We’re happy to report that we have quite a few letters again
this month and we truly appreciate the efforts of all of our
contributors. We’re also enjoying the turn in the weather as
spring blossoms are all around us as we go to press with this
issue. Spring is in the air with all the hopes of a great summer to
come fields full of children playing, spring concerts and school
activities are everywhere in our local scene. And the spring
steamups have begun!
Now on to the mailbox!
LOUIS PATTERSON, 308 W. Frisco, Blackwell, Oklahoma 74631
writes: ‘Most people don’t know about the Great Race for
Time that was held between Winnipeg and Edmonton. It wasn’t
done on purpose, but rather, through a series of events it happened
on the Canadian National Railway System. The event took place about
the winter of 1956/1957.
‘The Canadian Railway had just been dieselised. One of the
new diesels was scheduled to pull train No. 1, the Super
Continental, but during the night the temperature dropped to
minus-28 degrees. The next morning the new diesel would not start!
The diesel fuel had congealed. But they still had one of the
CNR’s (Canadian National Railway) big, dependable steamers, so
Engine No. 6226 was drafted into service to pull train No. 1.
‘They backed engine No. 6226 up to the Super Continental,
and she headed out of Winnipeg fifty minutes late. The engineer had
her highballing down the track; all the while the fireman was
working hard trying to keep steam pressure up, while the extremely
frigid temperature was sucking heat from the boiler. To make a long
story short, No. 6226 pulled into Edmonton with her whistle blowing
constantly, because they made it to Edmonton on time! That is just
one of the many reasons they call the big Northern-type steamers
This was ‘scribbled by’ RALPH KELLY, 1144 North 750 W,
Kokomo, Indiana 46901: ‘I enjoyed Mr. Mix’s article about
Harry Woodman-see and all the other stories about him. This is an
incident I have never seen mentioned. It happened at the Jim
Whitbey show at Fort Wayne, Indiana, many years ago. Harry did his
hill climb and belting up blindfolded act. There were two younger
fellows attempting to balance an engine on the teeter-totter
planks. They never got close to a balance and finally gave up,
backed the engine off and let it sit. The announcer said,
‘Harry, show them young fellows how that’s done.’ Harry
got on, drove the engine on the teeter planks, stopped the engine,
got off and as Harry started to walk away, the front end of the
engine started to slowly settle down and when it came to a balance
position it stopped. Harry had a broad grin on his face and gave a
puff on his pipe as he walked away with the engine balanced on the
‘Bill Anderson on Grand Ole Opry of WSM Nashville, sings a
song about an old fiddle player, called ‘The Trick of A
Master’s Hand!’ I think that title could apply to Harry
operating an engine.
‘The week before, Charlie Morris asked directions as he and
his family wanted to go to the show. I told him to turn on Carroll
Road and he would come to it. Later in the day I saw him there and
he said, ‘We followed you for a short distance.’ He told
his boy to ‘Follow that Dodge up ahead’ (my wife had a
Dodge Dart at that time), but he said, ‘We lost you at the
traffic lights.’ I told him it was a good thing he lost the
Dodge because we came in my IHC pickup truck.
‘We moved to a different farm in 1931. On the previous farm
we used a 15-30 IHC tractor to thresh with. The threshing outfit
now was a company-owned outfit, shedded on the next farm down the
road. I was one of the neighborhood boys there the day the crew got
the engine and separator out of the shed. The first thing was to
put the water tank on a Model A Ford truck. The truck was used as a
school hack during school term, but when school was out, off came
the hack bodies and the trucks were used for farm use until time
for school to start in the fall. Next, a hay rope was wrapped
around the fly wheel several times and tied to the Model A and they
rolled the engine out of the shed. It was a Port Huron and the
separator was a wooden Red River Special.
‘One time later they were threshing where the Green Acre
Golf Club is now. They were firing the Port Huron with some dry
wood, and a spark set the straw stack on fire. Loose, dry straw
makes a quick, hot fire with a little breeze. The thresher was
hurriedly pulled away with no damage. I guess that was an
indication of things to come. They stored the outfit in another
barn because the first one became unsafe. In the spring, lightning
struck the barn and the Port Huron and Red River Special were
destroyed by fire.
‘The thresher operator went west of Frankfort and bought an
Advance Rumely engine and a steel 36-56 Red River Special and water
tank for the now unheard of sum of $125. The outfit had always been
shedded and was in excellent condition and ready to use. The Red
River Special had one of the long Heinikie feeders that was easy to
feed from any place on the wagon.
‘It was used two or three seasons, but eventually the
shortage of help, tractors replacing horses, combines and pickup
balers ended the big rings here. Nobody remembers the serial
number. Harry Wood mansee told me one time it was possible that he
helped build the Advance Rumely at the factory.
‘Both the Advance Rumely and Red River Special, still in
excellent operating condition, went to serve their country in World
‘I enjoyed Mr. Rhode’s article about hauling bundles. We
had a job of rye one year, on a rough, hilly farm. I thought the
rye straw was the slickest I ever tried to keep on a wagon. If you
ran over a rock or dropped in a hole, it either went this way or
that way. My load looked like it was pregnant when I got to the
‘I still go to engine shows in my area and really enjoy
them. Last summer was pretty hot in Indiana, but you gotta go when
they have them! Attendance was down last year, but I hope for good
weather this year.’
‘I am restoring a 32′ x 54′ Keck-Gonnerman separator
#6278, and need some information on the original colors,’ says
LEONARD W. BRUNS, 6335 Co. Road 325, Fulton, Missouri 65251.
‘I would like to get some color pictures or photos of both
sides of the separator.
‘If anyone has any information, pictures, or photos, I would
like to be contacted. Any expenses incurred will gladly be
From A. V. MORK, 5439 264th Street, Wyoming, Minnesota 55092 we
hear, ‘I’m an older former city kid that enjoys engines and
belongs to an organization called the Minnesota Steam Engine
Association. They are mainly based in St. Stephen, MN and are a
group dedicated to steam, boiler laws, education and enjoyment
‘My father, Alf Mork, came from Norway to America in the
early ’20s after being injured while an oiler on a Spanish
ship. He said being down along the shaft in the engine room while
sailing in the West Indies was a really hot time. He had planned to
go to the Orient, but not speaking the language he ended up in the
western hemisphere. Anyhow, he made it to the mid west, and his
first job here was firing a Gaar Scott with straw for the Melby
Bros. of Underwood, Minnesota. This prompted him to become a
barber, later owning a beauty salon at Eighth and Nicollet in
‘Incidentally, the Gaar-Scott can be seen at the Lake Region
Show at Dalton, Minnesota, a week after Labor Day. Enjoy the
magazine and will be writing again someday down the road.’
ORVILLE ANDERSON, Rt. 2, Box 213, Madelia, Minnesota 56062
writes, ‘I am in the process of restoring a Humming Bird
thresher with a 40 inch cylinder and a 62 inch separating area that
was made by the Wood Brothers.
‘According to the history I have of this machine, I believe
it was one of the first steel machines they built.
‘The second owner of this machine added Garden City wing
feeders and a Garden City elevator and weigher.
‘I know the Wood Brothers quit using a beater behind the
cylinder in the early years of production, but this one has the
bolts in it where the beater was bolted down, and the sheet metal
has patches bolted over the holes where the shaft went through, so
I assume this machine had a changeover.
‘I would like to hear from anyone who has a machine of this
size that is in running order. I would also like to know if anyone
has a good picture of the machine that would clearly show the
‘I am trying to make this machine as original as
TONY ROBERTS, Rt. 1, Box 149-B, Omaha, Arkansas 72662, tells us:
‘While snooping in a flea market, I found the smoke box door to
a steam engine. Can you give me any information about it? It looked
like a good wall decoration to me!’
From TERESA CAT HANA, we received this: ‘July 1, 1994 Ted
Walker and I purchased a 1917 Peerless Geiser steam traction engine
from Clovis, California, and hauled it home to Carson City, Nevada.
We steamed it up a few times before getting it ready for the
biggest days of our lives, which were coming in October 1995.
