SOOT IN THE FLUES

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Henry Brovont crew with his Advance engine.
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Henry Brovont's threshing outfit, in Lake Odessa, Michigan area around 1913.
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Hi! To all my great IMA family! I feel close to all you folks as
I hear from you and about you. And I know by now the wheels are
turning and the Steam Shows are all planned and many of you are
packing your ‘duds’ and anxious to get on the road to enjoy
another summer of great events, wonderful people; and don’t
forget when you get back and settle down a bit, get that pen out
and let me hear from you. Now, mind I’m counting on it.
We’ve got to keep IMA going.

I came across the following inspirational writing and I know you
will profit from it. It is called:

A New Day

This is the beginning of a new day. I have been given this day
to use as I will. I can waste it – or use it for good!
WHAT I DO TODAY IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE I AM EXCHANGING A DAY OF MY
LIFE FOR IT!
When tomorrow comes this day will be gone forever
Leaving in its place whatever I have traded for it.
I pledge to myself that it shall be GAIN. NOT LOSS; GOOD, NOT
EVIL; SUCCESS, NO
FAILURE In order that I shall not regret the price I paid for this
day!!!

I think this is great and I’m going to try and read it each
morning. Maybe you should too, we’ll all be better for it.

I have been taking art lessons for years and paint a lot of
pictures for my family and friends. Not only do I profit in art
from my wonderful teacher, Jeanie Moyer. but she gives much more
than the proper way to do this work or hobby. She has an Indian
ancestry background, and I just love her philosophy on many
subjects. She not only can do any medium of the arts, but she gives
much of her wisdom and caring to each of us. She, to me, is a great
Blessing. I value her talents, philosophy and friendship. I got the
above writing, A New Day, from her and wanted to share it with you.
Hope you enjoy it and are inspired.

The following letter comes from JAMES BYRD, 1310 Via De Luna,
Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561. ‘We have good friends in
Richmond, Texas, whom we have known for years, E. D. Lander and his
wife. We became good friends the best way, in church, when we all
lived in Houston, Texas. E. D. is a mechanical engineer by degree
from Texas A & M.

‘He and his wife came up to Adams, Tennessee in July 1992
and attended the Tennessee-Kentucky Thresherman’s Reunion with
us. Well, he has ‘bit’ into steam almost as badly as I
have. He wants to take in the Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Show this coming
September.

‘His work, mechanically, was mostly automotive. He used to
be service manager in a big Chevrolet dealer’s in Houston. He
also was an insurance adjuster in autos until he got into
teaching.’ (So, hope you all have a great time this year at the
shows and welcome to Iron-Men Album, E. D. Lander and wife.)

HARRY L. SHEARER. R.R. 2. Box 70, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
17059 writes me. The beginning is personal, but I have to share a
bit with you all, as he says: ‘Boy, was I surprised to learn
you were acquainted and familiar with the little village of Mexico
in Juniata County. Pennsylvania.’ (I was born in Mexico, yea
many years ago, as my mother’s parents lived there, especially
in the summer, and believe me you have to look real fast to go
through Mexico, Pennsylvania. The main highway goes right through
and when you’re driving it only takes about a minute or
so).

Now Harry has sent along an article ‘A Silo Filling
Story,’ which I’m sure you’ll enjoy:

‘This story begins one evening in September 1957-58 when my
father said to me:’ Harry, Jim Book is going to fill silo
tomorrow and he needs a tractor to belt up to his chopper. You can
either run the tractor up there this evening or wait till tomorrow
morning.’

‘Well. I told him there would probably be a lot of fog in
the morning, but my dad disagreed and said that I should wait until
morning. I think the reason for his decision was he didn’t want
his shiny new Oliver Super 88 tractor anywhere but at home
overnight. The reason Mr. Book needed power, his International 350
was in Warren Kohler’s shop for motor work in preparation for
the silo filling, but the parts were slow in coming, and this left
him in an awful fix with the corn maturing so fast.

‘So, the next morning, right after breakfast and with a tank
full of gasoline, I climbed aboard and took off. It was foggy
alright, as it is in central Pennsylvania on fall mornings. But I
made it to the village of Mexico and not a single car or truck
passed me. Wow! Lucky!!

