Farm Collector


Now I know we are still in 1988 when you get this, but before
too long we’ll be in to 1989I for one will be rather glad to
see 1989I don’t like to rush the time away, but it’s been a
hectic year for us. Ed was in the hospital three times this year
and I was in two times, but I’m thankful to say we are now on
the mend and looking forward to each new day and the joys and
whatever else that may be ahead. I think they are making the years
shorter, you know everything else is fast fast foods, fast lane,
fast cars, fast planes and fast years. I wonder if anyone of us is
keeping up with this fast world. You know you’ve seen that old
saying, ‘Take time to smell the flowers!’ Do we? Do you? Do
I? Not enough times, I fear. So, as we go into 1989, let’s keep
this in mind try to get the most out of every day, watching
grandchildren is one of our greatest delights and we don’t live
too far from them. They never cease to amaze me, I think little
ones are a joy if you just take the time to look and not hurry so
as they grow they are most interesting and bright and we can learn
from them.

When you get this, I hope you are into a Happy Holiday Season
and really enjoying it and the true meaning. My Blessings to all of
you and do be careful of the resolutions you make or don’t
make. Love you all and have a Happy New Year.

I’ll get on with the communications now as I know you folks
do so enjoy the readers’ letters…

This communication comes from RUSSELL O. CASHION, Director,
Kentucky Threshermen, 720 Bell Road, Antioch, Tennessee 37013.
‘In the last issue of the Iron-Men Album, Ellsworth Thorene of
Minnesota wanted to know about our reference to the Bell Witch (old
Kate) in our ads for the Tennessee-Kentucky Threshermen’s show
which we have each year in July. Our 1989 show will be our 20th. We
will have a director of our show who gives a narration of the
legend of the Bell Witch.

There is so much to the legend that it would be bigger than the
magazine. There are several good books printed on the Bell Witch so
I will touch on it briefly.

In the early 1800s in rural Robertson county, Tennessee, near
Adams, lived the John Bell family. Legend has it that John Bell was
haunted, harassed, tormented and whatever else by Old Kate until
his death and she, Old Kate, was supposed to have killed him.

Andrew Jackson of Old Hickory and later president of the USA
went there to investigate the tale of Old Kate, only to have his
carriage stopped and held by Old Kate on the lane leading to the
Bell house. After much trying to get his horses to move, he was
told by Old Kate that if he would leave and go about his way, she
would release his carriage.

She released his carriage and he returned to Old Hickory
catching up with his slaves that went with him to Nashville,

Bell Road in Metro, Nashville where I live was named after
kinfolk of John Bell. Old Kate travels through here quite often to
rearrange all my tools in the shop and mess around with my gas
engines as I can never find them where I left them and gas engines
that run good at the shop do not want to, when you get them to a
show. But I guess that Old Kate visits us all at some time or
other, what do you think?’ (This will be of interest to those
who have been inquiring about same there may be a lot of stories
out there, maybe even new ones. I also think this would be a great
time or place at Halloween I wonder if it is more interesting and
in the news more at that time.)

FRANK ADAMS, Box 330, Wabeno, Wisconsin 54566 writes us: ‘I
have enjoyed your magazine the past year. I enjoy the many articles
of different machines and their owners. It’s nice to have a
magazine published like this one. It kind of keeps a guy up to date
on things and brings us steamers a little closer.

‘Following is an item of interest on the Phoenix Steam
Hauleron display in Wabeno is the Phoenix Log Hauler donated to the
town by the G. W. Jones Lumber Company. Restored by Milton E. Lang
and B. Frank Sinnard, this unit is operated annually as part of the
Logging Exposition in Wabeno.

The Phoenix Log Hauler was purchased by the G. W. Jones Lumber
Company in 1909 and used in its operations until 1929. It was
stored in a shed until the firm went out of business in 1935 and at
that time it was donated to the town of Wabeno. Along with other
lumbering equipment, the Phoenix was placed on display in the

‘Milton Lang and Frank Sinnard, both of Wabeno, were joint
owners of a Case steam traction engine which they restored and
operated at steam gatherings over the years. The Phoenix became the
topic of conversations at one point and the two applied their
knowledge and experience with steam engines to the Log Hauler.
After more than two years of work, and many personal dollars, in
which they freed the cylinders with penetrating oil and hydraulic
jacks, replaced some of the flues, and fabricated many missing
parts in their shops, the Phoenix was fired up and operated in June
1966. They had cold-tested the repaired boiler at 240 psi and set
the safety valves to pop at 125 psi. The throttle, a balanced
valve, was located in the dome and the seats were rusted, so many
hours of grinding were required to make it fit tight enough to hold
steam. Many valves were bent or missing and had to be replaced and
the tracks were rusted solid. The valve rods had to be replaced but
the piston rods were not bad enough to require replacement.

‘About fifty miles northwest of Wabeno, another Phoenix Log
Hauler is displayed at a museum in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, although
it is not in operating condition.

‘The third Phoenix in the United States at this time is one
reported to be in Osage and/or Cedar Falls, Iowa, but no current
details of that unit are available.’ (For more info contact me
at Wabeno Park Commission, Wabeno, WI 54566.)

This next communication comes from TED ESTY, 15907 Asilomar
Blvd., Pacific Palisades, California 90272: ‘I come to you
indirectly through John Bowditch, Curatorial Director of the Henry
Ford Museum and more immediately through Iron Men which he
recommended as a resource for me. My motivation is that I am
designing a self-sufficient retirement home in the Southern
Sierras, 50 miles NE of Bakersfield, California and want to do so
without reliance upon our local power company, Con Edison. The site
is contiguous with the Sequoia National Forest and wood for fuel

‘This dream of mine has been in the making for five years,
and from time to time I have come across information about
steam-powered generation equipment only to find that the companies
supplying this equipment are currently out of business. I don’t
know how much help you can be to me, but at a minimum perhaps you
can refer me to past articles from Iron Men, (This my dear IMA
family is where I am asking you to help me to help Ted some of you
are so very knowledgeable on these items I am hoping you will write
Ted and be able to supply him with the data.)

‘Briefly, these are my needs: What kind of a piston
engine/generator set-up can provide me with 5-10 kw? I am assuming
both 12 and 110 volt systems with batteries. I am also
contemplating auxiliary use of both solar for water and house
heating as well as propane powered machinery. Propane is the most
common source of energy at this location, aside from electricity
from Con Ed. I think the second question is what are the pros and
cons of piston vs. turbine?

‘I am very much scratching the surface of this whole problem
at the present time, so almost any informed inputs would be
welcomed. Since I am not an engineer I really need the services of
someone who might consider himself an energy systems engineer, but
so far I have not come close to finding someone versatile in the
applications of solar, pv, steam, and propane gas. Wind is out
because there isn’t enough at the home site.

‘I meant to add that John also recommended me to the Troy
Eng-berg, to the Skinner Engine Co. in Erie, Pa. and to the Eclipse
Lookout Co. in Chattanooga, Tenn. for boilers. He also gave me some
thumbnail comparisons between piston and turbine which were very

‘If you can send me a little farther on my journey, I would
appreciate it. If you like, please feel free to call me collect at
213-454-5345. I would also like to know about your background in
these areas.’ (Now there you are, friends of IMA another good
man is looking to you folks for help I’m sure you won’t let
him down.)

‘In your Soot in the Flues department in the Nov./Dec. issue
of IMA you made some reference to antique farm machinery, ‘
writes THORBJORN RUE, Box 107, Crosby, North Dakota 58730.

I am a member of the Divide County Historical Society at Crosby,
North Dakota. About a year ago we found an antique drill that we
are trying to rebuild. The drill is a shoe drill about 1900-1910
era, and is called ‘Dowagiac’ and was made at Dowagiac,
Michigan. It is a 17 shoe drill about 10 feet wide. We are
wondering where we can get a picture of this drill and about the
colors it was painted. An old reproduced picture from the Red River
area around Fargo, North Dakota, about 1900 shows this drill but
does not picture it enough to show how it was put together.’If
anyone has any information on this drill we would be very
interested in hearing from you.’

‘I read with great interest your description of the 1884
Lansings-wheel drive steam tractor,’ writes KENNETH MORSE, Box
163, South Otselic, New York 13155.

‘I am enclosing a photograph of a Wood-Taber & Morse 4
wheel drive ‘Rubicon’ steam tractor as it was backed out of
the shop at Wood-Taber & Morse’s in Eaton, New York in

‘I have two testimonial letters to the manufacturer of this
engine, one dated Jan. 24,1877 and one Mar. 15, 1879. Both of these
regard engines that were purchased a year previously. At that time
the price was $1300.00 FOB Eaton.

‘The only existing example of this engine is in the Henry
Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.’

LARRY D. VAN DE MARK, 209 N. Grimes, Carl Junction, Missouri
64834 writes this letter and it will require some answers from our
fine IMA family.

‘About two weeks ago, I bought a Duplex boiler feed pump
(steam pump) at a salvage equipment yard. On the steam chest cover
is ‘SNOW’ cast in an arch, also on the steam cylinder head
is cast 3K175. A brass tag on the right side states Snow Steam Pump
Works, Buffalo, N.Y. USA 3 X 2 X 3 No. 60326.

If anyone knows anything about the Snow Steam Pump Works or
anything about the pump, especially setting the steam valves,
please let me know.

