Farm Collector


We are most appreciative that our readers are continuing to
write in to our Soot in the Flues column. This time we hear from
some of our mainstay contributors, as well as from some seeking
help for the first time. This is a tribute to the fine job Anna Mae
did for so many years, encouraging the sharing of information and
assistance among our family of subscribers.

Our first letter comes from DICK HEAVEN, 155 W. Cross Street,
Box 36, Clarksville, Michigan 48815, who writes: ‘It’s with
regret that we have to write this, but we know that Anna Mae is in
a better place with no pain and no worries. We sure miss her bits
of wisdom, questions and faith in God that would shine through her
articles. Many years ago she came with her boss, Reverend Ritzman,
to National Threshers Association, and I believe Reverend had her
running an engine with help. I guess it’s up to us to keep the
Soot in the Flues going in her memory. We appreciate her dedication
and for a job well done.

‘We went to Ypsilanti and picked up David and son Tom, and
went to N.T.A. and it rained. It was so muddy on the grounds and we
had such big plans.

‘In July we went to Mason, Michigan, to the show there and
camped, but on Saturday we returned to Lake Odessa for Depot Day.
We are in the process of restoring the old 1888 Pere Marquette
depot for a museum. It takes work and money. In August we had the
Clarksville Steam and Gas Association Show on the 19th, 20th and
21st, our 5th year. We had more of everything engines, tractors,
and people.

‘Labor Day weekend we took the trailer and went to Milton,
Ontario, to Steam Era. It was fun to watch their threshing

‘We also took time out to go to the Van Buren Fly wheelers.
All in all, we had a pretty good summer.

‘Now I am trying to figure out where my summer’s wages

MAURICE L. HOOKS, 7490 Woodridge Lane N.W., Bremerton,
Washington 98311 sent us this: ‘I read with interest the letter
from Mr. Lamb and Mr. Rhode in the January/February ’95 issue
and would like to make a comment or two on the subject of boiler
certification and seam strength.

‘I would be the first to agree with Mr. Lamb and Mr. Rhode
that the states, in their effort to protect the public,
occasionally write into law codes which are over restrictive,
unnecessary or impractical when it comes to the certification and
operation of boilers.

‘There are numerous reasons for this, most being based in
the lack of technical competence of the authority and the growing
political pressure to protect us all from ourselves at no risk to
the government. Unfortunately, when inappropriate laws are enacted,
they are much harder to correct than if the job had been done
competently to begin with.

‘As one who has had several years experience in (and
responsibility for) the design, fabrication, testing and operation
of pressure vessels of all sorts, it is my opinion that the
certification and operation of boilers (any boiler) should be based
on the following factors:

1. The design strength of the boiler.

2. The condition of the boiler and its effect on the

3. The condition and operational reliability of the safety

‘This varies somewhat from what was presented by the
authors, however it is presented from my view of what the boiler
code should be based upon. The ‘condition of the engineer’
is certainly a factor in operation and may be considered as a basis
for a state licensing program, however, it is not a limiting
condition of the certification process for a boiler which may be
operated by numerous ‘engineers.’ It’s the
certification program that is restricting the operation of traction
engines and older boilers, not the qualifications of their

‘The authors discussed at length the relative merits of lap
seam joints with those of the butt strap configuration. They also
implied that there are many misleading ‘facts’ and
‘laws’ concerning the relative strength of the two joints.
Unfortunately those misleading ‘facts’ and laws’ abound
on both sides of the fence. It remains, however, an engineering
reality (I’ll not use ‘fact’) that given two joints of
the same material, dimensions and patterns, the butt strap joint
will be more than twice as strong as the lap seam joint. This is
due to the inherent design of the butt strap joint which has twice
the plate surface area in contact and under friction (clamping)
force of the rivets as does the lap seam. The butt strap joint also
has twice the area of rivet shear. With all other factors equal,
this alone makes the butt strap joint twice as strong.
Incidentally, it’s this clamping force, caused by the rivets,
coupled with caulking, which seals the joint, not boiler pressure
pushing outward.

‘The authors are correct in that the internal pressure does
tend to ‘unroll’ the plate of the cylinder. This causes the
forces (stresses) within the boiler shell to be tangential rather
than radial, in other words in line with the ‘hoop’ of the
shell, not pushing outwards across the shell. At the joint, these
forces are trying to pull the joint apart in line with the hoop,
not outwards across the joint. Try to keep a piece of paper in a
roll by holding the edges together, the forces are in line with the
paper, not across it.

‘The reason the butt strap joint is greater than twice as
strong (all other things being equal) is that the lap seam joint
tends to twist as it is being pulled apart by the hoop forces. This
twisting lessens the clamping friction and causes a combination of
stresses (shear and tensile) in the rivet resulting in the lap seam
joint having weaknesses not found in the butt strap joint.

‘To answer Mr. Lamb’s and Mr. Rhode’s question:
‘Which is better: the lap seam or the butt strap?’ I would
have to state, unequivocally, that the lap seam joint, as proven
theoretically and empirically, is an inherently weaker design.
Having said that, it should in no way be interpreted as meaning
that a boiler with a lap seam joint should not be certified and
operated. Quite the contrary, given that an operating pressure (not
necessarily the manufacturer’s operating pressure) can be
determined from the specific boiler design as mitigated by the
actual condition of the boiler, and given that approved, functional
safety appliances are installed, practically any boiler could be
(should be) certified and operated. Whether or not that certified
operating pressure is sufficient to power a thrasher or saw mill
would depend solely on the actual design and condition of the
boiler, not myths and superstitions as to its strength (past or

‘I fear that I have thrown a shovel or two of soot back into
the flues. Unfortunately I believe it is necessary because, if we
are to get reasonable codes passed for the operation of our
engines, we must approach the authorities with technically correct
and sound engineering arguments, not reactionary, sometimes
mythical rhetoric, the latter being what the authorities are all
too often using to justify their positions. Thank you for your time
and consideration.’

William Balisky’s 1922 photo includes among neighbors and
friends, his Uncles George and Nick Balisky, his Aunt Stacia and
his cousin.

This comes from WILLIAM BALISKY, 34524 York Avenue, Abbotsford,
British Columbia, Canada V2S 2W9: ‘I really miss your magazine
as I grew up with steam engines and I have many stories to tell or
write which I always wanted to do.

‘I always placed your magazine as one big Christian family
and it is very heart-warming to belong or whatever you may call it.
(I call it a family of old steam engine love.) I lost my loving
wife last April 10. We came home from church, had dinner together,
and her last words she said, ‘I’m awfully tired, you wake
me up to help you with the dishes.’ I also lay on the sofa and
I seemed restless, and about half an hour later I went to wake her
up but that was the biggest shock of my life-she was gone!

‘We had another year to go to make it 60 years together! I
was so depressed and in shock that only now I’m getting to feel
like myself. I’ll be 83 years old next March 3rd.

‘By the way, my father and his brothers all homesteaded in
Dodgen, North Dakota, which they have changed to Butte, North
Dakota. My dad, his father and his brothers lived there from 1902
to 1912 when they all moved to Grande Prairie Alberta, Canada

LARRY G. CREED, R.R. #13, Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834 writes:
‘I have been a reader and subscriber of your magazine for
several years. I have also contributed articles in the past and
have recently submitted material to be printed. I would like to
recommend some ideas for your consideration.

‘First of all I think you need to keep a version of the Anna
Mae column in order that readers can write in with information,
opinions, and etc. One of my ideas is to reprint some of the old
articles which are interesting because of the information contained
or article content. I think one reprint article per issue would
enhance the magazine.

‘My other idea would be to devote space in each issue to old
steam pictures. I remember old issues where a full page spread was
used for a steam engine farm scene photograph. I found these
pictures to be particularly interesting.

‘Like most steam people I want to see interesting steam

‘I am a supervisor at a large electric utility in the state
of Indiana so I am well acquainted with meeting deadlines.’

As you can see, Larry, we’re continuing Soot in the
Flues, and we’re always open to suggestions like yours. We
recently purchased a large collection of old steam postcards
we’ll be using in coming issues, and we will certainly consider
reprinting some articles from the early days of
Anyone have a fovorite he’d like to suggest? Let us

From A. LOREN LINDSAY, R.R. 2, Box 128B, N. Mankato, Minnesota
56003 we hear this: ‘While reading a lumberman’s magazine I
ran across this article which is an excerpt from an old issue of

‘Frank E. Jefferson of Minnesota was one who ran a
successful saw mill. In 1916 he had about 12,000 feet of logs to
saw when he discovered that the mill where he planned to have them
cut into lumber had raised its price from $5.50 to $6.50 per
thousand. This prompted him to purchase a No. 1 American Mill with
a 48’ saw at the cost of $212. Heretofore he had not operated a
mill, but had worked some about one in his youth.

