Farm Collector

SOME ENGINE HISTORY

621 Hazelton Street Flint 3, Michigan

I am sending a picture of 16 hp. Port Huron engine and an A. W.
Stevens separator owned and run by A. R. Mitchell near Jackson,
Michigan. Next he got a 24 hp. Port Huron which he still has in a
sawmill. He also has a large wooden Port Huron thresher in
storage.

The engine shown in the picture was made right after the company
moved to Port Huron. It used to be the Upton Thresher Company of
Battle Creek, Michigan. The plant was located on Jackson Street,
right in downtown Battle Creek. The last buildings were torn down a
year ago and is now a parking lot.

The Upton Machine Shop used water power from the Kalamazoo River
canal running along Monroe Street. Part of the flume is still on
the canal.

A man named Arnold turned the machine shop into a grist mill and
ground feed for the farmers. This was in operation until a few year
ago. The man now lives in Battle Creek as far as I know.

Lea fever and Marsh put the Marsh reverse on Nichols &
Shepard engines at first, then they got into a lawsuit and left
Nichols & Shepard and went to Upton.

Meinard Lea fever and Elon Marsh were chief engineers of the
Upton Company, designed the engine in the picture.

(There are two Upton’s in the Ford Museum, one is an 8 hp.
traction with a Marsh reverse, the other is about an 8 hp.
portable, no reverse gear). The engine looks like the one in the
picture.

When Upton moved to Port Huron, Lea fever and Marsh stayed in
Battle Creek for years They took the Marsh gear and drawings from
Upton and went up to Advance Thresher Co., at west end of Battle
Creek, next to the New York Central main line of tracks from
Chicago to New York. The Advance plant still stands though not much
of it is used.

Meinard and Elon made a Chinese copy of the Upton engine (as you
can see by the picture). Advance built about the same design for
years always using Marsh Reverse except on the 40 hp. double plow
engines. This had a reverse similar to the Wolf reverse.

Walt Hamilton was head test man. He was a big fellow, six feet
four inches and weighed 300 lbs., big chest arms and neck like a
Jersey bull, and smoked big black cigars. No Advance Marsh reverse
lever ever hit him on the jaw. When he grabbed the lovers he had
them. He put the engines on brake test and run them a half day or
longer, 10 to 20 at a time (some barking). 1 listened to them a lot
of times when I worked there in 1906.

Walt Hamilton was our neighbor on the farm and I used to go in
when I was 10 years old and climb all over those engine when they
were running. The plant had no Cyclone fence around it and you
could just walk in and out as you pleased.

Meinard Lea fever was a master mind. He knew his engines, and
separators too. The men nick-named him ‘Old Judge’. A name
he carried to his grave. Meinard had a son named Charles and
another named George and one daughter named May. She just died a
year ago in Battle Creek.

Meinard, his wife and sons went to California after M. Rumely
bought Advance around 1912. A. W Right, Pres.; Brainard T. Skinner;
Sumner O. Bush, Sec.-Treas.; Wally Bryant, engine designer; Charles
Brogan, in charge of separator design, all left when Rumely took
over.

After the old-timers left the whole thing was ‘Gone With The
Wind’. The big Bates Corliss engines are gone too. One was a
1,000 hp., used belt one inch thick, four ply and four feet wide.
The smaller Corliss was 750 hp. used cable rope drive.

Felix Hindelang and Fred Morris had charge of the big power
plant. They made all their own electric current. Felix left Advance
and went down to Battle Creek Brewery and took charge of the power
plant, etc. They had chemical expansion and it killed Felix. Fred
Morris still lives around Battle Creek.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1958
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