Next, at an Army Surplus store, I bought four 75 mm blank shell
casings, because they look a lot like the top part (bell?) of a
steam whistle. The shell casing is 7 inches long and the inside
diameter is 3 inches. Now, has anyone out there in Steam Land ever
made a whistle out of an old shell casing? I have looked at some
old steam whistles and they have a circular steam orifice. What I
want to know is the width of this orifice and its diameter in
relationship to the diameter of the bell and also the pipe size
needed to supply steam to a whistle of this size. Any diagram with
measurements of any whistles will be helpful to me.

‘Now a word (words) of praise: IMA is GREAT!! Can’t wait
till the next issue Keep up the Great work! (I thank you from all
of us at IMA.)

‘Rochfort Bridge (Roch rhymes with stoke) over the Paddle
River about 68 miles West of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is said to
be the longest wooden railroad trestle in North America. After
walking across it, I believe it. Crew members making repairs said
it’s a full time job keeping it fit, not the best job for a
person bothered by heights. They said the biggest problem was with
fires. 98 feet above the river bed, 4600 feet long, it was built in
the early 1920s by the Canadian National Railways to carry sulfur
from the mines located west of it. Following a fire in 1959, it was
shortened from its original length of over a mile long.’

This picture and information comes from RALPH NAJARIAN, 35
Pueblitos Road, Belen, New Mexico 87002.

Another letter for those interested in Bell Witch comes from
DICK HART, 8300 Hildreth Road, Cheyenne, WY 82009. ‘ ‘Bell
Witch’ is not a person, it’s a thing that goes bump in the
night. Ellsworth Thorene asked about the witch in the Sept.-/Oct.
issue of the magazine (I read my brother’s copy).

‘The story goes that the Bell family at Tennessee proposed
to move to Mississippi the mother didn’t think much of the
idea, but one daughter argued in favor of the move. One night a
‘Voice’ warned the daughter against the move but she
finally convinced her father to sell out and move. Before the
family left, the Voice spoke again and threatened vengeance on the

‘After the move, the Voice or Witch made things lively for
the Bells. If the family started a trip the Witch disapproved of,
it would cause the wagon to get stuck on dry level ground or would
pull the wheels off. It would make ordinarily docile horses to
fight the harness and buck and plunge like broncos. Once when the
daughter was combing her hair, getting ready for a part, the Witch
filled her hair with cockleburrs. When the men fired shots in the
direction of the Voice, the Witch fired back.

‘No one could see the Witch, but you could see food rise
from the table and disappear into the Witch’s mouth. Mr. Bell
once persuaded the Witch to shake hands with him; the hand was as
small, soft and chubby as a baby’s hand. The Witch claimed to
enter the house by lifting up the roof at one corner of the house,
and some claimed they had seen the roof lift.

At last the daughter died, and a great black bird with a tolling
bell around its neck flew overhead as her body was carried to the
graveyard. It hovered overhead during the funeral service, then
flew away, the bell still slowly ringing. And the Bell Witch never
visited the family again.

‘Well, that’s the story. A Treasury of Southern Folklore
by B. A. Botkin provides much greater detail, including the tale of
General Andrew Jackson bringing a professional ‘witch
layer’ to the Bell house in an unsuccessful attempt to exorcise
the Witch. And there are other versions, told in other places, as
with most folktales. (This story is different than the one in
Sept./Oct. issue. Still spooky for Hallowe’en.)

MARK HISSA, 13140 Madison Road, Middlefield, Ohio 44002 had sent
us some pictures for the May-June issue of IMA ’88, he is
sending us a few more for this issue.

He writes: ‘Awhile ago I sent in a few pictures of our
Nichols & Shepard engine. We finished it and have been using it
at home and have taken it to a couple of shows. We run 125 lbs.
steam and it surely works good. We rebuilt the engine, out side in
front of our milk house. Very few engines have had as much work
done on them as this engine.’

No. 1: 16 HP Nichols & Shepard double No. 13225, new flue
sheet, smokebox, flues, stack, fire box plumbing before we ever put
a fire in it. No. 2: That’s me when we were filling the silo at
home with the 16 HP N & S No. 13647. No. 3: Tearing off the
jacket on Francis Day’s 20 HP Garr-Scott. No. 4:13 HP N & S
after working on it almost ready to go.

Coming to the end of this column I always have to leave you with
a few thoughts to ponder. Those who say they will forgive, but
can’t forget the injury simply bury the hatchet while they
leave the handle uncovered for immediate use …. Take care of your
lambs, or where will you get your sheep from?… And here’s a
short story worth reading entitled ‘Building Our Own Mansion
‘There is a legend of a wealthy woman who, when she reached
heaven, was shown a very plain mansion. She objected,
‘Well,’ she was told ‘that is the house prepared for

‘Whose is that fine mansion across the way?’ she

‘It belongs to your gardner.’

‘How is it that he has one so much better than

‘The houses are prepared from the materials that are sent
up. We do not choose them, you do that by your earthly

This may be a legend, but it bears a profound truth, don’t
you think?

  • Published on Jan 1, 1989
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