smoke & gas fumes


| September/October 1962



18-36 Rumely Engine

18-36 Rumely, 1916, No. 6816; 36x60 Avery, No. 3394. Photo taken in 1934.

Primghar, Iowa

from MY THRESHING AND SHELLING EXPERIENCES - Part Three

Boiler Explosions - The explosion article, Page 7, May-June 1960, Iron Man Album, reminds me of a similar explosion of an 18 H.P. return flue Minneapolis owned by Dan Cooper of Primghar, Iowa, in 1927. Fortunately, it happened during breakfast time with nobody around except a boy about 8 years old who was sitting on the engine tool box. He received a not seriously burned leg. My three machine men and myself viewed the wreck shortly afterward. To my knowledge, the cause was never established. The hired engineer claimed he had the usual 2 in. of water in the gauge. The big main flue buckled, the cast iron front was blown about 125 feet, and the grates went out the rear end. All this was a forceful reminder of my refusal to further operate the old (but prized by me) 18 H.P. Minneapolis return flue just 9 years prior, due to my suspicion about its boiler safety. My decision was ridiculed by some, however, it was wisely decided to junk it after another season's run. Iowa had no boiler law, so necessary to protect incompetent, irresponsible operators and the public.

1915-16-17 - National Tractor Demonstration Circuits-

The big threshing machine industry was nearing its pinnacle. They were now building gas and kerosene tractors to meet the keen competition by approximately 135 tractor manufacturers ranging from manufacturers like Fairbanks Morse, Holt, Kinnard Haines, Best, Big Four, Twin City, Finchbaugh, Lawson, Waterloo Boy, Heider, Parrett, etc., and on down to small ones building perhaps one dozen annually.

Under the auspices of the National Thresher and Tractor Mfgr's. Ass'n. most tractor manufacturers and virtually hundreds of accessory and motor manufacturers staged the Tractor and Plowing Fairs of 1915-16-17 in eight widely separated cities, starting in the south thence northward by special trains. The put up their tent city 7 miles west of Sioux Falls, S. Dakota, in 1915. Of course I went. I knew of and had seen pictures of leading makes, but seeing them perform was something else. In 1917, they made their last circuit (due to War I and economic conditions.) This time I 267 miles to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I stayed two days. The two years' progress was remarkable. Yet, there were design extremes from plain ridiculous to embodiment of the latest-such as hardened cut gears running in oil, drilled pressure oiled crank shafts, Hyatt, Timken and S. K. F. bearings, Borg and Beck clutches and Perfex copper radiators. The Parrett 12-25 - 3 plow tractor had all these. However, it was plainly apparent that this was ahead of average public concept and appreciation, especially so with its $1500 price tag. All this is now history. After the boom came the bust. Of those 150 or more tractor concerns, only a token of old familiar names still making tractors remain, namely; Case, Deere, Holt, Caterpillar, I. H. C., Minneapolis Moline, Massey Harris. Pardon if I have overlooked any. It always hurt to see one name after another go into oblivion.

1917 - American Thresherman Magazine

My engineering memoirs would be incomplete if I failed to mention the American Thresherman Magazine (1898-1930) and give tribute to its editor, Bascom Clarke (Old Sile.) It was my favorite magazine in its day. It was as great as the era which it served so well. An era where thresher companies paid thousands of dollars in advance for advertising, the bread and butter to Old Sile. The subscription fee was a measly one dollar for 12 book size copies. Old Sile rose and waned with the big companies. By 1927, the subscription fee was 50cents. By September, 1928, it was one dollar for 5 years. Its size was diminishing. In the same issue, Old Sile pleaded with his 50,000 subscribers to get him 10,000 new ones by Thanksgiving. All this was no fault of Old Sile. He knew the machine game from A to Z and did much for the thresherman who would heed. I shall never forget Clarke's editorial remarks in the June, 1916, edition. Quote: We are a wasteful people. Among the most wasteful and extravagant is the thresherman, much as he dislikes to admit it. Once in a while you will find a frugal, careful thresherman running an engine ten or fifteen years old and who, perhaps, has threshing machinery which has paid for itself a dozen times. But, this has been the exception, not the rule. Where you find one thresherman who has zealously guarded his own interests in a businesslike manner, you will find ninety-nine who have run their outfits without counting costs. They have traded at a sacrifice on a new outfit to be up-to-date. Bright paint soon fades. You pay dearly when you trade before it has brought you a profit. Boys, is this not true? End quote. Feb. 1914 issue -Quote: Render the best of services and charge the best of prices. End quote.