‘I turned left at the town square on Front Street and made
my way out toward where the bridge (swept away in the 1936 flood)
used to be, turned right on Foster Street, then an immediate left
onto River Road. This is the back road which leads from Mexico to
Port Royal and travels parallel with the still visible channel of
the old Pennsylvania Canal. I passed the farm of Tom Henry, C. W.
Book and Bussy Hosier and next pulled into the farmyard of Charles
and Matilda Book. When I arrived, Jim (nickname for Charles) was
unloading his empty milk cans off the back of his pickup truck. He
had just returned from the Breyer Ice Cream Plant where he had
delivered a day’s production of milk. The Breyer Plant was
located in Port Royal with a big bridge over the river, very close
to the Book farmhouse. Incidentally, Port Royal is home to the
annual Juniata County Fair during Labor Day week, with Saturday
night sprint car racing held during the summer months. (Just
thought I’d include a plug here for the Juniata County
Agricultural Society.)

‘Mr. Book asked me to take the tractor up back of the barn
and back her up on those planks. I did this as he was placing the
belt on the pulley. I eased the 88 into the belt and was securing
the brakes when the sun broke through the early morning fog and
blinded me briefly. I could see the beautiful blue sky which meant
a clear day was ahead. Mr. Book told me to open the throttle on the
tractor and let it run at the speed I thought it would work best.
Then he reached in his pocket and produced an r.p.m. timing device,
placed it on the blower shaft and checked it for a minute with his
watch. The machine was running without load. After running for one
minute, he told me that speed would be alright

‘By the time some more help had arrived, there were two
other tractors and wagons to haul corn to the chopper besides the
one driven by Mr. Book himself. One was driven by Elmer Brackbill
and another by Buss Hosier. Binder and tractor was driven by Harold
Moyer. Bending their backs to load corn fodder in the field were
Dave Aisney, Pudd Thompson and my older brother, John Shearer. What
a job they did! I stayed at the barn to help each guy unload his
wagon. We never had to wait for corn, not one time. By the time we
would have a wagon half unloaded, another would pull in. It
continued this way until noon when we shut down for the noon
meal.

‘What a wonderful feast we enjoyed, prepared by Jim’s
mother, Matilda Book, and her two daughters, Mrs. Joe Frankhouse
and Mrs Myrns. After dinner the work began once again, and by 2
p.m. the big silo was full. We then tore the pipe down and set the
chopper up at a smaller silo nearby. 12-20 in size. In a few
minutes the chopped green feed was flowing into this structure, and
by 4:30 it was full. I climbed on the tractor, eased it forward and
another gentleman rolled up the belt and we were finished for the
day.

‘Jim told me to run the tractor over to the fuel tank and he
would fill the tank before I started for home. He handed the nozzle
up to me and I filled it with gasoline as he was paying the rest of
the crew. When it was full, Jim said ‘What, did it only hold
eight gallons?’ Actually, the gauge had gone around almost
twice and the correct figure was 18 gallons for the day’s
work.

‘I made my way down the river road, which was an unimproved
gravel road at the time, as the sun was setting in the West, not
knowing I would ever think about this day again. I hope I
didn’t lose too many people with this bit of history of the way
things used to be on farms in Pennsylvania. It seemed almost like a
perfect day to me. It’s sad to me, to hardly know our neighbors
anymore and certainly we don’t have time to talk or visit as it
used to be back then. I guess this what you call progress??’ (A
lot of you will remember, up around Port Royal was Elmer
Ritzman’s country, and he had his engines there many
times.)

An interesting letter comes from JOE NIELSON, Box 23823, San
Diego, California 92123: ‘I have something that I know thresher
people would take an interest in hearing about I do a Step-Dance
Jig, to hoedown fiddling especially, and the people like it. We
know the people who attend thresher shows enjoy fiddle playing and
it is part of the past thresher area age.

‘So. I’d like to announce if some of the shows like it,
they can contact me and I’ll try and attend and the fiddlers
and I can put on a little entertainment and I know the show people
will mostly enjoy it.’ (I know I would like to see something
like that, Joe).

