Once again, we’ve got a good number of letters, and
we’re getting stories from a lot of people who seem to be new
to the hobby, as well. Please don’t be discouraged if you
don’t think of yourself as a Shakespeare our readers are really
more interested in what you have to say than whether you have won
prizes for writing! So send in your stories and feel confident that
what interests one steam traction engine fancier will surely
interest some others!
And now that you’ll be on the road again going to shows,
don’t forget to take some pictures of the interesting engines
and people you meet along the way, and send them in for
publication! And now to the letters . . .
This couple of photos may be of interest to your magazine
readers,’ says GORDON McLEAN, Box 1404, Beaverlodge, Alberta,
Canada TOH OCO.
‘Photo #1 was taken in 1941 in a sawmill site in northern
Alberta, Canada. The location was approximately 15-20 miles
northeast of the little community of Valhalla and was in the middle
of a tract of timber which lasted about 12-15 years. The engine is,
of course, a 110 HP Case but I don’t know its year. The
engineer was Ted McLean, and Allan Lowe was the fireman shown
standing on the platform. Allan says the engine was in bad shape by
this time and was carrying only 120 p.s.i. It only ran the head
‘When this picture was taken, they were sawing logs from a
burn area which resulted in very dirty work. The lumber was hauled
out of the mill site by team and sleigh, up to distances of 30
miles. Wherever possible, they would saw bridge timbers three
inches thick by whatever other dimension they could get. The engine
and sawmill was owned by Art Haugston (not sure of spelling on his
‘As near as we can establish, the engine was eventually cut
up for scrap.
‘Photo #2 was also taken in 1941 and shows a 65 HP Case at
the same Haugston mill. The engine belonged to the Erickson
brothers and was used in the sawmill to operate the green chain,
edger and other mill accessories. Allan Lowe operated this engine a
lot and is seen on the engine in this photo. Allan used the engine
mostly on the Ericksons’ farm where he spent a lot of time
pulling out stumps prior to breaking the land. It was carrying
170p.s.i. and did a good job of pulling out the stumps.
‘The trip from the farm to the sawmill site was about 20
miles, and the engine was driven in under its own power, as in
those days there was nothing around that could haul it. Eventually
the engine was sold and moved to another mill site about 40 miles
further west on the banks of the Cutbank River. There, a fire
ruined the engine about 1950-51 and then it was cut up and parts
‘Also, I would appreciate any information I can obtain about
the specifications of the Advance-Rumely traction engines. Does
anyone have a list of serial numbers relating to the year of
manufacture, or specifications to determine the size of the engine?
Are there any books dedicated to the Rumely and Advance- Rumely
engines? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very
JIM O’CONNELL, 2151 95th Street S.E., Delano, Minnesota
55328 writes: ‘I work for the Carver County Highway Department.
This photo was found in a box of old pictures, when doing some
cleaning at the Court House. Herman (the thresherman) died in the
early 1970s. He loved engines all his life.
‘I liked James Russell’s suggestion in the last issue
about reprinting some of the old articles. I really enjoyed the
article ‘Steam Plowing 45 Years Ago. ‘Keep up the good
‘Some of your readers may enjoy seeing this photograph.
These men are loading oil for a road paving project in Carver
County, Minnesota. The year was 1941 and the photograph was taken
in the town of Mayer, Minnesota. The truck is a ’36 Dodge. The
man standing on the running board is Oscar Koehnen, man standing
above him is John Meuwissen, and the other two fellows are Herman
Berwald and his 10-year old son, Marvin. They’re using a
stripped down traction engine boiler to generate steam to heat the
oil in the railroad tankers.
‘I recently spoke to Marvin and he said they had to fire
hard all night to have oil hot in the morning! Herman was a
thresherman and owned many engines throughout his career. Among
them were a Westinghouse upright, a bevel-geared wood wheeled
Aultman-Taylor, and a 25 HP Advance. (Any guesses as to the make of
the engine in the photo?)
‘Thanks for a great magazine!’
