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W. D. Whitmire's photo.
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Dennis Rupert's postcard ''North Dakota Threshing Scene.''

As we shift gears and start to think ‘Spring’ instead of
‘Winter’ (even though we’re at this moment experiencing
what we hope is our last ice and snow storm of the season), it
seems that we have heard from a lot of people who have taken time
this year to write a story or two. We are very pleased to say that
we have more stories in this issue, and that we’re hearing from
newer subscribers often for the first time! This is a trend
we’d like to have continue!

Since we have so much good material these days, those of you
awaiting the next ‘installment’ of Zwicker’s Practical
Instructor will be disappointed this month, but can look forward to
this piece in an up coming issue.

Yes, spring it’s trite to bring up the old ‘time of
renewal’ thing, I know, but dog gone it, it is good for the
spirit to see new life coming on at this time of year. I think you
folks in Engine land, many of whom have especially close ties to
Mother Earth, can understand this best. I myself, while a town
dweller whose grandfather sold the farm six months before I was
born, am feeling renewed just seeing my flower seeds sprouting to
life in their flats on the dining room floor (you should see my
lupines such sturdy little seedlings!).

I hope all of you out there have a moment of joy this season as
you emerge from your winter dens and gulp your first big breath of
fresh spring air! Now, on to your letters!

FRANCIS A. ORR, 1617 32nd Street, Anacortes, Washington 98221
really has a story for us: ‘In September, I took my family to
England for a week of travel on the English canal systems. We had
done this three years ago and had a great time.

‘This year, we traveled what is called the ‘Warwickshire
Ring.’ Our boat was 52 feet long, 6 feet 10 inches wide, and
drawing about two inches of water. Full headroom for four guys 6
feet 1 inch tall and complete kitchen and bathroom facilities for
my wife Rose Marie who does not have to worry about headroom (5
feet, 2 inch). The boat was a ‘U-Drive’ from Kate Boats at
Warwick, site of one of England’s better known restored

‘Our first day out of Warwick, going clockwise around the
‘Ring’, we went through 23 locks of the ‘Hatton
Flight’. If you are new to working locks, by the time you get
to the top of the Hatton Flight you will be well checked out.

‘That was Saturday. On Sunday we went through Birmingham in
a torrential downpour, the only bad day of the trip. I would have
liked to have stopped to see a few sights in Birmingham but it was
not on our schedule. Monday saw us stop in Fazely for a walk around
the area visiting castles and scenery. On both sides of the canal,
where we stopped, were old mills dating back over 200 years and
still in use. One had originally been water powered while the other
had the last of its steam gear removed just six months before we

‘Now to the main point of this letter. Going south on the
Coventry Canal, we came to Hawkesbury Junction where the Oxford and
the Coventry Canals come together. On our right was a very old
engine house and chimney. I knew that it had to be an engine house
as it was too small to be a factory. Looking into the building, I
could see the foundations for the engine and boiler but everything
had been removed. I was told that the engine was an atmospheric
engine and that it had been removed into preservation some time
back. I felt very good that it had not been scrapped.

‘From Hawkesbury Junction we continued down the Oxford Canal
with a stop at the city of Rugby. Number Two son Matthew was
president of his Rugby Club at Washington State University. Rugby
is also the site of a company that manufactures large steam

‘At Napton Junction we transferred over to the Grand Union
Canal for the return to Warwick having covered 97 miles in seven
days. The last day on the canals I got to see two steam canal
boats. One was of recent conversion having a homemade water tube
boiler and a Sisson’s high speed, enclosed, single cylinder
engine. Reverse was handled through a gear box. The other boat was
quite old. It had been a horse drawn ice breaker and was of riveted
construction. I was unable to determine anything about its power

Approaching Hawkesbury Junction where Oxford and Coventry Canals
meet. Pumping station on the right lifted water from a well for the
canal and was powered by an atmospheric engine now removed and
preserved the building is empty.

‘Well, we returned home from our trip and I find the
November/December issue of The Iron-Men Album waiting for
me. Upon opening it I find that in my trip to England I was
following in the footprints of Gerald S. Lestz, who had preceded me
by a few months. I really enjoyed your article on the ‘Origins
of Steam-power’ and wish you would continue this effort in the
magazine. However, the best part was the drawing of the Hawkesbury
engine. From the tone of your article, you were farther south, so
thought you might like to see where the engine worked. I did hear
some talk about selling the cast iron bridge which would be a

‘Three years ago on our first canaling trip, my wife said to
me: ‘We are here to have fun. We are not here to look at steam
engines!’ Well, I thought that the two went hand in glove, but
I guess I was wrong. She did let me look at the engine house of the
Tower Bridge. This year I got smarter and took two of my three sons
to England three days early. One went to Scotland to look up his
roots. The other visited the armor museums and the Christopher Wren
buildings. Me, I spent two glorious days in the Science Museum and
the Kew Bridge Museum. I hope you made it to Kew Bridge. Not every
day you can see an engine with 100 inch bore and 11 foot

Hawkesbury Junction facing southwest. Oxford Canal left turn
under 1837 cast iron bridge made by Britannia Foundry in Derby,
Coventry straight ahead.

Hawkesbury Junction, Francis Orr moves 52×610′ A my Clare
into the Oxford Canal from the Coventry Canal 180 degree turn. Old
pump station in background.

‘Hope that you enjoy the pictures. I really enjoy the

From W. D. WHITMIRE, 11 East Lenhardt Road, Greenville, South
Carolina 29605 we received the old photo above.

‘This is only half of the picture. It was torn in half. It
was found in an old trunk. The lady who owned the picture is in a
nursing home and does not know anything about it. She’s 90
years old and was a neighbor of mine.’


Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment