Farm Collector


It’s hard to believe we are already into the July-August
issue time surely does fly, doesn’t it? I’m always looking
for good material for us all to ponder thus: To laugh is to risk
appearing the fool. To weep is to risk appearing sentimental. To
reach out for another is to risk involvement. To expose feelings is
to risk exposing your true self. To play your ideas and dreams
before the crowd is to risk their loss. To love is to risk not
being loved in return. To live is to risk dying. To hope is to risk
despair. To try at all is to risk failure BUT risk must be taken,
because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. One may
avoid some suffering and sorrow, but one simply cannot learn, feel,
change, grow, live, and love. Chained by one’s certitudes, one
is a slave, one has forfeited freedom. Only one WHO RISKSIS TRULY
FREE!! (Read it again I think this gives us many thoughts to
ponder! Author unknown. I think it is good though, makes us do some
deep thinking. And maybe it will inspire some more folks to

I like the suggestions that come in this letter from PETE LA
BELLE, 802 Shadybrook, Holland, Michigan 49424. He says it’s
his soap box speech for my column’ Many readers, I’m sure,
have been whining as to the shriveling size of the magazine. To my
knowledge, this has always been a do-it-yourself kind of magazine,
and some of the readers may not be aware of this. There’s a lot
of readers, young and not so young alike, that I’m sure have
something to share regarding our unusual hobby. Stories from the
prime years of steam, an old locomotive sitting in your town park,
a factory where you work still using steam engines, marine steam
vessels, a local museum, your latest restoration or creation, and
the one I enjoy most, the technical side of owning, restoring and
operating a steamer. There’s lots of stuff to write about, and
nobody expects the article quality to compete with the Top 10 Best
Sellers, either. We’re in need of content! So, grab a pencil
and paper (or turn on your computer), shoot some pictures and get
them in the mail. This slowly shrinking magazine is our fault and
soon to be our loss if it ever should stop!’ Thank you Pete
maybe this will stir someone up. I do have a bit more this time so
keep the letters rolling in, Folks!

GARNET R. FLACK, Edinburg, North Dakota 58227 sends this
communication: ‘I was interested in the article submitted by
Lt. A. Lewis of Gray, Saskatchewan, which was in the
September/October 1993 issue about shock loaders. I was surprised
to learn that this use was so widespread in Canada.

‘I grew up on a farm three miles south of Milton, North
Dakota, and there were three threshing outfits in the Milton area
that used shock loaders. The one I was most familiar with and used
to see in operation was owned by one of our closest neighbors, Mr.
John Wild, who had quite a large farming operation. Mr. Wild had a
large Minneapolis threshing outfit, a 35 HP engine and a 40 x 64
separator. With the use of the shock loader, six bundle teams would
keep this outfit going, but needless to say, the teams hauled a lot
of loads in a day. Mr. Wild always had one man who followed the
shock loader on foot and picked up any stray bundles that fell off.
That man did a lot of walking.

‘Mr. Lewis mentioned in his article how the bundle racks
were built high on one side to prevent the bundles from falling
over. This same method was used here, and for that reason the teams
on one side of the feeder had to drive in facing the engine.

‘This shock loader was wrecked in 1925, so from then on they
used eight teams with two men on each rack, and a man to clean up
under the feeder. I worked on this outfit when they were using this
system part of the fall of 1928 and the fall of 1929 which was the
last season this outfit was operated. I am sorry to say that the
beautiful Minneapolis engine, in perfect working order, was sold to
a scrap dealer in later years. Before that, it had been traded in
to an implement dealer on a tractor.

Another of your correspondents recently referred to mechanical
shockers. Another of our neighbors who had a very large farming
operation, and also was an implement dealer, by the name of C. W.
Plain, experimented with mechanical shockers when I was a small
boy. I never saw one of these machines in operation but remember
seeing some of the shocks, and they were not very good shocks and
didn’t stand up very well.

Flywheel side of 40-140 HP Reeves Canadian Special Cross
Compound SN 6867 owned by Ed and Ray Smolik of Osage, Iowa. Taken
8/92 by Gary Yaeger.

‘The way I understand it, a certain number of bundles were
formed into a shock and then the shock was pushed off onto the
ground. Just before this took place a twine was tied around the
entire shock. There evidently was a knotter head similar to a
binder as baler to tie the twine. I remember hearing that this
twine was such a nuisance to the bundle haulers in threshing time,
which is easily understandable.’

‘I had written you earlier in the year and promised the
story told me by Max Tyler about the 40 HP U.S. Reeves that his
father, Charlie Tyler, almost purchased,’ writes GARY YAEGER,
146 Reimer Lane, White-fish, Montana 59937. (406-862-7738).