VERNON PARKER, Box 426, Blackduck, Minnesota 56630-0426 sends
two pictures with this letter, saying, ‘I’m sending two
pictures of this piece I had lying out in my woods by the creek for
thirty-plus years, and I’m sure it was there lots longer than
‘I milked cows all those years and never had time, or maybe
never took time, to get it out.
‘We’ve had a beautiful winter, so I cleared the road in
to it and pulled it out. It was half full of dirt, so I washed it
out with a hot water hose.
‘The main body is 3/i6 steel, has a riveted seam and 14′
diameter and a two foot extension which also has a riveted seam and
flares to a 16’ diameter.
‘The open end has a 3’ flange with
225/8‘ holes and is riveted to the main
body. The closed end has what I would call a caved-in end cap with
the flange out with 22 rivets. The collar on the side is 12′
overall, with fine threads for a 7’ OD pipe with 17 rivets.
‘I believe I found some light green paint on it. There is a
hinge and latch welded on the open end and I’m sure that
isn’t original, and when I find out for sure, I’ll take
‘I’m wondering if any of you folks at Iron Men or any of
the readers out in Iron World could help me figure this out.
‘We spent three weeks in Ontario, Canada, last summer for
the Massey Harris 150th year celebration. They have two
Sawyer-Massey steamers restored. What beautiful pieces of
machinery! I would like to take my hat off to the men who spend so
much time and money restoring these old historical beauties.
‘I missed the steam era. As long as I can remember, we had
our threshing done in southern Minnesota with gas power. My dad
hauled water for a steamer when he was young.
‘I enjoy Iron Men very much. Keep up the good work.’
We always welcome articles from LARRY G. CREED, R.R. 13, Box
209, Brazil, Indiana 47834. He writes, ‘In the March-April
issue of IMA was an article titled ‘Something Different.’
The article started: ‘I sense among our readers that they would
like some stories other than about threshers, steam engines and gas
‘I would like to set the writer of this statement straight.
The reason we subscribe to IMA is to read stories about steam
engines, threshing machines, sawmills, etc. There are many other
publications for articles about hit and miss engines, tractors and
other antique equipment. Publications such as Gas Engine Magazine,
Antique Power, and Engineers and Engines do a wonderful job of
presenting this material.
‘Iron Men Album is the last magazine to be devoted to the
steam hobby. It is true that most of us have other interests
besides steam, but this is not the place to have ‘other’
articles published. I own a Ford Mustang which is technically an
antique, but Satan will need long underwear before I would submit
any article that is not 100% steam to IMA.
‘Anytime I read an article in Iron Men Album that is not
directly steam related I feel the subscriber is cheated. I hope the
staff of IMA will take this suggestion to heart and direct any
non-steam submission to an appropriate non-steam publication. The
staff of IMA may protest that they don’t receive enough
material for it to be 100% steam related, but I don’t believe
that is quite the case because many of us contributors wait several
months for an article to be printed.
‘On a more positive note, I have sent three steam
photographs to share. Picture #1 was taken in Thomas County,
Kansas, in 1919 on Foster Farms with the notation ‘cutting 250
acres per day.’ The two steam engines look to be Reeves 32 HP,
and each is pulling six binders. I wonder how much wheat was cut
with steam providing the pulling power? Picture #2 is titled
‘Plowing for Wheat, July, 1909, at Colby, Kansas, on the Fike
and Haynes 10,000 acre Wheat Farm.’ The steam engine would
appear to be a 32 HP Reeves. The engine is pulling five disc plows
with each plow having six discs each. (My friend Lyle Hoff-master
will enjoy seeing these pictures of his favorite steam engine in
action Reeves.) Picture #3 is another Kansas scene with a
Gaar-Scott compound steam engine (probably a 30 HP). The smaller
cylinder was high pressure and the large cylinder was low pressure.
If the engineer needed more power in a hard pull he could open a
valve and put the steam directly into the low pressure cylinder. I
am sure the engineer did not use this ‘cheater’ any more
than necessary, as it would use a much larger volume of steam.
Gaar-Scott normally furnished two water tanks on this size engine,
one mounted on top of the boiler behind the stack and another
mounted on the rear platform. Apparently water was a problem in
this area as a head tank was also put on this engine making a total
of three water tanks.’