Morris Blomgren of 10139 Blomgren Rd., Siren, WI 54872 sent us
this photograph of a railway accident that occurred in North
Branch, Minnesota, year unknown. ‘My mother was a dress maker
in North Branch at the time. This was long before I was born. She
said you could hear the steam leaking from the engine all that
night.’ Does anyone remember this incident? Photographer was N.
E. Grantham, of Detroit, Minnesota.

‘We know that jigging to fiddlers has been a common
occurrence years back. Yes, and it still can be enjoyed.

‘As some evidence of the interest in my dancing, Jana Jea,
who some of you know she had gotten the U. S. Woman’s
Championship Fiddler’s Award and I are well acquainted and one
time she asked me if I would care to go on the road with her. At
that time I had a repair business and family, so I had to refuse
the offer. She has been on Hee Haw and is well known. I have danced
to her terrific fiddling several times since, as well as at fiddle
contests, Blue Grass meets and was on Channel 10 TV here in San
Diego, a bit.

‘I’m writing a book called Dancing Pleasures, which I am
revising; it will soon be published.

‘We all know of toe tapping and hand clapping well, tap
dancing goes out fully to the enjoyable hoedown fiddling we all
know! I’ll do my best to attend if expenses are not too great.
Write to C. J. Nielson -Joe (94 years old-I’d say 94 years
young, wouldn’t you fellows agree?)

Here is a precious letter from DICK R. TURRENTINE, 208 Browning
Drive, Kilgore, Texas 75662: ‘In August of ’92, I was
privileged to go on a mission trip to a mission known as Rincon del
Tigre, Bolivia. Our primary mission was to start building a
dormitory for the girls who attend the mission school there. There
are approximately 300 children who are cared for at this place. It
was 60 years ago when it was established as a ranch in the early
1950s. The mission was established by Latvian missionaries who felt
led by God to leave their country and ended up in Bolivia to preach
His word. Sam Jansen is the second generation missionary who was
raised at the mission, attended several colleges between Bolivia
and the U. S., and is now the pastor of the two churches (one in
Bolivia and the other Ayore [IRA] Indian).

‘During our visit, it became very apparent to me what my
part of this mission trip might mean. The mission is some 60 miles
in the jungle from any town and is self-sufficient. They also have
to produce their own electricity and power for their sawmill and
gristmills. This is where they need help. At present, they are
using an old 1925 stationary steam engine which was junk when they
acquired it in 1955. The engine is broken and repaired all over and
they are now repairing where it has been repaired before. These
people need another steam engine which we can repair and ship to
them in good condition.

‘I have just read a letter in the Jan.-Feb. ’93 IMA by
Carl Lathrop of Madison, New Jersey. This is the kind of help we
need if we can find a steam engine of at least 80 HP. If there is
anyone out there who has or knows of a stationary steam engine
which is repairable or has the drawings to build one, please
contact me by letter at the above address. Our church will raise
the money required to complete this mission and/or accept donations
of time and love. In His Name.’ (This is a terrific idea, and I
for one will put you folks in my prayers and will certainly believe
God will bless this endeavor. Let us hear from you again as this
project progresses, and I feel it will.)

This communication comes from A FRIEND, didn’t give his
name, address is Hooterville? Wolverine, Michigan 49799. I thought
it worthy to print. The writer tells us his wife was cranking up
the automatic washer and it made him think about the old wash days
and he decided to put down on paper some Old One Liners. I think
you’ll enjoy them: ‘Who left the pump handle up? Shut up
the chickens! Fill the wood box. Mailman is coming! Clean the lamp
chimney. Good day to churn. Gather the eggs. Throw out the
dishwater. Soup’s on! Who put the tea kettle on dry? Don’t
forget to feed the dog. Close the gate to the lane. Split some
kindling. What time did you get in last night? Don’t forget to
change your underwear. Wash day tomorrow! Cream’s set, skim it.
Couple pails of fresh water. Check the stock tank. Fill the lamps
and the lantern. Pick up some bag balm. Jones lost a calf. Suckers
are running. Time for school! If you don’t want it, I’ll
throw it out. Wood, water and where have you been?’ (I
don’t know about you, but I enjoyed this and I’ll bet as
you are reading this, you are thinking of a lot more ‘old one
liners’ from long ago. Have some to add, send them along.)

A letter comes from ED HURD, Box 283. Byron, Michigan 48418, and
he begins: ‘As with Everett, the anti-Case Person of the
Nov.-Dec.’92 IMA, this is my first attempt as a writer to your
column. I have enjoyed the many replies to this Everett’s
letter, in other magazines as well as yours.

‘However, I have been surprised by the silence concerning
this Everett’s maligning statements about Henry Ford’s
‘Rattle Trap Model T’ Evidently, in his advancing years,
this person has forgotten the strength, longevity and dependability
of the Model T. Ford pioneered the use of vanadium steel in these
cars. This allowed the Model T to be lighter, stronger and more
reliable than the more expensive rigs.

‘To prove this point, one should note that 10% of the
original production, that is 1.5 million Model Ts, are still on the
road. However, most of the so-called better rigs he mentions have
been recycled and shot back at us, in the form of bullets, bombs
and torpedoes, by the Japanese in World War II.

‘Now regarding Case engines. We all know that all makes of
engines had their faults, and Case was no exception. The monotonous
growl on the feed water pump, plus the clattering of the wooden
toggle block and eccentric of the reverse, caused engineers to hear
this in their sleep after listening to these sounds all day. The
marginal sizes of the Case firebox made it difficult, if not
impossible, to fire on green slabs. The relationship of the firebox
door to the platform floor caused many a Case engineer to become
very proficient at standing on their heads to check the fire. Some,
I hear, became quite good at manipulating the throttle and reverse
with their feet. These frequent head stands also helped to relieve
the bruised and battered knees which were standard equipment of a
Case fireman!

‘The marginal strength of the assembled wheels gave many of
the larger engines fits when the spokes worked loose. This caused
the wheels to no longer run true after years of heavy traction.
While watching these engines, with tired legs, from the rear while
traveling forward, the now wobbling wheels gave the engine the
appearance of an old sow waddling the length of the pig pen.

‘Finally, the platforms could have been fastened to the
engines in a better manner. Sometimes with the suspension links
stretched and badly worn, the rear of the platform had a tendency
to sag, and gave the appearance not unlike an old ‘hound
dawg’ with a case of worms. When reversing the engine with a
sticky throttle valve (common to Case), and worn links, one had the
feeling that he was being propelled over the smokestack by a giant
catapult.

‘But Case, like the Model T Ford, had one thing in its
favor-Tough and strong, Case would consistently outperform all
other engines of equal ratings, both in the belt or
traction.’

‘Dear Anna Mae,” writes SCOTT L. THOMPSON, 12109
Mennonite Church Road, Tremont, Illinois 61568. ‘Glad to hear
new life has been breathed into ‘Soot in the Flues’.
However, I know that to keep it alive we must have a steady flow of
material, so here’s another contribution. This photo features
an early Case steam engine and separator at a fair or demonstration
of some sort, location unknown. In the background is a sign for
Bowsher Feed Mills, South Bend, Indiana, J. B. Patterson &
Sons, Council Bluffs, Iowa local dealer. That may be the location
of this display.

‘Note the Case factory scene banner, the bowler-hatted men
and large-hatted ladies. What do you think, guys? About 1905 or so?
Also, who has a guess as to the size of the engine? Also, for what
use was the heavy double-hitch tongue in the foreground?

‘Finally, there has been some concern about overall interest
in steam at our shows as the older generation of steam men passes
on. Though many young people are active, thankfully, many more are
smitten by the gas engine bug. I have an idea for taking a first
step to revitalize interest in steam, and the Iron-Men Album in
particular. If every subscriber to IMA would send one gift
subscription to one friend this year, imagine the results!
IMA’s circulation would double. More folks would be exposed to
the steam bug. More steam people who don’t receive IMA might be
motivated to become more active. That means more steam support at
the shows, more material and pages in IMA! Plus, more mail for Anna
Mae!

