Farm Collector


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

‘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,

‘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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Published on Mar 1, 1984
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