Hi Gang! I know we are in the throes of WINTER, but isn't it about time for the garden catalogs and flower magazines to be sent out and when you start looking at them and planning Spring can't be far behind!
It's time for one of the stories from Wellsprings of Wisdom by Ralph L. Woods if you don't think much of yourself and get to feeling pretty low, perhaps this will help called ONE MAN. A man who had got himself into a precarious state of mind because of his conviction that one person and himself in particular was of little consequence in the world, took a trip by sea in the hope of ridding himself of his melancholy.
One dark evening at sea, shortly after he had gone to bed, he heard the cry 'Man overboard!' He was in his pajamas, he could not swim or man a lifeboat; what could he do? He reached for his flashlight and directed its beam from the porthole upon the sea. The light fell upon the man in the water, to whom a life preserver was then thrown, and a life was saved. Need I say more?
'I enjoyed reading the information on how to babbitt bearings,' says ELSNER MACHACEK, 714 Union Street, Northfield, Minnesota 55057.
'In order to know how hot to melt the babbitt in the ladle, use a pine stick to skim the top off, then insert the stick back into the ladle and when the stick starts to burn, the babbitt is ready to pour.
I am also a retired journeyman machinist. I worked at the trade for 69 years with the same company. We made heavy duty wood working machinery. In the early days, most bearings were made with babbitt bearings before the ball type was used. I used to pour and scrape in about six wood jointers a day. The speed was 3600 RPM. Instead of the homemade putty, we use a brown putty called babbitt right. This sticks good on to the metal to keep the hot babbitt from coming out of the sides. Be sure that all the anchor holes are clean. If not, drill a few holes at a slant. If you slant the anchor holes, you can pour the bottom and top cap at the same time. Cut on each shim two V-shaped openings. After the bearings are poured, remove the bolts out of the top cap. Use a small chisel and break them apart. Lay a piece of leather about one quarter wide and the thickness of what your lower bearing is to be; make it about one inch long. Then lay the crankshaft on top of the leather. Coat the shaft with a light oil. For large bearings, cut the leather a little longer. Remove it and you will have a small oil well for extra lubrication.
You are now ready to fit the shaft into the lower part. Coat your shaft with prussian blue, not too heavy. Roll the shaft and remove it. The blue will show you the high spots. Scrape it to a 90% fit. Now, you are ready to fit the top cap. Make an oil groove in the top cap, but do not run it to the end of the babbitt. If you have any up and down play remove the thickness of the shims. It is also a good idea to tap the upper bearing cap with a hammer a little to help the shaft to revolve.
I am now 81 years old and still helping people to babbitt bearings. You can make a bearing scraper from a flat file. Grind the edges to a taper, then heat the file red and bend it up from one end about three inches. With Mr. Goldsby's instructions and mine, no one should have trouble to do this job.' (Sounds like a pro, doesn't he, and I guess at 81 and with all his experience, he should know what he is speaking of think so?)
From overseas comes this interesting letter anticipating some replies from the IMA Family as IAIN & BERT BUTLER write. Their address is Endeavour, Bourne Grove, Lower Bourne, Farnham, Surrey, England.
'I have been given your address by G. A. Street & Sons of Advance, North Carolina, to whom I had written regarding a model traction engine I rescued from a waste disposal skip, while working on some flats in London. Enclosed is a sketch of the engine drawn by my young son.
I think the engine must have originated from the U.S.A. because it has Old Smoky above the front wheels. I would like to renovate it, but as you see from the drawing it has no chimney; the cylinder and valve are complete and gears. I'm not sure what fired it as there is nothing in the space for the fire box, but the piece I am most worried about is the back of the boiler which has a rim with five holes round the perimeter and I would be very grateful if someone could throw any light on it.
We are in the process of building a Minnie traction engine, but it is taking a long time, as these things do; of course, like all young people, he wants things done yesterday. I thought we may get Old Smoky fit to steam and keep him happy, while struggling on with the other model.
I hope that perhaps someone may know something of this engine as it would be nice to restore it to its original condition.' (It is a neat and simple sketch Fellows, do you think you can help Father and Son)?
From CARL B. ERWIN, Box 293, Harrison, Arkansas 72601, this letter: 'When I saw the Nov.-Dec. '83 issue of IMA What a beautiful engine! And it is just like the one I drove off a flat car in 1911; but taking a closer look showed it to be of the 1910 vintage. The later Case engines had a different heater.
Then upon looking inside the magazine, I got a surprise as you said it was a 60 HP. I believe, if you look at the nameplate on the right-hand side of the smoke box, it would read 36 HP, S/N 24000, but possibly the nameplate has been stolen. However, I think, if you will take off the cylinder head and measure the main bore, you will find it to be 8' plus what has occurred it could have been rebored.
Now, as for the 36 HP that I drove off a flat car in 1911, there was a card in one of the tool boxes signed by an operator saying this engine has been run for five hours developing 36 HP on a Prony brake.
Further, in regard to the engine that I helped unload in 1911, it now belongs to a gentleman named Keith Mauzey who lives in Indiana.' (The engine to which this letter refers appeared on the cover with further details on page 3 of the Nov.-Dec. 1983 issue. We asked Keith Stern-berg, the current owner, to respond to Mr. Erwin's remarks:
'Thanks for forwarding Mr. Erwin's letter and I'm flattered to receive a compliment from an engineer of many more years experience than I.
The cylinder bore of my engine is not 8 inches, but 10 inches plus about .030 wear. I once tested the rings and valve with the crosshead blocked at stroke and 75 lbs. steam. Disconnecting the exhaust-side cylinder cock I was surprised to find only a wisp of steam blowing through. Yes, the number plate was stolen at least thirty years ago and the cylinder may be a replacement, as there is no date stamped on it. The shop number was probably around 23,000 to 24,000.
Our magazine would greatly benefit from more comments from veterans of the old days of steam. Their numbers are fewer every year. I enjoy reading back issues of 20 and 30 years ago for the many anecdotes of steam threshing, saw milling, and farming.' Keith Sternberg lives at Rt. 2, Box 3157, Lopez Island, Washington 98261. We agree that the reminiscenses of threshers form an important part of American history which we seek to continue recording in Iron-Men Album. Come on, you 'old timers' send your memories to us for publication!
There were a number of responses to the question of the R & Co. engine on page 8 of the Nov-Dec. IMA. Here are some of our readers' opinions:
L. A. STINARD, Box 152,283 111 Street, Smithfield, Ohio 43948 relates to us that the portable engine shown on page 8 of Nov.-Dec. 83 with the R & Co. on the fire box door is a Russell, built by Russell Bros, in Massillon, Ohio in 1890. They put the R & Co. on all of the fire box doors of their engines. Says he owned a 12 HP Russell traction engine back in the early 20s. The Russell Co. was sold out at auction in 1927 but they continued to sell parts until 1942. L. A. says the Russell engine is the only one he knows of that used the ball and socket on the front axle mount.'
'I'm writing in regard to the story sent in by the Reynolds Museum in the Nov.-Dec. 83 issue. I would like to identify the portable steam engine at the bottom of page 8. Since the casting number is missing from the nose of smoke box door, it takes a little longer to identify, but definitely the cast iron smoke box and fire box door is a dead give away. It is the Russell & Co. engine of Massillon, Ohio. I think it is a 36 HP. A lot of guys would call it a 12 HP, the same rating of the traction engine, but since it was only made for belt work, it is rated 36 HP. The era when this engine was built was between 1900 and 1912. At the turn of the century, Russell engines came out with cast iron smoke boxes. Before that, they extended the boiler plate on out, like most of them were. Around 1912 they started casting the Russell & Co. on the side of the smoke box. Someone had put a dog leg spoke pulley next to the flywheel of the portable.
I own a 1915 12-35 HP russell S/N 15815 traction engine. Out here in Oregon there are a lot of Russell engines. They were used in saw milling and threshing. My engine was owned by eight guys at one time. They called themselves a threshing company East of Salem, Oregon. I keep the engine at Antique Power-land, Brooks, Oregon. I hope this helps a lot of readers,' comments LOWELL BOYCE, 11652 Blue Heron Lane, Aurora, Oregon 97002.
DAVID L. HARMS, 205 N. Leonard, Chillicothe, Illinois 61523 has some data pertaining to a previous letter: 'The article on the Reynolds Museum on page 8 of the Nov.-Dec. 1983 issue should draw a lot of mail. The (mystery) engine is a Russell portable. Dad got a 20 HP Russell in 1957 when I was 12 years old. I've looked at a fire door just like the one you show on page 8 many times while firing the engine. The bottom picture on page 8 shows a view of the engine.
There was a round 'builder's plate' that is missing from the center of the firebox door. This casting carried the Russell & Company name and the serial number of the engine. I think 1890 might be a bit old for a guess on the building date. I think 1905-1910 might be closer. Russell built portables past the turn of the century, I believe. A little research in the Russell literature should reveal more exactly what the museum has to offer.'
Here's another letter with a different identification in reference to the request for information on page 8, Nov.-Dec. 83 issue. This letter comes from SMEAL MANUFACTURING COMPANY, DONALD L. SMEAL, Chief of Engineering, Snyder, Nebraska 68664:
'The mysterious 'R & Company' in the November/December issue leaves no doubt that it is the Reeves & Company logo. What is most amazing is that in all the literature and printed material that I have on Reeves, (and if I don't have all, I have most of what is in existence today), this is the first evidence that Reeves produced a steam engine prior to 1898, a portable and a single cylinder front mount. Some of my sources of information are Norbeck's Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines, and others, but most particularly Haston St. Clair's wonderful Historical Stories About Reeves Engines.
I feel that this is a most unusual discovery to me and all the Reeves 'lovers'. Yes, I said lovers! My father's Reeves steam engine was one of the greatest joys of my life since my earliest memory. About 1924 (yes, that's 59 years ago), from age 12 and on, I ran the 16 HP Reeves on the sawmill, all alone, almost every Saturday through the fall and winter months. We used the Reeves for the last time to move a house in 1938. I have since completely restored the 16 HP Reeves to mint condition and also added to my collection two 20 HP D. S. and one 20 HP CC all completely restored, painted, lettered and detailed. I store these in my new engine building, 64'x 144', which also is the home of the binder, the 8-bottom John Deere engine plow, the Case threshing machine, the Woods Bros, threshing machine and the Rumley Ideal 32' all wood separator, all in perfect running order.
I have acquired all but a few of the IMA issues from 1958 and find them to be a great joy to me and an excellent reference to agricultural steam engines.'
BRUCE SWANSON, Box 192, Deerwood, Minnesota 56444 writes: 'Could the steam engine described and pictured on page 8 of Nov.-Dec. issue be a Russell? Russell & Co. was located in Massillon, Ohio and was incorporated about 1878 to manufacture steam engines and other machinery. They also built large gas plowing tractors in later years, but fell victim to competition from smaller, lighter tractors like International, John Deere and others. They finally ceased all operations in 1927.
Also, in regard to Mr. Unjay's letter, page 12, Nov.-Dec. 83 and to Mr. Gronewald's letter, page 12, Sept.-Oct. 83, I believe this tractor to be a Pioneer 30 tractor. These were built in Winona, Minnesota from the early teens until the 1920s. This tractor featured a 4 cylinder engine with a 7' bore 8' stroke, 3 forward speeds with a high of about 4 mph and totally enclosed gears. It had an enclosed cab with an upholstered seat and back rest. Front wheels were 61' and rears were 98' in diameter and had a 30-60 HP rating of 600 RPM. There is one on display every year at the Rollag, Minnesota Threshing Show. I hope the above information will shed some small amount of light on this picture.'
Bruce continues: 'Being only 25 years of age, I'm way too young to remember any of these old machines in their heyday, but enjoy going to threshing shows and collecting information about them. I love both Iron-Men and Gas Engine magazines and congratulate all involved in production on a job well done.'
'I would like to have this issue mentioned in the Soot in the Flues,' comments RAYMOND APRILL, 310 South Washington Street, Oconto Falls, Wisconsin 54154.
'The operators of steam engines that belong to these antique steam and gas engine shows and clubs must have our boilers inspected every year, and only use the steam engine from 5 to 15 days in a year. We feel we are grossly overcharged according to the mills and factories who operate their boilers 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.
Now, what I propose is a National Boiler Inspection Club with each club sending one of their boiler men to a national convention to work out a better and cheaper inspection. To my way of thinking, a boiler is no safer than the operator. He is the one who is responsible for its safety.' (I guess he wants some comments from you other steam engine ownerswrite him and let him know your opinions.)
CAL HARMAN, RR2, Box 227, Claypool, Indiana 46510 would like to know whatever happened to the Port Huron 19-65 No. 7312. (I'm sure I don't know do any of you fellows own it or know anything about it?)
We hear from our steady contributor, BILLY BYRD, 369 S. Harrig Street, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431. He writes to tell us he bought a caboose, steel, with cupola and he put it in his back yard. As he tells it: 'A steam engine on one side of the house and caboose on the other. I have moved most of my books, pictures and magazines out here. It is my office and den. I have something here you might want to use in the column as I think the N & S disciples would enjoy reading.
My being on the Charles Kuralt Show has opened up a lot of doorsyou wouldn't believe the phone calls and mail I received from all over the country. As you've probably read, the Nichols & Shepard Company was founded by John Nichols and David Shepard in 1848.I received two letters from Nancy Shepard Corbusier Knox, the great granddaughter of David Shepard, who in 1848 co-founded (with John Nichols) the Nichols & Shepard Co. She said that N & S would shut the plant for a day or so every deer hunting season, hire a special train and take everyone off on a hunting trip. Both Nichols and Shepard were avid hunters. Can you imagine any company doing that today? I heard that a long time ago the Nichols and Shepard trademark was a deer head, then later they changed it to Red River Special.'
PHILIP JEWELL, 'May Glen', Gilgardra, NSW, Australia 2827 thought maybe some of the IMA readers could give him some help: 'Recently I obtained a Reecoimproved Rider-Ericsson hot air pumping engine, size 6 #20837 of 1907 with rolling valve pump. Could any of you please assist me with information on the restoration, history, operation, etc. of this or any other hot air engine? Perhaps someone would write an article on this subject.
Should any Australian readers be in possession of a hot air engine could they please write to me with details to add to my register which I have started. This register stands at 15 engines confirmed and another 25 engines I am still chasing for final details. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated!'
Time to close it up and look forward to next issue which should bring us into Spring and some food for thought He who loses money loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he who loses courage loses all. Advice is easier than helping. A crowd is not company. He is a weak friend who cannot bear his friend's weakness. Denying a fault doubles it. Enough philosophy and keep tinkering with those engines and shining them up, get your gear in order, brush up on the engine stories and before you know it Show Time! Love Ya! Bye!
Steamcerely, Anna Mae