‘I [Cat], Ted Walker’s girlfriend, did most of the work
on it, other than the repairs of broken parts and such. I worked
for several weeks, sanding it down and getting it ready to paint. I
took an electric grinder to sand all of the old paint off. Then as
it started to look bare, we decided to paint it and keep it close
to the colors that we purchased it in. The colors of our Peerless
Geiser engine were red and black. I added silver rivets to have
more color. Anyone with information on this tractor is welcome to
call Ted Walker at (702) 883-3114, or write to us at P.O. Box 295,
Carson City, Nevada 89702.’
Pictures from an old geography book sent to us by Gerald Darr
carried this caption: ‘After the World War, Rumania’s large
estates were divided into small farms. The owners of many of these
small farms have not been able to purchase machinery to help them
with their work and, therefore, are still using the old methods. An
American tractor in the fields of Rumania.
This is an interesting story sent to us by GERALD DARR, 2220
Bishops gate Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43614: ‘I am enclosing several
photocopies of steam engines threshing in Russia. They are from a
geography book circa 1931-1932, published by Allen and Bacon titled
Our World Today.
‘Perhaps the readers could identify the engines and
separator. Nice looking engine in the one scene. In the other
picture the engine is not as sleek looking.
‘There are many other pictures in this geography book, of
harvesting and planting and a picture of oxen pulling a binder.
‘The cold wave continues here with some moderation coming
next week [February]. It was 8 degrees below zero here this
morning. Very little snow on the ground.’
This offering comes from: ELEANOR and MONTE MAY, 1360
Slaterville Road, Ithaca, New York 14850: ‘We strongly disagree
with the comments on page 12 of the March/April issue of Iron Men
Album regarding boiler accidents. It is hard to understand ignoring
an issue as important as this one.
Photo from Harris Jorgenson taken in 1944 in France, north of
Paris. A man is feeding grain into top of threshing machine, while
the women carry away the straw after it had gone through threshing
machine. Man in center by machine is sacking the grain.
‘We both enjoy attending many steam shows in the Northeast
and believe that a serious accident could cause legislation which
would severely limit or even curtail use of steam when the public
‘It seems to us that a thorough analysis of each and every
incident should be printed in every magazine which is read by steam
enthusiasts. It is only by making every operator extremely safety
cautious that we can protect our hobby.
‘We have a steam boiler and engine from a Hershel Spillman
merry-go-round. Since we own a modern day Allen Hershel
merry-go-round we were delighted to find it. Monte was extremely
disappointed to discover he could not get it inspected because he
has no history for the boiler. However, we both understand the
reasons for the refusal. A serious incident with this boiler could
cause repercussions that would close down steam shows as we know
‘Monte would be pleased to continue this discussion by
phone, (607) 272-8224, or e-mail Montesteam @ AOL.com.’
The comments that the Mays refer to were made in reference to
our decision not to reprint the article or pictures which had
already appeared in the September 1995 issue of Trains magazine. We
reasoned that by printing the reference to a previously published
article, we would enable readers who had an interest to go to the
source and see and read more detail of this accident. In the past,
we have been criticized for reprinting such accounts, and have
pledged not to do so. Indeed, this particular accident had to do
with a train, and NOT a steam traction engine, which is the focus
of the readers of IMA.
We concur with the Mays’ concerns about safety, of course,
and agree that prevention of accidents is critical to the
continuation of public steam exhibitions. We have run numerous
articles and discussion in this column on boiler safety and will
continue to do so. We welcome comments from others.
‘I’m a long time subscriber to Iron Men Album and
thought you might be interested in these pictures,’ says HARRIS
JORGENSON, 12935 Rut-ledge Circle, Minnetonka, Minnesota 55305.
‘I took them in 1944 while with the Army Engineers pursuing the
enemy into the north. They were taken somewhere north of Paris.
‘We came upon these farmers threshing. The machine was set
up right in front of the granary. Everything was under one roof
their home, barn, chicken coop, granary, etc. Four different
farmers formed a square. They each had their grain stacks in front
of their home. This was a gala affair. They all cooperated and
worked together. Note the white shirts, dresses, hats, etc.
Portable steam engine used for power when threshing. Man with
white shirt was engineer. Man beside him was another G.I. (Harris
‘The other two pictures [at right] were taken in 1918 in
western Minnesota, near Artichoke Lake, and show grain being