I know it’s winter now, but you know the old saying if
winter comes, can spring be far behind? And I’m sure many of
you are spending the cold winter nights preparing for the good hot
days of reunion time. New ideas, new restoration jobs, new stories
to make in the upcoming months. So keep busy and get your mind in
gear to send in many articles for the ALBUM. I’ll surely be
waiting to hear from you. We haven’t been having much input for
this column and I sure would like to be getting more mail.
For those who dig poetry, here’s one by Emily Dickinson
The robin is the one
That interrupts the morn
With hurried, few, express reports
When March is scarcely on.
The robin is the one
That overflows the noon
With her cherubic quantify,
An April but begun.
The robin is the one
That speechless from her nest
Submits that home and certainty
And sanctify are best.
VIRGIL MARTELL, 20205 43rd Avenue S.E., Bothell, Washington
98012 writes: ‘You were wondering how we felt about steam power
other than farm traction engines, in Soot in the Flues column.
Well, I for one, enjoy them all very, very much. And I sure do
enjoy all the IMA and GEM and your comments are all warm and
refreshing. So thanks to all for the great magazine.’ (And
thank you, Virgil for the kind comments).
BRUCE MCCOURTNEY, Syracuse, Nebraska 68446 sends in his
subscription renewal and comments; ‘Sure would be hard to do
without it. Wish it came every day. I am one of the charter
subscribers and I have all copies to date. I have a few of the old
American Thresherman magazines, too. I was 79 on January 13, 1985,
so I was around when steam was used. I ran my first steam engine
the summer I was 9 years old. My Dad had three steam rigs when I
was born. Through the years my father and I together had 42 steam
engines, 23 at one time. I have two engines now, a Case and a
Russell. We used them for threshing, trading and a lot of house
moving. We covered a big territory in the house moving business. I
put four engines through bridges in my time no fun in that! For
hurt, had broken bones, etc. I have experienced leaking flues, cold
winds, snow, ice, mud, sand hills and sand holes, slipped valves in
cold nights and etc. but still love steam engines. I always wanted
everything on a steam engine to work except the engineer.
‘Well, it’s time to turn on the injector and close the
draft.’ (Nice hearing you reminisce about the old days,
‘Thanks for printing my letter in the Iron-Men,’ says
BILLY M. BYRD, 369 Harrig Street, Madisonville, Kentucky 42431.
‘I’ve gotten several nice comments on it. Now I have
another favor could you please put this story about Mr. Hill in
‘Let’s call it The Edgar Hills Make Plans for Threshing
Show Edgar Hill, local retired farmer of Hopkinsville, Kentucky,
has owned and operated steam engines, built miniature steam engines
and now is the owner of a steam engine quilt. Hill was in Adams,
Tennessee in July for the annual three-day threshing show and his
wife, Helen, displayed the red and white quilt she made as a steam
engine display. ‘The quilt was his idea,’ Mrs. Hill
explained, ‘and I transferred with carbon and pencil all of the
pictures and pieced them on their true colors.’ The engines are
Case, Keck-Gonnerman, Rumely and Russell. The steam show has been
conducted each July for 15 years to depict an era when steam was
king. Thousands attend the varied exhibits during the three days.
Hill, who has missed only the first of the 15 shows says it has
grown until they are about to run out of room. As a young man, Hill
farmed and used steam-powered farm equipment. He recalls the wheat
threshing days and enjoys the gathering each summer in Adams.
‘Mrs. Hill has no idea how many quilts she has made and says
the steam quilt took about six months to complete. ‘I hope
quilting doesn’t die out. I’d like to see young people get
‘Hill was 80, October 8th and moved to town when he retired
and he recently sold his last steam engine, a 50 HP Frick. During
his lifetime, he owned and operated a 20 HP Advance, 50 HP Case and
22 HP double cylinder Keck-Gonnerman. He quit threshing with steam
in 1954, but during the Tennessee-Kentucky Show at Adams, he was in
his usual place firing New Howell’s 19 HP Keck-Gonnerman engine
on the sawmill. Mr. Hill serves as a Director of the
An interesting bit comes from ELSNER MACHACEK, 714 Union Street,
Northfield, Minnesota 55057 as he says: ‘The picture of Number
328 was built in 1905. They sure did a beautiful job of restoring
this locomotive. In our city we have two colleges, Carleton and St.
Olaf. In September of each year we have a four day celebration the
defeat of the James gang. The Jesse James gang came to Northfield
to rob the First National Bank in 1878. They killed the cashier
because he did not want to open the vault. The citizens soon found
out what was going on and they were armed with guns and began to
fire at the robbers. One of the gang was killed on the street
before he could mount his horse. They also killed a bystander on
the sidewalk. Some of the gang also were wounded. Each year this
robbery is reenacted. This past year of 1984, people came from
nearby states to. see the action. We had seventy thousand people
here. Thought the folks of the ALBUM might be interested.’
A brief reminiscence comes from ALLAN LINDEN, Route 2, Box 276,
Isanti, Minnesota 55040:
‘Back in the winter of 1930-31, I believe it was, there was
a man who bought 40 acres of pretty big timber about a mile east of
our place. He told the farmers in the surrounding area if they
would cut down these trees and make them into logs for lumber, they
could have the tops free for firewood. A lot of the farmers
didn’t have very much wood so they all got a lot of wood cut
for their own use.
‘One farmer had a pile with 128 loads in it, and he had a
home made saw rig with a car engine for power. He mounted the saw
right on the drive shaft so it was a direct drive to the saw from
the engine. It was a dangerous setup, as there was no belt to slip
if the saw got pinched in the wood.
‘One big drawback with this saw rig was that when you moved
the rig, you had to lift the saw rig and move it sideways. And
there were some stumps by this big woodpile, and they had to lift
it over the stumps. It was an awful lot of work, as it was oak,
elm, basswood and hard maple in the pile.
‘They sawed the logs with a 25-85 Nichols and Shepard steam
engine on the saw. They had a hand dug well right by the steam
engine and a hand pump above the well. This pump was run with the
steam engine, with a shaft attached to the flywheel shaft on the
steam engine. This shaft was run out to a support above the hand
pump. There was a crank on the end of this shaft with another shaft
attached to the pump so this pumped the water they needed for the
engine, while they were sawing.
‘I think he charged $5.00 @ thousand feet for sawing the
logs, and he furnished both the mill and the engine.
‘There wasn’t much snow that winter, so they cleared off
all the trees. No chain saws in those days, just 2-man saws and
‘I remember there were two brothers who cut a lot of wood
there, and they walked over there and back every day. They lived
over three miles from where they cut. The man who bought these 40
acres of timber only broke even on the deal. He got 500,000 feet of
lumber from the 40 acres.
‘It was a lot of fun to watch the steam engine running the
saw mill, and I wish they wouldn’t have quit using steam on the
‘In those days we weren’t interested in taking pictures,
but I really am sorry we didn’t have some pictures taken out
there. The man who sawed these log used to thresh our grain also.
How well I remember when he moved from one farm to another. The
threshing crew used to sit on top of the separator, on the flower
pipe. Plenty of time, no rush. Nowadays everything has to go so
fast, and still we have less time.’
‘Hello and God bless you and all of the Iron-Men
family,’ writes JOE DANIEL STORY, 6617 N.W. 31st Terrace,
Bethany, Oklahoma 73008.
‘I am enclosing a picture of the 2/5
scale Model 65 Case traction engine that the Lord and my Dad I
built together and thanks to the Angels, too. It took a lot of work
but was worth the effort. Thank you all for such a good Christian
The photo above is that of a 1/3 size
model of a 1915, 65 HP Case traction engine that was completed by
Lt. Col. MauriceL. Johnson, USAF RET., 3903 Kinser Pike,
Bloomington, Indiana 47401.
A new member to the IMA family writes us as THEODORE E. VOIGHT,
Box 1251, Kings Road, Crete, Illinois 60417 sends this:
‘Enclosed are shots of a Sturdevant 15 HP vertical engine we
acquired in connection with an alternative energy project. It has a
6′ cylinder and 5′ stroke, 400 RPM and 125 PSI steam. It is
in running condition except for the missing flyball Gardner 1’
parts as indicated on the photo.
Would appreciate a mention in your letters to the section for
information on this machine. Sturdevant is now a division of
Westinghouse, but they tell us that this piece is too old and they
have nothing in their records. Any help the readers could give
would be most appreciated.’
INGVARD HAUGEN, Route 1, Box 102, Hannaford, North Dakota 58448
says his son owns a Grayhound tractor and they are wondering if
there is any information on them, or any knowledge of these
machines. Theirs is complete and runs well, but they are interested
as to how they can learn the age of the machine as well as some
history. It was purchased in Pennsylvania so it’s a long ways
from home. They would also like to know who built the machines. (I
think this is a gas tractor but they wrote and requested this to be
in Iron-Men Album).
‘This picture was taken in 1907 threshing wheat on J. J.
Marsh farm, Etica Township near Lewiston, Minnesota, East of
Rochester, Minnesota. They threshed about 3600 bushels of wheat a
day. It is a Buffalo Pitts steam engine 25 HP, had eight wagons for
threshing. A water tank is right beside the steam engine. The
horses had fly nets on them. People in the picture are
unknown,’ states LYNN MARSH, RFD #5, Rochester, Minnesota
A letter comes from MARK SHELDON, Star Route, Box 120, Floral,
‘I’ve enjoyed your magazine for years. Recently I bought
a 23-90 A.D. Baker uniflow, #1535 and would like to find out the
date this engine was built. I’ve been told it was made around
1919 or 1920. Fred Wahner of Wentworth, Missouri bought the steam
engine new and spent most of its working life threshing, then
‘Would someone know what year Abner Baker started using the
uniflow cylinder on his engines.
‘Another feature this engine had was a super heater unit
installed in the smoke box, to find out more information about the
super heater A.D Baker used in his engines and whether there are
any Baker engines still with these in place and operating.
‘I will appreciate any information.’ (As noted elsewhere
in this column, Herb Beckemeyer has a list of Baker owners which
may interest you.)
A brief story comes from WILLIAM J. STEWART, 308 S. 12 Street,
Independence, KS 67301:
‘Would like to share with you an experience I had in the
late ’40’s. I was a beginning telegrapher on the ‘extra
board’ for the Frisco Railroad and working an assignment one
day a week each in Fredonia, Severy, and Beaumont, Kansas. One week
I didn’t have a car available so the next freight going west
after I finished work would pick me up and let me off at my next
station. This particular time I boarded at Severy for Beaumont. The
engine stopped at the station and I climbed on. ‘When I got
aboard, the engineer called me over to his side and said ‘You
can help me operate the engine. We need some slack so we can start
moving.’ Apparently he had already initiated the brake release.
He pointed to a big lever and said ‘That is the reversing
lever. Move it back about the same distance as it is forward. The
big lever on the left is the throttle. Pull it out a few notches,
then push it back in.’ The engine backed up a little. ‘Now
put the reverse lever back where it was and open the throttle a few
‘We started to move, and as we gained speed, he would say
open the throttle a little more. Finally we were up to cruising
speed (I don’t know how fast). I wouldn’t say it was a
smooth ride-that engine bumped and bounced and jerked horribly. I
don’t see how it stayed on the rails. It must have been mild
however occasionally one of these engines were called on to pull
their passenger train and I am sure it went much faster in
passenger service than hauling freight.
Anyway, as we left Piedmont we started up the grade for Beaumont
and the train started slowing down. As it slowed, the engineer
would have me add more throttle. We were pulling the maximum
tonnage the engine was rated to pull up that grade. Finally the
engineer said, ‘See that gauge there? It is the steam pressure
on the cylinders. It reads about the same as our boiler pressure (I
don’t remember the pressure). That means our throttle is wide
open. To get more power we need to increase the stroke on our
valves. Move the valve lever forward another notch.’
Then he cautioned me, the drivers are beginning to slip a
little-and if they start to spin, close the throttle immediately.
Meanwhile we will sand the rails. He showed me a small lever and
said ‘Pull that lever down (about 90 degrees) and hold it 3 or
4 seconds long enough for the drivers to go around once. If you
leave it down, in about five minutes we would be out of sand and we
are a long way from up the hill’
By sanding the rails the drivers didn’t spin; adding a
couple more notches on the valve stroke kept us going and we pulled
into Beaumont where I thanked him for letting me operate the engine
and I got off. He doesn’t know how much I appreciated the
opportunity to ride and operate that engine. I didn’t really
know myself then, but I do now.’
‘I have just returned from a most rewarding trip through a
portion of the ancient world of Asia Minor or, as we know it today,
Turkey,’ says CARL M. LATHROP, 108 Garfield Avenue, Madison,
New Jersey 07940. ‘As usual, I always have my eyes open for
steam. I looked behind each of the Seven Churches of Revelations
and in the cities of Cappadocia for any signs of steam.
‘Finally, I came across this ‘ancient’ decapos
(2-10-2) of the Turkish Republic Railways. This coal burning
steamer was hauling a freight train near Philadelphia (Alasehir) in
the area of the only one of the Seven Churches not censured by
‘Knowing the firmness of your faith, I thought that you
might be interested.’
‘I enjoy reading your magazine and seeing the pictures of
the old steam traction engines,’ writes JAMES B GROVES, Route
1, Box 269, Stoddard, WI 54658. ‘I have always been a steam
fan. I remember the threshing days with steam power. I never owned
a steam engines but I threshed for more than twenty years with gas
tractors. Before my retirement when I was farming near Fountain
City, Wisconsin, I had a neighbor, John Moser, who had threshed,
hulled clover and sawed lumber for about sixty years and much of
that time he used steam power. In the later years he used a Rumely
Oil Pull. This kind of work was very much a major part of his
‘I am sending a picture of his grave stone he bought twenty
years before he died. As you can see, he had a steam engine
engraved on his stone. He also had a special steam whistle he
wanted to take with him when he died, so when he passed away in
1953 his neighbor put the whistle in the casket with him. This
stone is in the beautiful Fountain City, Wisconsin cemetery located
on Highway 95 about a mile north of Fountain City. I thought the
readers of your good magazine might be interested in this little
story about a man who loved this way of life.
HERB BECKEMEYER of R2, Box 159, Champaign, IL 61821 says he has
just finished restoring a 1938 IHC W30 tractor which took about two
years of his spare time.
‘I did get to show the A. D. Baker at 3 shows and cook sweet
corn 2 days this past summer and took in 3 sales Mt. Pleasant,
Iowa, Lewisburg, Ohio and Geff, Illinois. These sales were like old
home week visiting old friends and making new ones.
‘Now, in regards to my list of A. D. Baker engines and
owners. I have added 7 engines since the list was printed in 1982.
What I wish to know, are there such engines as #441, #861, #907,
#17426, #17545 and #17551 and others hiding out there somewhere in
the good of U.S.A.? Nine Baker engines have changed hands since the
list was made up.
‘Anyone who would like a copy of the list I have need only
contact me and I will send one.’ (Let’s hope there are more
Baker owners out there to add to this list!)
Well, that’s about it for this time, so I know before long
you’ll be out there tilling the ground and looking anxiously to
those mouth-watering garden products. So get all the equipment
together so you’re all set as soon as frost is over. Be talking
to you next time.