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Hoffman Photo #1: Scale saw mill at work.
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Hoffman Photo #2: Jim Hoffman running his quarter scale Allchin belted to his saw mill
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Yaeger Photo #2: A 25 HP Reeves double-simple on the belt.
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Hoffman Photo #2: Right hand view of a 16 HP trunk-compound engine
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Hoffman Photo #1: Left hand view of a 16 HP trunk-compound engine

Traction Engines and Threshing Machines

146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, MT 59937 (e-mail:, chimes in with his response to the on-going
Reeves debate.

‘Well, Richard, now it is my turn to make further comments
on the pictures’ I submitted to the November/December 2001 Iron
Men Album, to which Mr. Reeves (Lyle Hoffmaster) responded to in
the January/February 2002 issue. Lyle was hoping to get me stirred
up enough to write a letter, so here goes!

Lyle, I will admit that I am probably one of the poorest Advance
authorities going. I called that 30 HP Advance (Yaeger Photo #3,
page 15, November/December 2001) pulling away with the thresher a
25 HP. I should check out other people’s pictures when I copy
them, as I think that is where I got the ’25’ HP. If I had
only checked my own Advance catalog, I would have known that the
company never built a 25 HP engine. Thanks for being on your toes,
Lyle, since I feel sheepish about that one.

Yaeger Photo #1: A 25HP reeves cross-compound pulling a combined
harvester in Montana’s Judith Basin . This engine had been
previously identified as a 32 HP cross-compound

Since Tommy Lee and Chady let the cat out of the bag that you
cut your teeth on Case engines, I would be the last person to doubt
your expertise on the little center-crank Case (Yaeger #1, page 15,
November/December 2001) being a ‘trunk-compound’ rather
than the tandem-compound that I referred to it as. My friend Tom
Stebritz refers to it as a trunk-compound also, so I would never
argue that point with either of you. I guess 1 just hadn’t
lived long enough to hear that term used.

‘I would question your thinking that the Case center crank
in my picture was a 10 or 12 HP,’ however. Those front wheels
appear to be only about three or four inches wide, and the smoke
stack doesn’t appear to be more than eight inches in diameter.
It almost appears as though it would fit into the back of my
pickup. I will stick with my 8 HP analysis, as the only thing
smaller is the little simple 6 HP Case engine, and this obviously
isn’t a simple engine.

‘Now, as to your analysis of the 25 HP Reeves double-simple
pulling a steam lift plow (Yaeger Photo #2, page 15,
November/December 2001),’ I am going to take Mr. Reeves to task
on that one. Lyle, 1 agree with your comment, ‘I doubt if more
than 10 percent of Reeves double engines were used for plowing –
most were cross-compound,’ wholeheartedly. But, since you left
me 10 percent to work with, I will show you where you are dead
wrong, my friend. First of all, when I read your letter I thought
you might have been correct, but you forced me to spend an evening
going through my two copies of Reeves & Company parts books.
And I thank you for causing me to do that – 1 was getting

‘Lyle, I realize that the illusion you saw as the trapezoid
actuation levers of the late-style rotating intercepting valves is
a strong reason for misleading yourself. I have the benefit of
bringing that same image up on my computer, full screen size. That
reveals things that your magnifying glass could never

‘Let me start this discussion by stating that on the 25 HP
model Reeves engines,’ 12-inch wide front wheels are standard,
which was the figure you used in your scaling. The 25 HP model
Reeves engines were also available with the optional 16-inch wide
front wheels that were standard on the 32 HP model Reeves engines.
Since this one has the optional 16-inch width front wheels, that
threw your scaling off by 25 percent.

For further perspective in your scaling, the rear wheel
extension rims for the 25 (and all of the 32) HP models are
12-inches in width. Reeves 25 HP engines had 36-inch tall side
water tanks, as this one has, and they always set below the midway
belt line of the boiler barrel. Now, the 32 HP engines used a
42-inch tall side water tank. The 42-inch tanks always come up to
the midway point of the boiler barrel.

This engine (and all 25 HP double-simple engines) has the same
boiler barrel diameter as was used on the 32 HP and 40 HP Reeves
engines, when comparing C.I.S. type engines (the Canadian Special
type engine’s boiler barrel diameter is about four inches
larger). Please check that scale using 16-inch width front wheels
and you will prove it to yourself.