WILLIAM C. MEUSER SR., Masonic Towers, 402 S. Martindon #217,
Wichita, Kansas 67213 writes, ‘Gerald Darr’s contribution
(IMA May/June ’98) was interesting to me, as he described
unusual handling of wheat bundles by one of his Ohio neighbors. Our
methods in Kansas were different.
‘In the mid-1920s my family planted great acreages of winter
wheat and some spring oats. Oats, it was said, should be bound into
bundles the day before the plants ripened. Nearly ripe oats had
some moisture and did not shatter the grain badly in shocking and
Wheat was bound, shocked, later picked up and stacked in a
manner which shed rain water until they could be threshed. Binding,
shocking and stacking, usually done in June, was necessary because
it was not always possible to schedule a thresherman with separator
‘When harvest rush was over, the planting of next year’s
winter wheat was over and done, then a thresherman with a separator
could be scheduled to thresh the stacked wheat and oats.
‘Oats, raised for animal feed, were protected by sometimes
blowing the straw into a cattle feeding barn and the oat grain into
bins. Most animals preferred oat straw to hay.
‘Wheat in stacks located closely enough together was fed
directly into the separator and blown into one enormous stack. A
good thresherman could direct the straw so it fashioned a
waterproof stack so there was little or no rotting of the straw.
Depending on the market for wheat, it might be binned on the farm
or in an elevator to be sold on a favorable market. Threshing
usually happened between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then the
bill was ‘settled up’ by the farmer.
‘My earliest recollection of wheat binding: being cut with a
five foot swath horse drawn binder (Deering) which had one of the
mechanical twine tying knotters which eliminated hand tying the
‘Sometime later, as WWI production allowed, John Deere
produced the new eight or ten foot swath binder. It was a great
improvement over the Deering my grandfather had purchased prior to
This request comes from GALE WOLLENBERG, 1912 S.W. Lincoln,
Topeka, Kansas 66604. ‘I am looking for detailed photos or
mechanical drawings of the 30 HP double cylinder New Huber, so that
I can finish building my working scale model of that engine.
‘So far, I have only been able to refer to pictures of the
double cylinder and dimension tables as found in a mouse-eaten old
Huber catalogue. Using photogramatic methods, I have been able to
construct the main parts of the boiler, smokebox, chimney, axle
brackets, and some of the working mechanism, but am lacking info on
the valve linkage and other like parts that the photos in the
catalogue left a lot to be desired. So, can anyone help
This sounds like one that someone should be able to help with.
We hope Mr. Wollenberg hears from a bunch of you
ANDY ROBSON, 2 Bleasdale Avenue, Hill Top, Knottingley, West
Yorkshire, England WF11 8EZ, sent the following in response to
comment received on an article he wrote. ‘I rarely respond to
letters of the sort that Mr. Thomas Stebritz sent to the magazine,
but friends urge me to.
‘Let me start by posing this question: Why did Mr. Stebritz
not respond to my original request for information that I made
through the pages of IMA some good while ago, if he had all this
information to hand about the Advance Rumely company and the
traction engine that I found in Elsecar at Barnsley South Yorkshire
here in England? Only now does this gentleman go to such lengths to
make so many disparaging remarks about certain people in the USA,
and cast doubts about the information that several other readers of
the IMA were so kind in providing me with. I was careful to weigh
up and backtrack every bit of information I was given as far as I
could, as some was clearly faulty from the outset, so I balanced up
the probability of the accuracy of some of this information with
the evidence of my own eyes and ears when I was at Elsecar the
remark made by an employee at Elsecar of the history of the engine
being a case in point.
‘Then there is the stamping of the blow off pressure on the
safety valve (see page 1, Nov/Dec 1997 IMA). I went and viewed the
scale drawings of the first replacement firebox made in the UK by
an engineering boiler works in Castleford, West Yorkshire, and
looked at a sample of the steel boiler plate that was used in the
construction from the information provided from a source in the USA
to then-owner Mr. Harrison of Rufforth near York.
‘Later, a Mr. Woodbine, a reputable boilermaker here in
Britain, appealed for information through the pages of IMA for the
correct gauge plate data, and drawings to construct another firebox
for this transatlantic traction engine. From the information he
received, he made the current firebox that is in this engine at
Elsecar, which is apparently only insured by UK law to the pressure
I mentioned in the text of the article. (Because of the boiler
construction, which by UK pressure vessel standards is deemed
unsuitable for higher pressure.)
‘After passing examinations, I was qualified as a locomotive
steam engineman in April 1963 by the then British Railway
Inspectorate, part of the Ministry of Transport. I have been all my
working life associated with steam power in one form or another. In
1968 I also passed a Department of the Environment driving test to
obtain a license to drive a heavy road locomotive on the public
highway in the UK as soon as I was eligible. So my services were
often in demand by engine owners who did not have such a driving
license, to move their traction engines and steam lorries by road
from where the vehicle was kept to weekend rally sites and back
‘For many years I worked with a well-known steam lorry
enthusiast, Mr. Edgar Shone of The Crown Hotel, Cricklewood, London
NW2, in the care of his fleet of eight Sentinel steam wagons.
‘Wire drawing’ of steam pressure is a term that will be
familiar to steam enthusiasts this is the effect that put the lower
pressure reading on the gauge in the cab of the 1929 Super Sentinel
that I mentioned in the article. I fired and drove one of the
Sentinel Waggons from the Crown Hotel on the London To Brighton Run
for historic commercial vehicles through the 1960s and early 1970s
many times. I still have the gold medal plaques that were presented
to me by the HCVS at that time for completing this 60-mile road
run; and that’s only the half of it! The return from the Sussex
coast seaside resort of Brighton to London and the home base in NW2
was made the same day into the late evening by the steam waggon
traveling under its own power. Because of traffic congestion in
crossing the heart of London south to north, we often arrived back
at The Crown Hotel in Cricklewood after 10:00 p.m. Night driving a
road steamer in the dark can be a lively and interesting
‘From previous letters I have written to IMA, it will be
obvious that I write on a regular basis (and have done so for a
number of years) for British publications, all of which are subject
to rigorous proofreading and keenly scanned for accuracy before
publication my reputation and those of the magazines that print my
work depend on it. Editors would soon drop me if my writings were
found to be lacking in accuracy. And I have gotten to rather like
the monthly cheques that come from publication of my works in the
Another letter in response to Mr. Stebritz’s and others’
comments comes to us from JOHN SCHROCK, 7411 Perrin Road, Osseo,
Michigan 49266. ‘Today I take pen in hand not because I wish
to, but more because I think I should. This letter is in reference
to articles in the March-April 1998 issue of IMA.
‘I read where Mr. Christofferson and Mr. Creed are upset
because of the fact that somebody (and it could have been me at
some time) sent the same article to two different magazines. As for
myself, I find nothing wrong with this. There are people in our
hobby who do not receive all the magazines associated with it. I
always like to look on the positive side. At least they took the
time and effort to contribute something, which many do not. There
are people out there that have great stories or may know someone
who does. It sure would be nice if we were allowed the opportunity
to enjoy them.
‘In regards to Mr. Stebritz’s letter, I wish to comment
on some of his ramblings. I am in total agreement with his
statement about the Advance-Compound engine not being experimental,
but it certainly should have been. As to his remark about experts,
I don’t know if there are ever any experts on anything, though
there are those that are far better informed and had more
experience. So, maybe we should assume that they are experts. With
that in mind, we get the statement from Marcus Leonard. I have read
many of the articles that Mr. Leonard wrote and have enjoyed them.
I have also taken their contents with a grain of salt. First and
foremost, he was employed and paid by the Advance Company. So, I
must tell you, I wouldn’t have much time for him or his
articles if he had spoken badly of the Advance Company or their
‘I am sure that anybody who had an Advance Compound probably
had at least 175 pounds or more of steam pressure on those engines
if they got any power from them. However, in the catalog the
company said they were built to run on 160 pounds.
‘Mr. Stebritz makes the statement about the packing being
gone between the high and low pressure cylinders. This would be
quite obvious because there are two cylinders spaced apart with two
packing glands between them.
‘In regards to dates and numbers, I don’t see how Mr.
Stebritz can date a catalog that has no date on it by something he
read from another publication. How can he honestly say that it is
the first one? Maybe he has powers that I don’t understand.
Then he comes up with more numbers that don’t fit where he
thinks they should. If he were to check on some of those numbers
that do not appear in the Advance-Rumely list, he would find they
are Advance numbers. This makes sense because I am sure there were
those who insisted on and got Advance engines after 1915 or 1916
whenever Rumely started building Universal engines as the
Advance-Rumely was called. I have seen engine number 14438. It is
somewhat different than the later Universal engines. Harry
Woodmansee told me many times that his father bought one of those
engines from blueprints, although he said it was not engine number
14438, because the engine his father had bought was junked sometime
after his father traded it off for another engine. I realize that
the Advance-Rumely list is not entirely correct, but that does not
mean it is totally wrong. Besides, it is the best we’ve got. It
is too bad that the elder Mr. Stebritz did not put a date on that
catalog when he received it. That way his son would not go on the
assumption of when it came out. He says his father knew, but we
cannot ask him, so none of us know.
‘I agree with his article that there were no mergers between
Rumely and the companies that they acquired. It was always a total
buy-out with the sellers smiling all the way to the bank. However,
I certainly don’t go along with the statement that Advance was
the dominating company. But even Rumely was not so naive as to
think that Advance did not carry a lot of weight in the market. In
all honesty, the Universal had some Advance features, but nowhere
near 99 percent.
‘Mr. Stebritz goes on in his letter about Harry Woodmansee
from Michigan. Now I am not going to defend Mr. Woodmansee, because
he required no defending when he was alive and I am sure that he
needs none now that he is gone. However, I am going to defend my
memory of him. Mr. Stebritz writes about Harry being of a young age
when the Advance compounds were being built, and doubts that he
ever saw one back then. Since Harry’s father owned and used
engines, including Advance engines (they only lived around 15 miles
from Battle Creek where the engines were built), I think he
probably saw more of the compound engines at that so-called tender
age than Mr. Stebritz has seen in his whole lifetime. Also, back
then many young lads of that age were doing a man’s work or
nearly so. Of course, maybe Mr. Stebritz was a special lad or an
only child and not subjected to the harsh realities of life.
‘I don’t know if Mr. Stebritz ever ran an Advance
Compound or was ever around one. However, I do know that Mr.
Woodmansee owned Advance Compounds. He not only owned them, but
tried to use them to make a living. He quit using them as compound
engines and switched them to simples because they didn’t have
enough power in the compound mode. As far as someone telling Mr.
Stebritz the reason Harry didn’t like compounds was because
they had no bark is entirely supposition. He seemed to like Port
Huron Compounds and they don’t have much bark either. If the 35
HP compound barked like a simple engine, it must have been
converted. Simple logic tells me that it is not possible when in
the compound mode to sound that way. If Mr. Stebritz could show me
an Advance Compound that has any power when working as a compound I
would certainly like to see it. I think the problem with Mr.
Stebritz is that he has read too many books and letters and drawn
too many wrong conclusions from them.
‘As a final thought, I have talked to many older people who
ran engines, especially those that fired on straw. They have said
that Advance had one of the best straw burners available. They also
said they were one of the most handy of the traction engines to
‘In closing, I sincerely hope that this letter is taken in
the context that it is written, because I have enjoyed many of Mr.
Stebritz’s articles and I would not like for him to get upset
and stop writing.’
We echo the sentiments about upsetting other writers. IMA has
long provided a forum for strong opinion which is rarely edited,
particularly for substance. Letters printed here should never be
interpreted to reflect a bias of the magazine; rather they are
entirely the work of their authors, be they accurate, thoughtful,
polite, or otherwise! For harmony’s sake, let’s try to be
kind, shall we, even to those with whom we disagree.
Steamcerely, Linda & Gail