‘$13.50 one time per year is a small price to pay to achieve
these goals! That’s my challenge to all the folks out there in
IMA land in ’93, and here’s my subscription for a friend to
start it off. How about it folks? Just imagine what we can
accomplish if everyone pulls together! Here’s to more steam in
’93!’ (We certainly didn’t expect a letter like this it
is not of our doing, but I think it is a terrific idea! So,
we’ll see what happens!)

HOWARD BROVONT, 64954 CR 15, Goshen, Indiana 42526 sends this
interesting letter and two nice photos.

‘Although I have read your column for a number of years,
this is the first time for me to write. I came along as steam was
going out. I do have some steam in my blood, as my father owned 10
steam engines one time or another in his younger life, and I have
several pictures of them, mostly the Advance as this seemed to be
his favorite.

‘He also had Wood Brothers and Buffalo Pitts engines. He was
a saw miller and thresher near Lake Odessa, Michigan, for 30
years.

‘In my time we had only gas tractors. Orman Rawlings’
letter to Soot in the Flues is very interesting. I believe he is
correct in stating all Advance steamers had the engine close to the
steam dome, which I believe was called a front, a front-mounted
engine. His looks more like an Advance Rumely, except the steam
dome sits forward of the engine. This resembles the Rumely steamer
as to the steam dome being placed ahead of the engine. Maybe Mr.
Rawlings has found one of a kind. Hopefully some of the old steam
men will respond.

‘Also the item by A. J. Ackerman about the Baker steamer
made at Swanton, Ohio: there are or were two in the Henry Ford
Museum at Detroit, Michigan, a 16-30 and I believe a 25-50 HP.
These never were successful because they condensed the exhaust
steam and returned it to the boiler. This water contained oil
which, being mixed with the water, produced an acid that ate holes
in the boiler. According to history, very few if any ever left the
plant.

‘Since I am retired, maybe I can send some picture. I enjoy
both IMA and GEM.’

GERALD DARR, 2220 Bishopsgate Drive, Toledo. Ohio 43614, sent a
newspaper article that you folks might enjoy, but we can’t
reprint it without written permission from the publisher. When
sending this sort of thing, don’t forget to ask the original
publisher for permission to reprint in IMA. If you send us the
publisher’s address, we can make the request if you
haven’t.

Gerald, you mentioned you and your wife both have health
problems, and I understand you discovered you have diabetes. Join
the club! That is one of my many ailments. I’ve had it for over
15 years, but wonderful things can be done–listen to what they
tell you. I’ve been on insulin for years. You may not have to
go that route, but I’m sure you can handle it!

ANDREW L. MICHELS, 302 Highland Ave., Plentywood, Montana 59254
sounds a bit upset as he writes: ‘I’m bored to death with
people who keep on promoting steam engines or bicycles, airplanes,
cars, buses, taxis, racers, even locomotives and tractors.

‘One fellow rates steam a low 3% efficiency. I know that
turbines get as high as 38% efficiency, which is about the same as
internal combustion machines.

‘I can get over 40 mph from a gallon of gas in a modern gas
auto. Last time I looked, they were getting 9 mph from steam cars.
They can’t use anti-freeze or plug-ins in steam. Even the flash
boilers, 1 min. steam. Sure, I could have a heated garage where I
could flip a switch and have the old girl ready to go, but what if
the young lady I went to visit, with my old steamer outside, wanted
or needed more time?

‘It is conceivable that to utilize wood, straw, or corncobs
one has to, for the lack of a more sophisticated plant, sacrifice
efficiency and settle for 3% to 15% utilization at the given
BTU’s in the fuel.

‘Steam is great stuff, but if you can’t use it in a
turbine, forget it! In the meantime, let’s just play with the
old beasts.

‘When reading on page 3, March-April IMA, I was made
conscious of the difference in American threshing and British.

‘In some parts of Britain the ‘thatch’ is more
valuable than the ‘corn’ all grain is called corn! It seems
if you have a thatch roof, you must keep it that way, by law.

‘So, it is disturbing to thresh the wheat (corn in England)
leaving the straw as long and undamaged as possible. So you need a
different kind of thresher. Do you believe that? I do! The
threshing machine for this kind of harvest is called a
drum.’