‘I had a nice conversation with my good friend, Max Tyler of
Moore, Montana, here in Whitefish, Montana, over dinner. He
proceeded to tell me about his father, Charlie Tyler, almost buying
a 40 HP U.S. Reeves. My mind was immediately skeptical, but the
more he talked, the easier it was to concur with him. I forgot
where he said Charlie located it, but I believe it was in north
central Montana, maybe the Havre, Montana, area.

‘At first, I thought every 40 HP Reeves ever built was a
‘Canadian Special’ I knew in the first grade that all
Canadian Reeves engines used the flat strap steel built-up wheels
in the rear, in place of the cast steel of the U.S. engines.
However, I was a freshman in high school when I learned these
built-up wheels were also available at extra cost on U.S. Reeves
engines. Hence, so much for the idea that all engines with these
wheels are Canadian engines.

32-120 HP Reeves Cross Compound Canadian Special #6269. This is
how it looked when the Yaeger Bros., Lewistown, MT, owned it. Taken
at the Tyler Ranch when purchased by Charlie Harrison. It is now
owned by Marvin Brodbeck and has a later style boiler.

‘I have quite a few pictures of 40 HP Reeves engines, mostly
from Montana, in my library. I also have a few copies of
Tyler’s original Reeves Catalog #36. This catalog states on the
dimensions of the Reeves engines: 13 HP through 40 HPU.S.
Design.’ of this same catalog it states: ‘Special attention
has been given to boiler construction. It is built with plates
extending back of the firebox and to which the axle and
countershaft bearings are attached; also the rear saddle of the
engine frame. This makes a most substantial foundation for these
parts.’ However, no more mention of boiler construction.

Engineer Randy Schwerin running simple (intercepting valve is
allowing live steam into both cylinders) with Smolik Bros.’
40-140 HP Reeves Canadian Special Cross-Compound. Next to the
Smolik Bros., Randy is probably more knowledgable on the 40 HP
Reeves than anyone else alive.

‘Fortunately, we still have an example of the 40 HP
Reevesthe Smolik Brothers, which has recently been moved to Osage,
Iowa, where it will remain in the museum. Ed Smolik is very, very
knowledgeable on 40 HP Reeves engines. I visited with him for a
couple of hours when I was in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in August of 1992.
(I should have had my camcorder running!)

‘We were ‘splitting hairs’ on 40 Reeves variations
and agreeing, too! Their engine is only one of two late
Emerson-Brantingham 40s produced with the two 45 degree angle
elbows in the main steam line. I knew theirs was the only one
I’d ever seen having this; although, almost all of the 32 HP
Canadians had this feature.

‘Every other 40 HP picture I have is of the early design,
identical to the 32 HP Reeves U.S. I’ve included a picture of
Tyler Brothers, 32 U.S. Reeves cross-compound #7888 to use a visual
aid, since the boiler barrel diameter is the same size smokebox
door and outer ring. (Note the late style Emerson-Brantingham door
on #7888). Also, the cone type king post, which was also employed
on the early 40s, as well as the flat steam dome, straight steam
line with horizontal shutoff valve and pop valve on top of the
large Tee’ fitting.

‘Now, to aid in the confusion, I’m adding another 32 HP
Reeves as a visual aid . This Reeves Canadian Special 32 HP
cross-compound #6269 was the engine owned by my dad and his
brothers near Lewistown, Montana. I could write volumes on this
engine, and maybe I’ll have to send you a story of its many
lives. This photo was taken after Dad traded it to Tylers for a
Nichols & Shepard. This was before Tylers sold it to Charlie
Harrison, whose widow sold it to Marvin Brodbeck, the current

‘I’ve included #6269 because it was another variation
which must have been used on the 40 HP Reeves, but I have no way of
knowing since I have no pictures or literature of a 40 HP with
these traits.

‘First of all it was one of the first 32 HP Canadian
Specials and was the only one of this type before its final
restoration, when it got a newer, round dome, ‘ boiler.

Paul Tyler, Max Tyler’s son, and grandson of Charlie Tyler,
on Tyler Bros. 32-110 U.S. Cross Compound Reeves in July 1991. S.N.
7888. Note late style Emerson-Brantingham smoke box door. It also
has Baker valves and friction power guide.

‘#6269 had a 7/16 boiler by Broderick
Brothers, built in June of 1910. It was a butt strap type with
riveted on wing sheets, instead of the one piece wagon top of the
later Canadians. To achieve the 175# steam pressure rating of the
Canadian government laws, they moved the centers closer together on
the staybolts. The U.S. 7/16‘ and late
Canadian ‘ boilers used staybolts farther apart.

‘This being a butt strap boiler, it had the larger diameter
boiler barrel. Reeves used the same diameter smoke box door on all
25 HP-D.S., all 32 HP engines and of course on the 40 HP. Also,
they used a larger door ring, made eccentric, with the door hinged
lower, to take up this barrel diameter difference. Notice the
vertical shutoff valve on the straight steam line. It also had a
Pickering governor instead of Mr. Clay’s sliding weight
‘Reeves’ governor. I’m assuming this variation must
have gone out of production prior to the buyout of Reeves by
Emerson-Brantingham. So much for the 32 HP comparisons.