‘I knew when I read your letter that you thought this engine
was a 25 HP cross-compound, and that you were mistaken, because the
25 HP cross-compound engines have that same long, skinny, smaller
diameter boiler barrel that your 20 HP Reeves has.’

The boiler barrel diameter of the 20 HP double-simple, and the
25 HP cross-compound, is approximately six inches smaller in
diameter than the 25 HP double-simple. However, my first reaction
to your letter was, ‘Maybe this was a 32 HP cross-compound in
Yaeger #2?’ But, ALL 32 HP engines, whether cross-compound or
double-simple, had a heavy, inverted, CI-shaped cast iron bracket
over the crankshaft bolted to the main bearing area. Neither of the
25 HP type engines have this, ruling this engine out as a 32 HP

‘This engine also has the larger smokestack of the 25 HP
double-simple, all 32 HP and 40 HP sizes.’ Slightly visible in
the image, when enlarged on my computer screen, is the small size
high-pressure cylinder head. A low-pressure, or left,
cross-compound cylinder head would be nearly twice the diameter of
the double-simple’s. The valve cover on the clutch (left) side
is visible, and is a short type of valve cover as used on the
double simple engines. The valve cover is a flat type with the
‘R & Co.’ logo cast on it. The cross-compound
engine’s low-pressure side had a much taller valve cover than
did their double-simple counterparts. The first cross-compound in
Haston St. Clair’s book, Historical Stories About Reeves
Engines, with the later-style ‘waffle’ type valve cover is
a 32 HP Reeves s/n 5068, now owned by my good friend Lyle Parker in
Sandy, Utah.

If you will notice, Lyle, (Mr. Reeves) this engine in Yaeger #2
is a pre-s/n 5000 engine. Serial number 5000 is when Reeves changed
from this type of square front axle with lightweight front wheel
hubs to the round front axle with heavy-duty hubs.

Lyle, you stated that you ‘went back several times to again
look at that picture … and discovered a positive, telltale
feature.’ You stated you saw the parallel levers that shift the
intercepting valve, ‘that these parallel double levers were
used on compound engines only.’ I agree that the parallel-type
levers that you spoke of were only used on compound engines.
However, these ‘levers’ you are seeing are the rocker arm,
the tumble arm, the eccentric rod and the lower portion of the
eccentric arm. There’s only one problem with your theory, Lyle,
and that is the fact that the later type of rotating parallel
intercepting valve actuating arms that you ‘saw’ in my
picture were NOT available until the advent of the Reeves Canadian
Special engines, which Reeves started producing at s/n 5628. Since
the engine in Yaeger #2 is a pre-s/n 5000 number, and IF it had
been a cross-compound engine, it would still have the earlier
D-style intercepting valve, actuated by the rack and pinion and
operated by pushing on a foot pedal under the steering wheel on the
fireman’s platform. This early type of intercepting valve did
not use the ‘parallel levers’ you refer to and thought you

The exhaust pipes on comparable horsepower Reeves double-simple
engines are smaller in diameter than the single exhaust pipe on
Reeves cross-compound engines. This engine has the small exhaust
pipe. And Lyle, if you look with your magnifying glass mid-way
between the plow marker bracket (actually, this is the belt guide,
being used to hold the plow marker) on the smoke box door ring and
the smokestack, you will see a very tiny, telltale piece of the
right side exhaust pipe on that 25 HP double-simple engine.

I would like to include a picture (see Yaeger Photo #1), which
you had sent to the Iron Men Album several years ago, that shows
what you thought my Yaeger #2 engine was. This 25 HP cross-compound
engine was shown in the Judith Basin pulling a combined harvester.
At that time, you identified this engine as a 32 HP cross-compound
engine. But, this is in fact a Reeves 25 HP cross-compound. I
wanted you to notice the long, skinny boiler barrel and the 36-inch
tall side water tank mounted below the centerline of the boiler
barrel. However, this engine has a huskier appearance due to the
optional 16-inch width front wheels.

‘I am also sending another picture (see Yaeger Photo #2) of
a different 25 HP double-simple Reeves engine.’ It is from an
old American Thresherman and is shown on the belt. The engine is
slightly closer and turned a little more to the left side, but it
is an identical engine to the November/December IMA Yaeger #2. This
one also has a homemade box between the smokestack and the steam
dome for lubrication and tools, similar to the one Yaeger #2

‘Try to remember, Lyle, I grew up in the Judith Basin where
most of the big Reeves engines I was associated with were the 32 HP
size.’ I was 13 years old before I ever saw a Reeves smaller
than a 32 HP, except for dad’s 20 HP High wheeler.
Unfortunately, I was too young to get to see the seven Reeves
engines of the 40 HP size that once operated in Montana’s
Judith Basin.

Lyle, I have not forgotten the beautiful maroon cap you sent me
with the gold ‘R & Co.’ logo on the front. It is nearly
identical to your Reeves cap, except that your cap is even more
beautiful with the gold ‘scrambled eggs’ on the bill. Even
with two Reeves miss-identifications, you are still Mr. Reeves in
my book, and still my friend. I just didn’t want the egg on my

Quarter Scale Allchin

Jim Hoffman, 1374 Orchard Park Rd., West Seneca, NY 14224, sends
in some great photos of his quarter scale Allchin ‘Royal
Chester’ steam traction engine belted to a working scale saw
rig he’s outfitted. Jim says he ran the outfit all day at last
year’s Western Mew York Gas & Steam Engine Show, held just
outside of Alexander, N.Y., and at the Pioneer Steam & Gas
Engine Show near Saegertown, Pa. Jim says that by the end of the
day he had a pile of saw dust under the mill that came up to the

Thoughts on Medina

James W. Russell, 125 E. 600 Ave., Oblong, IL 62449, writes:

‘I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the
best as the new editor of our beloved Iron-Men Album. I thank you
for keeping the same format, and I urge you to stay the course and
draw from the rich heritage of IMA.’ I hope you will reprint
articles once in a while from the early issues. They were written
by men who lived in the heyday of steam.

‘I think Mr. Yaeger’s letter about the Medina, Ohio,
tragedy was excellent (see the January/February 2002 IMA, page
4).’ It put into words my feelings about the incident, my
feelings afterwards, why it happened and the reports that were
given afterwards. I believe many other people share the same

‘I hate to see the state of Ohio take a bad rap for this
tragedy. Some of the best and most knowledgeable steam people live
in Ohio and operate some of the best engines in the nation. I am a
life-long resident of Illinois, a state that requires hobby boiler
inspections, and I have always complied. However, just because a
state requires boiler inspections, that still does not ensure that
they will be operated safely.’

Hoffmaster Responds: Reeves/Trunk-Compounds

Just as we were getting ready to send this issue of IMA to the
printer, Lyle ‘Reeves’ Hoffmaster, 1845 Marion Rd.,
Bucyrus, OH 44820, wrote in on the Reeves traction engine
identification issue:

‘I must get this letter off if I wish this to appear in the
March/April issue of Iron-Men Album.’ First off, I wish to
apologize to readers and to Gary Yaeger, as I do believe the engine
in Yaeger Photo #2 on page 15 of the November/December 2001 issue
is a 25 HP double-simple. I found a picture of our 25 HP
cross-compound taken head on, and it’s pretty clear as the
pedestal is longer and the boiler is smaller in diameter.

‘In the January/February 2002 issue on page 2, in describing
the trunk-compound, I say the trunk is twice the stroke – no!’
It is the stroke plus the center section width plus some clearance.
I am hoping someone will send in a picture or cross section of a
trunk-compound – a picture is worth 2,000 of my words.

‘I am enclosing a right and left view of a 16 HP
trunk-compound Case that was at Mt. Pleasant for at least one show
in the late 1950s.’

Ray Ernst owned it at the time, and shortly thereafter disposed
of it to one of the Canadian agricultural museums. Note the length
of the cylinder in the right hand view. Also, note the length of
the valve cover in the left hand view. Let us Case critics never
say Case didn’t know how to make a steam engine!’

If you have a photo or a comment for Soot in the Flues,
please send it along to Iron-Men Album, 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka,
KS 66609-1265, or e-mail:

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