‘Jefferson carefully read the instructions that came with
the mill he had purchased in Minneapolis and set about his work. He
recalled that ‘I sawed only two logs the first day and spoiled
half of the first one. The next day went better and I sawed 2,000
feet of lumber and sawed it well.’ He employed two men to help
him at a $1.00 a day and board. Besides sawing for 8 hours per day
these men helped him with chores. In six 8-hour days they sawed the
12,000 feet of lumber at an estimated cost of $76.32. He figured
his outlay would have been $134.00 had he taken his logs to the
nearby mill. Not only did he believe that he saved money, but that
he made money. Neighbors brought logs for him to saw at a fee he
did not disclose.’

‘I am still operating this American #1 friction drive mill
at its original site. (See photo) One of the hired men mentioned in
the article was my father. He worked there as a hired man,
eventually renting the farm from Frank Jefferson, and later
purchasing the farm and the mill from the Jeffersons in 1947. He
continued operating the mill through the years, then I purchased
the farm from my father in 1965. The mill was powered with an 8-16
Avery until 923, when Jefferson purchased a 15-27 Heider, which ran
the mill much better. I still have the 15-27 Heider, which is in
good running condition today.

‘My wife Betty and I are members of LeSueur County Pioneer
Power and Stearns County Pioneer Club of Albany, Minnesota. We
attend several shows during the year and help in each

Elwood Dewhurst writes, ‘The owners only showed up at parade
time and I was the operating slave as you might guess! Anderson
engine family, New Rockford, ND, 1978.’

ELWOOD D. DEWHURST, 712 N. Front Street, Crookston, Minnesota
56716-1252 writes: ‘I hope you will put this article in the
archives as I have no idea how old that tractor was and it is
probably, by now, melted down. This all happened when I lived in
Saskatchewan. I am sorry I did not have more time to tend this
picture but there must be someone out there who knows as much as I
do about the Buffalo Pitts tractor such as the 4-cylinder 40-70
model with cross ways engine.

‘I seem to remember now that there was a 12-bottom Avery
power lift plow at the home, but the tractor was far away from
home, which seems to tell me they must have been threshing when the
engine went to pot, then the threshing machine probably was taken

‘This old tractor was the backing to home base of our school
yard baseball field, and as I think of it now (I am just 86 now, so
don’t expect too much of me anymore) that could have been the
reason why we had cut threads on our baseball all the

PAUL RENO, 3254 Kansas Street, Oakland, California 94602 sends
this: ‘Looking at the picture of the engine on page 23 of the
January/February issue I have never seen that picture or a picture
of an engine with that kind of a smoke stack cone. But it is a
Daniel Best, 45 HP as it is too short to be the 110 HP, as the
water tank can’t be seen up front and it also has 8′ x
3′ WT wheels. It is not a Remington or a McLaughlin 60 HP and
from the square firebox door, the straw pile and pitch fork at
rear, I would say it is being fired with straw. I never read in the
Best Catalog about any of their engines made to fire with straw.
Sure hope someone can positively identify it.’

(We took a closer look at this picture with a magnifying
lens in the office, and we do seem to see wood stored at the rear
of the engine.)

‘I took a trip the month of August to Irricana, Alberta,
Show and the North Battleford Saskatchewan Show in Canada, and I
highly recommend attending their shows. Tom Kemperling had a real
good J.I. Case Heritage Show and North Brattleford has a nice
year-round museum to spend a day. Also in October I took in the
Paso Robles Pioneer Day Parade. They have a lot of machinery on
parade, and the Gas Up at Pioneer Park, Paso Robles, California. I
helped with the afternoon threshing and hay baling display. It was
a good show.’

JOE B. DILL, 7931 Lascassas Pike, Lascassas, Tennessee 37085
wrote this: ‘Soot in the Flues is still answering questions for
me. First I’d like to express my sympathy to the family of Anna
Mae on her passing last year. We, who enjoy Soot in the Flues, will
miss her arrangement of the column.

‘As usual I received an answer to my questions in the
September/October issue about how Mr. Hardy added a super heater to
a 60 Case steam engine, as described in an article in IMA
May/June 1987.

‘MR. MORRIS BLOMGREN, 10139 Blomgren, Siren, Wisconsin
54872, who now owns the 60 Case with the super heater, wrote me and
sent pictures of the 60 Case with the attachment that answered my
question. Mr. Blomgren’s description of the super heater and
pictures will better describe the super heater than I can describe

‘I will, as Mr. Blomgren suggested, enclose his letter to me
with 5 the pictures so that IMA readers can i enjoy
reading about the super heater. ‘Thank you, Mr. Blomgren, for
answering my question.’

McLaughlin 60 HP 1903 or 1905. Only five were known to have been
built and they worked logging around Mt. Shasta, California.
Located at Internmountain Fairgrounds, McArthur, California,

22 HP Advance owned by Dick Wiley family, Arroyo Grande, CA.
Crew: Ernie Purlich, Carson Wiley and Paul Reno.

This is the letter:

‘Mr. Dill, Well, I don’t know you but I saw you were
interested in the super heater in the September/October 1994
IMA. In summer I don’t get to read the magazines but
comes winter I read them. I didn’t look it up, but I suppose
maybe you mean the super heater in the 60 HP Case engine that I
have now. At the time I was sawing yo yo’s for Hardy Lindblad.
He has passed away and I have the engine now. He built these super
heaters himself. There is one in the engine now and also one more
he built which is not in anything.–I just have it lying here. I
never heard of anyone else who built them or used them. Someone
told me they used to have them in railroad engines. I don’t
know. But it was a water saver. We could run the sawmill for two
six-hour days on 450 gallons of water, whereas Minneapolis would
use 800 gallons in six hours.

‘It takes the steam from the dome into that hole on the side
of the Case engine and then this heater is made with coils going
around in the top of the fireboxes back out to the cylinder rather
than from the dome to the cylinder. So the steam comes 100 percent
dry to the cylinder. No moisture.

‘I hope you can make out what I am trying to say. I used to
be pretty good with words years ago but I have forgotten.

‘This one picture shows the side of the engine where the
tubes go. The other one is that other one I have not in an engine.
There is one like it in the engine. Hardy Lindblad made all that
stuff. I own it now.’

CHARLES SINDELAR, S47 W23200 Lawnsdale Road, Waukesha, Wisconsin
53186 writes: ‘Over the years I have talked to a number of
people who have had difficulties obtaining steam cylinder oil. Many
always have doubts as to its quality, and of considerable
importance is the percentage of tallow that it contains. The
attached spec sheet shows the two types of steam cylinder oil that
is sold by Citgo. Even if it is not carried in stock by your local
dealer, it should be no problem for any Citgo distributor to get
some for you. You will likely have to order in five gallon lots
which should not be a problem if you use your engine very much.

‘You will note that the 400-5 contains 5% tallow, and that
680-7 contains 7% tallow. I have used both types and believe that
they are both satisfactory. Our local distribution keeps both types
in stock and sells them regularly for worm gear lubes. I am
apparently his only customer with a steam cylinder.’ (See
product sheet below.)

DESCRIPTION: CITGO Cylinder Oils are compounded
lubricants designed primarily for specific use in steam cylinders,
gas compressor cylinders, and worm gear drives QUALITIES: Grade
680-7 is formulated with steam-refined cylinder stocks. Grade 400-5
contains high viscosity index, solvent-refined bright stock. Both
grades are compounded with a high grade animal fatty oil for
improved metal adhesion. Because of their fat content, these oils
provide excellent lubrication even when in contact with steam of
low to medium pressure and of wet to saturated quality.
APPLICATIONS: CITGO Cylinder Oils are recommended for the
lubrication of steam cylinders over a wide range of operating
conditions and steam quality. Both grades are widely used as
lubricants for gas compressors having separate cylinder
lubrication. They are especially recommended where wet conditions
exist in these cylinders. Because of their compounding, both grades
may be utilized in certain types of worm gear drives. Grade 400-5
falls into the category of AGMA 7 compounded lubricant for worm
gear service. Grade 680-7 may be used where AGMA 8 compounded
lubricant is required.

Grade400-5680-7 Gravity, ‘API
Pounds Per Gallon
Flash Point. °F (°1C), Min.
Viscosity, cSt at 40° C
Viscosity, cSt at 100° F
Viscosity, SUS at 100° F
Viscosity, SUS at 210°F
Viscosity Index
Pour Point. ‘F (C)
Color, ASTM D 1500
Saponification No.
Fatty Oil, %
AGMA Grade
ISO VG No. 27.1
500 (288)
345 – 440
20 (-7)
7 Comp.
– 22.1
500 (260)
612 – 742
35 (+2)
Dk. Green
8 Comp.

Note: (1) Results are typical unless ranges or limits are

And this is also from CHARLES SINDELAR, S47 W23200 Lawnsdale
Road, Waukesha, Wisconsin 53186: ‘Hope springs eternal, life
goes on, and may the spirit of Anna Mae remain with us all

‘Regarding boiler construction types and their relative
strengths and safety, I don’t profess to be an expert on much
of anything and I am just as sure that I am not alone in trying to
separate the true experts from the ‘wanna bees.’ As I see
it, even if it is true that a butt strap seam is twice as as strong
as a lap joint, the real fact of the matter is that both types are
plenty strong enough. It just does not matter if you have a lap
joint with three rows of rivets or a butt strap with six. Neither
joint will fail at the maximum intended working pressure by
shearing the rivets.

‘I own a 1907, 9 HP Case #18630. I believe this is the only
9 Case in existence with a triple riveted lap seam. It sports a 26
inch waist just like all the Case 9s, 12s, 36s and early small
barreled 40s. During this same time period, Case was building its
big 12×12, 32 HP engine with a 38 inch waisted barrel. This also
sported a triple riveted lap seam. The 9s operated at a maximum
intended working pressure of 130 psi, and the 32 HP engines were
set for 160 psi. Their 150 road locomotive for that same year had a
waist of 42 inches and sported a triple riveted lap seam and also
operated at 160 psi. You may be saying, ‘So what?’ Well,
I’d wager a whole pile of fresh buffalo chips that not any of
those boilers ever failed by shearing the rivets in the
longitudinal seam while at their intended maximum working pressure.
The fact is that the shearing strength of these rivets will hold
several times their working pressure. I think it is pretty darned
immaterial whether the rivets in a triple riveted lap would shear
at an estimated 500 psi vs. whether a quadruple riveted butt strap
would shear the rivets at 1000 psi. So what? Since our boilers will
never attain those pressures, why does it matter if one is twice as
strong (if in fact it really is)?

‘Anyway, many of the old timers insist that an old boiler
will not explode at intended working pressure, and we all have old
boilers, don’t we? Keep the crown sheet covered and don’t
exceed the intended maximum working pressure.

‘Regarding joint safety, there is a lot more involved than
merely shearing strength. Obviously cracks in the sheet would be a
major factor. IF there indeed are cracks, I’d say,
‘don’t fire it at any pressure!’

‘The boiler inspection division of the state of Minnesota
has a table showing the following

Joint Efficiencies:

Single riveted lap


Double riveted lap


Triple riveted lap


Triple riveted butt strap


Quadruple riveted butt strap


‘Since a modern made boiler sports a welded seam, I’d be
interested in seeing how the boiler inspection boys in Minnesota
rate the joint efficiency of a welded seam. Maybe someone could
respond to that in this column. Also listed on this same page from
the state of Minnesota is, Factor of Safety butt strap =
6, lap seam = 7. Maybe someone from Minnesota can explain that to
us also.

‘Regardless of all this, I am going to take a firm stand by
agreeing with all those in the old school who believe it is a
darned sight safer to stand next to a lap seam boiler in good shape
than to be next to a butt strap boiler in poor shape. Until next

From GARY YAEGER, 146 Reiner Lane, Whitefish, Montana 59937 we
received this note: ‘It came as a deep sadness to me when I
learned of the passing of Anna Mae. I finally got up the courage to
inflict your readers with my limited knowledge of steam, as it is
hard for a ‘youngster’ to expose himself to the very
knowledgeable of this subject who have made a living with steam.
I’ve devoted an immense part of my life to my favorite hobby
but I’ve never had to feed my family with one like my dad

‘Anna Mae had a way of coaxing stories from us all. I may
have upset some of your readers once in a while, but after she
presented it in such a professional manner, it made me want to
produce more material and I think it affected your other writers
the same way. What a sad loss for all of us involved in steam.
Would you please pass my condolence on to her family for me? Thank
you. I’ll be sending you another steam article someday. I know
you will all endeavor to continue publishing the best engine
publication in the business.’

(Thanks, Gary, for the kind words about Anna Mae and her
gentle way of coaxing readers to write. You’ll be happy go know
her family receives
IMA and will read what you’ve

This request comes from WADE B. FAIREY, Executive Director of
York County Historical Commission, Rt. 1, Brattonsville Road,
McConnells, South Carolina 29726. ‘I am writing to request your
help in finding a mid-19th century steam engine to operate a cotton
gin. This equipment has long been lost to our area and we are
deeply in need of one to help interpret local history to the
thousands of students annually visiting Historic Brattonsville.

‘We have an 1840s gin and the timber frame house for it.
What we do not have is the engine or belts. Our knowledge of even
what we need to make our operation accurate is also lacking. Could
you please forward my request to someone in your organization who
is knowledgeable and helpful?

‘Our utmost appreciation would be forthcoming for any help
in making our gin operation complete.’

(We hope printing this request in Soot in the Flues will
draw a response for this group in need of technical

This letter came to us from ERLYN IVERSON, 7019 40 St. SW,
Byron, Minnesota 55920: ‘In reference to ‘Otto’s
Russell’ page 8, of the September/October, 1994 issue of IMA,
I’ll pass on the information I have on Russell engines.

‘This question and answer letter was sent to Mr. Lucius C.
Sweet, in Alden, Minnesota, January 30, 1920. It was from Russell
and Company of Massillon, Ohio:

‘Dear Sir, We are in receipt of your favor of the 26th
inst., in which you ask several questions which we will answer

‘1) What year did you adopt the link-motion, and what year
did you discontinue its use?

‘We adopted the link-motion in 1878. Of course, it was an
old device then, and we discontinued its use in 1883.

‘2) What year did you first put the Marsh gear on the
Russell engine, and how long did you continue to use it after Mr.
Giddings brot out the shifting eccentric gear?

‘We first put on the Marsh gear in 1882 and used it until

‘3) What year did you first use the Giddings reverse, and
when did you first use the Giddings double ported valve in
preference to the slide or ‘D’ valve?

‘We first used this reverse in 1884, while the double ported
valve we commenced using in 1883.

‘4) Can you please tell me what year the Russell engine
first came out with friction clutch, as I know it was the first
traction engine so equipped?

‘1883 was the first year that we applied the friction clutch
to the traction engine.

‘5) Can you tell me if the Russell engine was the first
traction engine to be fitted with a shifting eccentric reverse
gear, and if not, what engine was the first?

‘So far as we know, we were the first to apply this kind of
reverse to traction engines.’

ERLYN sent additional Russell information to us, including an
illustration from a company catalogue, which was accompanied by
this text:

The Russell Ring-Balanced Valve

The Russell ring-balanced valve is without exception the best
slide valve that is made. It is used on all our engines.

Its advantages are: its double ports, by which a port opening
just double the travel of the valve is given; one-eighth inch of
travel giving two one-eighth inch openings, admitting a double
quantity of steam to the cylinder with a given travel. This gives,
as a natural result, a very close approximation to boiler pressure,
and maintains this pressure, with slight variation, up to the point
of cut-off. This double ported feature also gives a large surplus
of wearing surface to the face of the valve, which insures great
durability. It takes steam from underneath and has a circular
portion cut out in the back of sufficient area to load the valve
just enough to keep it from leaving its seat. This valve has no
steam in the chest. The ring ‘C’ makes a steam tight joint
that prevents any passage of steam from the valve into the chest.
It is noiseless in its action, because no matter what the load or
pressure, there is no disturbance or tendency to leave its seat,
unless water should be carried over, when the extreme compression
of this condition would cause the valve to leave its seat (against
the tension of spring D) sufficiently to relieve the water pressure
without any accident to either the piston or cylinder.

This valve possesses the essential features of self-adjustment
for either water, wear or position, and the fact that the replaning
or rescraping of any of these valves is a matter of extremely rare
occurrence, is an eloquent testimonial to the balanced equilibrium
feature of this valve.

(Accompanying chart appears above.)

Also included in ERLYN IVERSON’s package were these
instructions from an unidentified source.

Directions for Putting Engine on Dead Center

1. Take up all lost motion in the cross head, connecting rod,
crank pin, and main bearings.

2. Turn the engine a little above or a little below center. The
crank will be at, say, A, in the figure.

3. Make a punch mark on the engine frame at any convenient point
as at B, then with a tram like the one shown in the figure, one end
of which is held at B, mark C on the rim of the flywheel, crank or

4. Now make a punch mark on the cross head and another at some
convenient place on the guides, as D and E, and set a pair of
dividers with points in these two marks.

5. Next turn the engine past center until the cross head comes
to the same position as before, and the points of the dividers will
exactly fit into the two marks D and E. The crank is now on the
other side of center just exactly as far as it was past center in
the opposite direction.

6. With the end of the tram in position B, make another mark F,
on the rim of the flywheel. Now find by careful measurement, a
point on the wheel G exactly midway between C and F. If the engine
is now turned until the points of the tram just fit into the marks
B and G, the engine will be on dead center. The other dead center
should now be found by an exactly similar process.

Directions for Setting a Plain Slide Valve

1. See that the set screw in the eccentric is set tightly; then
turn the engine flywheel completely around, and observe if the
valve uncovers one port as much as it does the other. If not,
adjust the valve on its stem until it does.

2. Put the engine on dead center by means of the trams; then
turn the eccentric in the direction the engine is to run until it
shows the correct amount of lead about one thirty second of an inch
on the side nearest the piston.

3. Secure the eccentric in this position and place the engine on
the other dead center and see if the lead is the same.

4. If the lead is not the same, correct one-half of the error by
moving the valve on its stem and the other half by moving the
eccentric. The valve will now be correctly set.

5. If the measurements in item No. 1 were accurately made, the
correction noted in item No. 4 will not be necessary.

6. If no rocker arm, or a direct rocker arm intervenes, the
correct position of the eccentric is about 120 degrees ahead of the
crank. If there is an indirect rocker arm the eccentric will be
about 60 degrees behind the crank.

A final submission was also made by ERLYN of a page from an old
book identified only as ‘The Thresher’s Guide,’ from a
chapter entitled Lubricants and Lubricators:

‘An oil suitable for steam engine cylinders is generally
unsuited to gas engines. Steam cylinder oil is what is known as a
compounded oil and is made by mixing either an animal or a
vegetable oil with a mineral oil. The compound thus partakes of the
nature of both. A pure mineral oil will not form an emulsion with
water and hence will not adhere to a moist surface. For this reason
it is useless for steam cylinders. It has, however, a high flash
point which the animal oils do not possess. The compound of the two
forms an oil that possesses the characteristics of both and makes a
very much better lubricant than either alone.

A cylinder oil when adapted to the pressure carried will atomize
or break up into a very fine spray (not a vapor) when caught in the
current of steam and becomes intimately mixed with it, thus finding
its way to every part that the steam reaches and producing perfect

If oil of too low a flash point is used it will be decomposed by
the steam forming a gas and its power of lubrication is completely
lost. On the other hand, a very heavy oil of too high flash test
may not be even atomized, in which case it simply flows down along
the inside of the steam pipe and forms a pool in the steam chest.
Here again lubrication is a failure. In case a rather heavy oil is
used and difficulty is experienced in getting good lubrication it
is well to take off the steam chest cover and observe if there is
oil in the bottom of the chest. If there is, it is evidence that
the oil is too heavy and a change should be made to one somewhat

ERLYN adds his own comments to the advice above: ‘Want a
steam cylinder oil that works, mix one pint tallow to a gallon of
60DW Mobil oil. Put in a little STP if you want. When you mix
tallow and oil heat up oil some and put in tallow which has to be
rendered and put in hot. Mix it good.’

As you know, we’re now heading into fine spring weather, and
engines will be emerging from barns and sheds.

You’ll be heading onto the road for swap meets and

Well, don’t forget to write to Soot in the Flues and let us
know what is on your mind and where you’re going. And send us
pictures and share things you come across in your reading that you
think others will enjoy.

  • Published on May 1, 1995
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