Example of an early 40-140 HP Reeves U.S. type, with lapseam
boiler, King Post is bolted in waterspace, however it had wing
sheets riveted behind the wagon top to support the cannon bearings
and the rear of the single piece casting cross-compound motor. This
engine was owned by Steve Anderson, Lewistown, MT. Photo taken near
Denton, MT. It appears to me they had their own private
‘tractor pull’ circa 1912.

‘Now, there is a super old picture of an earlier style 40 HP
which was owned by Steven Anderson of Lewis-town, Montana. I love
those 56’ wide rear wheels and extensions.

‘Now to analyze this most common type 40 HP Reeves. Note
first of all, the centered smoke box door, as on the U.S. 32 HP,
the cone type king post, with bolts into the water-space, and the
32 U.S. type valve and pop valve on the steam line. It does have
the sliding ball Reeves governor though, and it should have riveted
on wing sheets, according to catalog #36.

‘The Emerson-Brantingham catalog reproduced for the Reeves
Historical Society of America states, ‘Reeves cross compound
engine rated 40 HP regularly built with Canadian Special
boiler.’ The engravings of the 40 HP in this (E-B) catalog
didn’t help our dilemma, as they used the same engraving as in
Tyler’s #36 catalog.

‘Now that I have myself and maybe some of you fine readers
confused, let me tell you what Charlie Tyler almost purchased. It
had a lap seam boiler, cast steel, round spoke, rear drive wheels
with extensions; also, it had the Reeves friction disc power
steering guide instead of the steam turbine guide of the standard
production 40s. It did not have the two story cab, but rather the
ordinary type of Reeves canopy. It did have the one piece casting
40 HP cross-compound motor, with piston valves.

‘In my personal opinion, this was just an ordinary 32 HP
U.S. simple double, only fitted with the 40 HP motor.

‘Max did not recall whether this had the riveted on wing
sheets or had the standard U.S. Cannon bearings bolted into the
water space. It did have the two piece upper cannon bearing, but
Yaeger Brothers’ 32 HP Canadian Special also had that

‘Charlie Tyler’s engine would be a rare one if it still
existed, but it doesn’t.

‘Reeves and Company had a huge market here in Montana, for
their larger size steam engines. Quoting Max Tyler in Haston St.
Clair’s book Historical Stories About Reeves Engines under
#6269, Max stated: ‘Four out of five engines used for plowing
in the Montana Judith Basin were Reeves, and the fifth man wished
he had a Reeves.’

‘On that note, I think I’d better quit!

‘I’ve collected model T Fords for over 40 years and
antique Winchester firearms for about 20 years.

‘You know, it seems every time I was about to bet that these
companies only did things a certain way, or for only a specific
time, someone usually came along and put ‘egg on my face!’
Anyway, Charlie’s 40 HP would have been the perfect

In reply to A. L. Michels’ writing, page 15 of July/August
1993, this conclusion comes from GERALD PAYNE, 12157 McKinley Road,
Montrose, Michigan 48457). ‘In response to A. L. Michels
writing, I’d like to say he’d better do some research. A
reciprocating engine, Corliss type or Uniflow stationary engine was
rated 25% efficient. Turbines are considered better than 90%
efficient and are still used today!

‘Approximately 50% or more electricity produced in the U.S.
today is by the steam turbine.’

If you take this magazine and attend steam shows, I’m sure
you like to talk and ‘dicker’ about your views at times. I
hereby hope no one is offended, as that is not the purpose in
asserting your views. (This pertains to the letter above and the
following note from ED HURD, Box 283, Byron, Michigan 48418.) Ed
writes: ‘I see more bull-crap from former Case engine owners
trying to defend them, this time from Iowa.

‘I’m deeply sorry for offending Mr. Thomas Stebritz. It
must be sore knees that causes him to be so short-tempered.

‘I still stand behind what I said about Case engines. In
fact, there is one fault that I forgot. The steering is terrible.
One becomes arm-weary just trying to put one in the belt. I learned
this from Tom’s engine after he sold it to Graham Sellers. It
is a tight engine, but saw very little traction work.

‘You see, Case did sloppy work on the design of the rear
suspension of the engines. The force of thrust in forward motion,
the weight of the platform with contractors bunker, and draw bar
were all borne by these upper links.

‘Now, Keck Gonnerman used the same link and spring
arrangement as Case, except they did it right. The drawbar and
platform were mounted solid to the boiler. Incidentally, you never
had to get down on your knees to see in their firebox.

‘Here are a few rear-mounted engines that you don’t have
to get on your knees to fire: Advance, Rumely, Gaar-Scott, Avery,
Baker and Peerless.

