It’s time again to celebrate a New Year, and for us to say
thank you for your stories and letters in the year 2000! If
you’re one of those who thinks about writing but doesn’t
‘get a round to it,’ make a resolution and send us a story
or letter today!
We’ve got a nice selection of letters this month, so
we’ll jump right in for the New Year!
Reliable GARY YAEGER of 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, Montana
59937, again sends us an informative letter: ‘After a couple of
months of forest fires and much smoke, it finally rained yesterday
and put me in the mood to fire up my 15 HP Case today. We have had
about inch of rain in the past two days, which will be a good start
toward reducing our fire danger. I hadn’t been able to fire the
engine since the first week in July, due to the tinder-dry
‘Last weekend, I drove 300 miles to the Barnes Steam and
Power Show at Belgrade, Montana. I arrived on Thursday and we had
nearly three hours of rain, easing tensions regarding our
‘mobile fire starters’ (traction engines).
‘In spite of heavy smoke at times, the turnout was quite
good. I wanted to send pictures of some of the engines and crew
that make this show Montana’s best. This show has always been
my son Michael’s and my annual time for steam bonding. Mike is
in charge of logistics for the Montana Army National Guard at Fort
Harrison, near Helena. The fires have had to be his priority. He
was able to be there on Saturday only. I really missed our evenings
of reflecting about the day’s steaming. Maybe next year we
won’t have such a miserable fire season?
‘I wanted to contribute my part in pictures, as I know you
will be receiving many from others of the many shows around the
United States and Canada. Contributors everywhere are what make our
IMA the fine magazine it is.
‘Picture #1 is of Kimberly Ziegler and her mother Lanceine
(Barnes) Ziegler after parading with the 22 HP undermounted
‘Picture #2 shows Lanceine and Lance on the sawmill.
Barnes’ daughter Lori Ford engineers the 25 HP portable
Aultman-Taylor. John Hochstetler (back to camera) feeds logs to the
‘Picture #3 has Mike Yaeger at the throttle of the 22 HP
under-mounted Avery, while Ward Barnes and John Hochstetler adjust
the levers on the unusual eight bottom Emerson plow.
‘Picture #4 shows a rear view of the same outfit. Justin
Barnes walks alongside, watching for fires.
‘Picture #5 is Russ Gelder’s 75 HP Case pulling the
‘Picture #6 is a rear view of Russ’s Case, with him and
his daughter at the controls.
‘Picture #7 shows the grand finale of the show. Lance Barnes
seems to be asking, ‘How do you beat this for
authenticity?’ The Belgrade Fire Department crew is spraying
foam on the burning straw stack. Although this happened in the
early days, this one was unintentional. A spark from the 700 HP
Ingersol-Sargent steam air compressor set it. Quick action by the
crew contained the damage to the straw stack.
‘I found a couple of old pictures for your readers, too.
Picture #8 shows a real early undermounted Avery at Lansford, North
Dakota, taken in 1910. The late Emil Christensen is shown atop the
water wagon. The Avery had the flat top steam dome and the main
steam line and throttle extending into the cab.
‘Picture #9 shows a tandem compound Port Huron with bell and
cab, taken in Whitefish, Montana, years ago.
‘I had one final remark to make. 1 review my old
IMA magazines from time to time. Larry Creed sent in a
picture of a side mounted Gaar-Scott taken at Russell County,
Kansas, in 1911, in the May-June 2000 issue. He remarked,
‘Apparently the engineer wanted to be sure his whistle was
heard as it is mounted high above the canopy.’ 1 got to
thinking about that picture today as I blew the whistle on my Case,
under the canopy, before I went and got earplugs. Larry, you must
be smart enough to not have a canopy on any of your engines? The
engineer put the whistle above the canopy to save his ears. I am
considering doing that to my engine. A lot can be observed by
watching the smoke from the smokestack on an engine without a
canopy. Smoke tells what your fire is doing or not doing. Maybe I
should just wise up and pull the canopy off? However, they do
protect engine parts on engines that sit outside.
‘Well, enough of that. I must sign off for now. Thanks for
doing the fine job you do with IMA, girls. You are the
best in the business!’
THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 E. Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511,
tells us: ‘After reading the May-June IMA, I almost
completed an answer to Peter LaBelle’s inquiry about
horsepower, comparing a steam engine to the gasoline engine. I put
the letter aside and didn’t complete it.
‘Now, after reading Mr. Gregory Hoesli’s letter from
Salina, Kansas, I have to challenge his opinions about the
superiority of the internal combustion over the steam engine. He
tells us, ‘If you want compact power choose the gasoline or
diesel or better yet, the gas turbine engine.’ I somehow
thought that the steamers that are in use today were here because
they are loved for what they are and do.
‘No one is trying to replace any tractors of any nature. Mr.
Hoesli is comparing a steamer which has some type of a boiler for
regeneration as compared to a tractor, where the regeneration is
pouring some fuel in the gas tank. There is nothing deader to
behold than a gasomobile show with a hundred or so very similar
tractors in a row. In the last few years, at least in this area, a
number of shows have encouraged more engine owners with their
steamers, so there is some balance to the shows.
‘Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. For power the
internal combustion engine, on a scale from one to ten as compared
to the steamer, wouldn’t ever make a ten. It’s believable
that most of the collector tractors exhibited have been overhauled.
Most steamers still have their original rings. My 60 and 65 HP Case
engines were all original. A few years after I bought it, I did
some rebuilding on the 65 Case valve gear.
‘I live near a commercial area and they have auto races on
Saturday nights. A couple of nights a week they tune this car. The
roaring noise from the internal combustion engine must be part of
the superior quality and performance of said unit.
‘Some time ago the History Channel of TV told how the
automobile evolved, including the race car from 1900 on. The
average speed in 1900 for the automobile was 11.1 m.p.h.
‘In 1897, steam car makers the Stanley Brothers ran their
own design race car at Daytona Beach, and the car was clocked at
‘In 1906 they raced the car and the sands were bad and the
race car was wrecked. However, the car made an unofficial record of
197 m.p.h. It took many years for an internal combustion engine to
come close to even the 126 m.p.h. record.
‘The sad part of the internal combustion engine is it starts
to self-destruct the second you turn on the switch, from dirt in
the form of carbon. The Stanley engine was a twin cylinder with
double acting cylinder, ball bearings on the crankshaft,
transmission or power to the rear axle was through sprockets and a
‘Now more about the superior power of steam. In the 1950s
the Union Pacific Railroad junked most of their famous Big Boy
steamers. These four-cylinder articulated engines could pull up to
135 cars up the famous Sherman Hill in Wyoming. These engines were
rated at 6,500 HP up to 7,000 HP.
‘On paper the diesel units that replaced the Big Boys were
around 8,000 HP. The steamers had no flashing beepers and lights.
The diesel crews had to cut 25 to 35 cars off the trains, however.
For some time the Big Boys boosted the trains over Sherman Hill,
then the U.P. made some adjustments and all the Big Boys were
junked except one.
‘We’ll have one more steam story: On a farm about 15
miles from here, a steam-powered dredge in the 1920s cut a ditch
going through a number of farms to make the land tillable. The
outfit who owned the dredge partly dismantled the machine and left
it. Three brothers owned the land and the dredge was in the
‘They also owned a 1919 20 HP Aultman-Taylor steamer. They
hooked the steamer onto the dredge and it wouldn’t move it.
They carried 175 lbs. pressure and gradually screwed the pop valve
to way past 200 lbs. pressure. The engine was a little light in the
front but it moved the dredge.
‘I wonder if you could adjust the carburetor to accomplish
the same thing I doubt it.
‘Tractors have multiple gearing to utilize what power they
have, and this was okay. However, about 25 years ago both IHC and
Minneapolis built tractors that had too much overkill in the
transmission and rear ends. A friend of mine was an MM dealer, one
of many who went out of business because of these companies’
mistakes. In the end, Mr. Hoesli, why don’t you just say that
steam is out of place in the farm scene? I know that, as we all do,
but I believe the steamer is being used for pleasure, not to
replace the internal combustion engine.
‘One more steam note: In the 1920s my father, Frank J.
Stebritz, was threshing with a 40×62 Case thresher powered by a
1911 8 ‘xl2′ 20 HP Russell steamer. This engine had 72 inch
tubes, and the engine was biting off some real big chunks. Sometime
during the day a thresherman my father knew stopped by and remarked
as to how much load the Russell had. My father pointed out that the
other man had a 40-80 Flour City tractor pulling a 36×58 Case
thresher and always used the slow speed on his feeder carrier. My
father always used the fast carrier speed. Another thing he pointed
out: the Russell was rated at 60 HP. Power in a steamer or gas
tractor is relative to what kind of shape they are presently
A really short note comes from FRED ESS, Rt. 1, Clark, Missouri
65243: ‘I was introduced to your wonderful magazine by Elmer,
in person, in 1952 at what I think was the third show at Mt.
Pleasant, Iowa. I have really enjoyed it all the many years since
then. However, as I was born October 19, 1912, Old Pappy Time has
hinted that I can’t be with you much longer.
‘Keep up the good work. Thank, you very kindly.’
No, thank you very kindly, Mr. Ess. We cherish all our
subscribers, of course, but we hold a special place in our heart
for the many who’ve been so devoted for so long.
CURTIS LEIGHTY, 1531 James Street, Apartment 217, Prescott,
Wisconsin 54021 writes, ‘I’m writing for some help in
getting us a manual for a steam water pump made by the Union Steam
Pump Company, Quincy, Illinois. We called a phone number that was
given us and were told that the pumps were not made anymore and the
manual was not available. This pump was on our 30 Rumely H steam
engine when we bought it, and we have decided to rebuild it.
‘With your help we got a manual for our Gardner steam pump.