‘I have a little project that I would like to see what you
think about it,’ writes DAVE TAYLOR, P. O. Box 705, Fond du
Lac, Wisconsin 54936.

‘I enjoyed the little tip on ‘How To Clean A Boiler
Glass’ that was sent in by Chuck Sindelar, and appeared in the
January/February issue of the magazine. Now Chuck is a pretty sharp
fellow, and I’ll bet he may have a few more tips like that up
his sleeve that he might share with us.

‘Then too, if Chuck has some things to share, how many
others are out there, especially among those more
‘experienced’ readers (I dislike saying ‘older,’
though it is a compliment), who have little tips and tricks they
have learned, used, or developed over time that could be of
interest and value to those of us currently involved in the
operation of steam traction engines, no matter what their size or
maker?

‘After reading Chuck’s tip, I thought how nice it would
be to create a personal notebook of little tips like that, and what
better source to draw from than the readers of Iron-Men Album? I
would like to ask that anyone with a tip on steam traction
engineering, no matter how small they may feel it to be, please
send it to the magazine in care of your column so that it may be
shared, recorded, and put to good use by the rest of us.
Wouldn’t this be a worthwhile project, of interest to a great
many steam folks?

‘If you agree, then I will look forward to filling a
substantial notebook during the coming months. Thanks for your
interest and support.’

(Dave, I think that is a terrific idea and I hope the fellows
will take you up on this idea. I’ll be looking for the tips and
interesting notes you folks will be sending. This magazine is
growing better all the time with these suggestions and you
experienced steam men. Get your pens out soon and write me).

And now in closing, I have just lost a wonderful friend, and you
have too, as I know many of you knew EARLENE RITZMAN. I have known
her for about 45 years. She was a wonderful person and taught some
of our children in elementary classes. Then of course, later on,
this is how I got into the IMA, as she and Elmer came and asked me
to take over the job as secretary to Iron-Men Album and that’s
how it started in my home. In the beginning I used to file the
envelopes on my living room floor. Later we had shelves built in
the basement and etc. The business grew and later we gave birth to
the Gas Engine Magazine also. I liked the job, but also it was
something I could do from my home and so I was there to be with my
growing family at all times. I was up many a night until the wee
hours, but I loved it and you folks are so loveable, and very much
like my own family.

Well, I know you mourn with me. She was a dear friend and a
wonderful teacher, mother, and wife, always ready to help where
needed in her lifetime. And I think I will close now before I get
the column ‘all wet’ with tears of memories.

I feel it is appropriate to print her obituary in my column. I
know you folks will cherish it. I knew Earlene thoroughly enjoyed
you folks and the wonderful reunions. And sometime we will all have
a great reunion on the other side won’t that be beautiful?

B. EARLENE RITZMAN, 77, of 220 Brian Dr., Enola, died Sunday,
March 14, 1993.

She was a graduate of the former Lock Haven State Teachers
College, a retired elementary teacher in the East Pennsboro School
District and a member of Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Enola,
and the Order of Eastern Star Steadfast Chapter No. 479 of Camp
Hill, Pa.

She was the widow of Rev. Elmer Ritzman. Surviving are a
daughter, Marsha E. Wingard of Enola; two sisters, Claire Greider
and Charlotte Yontz, both of Camp Hill; a grandson; and a nephew
and niece.

South Carolina State Museum is interested in updating and
maintaining a registry of S. C. made steam engines. Individuals or
organizations owning or knowing the whereabouts of such engines are
encouraged to communicate with the museum at the address below. The
museum is especially interested in 19th century stationary and
traction engines. Known companies that produced engines are:

Cameron, McDermid and Mustard (1850s-1860s)

Charleston, SC

Tozer Engine Works/John A. Willis (1865 until early 20th
century)

Columbia, SC

Atlantic Engine Works (little is known)

Columbia, SC

Palmetto Ironworks (mid 19th to early 20th century)

Columbia, SC

Smith and Porter Engines (late 19th to early 20th century)

Charleston, SC

Science and Technology Dept., S.C. State Museum, PO Box
100107, Columbia, SC 29202. Phone 803-737-4921; Fax
803-737-4969.

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Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment