 1 hp Fairbanks-Morse type Z, with open crankcase, Bosch high tension oscillating magneto high tension ignition with spark plug, a 3 hp FM-type Z, style C self oiling, with enclosed crankcase, FM high tension magneto ignition with spark plug and a single cylinder Magtag hp Multi-motor 2 cycle which is now in the shop being put in running order. Parts are still available from the Maytag factory for both the old single cylinder and later double-opposed piston 2 cylinder 2 cycle engine, for those collectors who have these engines and wish to restore them. I filled the Aultman-Taylor boiler for firing, but when leaky flues developed, drained the boiler and just left it set in the shed until proper repairs are made I am no boiler-maker.

Loren M. Wade did a lot more restoration work on his 50 Case engine during the winter. A new crankshaft was made, the clutch was rebushed, new eccentric made, bottom strap and top bracket complete were turned out in his shop together with some other minor parts. A new wrist pin was made, new brasses for it and new crankpin brasses were turned out this engine now runs like a fine watch. Outside of a good cleaning and painting, I know of nothing more to be done to this engine to complete restoration.

In May, we went up to G. A. Humann's at Gerber, and helped out with the 2-foot gauge steam locomotive during his annual spring model railroad show one Sunday. This is a fine-running engine with Walschaert valve gear and steams easily on wood fuel. I miss the air brake on it when running it. During the month of July, Godfrey and his son Paul, moved a 20-foot side-hill Harris from the ranch of the owner about 22 miles from their home, near Chico to the home place with the Russell 16 steam engine. The Russell was hauled on low-boy to the location of the harvester, the Case tank wagon was on hand with a team of mules and driver to supply water and Mrs. Humann drove the truck with wood and extras required. Wilbur A. Skaar also assisted in the long move, which commenced at 7:00 AM in the morning and they reached Los Molinos, about 3 miles from the farm about 9:00 PM that evening. They moved along back roads where possible and then along highway 99 balance of trip to Los Molinos. Next morning, they had to move the outfit over the Sacramento river at the Tehema bridge. With an 8 per cent slope on each approach and the bridge having overhead cantilever construction with side angle braces, this presented mainly a problem of clearance and holding back on the descending approach. With Wilbur guiding in the center of the bridge and Highway patrol and county personnel flagging, the move was made successfully by the afternoon of the second day and all was safely home. The harvester was built in Stockton in 1930 and used last by the former owner in 1957. It is ready for service now, if needed. The exhaust stacks had to be removed to clear the bridge superstructure! A most unusual undertaking in this day and age.

In August, we headed for Oregon by car for the annual WSFA business meeting and the Mikkelson threshing bee. Enroute, we stopped at McCloud and found former Santa Maria Valley railroad 2-8-2 locomotive #21 in the McCloud shops having the super heater units removed preparatory to complete refluing of boiler and a general overhaul of the running gear. The locomotive will be stored here and used on excursions during the summer months according to future plans. Night found us in Yreka, where we stopped in and visited with the general manager of the Yreka Western railroad. They still have 2 serviceable 2-8-2 locomotives, #18-19 that are used on excursion trips and he stated that they had extra parts on hand and would maintain steam as long as the boilers could be made pass ICC inspection. A new engine-house was under construction which would house both the 2 steamers and 3 diesel locomotives of the railroad. There will be steam around this part of the country for some time to come from all that I could learn.