We now need help in getting a manual for this Union steam pump. The
Union steam pump is a duplex, serial #83509. We have had people
looking in flea markets for a manual but couldn’t seem to find
‘The man in California who got us a manual for the Gardner
steam pump told us to put an article in your magazine for the Union
steam pump manual, like we did for the Gardner steam pump manual,
and see if anyone knew where to get one.
‘People have been very nice in helping us try to find our
manuals for these pumps. We appreciate this very much.
‘I worked on the Milwaukee Railroad when they had steam
locomotives and steam has been my hobby ever since.’
MARTIN MOORE, 11556 Nelson Road, Moses Lake, Washington 98837
sends this photo of his enthusiastic family. He says, ‘We are
sending this photograph of our annual Old Fashion Threshing Bee.
The picture was taken in front of our 1916 65 HP Case steam engine.
For fun, we all wore our bib overalls.
‘This is a threshing picture of five generations. Ages are
from eighty-eight years to ten months. They include, from the
right, great-great-grandad Marion C. Moore, great-grandad Martin
Moore, great-great-granddaughter Kathern Louise,
great-granddaughter Rebecca Moore, and grandson Kevin Moore.
‘This was our latest threshing bee. We held it in September.
We also have a forty horse Case steam engine which we have used
also. Martin Moore collects old 1H tractors which we use to plant
the wheat and bind it for the threshing bee.
‘We hope you can use the picture in your magazine. I enjoy
your magazine very much.’
LARRY CREED sent us this article and writes: ‘I wanted to
get the year started off right and decided to share some old
photographs. ‘These are all Missouri steam photographs lent to
me by a good friend, Henry Goner, of Berger, Missouri. (I hope Gary
Yaeger isn’t disappointed, as none of these are Reeves
engines.) The first photo is a posed threshing scene; the engine is
a 14 or 16 HP old style Harrison ‘Jumbo.’ The engine has a
team of horses hooked to it to help it and the threshing machine up
the steep Missouri River bluffs and hills in the Berger area. The
threshing machine has wood wheels, is hand fed, but has a straw
blower. The crew has on an array of hats; they knew what it was
like to work in the hot sweltering sun, day in and day out. Their
hats were their only chance for a bit of shade in the hot dusty
fields. Four women stopped by and are shown between the engine and
‘The second photograph has the following inscription: Taken
in 1905 or 1906. Louis Fiezelman and John Whithous rig threshing in
Berger bottom. The engine is a Peerless. Two young Negro boys
holding bundle forks are in the picture. In the foreground is a
wheelbarrow lying on its side with a barrel and tapper on top of
it. Some of the crew are holding full glasses of dark liquid, which
has a white foamy head. The area around Berger (east of Herman,
Missouri) was and still is heavily populated with people of German
descent who consumed beer on a more frequent basis than most of us
today. I would guess they are celebrating the end of a
‘set’ or perhaps the end of a threshing run.
‘The third photo is of an M. Rumely engine pulling a wooden
thresher that is hand fed and has a straw walker. The engine has a
spring front axle and was built in 8, 10, 12 or 15 HP sizes as a
simple engine. M. Rumely also built 13, 16 and 20 HP sizes as a
‘The fourth photograph is of the same engine pulling a
sawmill, which proves that M. Rumely built a good all-purpose
engine back in those days. It is winter, as snow can be seen behind
the engine. The wide brim straw hats have been exchanged for felt
hats to keep one’s head warm. The crew has set a clear wide
board on edge on the mill carriage to show they are sawing some big
logs. A platform topped with a mandrel and pulley is hooked to a
hand well pump to relieve the crew of the tedious chore of pumping
water for the engine.
‘Pawnee Steam School will be held on March 31 and April 1,
2001 in Lathrop, Missouri. The school is a wonderful opportunity to
learn more about steam and meet steam people from across the United
States and Canada. The Pawnee Steam School staff strives to make
the school a little better and more interesting each year. I will
look forward to meeting some of you there.’
Our last writer for this issue asks a good question: ‘
‘Soot in the Flues’ by Anna Mae. What a perky title for a
primarily steam traction column, but who is Anna Mae? The name does
not show up in the IMA masthead. Warm regards from a
subscriber, ARNLJOT GRANHEIM, 4917 Ravenswood Drive, Apt. 1744, San
Antonio, Texas 78227.’
Anna Mae Branyan was the editor of the ‘Soot In The
Flues’ column for many years. When she died in August of 1994,
we decided to keep her name on the column that she had created and
compiled for several decades. Anna Mae was a beloved staff member,
a devoted mother of six, and a deeply religious person. The lives
of her co-workers and the many devoted readers of this magazine
were all enriched by her magnificent spirit.
We recently received a phone call from a subscriber and
contributor who was upset with us for using photographs that
haven’t been fully identified by those who have submitted them.
If we have offended engine owners by using pictures of their
engines which aren’t properly identified, we certainly
apologize. Perhaps those of you who so generously send us photos
can keep in mind that other readers are interested in the details
of the subject who is the owner, what is the serial number, etc.
While a picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, a few well
chosen words can definitely add to its value!
Thank you all again, for your contributions to this column, and
keep them coming. And here’s hoping you all have a Happy New