Thomas Stebritz' photo #1: 1899 20 HP center crank Case engine, equipped with upside down Woolff gear, Reaser balance valve. The people pictured are unknown.
THOMAS STEBRITZ of 1516 E. Commercial St., Algona, Iowa 50511 wrote a nice long letter with some great pictures, after reading a recent issue:
'The March/April IMA was fairly interesting, and I will touch on a few articles and letters. About the 'advice for boiler buyers,' if you find an engine and want a good opinion on the shape of the boiler, find a person to look it over with all the plates and plugs removed. This person should be a person who can see what he sees, certainly not a boiler inspector, who would be a hostile witness.
'Did you ever wonder why some boiler inspectors maybe have a mean look? One reason might be some of the patched up junk some people want them to inspect. However, the most important reason is that most all of the farm engines in the United States were not inspected, then along comes a little item called a thresher reunion, then suddenly a lot of inspectors had to crawl into some dirty cramped fireboxes, and sometimes got a bath tapping on firebox sides.
'All of a sudden the inspectors had hundreds of boilers to inspect and still do, being out in the public think about that.
'The term ultrasound is used more and more. After you have satisfied your boiler's interior is sound, what is the shape of your firebox sides and crown sheet around the stay bolt heads? The stay bolt heads are insulation and in a lot of fireboxes the fire and heat circulating around the stay bolts eventually burns a fire ring around a lot of stay bolts, especially of those in the crown sheet, and burns the flange off the stay bolt head.
'A real good exaggerated example of this is the fire ring that happens around all the soft plugs.
'I would like to ask as to how you can get an accurate ultrasound reading next to a stay bolt?
'If you have an otherwise sound firebox you could thread in a size bigger stay bolt in the crown sheet, and on the sides you might get by with the original size stay bolts. However, I must comment on the ads I see for some older engines built before 1910 that had ultrasound and are said to be in perfect shape and at a high price. These have a lot of 9/32 inch plate; who's kidding whom, I say.
'What I said previously about getting a knowledgable person to look your prize over would have certainly applied to Mr. Omni Rawling's 20 HP rear mounted Advance that had extensive boiler repairs to bring it back to shape; a knowledgeable person back in Michigan would have shook his head about the whole matter. The engine was built 1915 or 1916.
'About the 20 HP Advance, the 21 HP evolved from the 20 HP both side mounted about 1909. However, the 21 HP tandem compound rear mounted was built in 1912 before the 20 HP rear mounted was, which came out in 1913. However, other than the engines proper they were identical. The engines had cast wheels and the front saddle under the smoke box.
'I have a 1914 cut of the 20 HP rear mounted Advance with steel wheels and the lap seam boiler, and the saddle under the smoke box. I have a 1916 catalog showing the 20 HP rear mounted flywheel side with the saddle under the barrel with a flat topped dome apparently a lap seam, also apparently an old cut being 1916 yearbook.
'Some of this might have been from Dr. Rumely's confusion. I have a Western Engines magazine of 1963. There is a picture of a sawmill in use at Walter Mehmke's farm in Montana, and it is powered by a 20 HP rear mounted Advance which has a butt strap boiler, steel wheels, and the saddle is under the smoke box. There is a 20 HP Advance rear mounted with steel wheels, a Broderick boiler and the saddle under the barrel about 15 miles from here with no number plate.
'The 1916 Advance-Rumely catalog I have shows the 22 and 26 HP Advance engines with cast wheels. The catalog shows the Broderick boiler for the 20 HP, but indicates that the other boilers apparently were not Broderick; of course this is just an educated guess. After 1913 more than three-quarters of the steam inventory of Advance, Gaar-Scott and Rumely was eliminated, including the 21 HP tandem compound rear mounted Advance.
'Talk about overkill, what Mr. Rawlings said about having to use 300 lb. brass and heavy pipe. Last summer at a close by show, through carelessness, they dropped the crown sheet on a 1911 80 HP Case. This boiler probably had 175 lbs. brass and single strength pipe, but the test didn't break any pipe. This was a cold water test. If you had a boiler with 150 lbs. brass and single strength pipe all new, you would pull stay bolts out before the pipe let go.
'The 65 HP Case I owned for 31 years built in 1919 had a 1' safety valve. The pop worked since 1919 and lifted at 150 lbs. The boiler inspector couldn't find the right markings, so it was discarded.
'The article about the double cylinder, double smokestack Minneapolis steam engines was very interesting. My late father was an agent for 'The Great Minneapolis Line' for a number of the earlier years. However, we had no double cylinder Minneapolis engines around here, either single or double stack types. He, however, saw the engines at the factory. The engines were a nice piece of colorful Minneapolis history and were also built as a return flue. My father told me how the two stack principle came to be discarded. The date is unknown, but at the time of the threshermen's convention, the Minneapolis Company had an open house at their factory and had a number of engines steamed up, and one of these was a large double-stack engine sitting and steaming. Well, a boy noticed something the men didn't, and he said, 'Dad, look at that, the smoke is coming out one stack and going back down the other.' Well, very shortly after that, those double stacks ended up on the iron pile. To what degree this condition could have affected the boiler's performance is anyone's guess, however, the Minneapolis Co. decided it wasn't worth it and so this is supposed to be how the book closed on the double stack principle.
'A few years later my father was at the Minneapolis factory and they had a 45 HP single tandem compound steamed up. It was used as a switch engine. They were quite an engine, as I've seen the one at Rollag, Minnesota.
'About the large center picture, (in the March/April issue), the steamer is quite apparently a 25 HP Gaar-Scott single cylinder of about 1906, indicated by the reinforcing on the spoke ends and reinforced gear lugs. In 1907 the larger Universal boiler engines were built with steel wheels, but a number of these still had 66 inch drivers, except of course the Big 40, which had 74 inch diameter wheels.
'Moving back, the water tank is obviously a Reeves and very obviously we have a Case thresher with a Ruth feeder. Of course the people would be strangers to me.
'The picture on page 16 is of a complete Gaar-Scott rig. The separator looks to be large, the engine looks to be a 16 HP Class G. The story with this picture is most interesting, and I especially enjoyed the second to last paragraph about 'Grandma' Bush.
'I am sending a few pictures to use at your convenience.' (We'll use two this time, and save the rest for future issues!) 'Numbers 1 and 2 are pictures of a center crank Case engine. These pictures came from, I believe, Ernie Hoffer of Toledo, Ohio, sent to my late father.
'Just received my new IMA looks pretty good! I also subscribe to Railfan and Railroad and take what steam I can get. People confuse color with colorful; all these brightly painted diesel stink boxes are a case in point.
'Well, I guess this all got a little long, now if it would just settle down into spring, it would be nice.'
Our final letter this month comes from DR. ROBERT T. RHODE of 4745 Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45238, frequent author in IMA.
'When I wrote 'Hamilton, Ohio's Contributions to Agricultural Steam Power' in the March/April 1997 issue of IMA, I unintentionally made at least two ambiguous statements. First, the William Dyer that I mention on page 28 should not be confused with Elbridge G. Dyer, who committed suicide on October 7, 1875. Elbridge G. Dyer had been a partner in Owens, Lane & Dyer. When Dyer passed away, Clark Lane, in 1876, returned to Hamilton from Elkhart, Indiana, to serve as receiver for the financially ailing firm.
'Secondly, on page 24 of my article, I comment that Lane donated to Hamilton the city's library, which bears his name. Lane built the facility at his own expense in 1866. Approximately a year later, Hamilton acquired the library. My wording makes it sound as though Lane might have erected the building after 1879.
For more of the history of Hamilton, I recommend that readers see: (a):Dr. Daniel Preston's 'Reapers, Harvesters, and Steam Threshers: The Interdependence of Agriculture and Manufacturing in the Miami Valley' in the Winter 1996 issue of Queen City Heritage; (b) Preston's 1987 University of Maryland Ph.D. dissertation entitled Market and Mill Town: Hamilton, Ohio 1795-1860; and (c) Dr. James E. Schwartz's Lane Public Library, Commemorating the Years 1866-1997. I want to thank the readers of IMA who contacted me with information about Hamilton. What other magazine has readers so willing to help one another in the quest for historical truth?'
Well, friends, what a good feeling it is to be able to bring you such a substantial 'Soot in the Flues,' with lots of good pictures and good correspondence. It's great to hear from so many good folks, a number of you for the first time! Thanks for writing, and keep those letters coming. And as always, take care to keep safety in mind, both at the shows and as you travel to and from you're good friends that we want to have around for a long while!
Steamcerely, Linda and Gail