‘About Case wheels they have flimsy spokes and under heavy
traction, the spokes loosen and the wheels wobble.

‘Incidentally, Mr. John Schrock of Mason, Michigan, has
developed patented Schrock improvement that makes Case engines easy
to fire. I wish that he would write an article on it.’
(Please do John)!

‘Let’s face it! Case is a good engine, but it has its
faults!’ (Hey Fellows, I bet every engine has its faults
just like we folks are all guilty of the same.)

BLAKE MALKAMAKI, 10839 Girdled Road, Concord Twp., Painesville,
Ohio 44077 writes:

‘For the last seven or eight years, I’ve been compiling
a list of steam traction and portable engines in North America. So
far, I have over 2500, all listed by manufacturer, serial number,
horsepower, year, owner, condition, previous owner and the source
of the information. Some engines lack some information.

‘I would like to share this information with steam engine
people, but there’s no way I can send the whole list (it takes
about an hour and a half to print out). If you would like a list of
two or three makes, send me a S.A.S.E. I will ask that if you have
additional engines or information, or if you can update my list,
please send that to me later, so I can keep my list as accurate as
possible. Please write to me at the above address or call or fax

JAMES L. BROADHEAD, Box 405, Colchester, Illinois 62326 sends
this letter: ‘I am writing in regards to Orman Rawlings’
letter in the March-April issue on page 11. The answer to his first
question is something that I have spent considerable time studying.
I have an engine like this; mine is #14346 built in 1915it has the
butt strap boiler also. Two more of these engines I know of are as
follows: one in Platte City, Missouri, which is a lap seam and one
in Dewitte, Iowa, which is a butt strap. I regret that I don’t
have their serial numbers. Now, on to the answer.

‘The reason for the engine being so far behind the dome:
this boiler is a 21 HP tandem compound rear mount boiler. Advance
compounds have the smaller high pressure cylinder in front of the
larger low pressure cylinder, so the dome was placed next to the
high pressure cylinder. Since this is a single simple, it is not as
long as a compound; therefore does not reach the dome.

‘Answer to question #2: standard equipment on Advance
engines included one injector and one independent steam pump. This
steam pump was a single cylinder marsh pump, but I cannot tell you
the bore and stroke of the pump that would have come with this

‘In the January/February 1994 issue, Edward Hutsell wrote a
reply to this letter and said that the serial number cannot be
correct. I would have to agree with that statement. My guess would
be that this engine is newer than mine, because the front axle
pedestal is mounted under the barrel and not the smoke box. It is
possible that the pedestal was moved back. It has been moved back
on my engine, but I believe the later ones were made with the axle
mounted as yours is made. The engine at Platte City still has the
pedestal under the smoke box and the one at Dewitt has been moved

‘Mr. Hutsell also wrote that the old Advance piped steam
through boiler, smoke box and stack. Yes, they did on single simple
side mount and tandem compound side mount, but not on any rear
mounted engine. On this particular engine the pipe would be so long
between the stack and the cylinder that it would not gain anything
from the ‘dry pipe.’ Advance compounds were designed to run
on 175 P.S.I, steam, so I imagine as soon as the superior strength
of the butt strap was discovered, the wise choice for Advance was
to build their high pressure boilers in this method. As far as the
wheels go, I have never seen any other Advance with steel wheels,
only cast iron. But, the hubs front and rear are the same as used
on compound rear mounted Advance engines. I also have a 1923
Advance Rumely #15306 and the wheel hubs are completely

‘It is my theory that the wheels were made this way for
simplicity, ease of construction and lower cost. It is also my
theory that this particular engine was built to cater to the
majority of the engine buying public who wanted universal engines,
engines that could burn any fuel (wood, coal, straw), rear mounted
so they could be used for traction work when needed. It would be
simple in design, but rugged when the going got tough (ADVANCE
trait). This engine is just exactly what they wanted.

‘I would like to say, Mr. Hutsell, that this engine IS NO
BASTARD! It is the legitimate son of a rich heritage of some of the
finest traction engines ever manufactured. It was designed by
Advance engineers, manufactured by Advance craftsmen in Advance
factories and is a close forefather of ‘the best running most
reliable engines that ever drew a breath,’ Advance Rumely

‘In the March/April issue on , there is a picture of a
machine which was thought to have been built as a stump puller. The
wheels on this machine are of the same design as the wheels used on
the ‘Big Four’ tractor built by the Gas Traction Company in
1911. There are more spokes in the wheels in your picture than are
on the Big Four. The spuds on the rims are of the same style.

‘On the same magazine, there is a picture of a Geiser
‘Peerless’ steam traction engine. You ask what model it is
and also the horsepower. That engine is either a model Ul, 18 HP,
or a Zl, 25 HP. It is a single cylinder engine with double drive
gearing for any heavy-duty work. At that time these engines were
the most powerful single cylinder engines built by Geiser. They
were built in the 1909-1910 era. The engine pictured is equipped
with optional canopy and a headlight.

‘I have an Advance Rumely OilPull tractor. It is a model G,
20-40 HP, built in 1923. My father bought it when it was about one
year old, in like new condition. The tractor was used for custom
threshing of wheat, barley, oats, rye and clover seed.

‘It was also used to do custom sawmill work. At home, it was
also used to power a burr type and a hammer type feed grinder. It
pulled a road grader some; and one time a neighbor had my father
use the OilPull to remove old apple trees from a farm orchard. The
trees were pulled from the ground intact with some roots. I have
used it many times to pull my Farmall 450 diesel out of a soft spot
in our meadow when mowing. I display the OilPull at three steam
shows. At times at these shows, the tractor is belted to a
thresher, which makes the OilPull bark real good. Please keep up
the good work!’ (I’ ll try, Sir, and thanks for your
) This communication came from OSCAR R. STREAKER, JR.,
1350 Rt. 32, Sykesville, Maryland 21784.

‘I think it’s about my turn to add a bit to the
column,’ writes JOHN STEEL, 2705 Steel Road, N.W., Dover, Ohio
44622. ‘I really appreciate your thoughts in your column where
you lift up the Lord and good wholesome life styles. Along those
lines, I’ll highlight on an article I read once about the
importance of a good governor on a steam engine. The governor is
considered the heart of an engine, if it be slow, the engine seems
sluggish and powerless. If it be too radical, the engine nearly
comes apart during the slightest sense of a load. But, there’s
nothing like listening to a well governed engine sawing a big oak

‘Like with engines, people too have a governor. The
operation of our human governor controls many things like our
language, our tempers and our lifestyles. It should set a standard
for our life and tell us if we’re up to speed with God’s
will for our life.

‘Lately, we have been experiencing some terribly cold
weather as low as 30 degrees below zero no doubt a record here in
eastern central Ohio. This presents plenty of challenges to keeping
things going around a dairy farm. Some unusual guests this winter
have been many Canadian geese which have been staying around the
fields looking for corn or something to eat.

1922 Case 50 serial #35411. Nathan Steel, age 4, standing by
rear wheel. ‘The next Case man.’ Engine owned by Terry and
John Steel and families.

‘I am including a picture of our latest restoration, a 50
Case. This engine carries 150 P.S.I, and is in like new condition.
It is a very late engine at serial #35411. It also has as original
equipment 8’ extension rims.

‘I am also sending a picture taken at the Algonquin Mill
Fall Festival, where we have been taking our Case 65 and powering
the sawmill for the weekend. Algonquin is a nice little restored
village nestled in the hills of eastern Ohio, recreated around a
steam-powered flour mill which began somewhere around the late
1800s. It is complete with a farm setting, two story cabin,
sawmill, post office and several other buildings which swarm with
people watching turn of the century craftsmen who are demonstrating
along with selling their wares and crafts. Also, apple butter,
cider and homemade bread are made the old-fashioned way.

‘We enjoy a good sawmill crew and always make a big pile of
boards from the three-day run. Nothing I like better than to pull
the throttle on that old 65 and 165 P.S.I, and a nice log on the
carriage heading for the saw. Keep up the column as we all enjoy
reading about engines and the people and life-styles who run

This communication comes from RUSS KASTEN, 815 N. Superior
Avenue, Tomah, Wisconsin 54660: ‘Recently, I came across one of
Gramps’ old steam engine books entitled The Traction Engine
– Its Use and Abuse, including Gas and Gasoline Engines, plus How
To Run A Threshing Rig by James H.
Maggard, copyright

‘I have not noticed such a title in any of your publishing
ads, and I must say that it is quite interesting reading. One
anecdote included is: ‘It would not be fair to put the green
boy on to an old dilapidated, worn-out engine, for he might have to
learn too fast in order to get the engine to running in good shape.
He might have to learn so fast that he would get the big head, or
have no head at all by the time he got through with it. And I
don’t know, but that a boy without a head is about as good as
an engineer with a big head.’

‘This book does not contain graphs and figures, but tells of
what an average engineer is likely to encounter in his daily use of
a steam engine and threshing rig. Hopefully, this book is still in
print and available, as it contains a wealth of information for the
beginner or ‘Green Boy’.’ (Anyone else out there
heard of this? and are they still available? Sounds

The following communication comes from BRUCE FLATMOE, 7286 Clay
Avenue E., Inver Grove Hts., Minnesota 55076 (H: 612-457-9080 and
W: 612-779-6083): ‘During the mid-1920s, my great-uncle
purchased a Waterloo Boy tractor S/N 20274, and a plow from a
dealer in Dupree, South Dakota. A short time later the tractor was
resold after he was involved in a fatal farm accident with it. We
have the original bill of sale. By chance, is this tractor still in
existence? If it is, I’d like to hear from its owner.

‘On another note: Can any Case collector tell me if rods and
pistons from a 12-20 Case will fit a 10-18 Case? Will pistons from
any other Case tractor fit the 10-18 Case? If you can help, I’d
appreciate hearing from you.

‘I’m also compiling a list of 9-18 Case owners and their
tractor serial numbers. If you have a 9-18 or know who does, please
drop me a line.’

HENRY J. MAST, Route 1, Box W132, Williamsburg, Indiana 47393
writes: ‘Does anyone know of a used book for sale that gives
reliable information how to clean a boiler on the inside?

‘The letter in the January/February issue prepared by C.
William Ret-tie is quite interesting to me. We have a 9 x 10
portable Frick steam engine that we have used to run our sawmill
and I have found it quite interesting to fire and use things such
as bark, wood chips, slab wood and other woods to make power to run
a sawmill. I am glad to hear of someone who has interest in setting
up a steam-powered sawmill.’

CHUCK SINDELAR, S47W-22300 Lawnsdale Road, Waukesha, Wisconsin
53186 sends this letter with a lot of information: ‘Regarding
the letter from Randall Sawyers of Council Bluffs in IMA
January/February 1994. There is a lot of interesting history
involved with the ‘Baker Fan.’ Recently, some (experts)
have tried to discredit the fan by saying it can not do this, or it
can not do that some have even gone so far as to say using the fan
can harm your engine. To that, I say: Horse feathers! Why do some
people try so hard to make something out of nothing? Try to make an
issue when none exists? It is obvious that using the fan can do no
more (nor less) than its original intended purpose. That is to put
a ‘load’ on the engine which quite obviously was also the
main intended use for the engine. Naturally, there will be some
‘wear’ with any moving part, but with some good common
sense, and proper use of some good ‘lube,’ the wear will be
minimal. No more nor less wear than when belted to any other piece
of equipment that can exert a similar load.

‘Now, to the fan itself. I think it would benefit a lot of
the readers and shows to again run a complete story on construction
‘specs.’ I don’t remember such a story in IMA, but I
may have forgotten it. But, a nice interesting story was done in
Engineers & Engines, February 1966! That is almost 30 years
ago, and not likely available to many readers. It was written by
Frank McGuffin. Some of you ‘old-timers’ may well recognize
that name he invented an advanced design boiler fire door that was
sold in the after-market. I finally got to see one of these doors
just a couple of years ago, but can’t seem to remember if it
was on an engine at Willie Abel’s at Finleyville, or if it was
at Rough and Tumble at Kinzers.”([Look for it next
time you are at those shows.

‘McGuffin states that it was Mr. A.D. Baker who first used
such a fan at his Baker Factory in Swanton, Ohio. Every steamer was
belted to this fan before it was shipped, to ‘work in’ the
bearings, and so as to be able to adjust the engine while under
load. At that time, Mr. A.D. Baker was good friends with Mr. LeRoy
Blaker. All you old timers know that Leroy Blaker served as
president of The National Threshers in their early years, and
several of their early shows were held on the Blaker farm near
Alvordton, Ohio. Mr. A.D. Baker offered to loan his factory fan
(the only one in existence at that time) to Leroy Blaker for use at
the National Threshers steam-ups at the Blaker farm. After a few
years with this loan arrangement, Mr. A.D. Baker donated his the
original-Baker fan to the National Threshers organization. In this
1966 article, McGuffin gives dimensions and specs, and includes
several pictures of ‘The Original Baker Fan.’ He states
that it is very important that the fan blades be exactly 24 inches
square, and attached to the shaft so that they run perfectly
balanced and in a circle of exactly 60 inches.

‘Some of you will remember LeRoy Blaker as a devout Port
Huron man. He devoted a lot of his time and energy to horse power
testing, and economy run at those early shows, and published a
number of articles on these subjects. He was a fine engineer who
got his start as a steam thresherman and sawyer when steam was
still king. But, he was much more than that. He knew reverse gears
and valves of all types. On his famous Case 65 (engine number
33917) which he bought near Ord, Nebraska, in May of 1953, he built
his own balanced valve similar to the ‘Sweet Patent’ as
used on some Fricks, Aultman-Taylors and Reeves. He was able to get
his ’65’ to perform as no one else could. For instance, who
can today get any 22-65 steamer to match a draw bar pull of over
21,000 lbs.? This was done at the National Threshers Reunion at
Montpelier with Harry Woodman see at the controls and Amos Rixman
running the test. (See & August 1957.) On favorable footing,
this Case 65 pulled in the same class as a D6 Cat and a TD 14
International crawler. What a show that must have been. I sure wish
I had been there! I’ve always said that I was just born too

‘On another subject. I hope by now all of your water gauge
glasses are spotlessly clean. Has anyone tried the tip I sent in
that appeared in IMA on page 14 of January/February ’93 issue?
I found it interesting that this tip had done some traveling. My
good friend, Joe Kuester of Clintonville, Wisconsin, is a member of
The National Traction Engine Trust that published the British
magazine Steaming. Joe sent me a copy of their autumn ’93 issue
where they had reprinted this tip in its entirety. I hope, for the
sake of safety, that now all water gauge glasses are clean on both
sides of the Atlantic.

‘Boy, winter is here in all her glory. The snow depth and
wind chill factors are now falling in the ‘meaningful’
range. It is now time to get all those winter projects under way.
Come on all you lard butts and couch potatoes if you are too whimpy
to work on your old iron, try to pull your sunken chests up to the
kitchen table with paper and pen in hand and write something for
Iron Men to print. They can’t print what you are thinking, they
need it on paper. For lack of material, IMA can easily be devoured
in a short evening. I’d like to see it twice as thick, and come
out every month maybe every two weeks in winter. Bet this could
happen if everyone would contribute even just a little

‘Mead Morison of Boston, Maine, built two sizes of the
Caterpillar tractors. I operated one the town of Bethany, New York,
had, and our friend Dick Spink has one in his tractor collection at
Varysburg, New York. How long this company manufactured these Cats
and rating of HP or tonage anyone know? For heat in the cab, we had
big barn lanterns lit. In other words if the light was on, you were
warm.’ (This short letter was hard to decipher, but I
wanted to use it and the writer did not want his name

‘As a subscriber to your magazines I abhor the fact that
some of the readers object to you printing stories about boiler
explosions, as they feel they emphasize the dangerous aspects of
the hobby. This was noted in the Editor’s note box on page 22
of the May/June issue of The Iron Men Album magazine. A big favor
would be given to these so-called hobbyists if more information
about boiler explosions were made known to them, and I think it is
the responsibility of IMA to pass on information to the readers as
to the potential bombs they are playing with, believe me!

‘An example of what I’m saying without going into a lot
of technical talk is outlined below:



Temp at


Ft. Lbs.

Energy Liberated



















Comparison of explosives:

1 lb. Black Powder gives 960,000 ft. lbs.
1 lb. Smokeless powder gives
1,260,000 ft. lbs.
1 lb. Nitroglycerine gives 2,000,000 ft. lbs.

‘The above chart is based on the sudden rupture of just a 30
gallon hot water tank at various pressures and temperatures.

At atmospheric pressure, steam occupies 1620.8708 times more
volume than does water. To put it more plainly that is .01672 ft/3
of water boiled off into steam at atmospheric pressure which will
occupy 26.80 ft/3 of space! A gallon of water is equal to 231 cubic
inches. A cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water. Take these
figures and boil off a gallon of water at atmospheric pressure and
you can figure out the final volume that the steam produced will

‘Now take a steam boiler and add potential energy to the
steam being produced under pressure; one can see the violent
expansion the steam would undergo when suddenly released to the
atmosphere, let alone the water contents of the boiler as it
flashes off into steam in our ruptured boiler due to the sudden
drop of pressure that was exerted on the surface of the water.

‘Let me kid you not! To keep your head in the sand as to the
potential energy that steam under pressure has and the hazards
involved, and to top it off by wanting to keep such articles from
being printed, is not doing one much good.

‘One other thing should be remembered: welcome the boiler
inspector if he should come around, and work with him. He is just
not looking out for your life, he is also protecting the people
around your engine and boiler when it is under pressure.’

This article came from WILLIAM B. COONEY, High Pressure Steam
Fireman, 1st Class, Lic. #8267, P.O. Box 566, Norton, Massachusetts

‘Hi, Everyone, I may be a new contributing face! Hang
On!’says REV. LLOYD C. BRONSON, (retired) 31674 I Street, Pine
Grove Mills, Gobies, Michigan 49055.

‘I am reaching into the farthest back corner of my
memories’ cupboard, to tell of my first sight of a threshing
rig. Playing on our farm-home’s west porch gave a view of the
road westerly, which road then was a worn track with grass growing
between the wheel tracks, no less! Our farm dog, Alger, was with me
too. As I remember it was the summer of 1908, maybe? As I played I
began to hear the sounds of teams pulling, the chucking of wagon
wheels or something? Men talking and urging horses on, and as I
looked I saw first from behind an Osage hedge, the first team
pulling a portable steam engine. Its smokestack folded back and a
man sitting on a seat ahead of the stack, showed wisps of smoke
softly spiraling upward. The engine seemed hard to pull in the
loamy soil of the wagon tracks and I could see lather under the
harnesses. A hot day it was!

‘Oh-h, there is another team a coming and it is pulling a
threshing machine; don’t remember now the names on the rig, but
I never had seen one before, you know? Or do ye now? Well this team
was working pretty hard and I could hear the horses breathing, kind
a panting, no? Watching those two rigs come and then pass by I then
saw to my surprise a third team and it was pulling a wagon with a
wooden tank on it. A pump was on top of the tank with a big, long
hose which reminded me of a big worm, eh ye say? This team
wasn’t working quite as hard but there was lather showing, the
driver also was smoking a pipe which I could smell clear up to our
porch, no less! Oh yeah, I did notice that the driver for the steam
engine did spit a lot as he went by and I saw what looked like a
big grape blow from his mouth and while he was yet in sight, as he
rested his big team which looked like maybe they be per herons,
yes? Well this driver reached into a back pocket of his overalls
and took a big bite of a brown chunk of something. Any idea what it
could have been, ye engineers and firemen? Oh yeah, the road past
our place is a bit uphill as ye go easterly, no less and so the rig
pulled harder past our farm and the grade got a lot wore further
on, ye know.

‘Moving along a little, just a few years, no more, a steam
rig came to our place in a forenoon. Alger and I were on the west
porch as usual and I was so surprised! When that steam traction
engine came about to the porch Alger jumped off and to the nearest
drive wheel and began growling real fierce and biting the iron
spokes while yet being careful to not let the drive wheel run onto
his foot, see? (How nice ‘would have been to have a new-fangled
video camera so I could a taped the different steamers and mills
that did our grains for us, so long ago!) The ones I do remember
were Huber (2), Nichols & Shepard (3); then Oil Pulls took
over, but I remember as a small boy, yeah, small, of the different
engineers letting me sit on the tank or bunker and I so much
enjoyed the rocking of the single cylinder engine and watching the
engineer fire and work the injector; be ye a knowing what that is?
Well for one thing it squirts a lot of steam and near deafens me,
no less! I suppose he can’t help it but I liked to watch the
water come up in the glass; kind of mysterious too, and oh yeah, I
liked the puffing!

‘The last summer at our farm was a Nichols double-simple and
my Pop had me watch, me on the barn roof, for sparks but it being a
double I guess no sparks? It’s just too bad, I wish I had a
camera away back then, you know. I am submitting three photos. One
shows the Nichols going away, last time. The second one, taken by
my sister-in-law, Mrs. Paul Ruth Bronson, while on visit near Rose
Glen, North Dakota, in 1914 at her uncle’s ‘spread.’
The third is of a Rumely steamer poised atop a big hill at the Van
Buren Flywheeler’s Show at the county fairgrounds near
Hartford, Michigan, north of 1-94. I chanced to see that Rumely on
top of that hill, reminded me, being again a boy when ‘STEAM
WAS KING!’ I just praise our Lord that He has granted me this
life-long experience of coming from horse and buggy to folks
flitting about in space and seeing the whole earth. There is much
talk about the year 2000 and if God so allows, I then will be 96,
how about it? Steamers have always been a favorite with me and I
for many years have hankered so much to have one. I recall a very
few that could be bought for: $50, $100, $250. This last one, a
nice Universal 25! One needs money, yes?’

‘Here’s a thought to ponder! WHAT KIND OF BONE ARE YOU?
In the anatomy of every organization there are four kinds of bones:
WISHBONES Who spend all their time wishing someone else would do
the work. JAWBONES Who do all the talking but little else.
KNUCKLEBONES Who knock everything anyone else tries to do.
BACKBONES Who get under the load and DO THE WORK!! (This is
something I came across and thought it worth passing on to

Maren Thompson, public affairs assistant for the Baltimore,
accepts a copy of IMA from Jack Norbeck, author of the Encyclopedia
of American Steam Traction Engines. The cover of the magazine shows
the Baltimore, a restored 1906 steam tug.

MAX C. CROTHERS, 7960 Harris Road, Marlette, Michigan 48453 sent
the following:


It’s kind of tough to have t’ leave
So many folks you learned to know
An’ have ’em grip your hand an’
tell How much they hate to see you go!
It’s kind o’ tough t’ say good bye
To friends you’ve seen day after day
It’s hard to break the happy
bonds O’ comradeship an’ move away.
It’s hard to pack up all year things
An’ leave a cozy home behind.
The place where joys have come t’
you Where neighbors all have been so kind.
And when at last your dearest
pal-Is try in’ hard to make a bluff
At bein’ brave an breaks right
down It’s kind a tough, it’s kind a tough.
An’ if you let ’em have their way
You’ll soon be feelin’ right at home.
So, it’s a long farewell old friends
May God be mighty good to you
Across the miles an’ down the years
You’ll find my friendship, always true.
And now I turn with eager heart
T’ meet whatever life extends
T’ greet the folks that welcome me
An’ try t’make them all my friends!
Lawrence Hawthorne

Keep the letters coming Friends and that about does it until
next issue. Have a good summer and keep me posted on all your
events and discoveries. Love you all!

  • Published on Jul 1, 1994
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