SOOT IN THE FLUES

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Stebritz Photo #2: Same engine as Photo #1. The date of the photo and the identity of the people are both unknown.
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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

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment