‘Picture # 4 is an A. N. Wood engine made in 1860.
‘Picture # 5 is an A. N. Wood 2 HP engine made in 1862. This
sold for a cash price of $125.00.
‘Picture # 6 is after Allen Wood took on Loyal Clark Taber
and Walter Morse as business partners, and changed the company name
to Wood, Taber & Morse. The year is 1879.
‘Picture # 7 is a Wood, Taber & Morse stationary engine
of the type made in 1891 and earlier. There are two of these that I
know the whereabouts of, but that’s another story.
‘Picture # 8. This ad is kind of special to me, only because
I know that the Triumph engine was in the Henry Ford Museum in
Michigan, but was sold and is out there somewhere. This ad appeared
around the 1880s.
‘Picture # 9 is Wood, Taber & Morse’s 4WD engine.
This was considered the very first practical 4WD steam traction
engine made. It made its first appearance in 1885. This is how
their ad appeared in 1886.
‘Pictures # 10 and # 11 show how the power was transferred
to the four wheels on the 4WD. What was unique is that it was all
gear driven and not by a chain like some of its competition.
‘Well, it’s time to go, you all keep up the good work.
I’m looking forward to my next issue of IMA to see what’s
going on in steam land. Oh, I almost forgot! Some of these pictures
are on the World Wide Web at SUNY Morrisville College. You can view
these, and more to come, by typing: http:
SCOTT THOMPSON, 12109 Mennonite Church Road, Tremont, Illinois
61568 writes to say: ‘I read with interest the letter from Ken
Hough from Valparaiso, Indiana, on the proper dress for
participants in threshing demonstrations. It’s been a while
since I let off steam on this subject, so I appreciate the
opportunity. I agree with Ken that we should do everything in our
power to recreate the look, feel, sounds and smell of threshing day
on the farm. As the threshing demonstration is crowded into an
ever-smaller corner by the tractor and engine displays and the flea
market, it is all the more important to make the event a memorable
and historically accurate one.
First let me say a big God bless you’ to all the fine folks
who work so hard to put on these displays. It’s all hard, often
unappreciated work. But two things make all the organization, heavy
hauling, late nights and skinned knuckles worth it. First, the
looks on the kids’ faces today as they stare in wide-eyed
wonder at the mechanical marvel puffing and whirring before them.
There are kids around, and lots of ’em, who have never seen
actual mechanical workings of machinery. Second, the looks on the
faces of the old-timers as they are instantly transported back to
their youth. Those gnarled old hands and arthritic arms feel young
and strong again, just for a while, as they remember themselves up
there pitching bundles. For these reasons, if for no others, we are
obliged to do it right!
‘Ken’s analogy to us being like Civil War historical
reenactors is very correct. We are a living window to the past for
these people. Great-Grandpa didn’t wear tie-dyed t-shirts and
Wal-Mart ball caps, and neither should we. Everyone in bib
overalls, work shirts, straw hats and boots is not only a nice
touch, it’s fun and really adds to the camaraderie of the group
putting on the threshing show. Be sure to have your red and white
bandana around you throat or at least tucked in your back pocket.
Go a little out of your way to pick up a long-spouted oilcan for
the separator man to fuss over his engine with. You’re a
showman put on a show!
‘While we’re on the subject, there seem to be a lot of
modern flair-box wagons cropping up to receive grain. A wooden or
steel-wheeled grain wagon makes such a difference. Most shows only
thresh a rack or two a day so it shouldn’t be a big deal
finding the manpower to scoop it off. If it is, the local 4-H Club
is often dying to help out! Or a news release in the local papers
asking for volunteers to participate in an ‘historical
reenactment’ will often bring surprising results. Where
there’s a will, there’s a way.
‘Not many shows have the luxury of having their show grounds
located near their grain fields, but if you do, leave some shocks
standing and get a team of horses in there to show how they were
loaded. Most city people, and a lot of country ones these days,
have no idea how that rack-load of bundles came to be there. Better
yet, leave some oats standing for the binder to cut and have your
members put up a few shocks!
‘We all go to a lot of work to put on a threshing display,
so why not go the extra mile to do it up right? I think anybody who
goes to the trouble to help out is tops, but at the same time,
I’ve seen some pretty sloppy demonstrations in years past. If
we are going to honor the memory of those threshermen who pulled
the world back from the brink of starvation, we owe it to them to
do our best to show the world just how it was done. And the best
part of all is it’s just plain a lot more fun!’
(We also heard from CHADYATTEBURY on this topic. He asked us to
reprint an article on the subject that he had written for another
publication. Since we haven’t yet gotten their permission to
reprint, this will probably appear in a future issue!)
We got some more nice photos from MARK CORSON of 9374 Roosevelt
St., Crown Point, IN 46307, and you’ll be able to enjoy some of
these on the next few pages. Another one of Mark’s outstanding
photos appears on the cover of our new 1997 Show Directory, as
This word came from FRANCIS H. OLSEN, 1480 Dana Lane, Pueblo,
Colorado 81006: ‘I grew up in the Arkansas River Valley of
southeastern Colorado. I’ve been a reader of IMA for some time
and enjoy the magazine very much. I am really surprised just how
much interest there is in preserving the heritage of the past. I
can remember threshing with steam engines, but by the time I was
old enough to work around steam, gas tractors had taken over. This
area was mostly small irrigated farms from 80 to 100 acres so there
was a lot of moving to do.
Part of the engine lineup for the Rough and Tumble Fall show in
October 1995. In 1998 R & T will hold their 50th annual
reunion. Corson photo.
‘I’ ve built two small model steam engines and get
pleasure showing them at the Colorado State Fair in conjunction
with the antique tractor and machinery show.
‘What I would really like to see and learn about is: tools
and machinery used to bore cylinders and foundry work. How were
wheels cast with spokes in them? How were boiler shells rolled, and
were rivet holes drilled or punched? How were rivets bucked from
inside the shell? How were boilers made leak-proof? Was caulking
used? In other words, I would like to know more about engine
construction in general. I would like to see some articles about
this if anyone could write something. I am sure it would interest a
lot of our readers.’
Part of the engine lineup at Central States, Pontiac, Illinois,
in 1996. Central States Threshermen’s Reunion will also mark
their 50th show in 1998. Corson photo.
This is a welcome letter from CARL M. LATHROP, 108 Garfield
Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940: ‘Imagine my surprise when I
read ‘Farquhar Engine at Califon Basket Factory’ by Mr.
Gladowski. I, too, had visited that plant about two years ago and
found that as an employer it was no more. My visit was a follow up
of several earlier visits when I was researching the article
‘Making Baskets With Steam’ that appeared in the
September/October 1984 issue of IMA.
‘It turns out that though the market for baskets was not as
great as in former years, it was air quality requirements that shut
down the steam part of the plant. Smoke and ash in the stack was
beyond today’s acceptable levels. The veneer lathes require 25
horsepower. A 25 horsepower electric motor in this highly variable
load service would create a high demand factor in figuring the
monthly bill. Then too, with no free scrap wood fuel, the energy
part of the bill would add to the discomfort of management. This
and perhaps some OSH requirements made the plant no longer
‘This is not a unique story either. I did a similar story
for IMA that included the W. W. Babcock Ladder Company of Bath, New
York. They too gave up generating their own power and went
‘over to purchased power for the same reasons. Readers could
probably add to this list.
‘The new and improvised cylinder head that Mr. Gladowski
noted must be a relatively recent repair. My photo of the engine
shows a conventional cover. Another interesting note is that the
old Titusville Iron Works boiler had been repaired so many times
that in 1984 it was rated at only 80 psig and operated at 60. This
pressure was low enough that the 140 pound city water pressure
could be used direct; no injector or boiler feed pump was
‘This puts us in the small world department!’
JIM MEAD, 4868 Route 38, Owego, New York 13827 writes: ‘I
recently purchased a Peerless traction engine which has been a joy
to operate and care for. One thing puzzles me though. Among the
various numbers found on the boiler (butt strap) is the stamping,
‘PA Std. 88.’ I assume this to mean Pennsylvania Standard
88, but what does that entail? Does anyone out there in engine land
know the specifications for this Standard? Any information would be
appreciated. Best Wishes.’
(Jim’s phone number is 607-642-5511 if you want to call
him instead of write.)
Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show, August 1996. A 1912 20 HP A.
B. Farquhar owned by Todd Slone, Amelia, Ohio. Corson photo.
From frequent contributor DR. ROBERT T. RHODE, 4745 Glen-way
Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio 45238-4537, we have this: ‘After my
article ‘Hamilton, Ohio’s Contributions to Agricultural
Steam Power’ appeared in the March/April 1997 issue of the
Album, Dan Greger of Dayton, Ohio, gave me additional information,
which he permits me to pass along to Album readers.
‘Dan’s evidence suggests that Reeves & Company of
Columbus, Indiana, acquired the Ritchie & Dyer Company Engine
Works of Hamilton, Ohio, in 1895, not in 1887, as my research
indicated. Dan has copies of articles from a Columbus newspaper
which reveal that, on October 5, 1895, Reeves entered into an
agreement to purchase the Ritchie & Dyer plant and to remove it
‘A news report dated October 9, 1895, states, ‘Some idea
of the volume of business that will be done by the new engine works
secured for Columbus may be gathered from the circumstances that
led to their removal here. Reeves & Co. for some years bought
the engines needed for their business from this Richie [sic] &
Dyer Company, of Hamilton, Ohio. In arranging for the business of
1896 Reeves & Company wished to place an order for one hundred
engines. This large order was too much for Mr. Richie, the head of
the Hamilton concern, as the capacity of his works would not permit
him to guarantee filling such an order in connection with the other
work the engine company contracted for. Mr. Richie, being somewhat
advanced in years, was also anxious to retire from active business,
and his proposition to sell the engine works on favorable terms was
‘The tantalizing question remains, ‘For how many years
prior to purchasing the Ritchie & Dyer Engine Works did Reeves
buy Ritchie & Dyer engines?’ My source, History of
Hamilton, edited by Stephen Cone, is a typescript copy in the
collection of the Butler County Historical Society & Museum. It
states, ‘In 1882 Mr. Dyer retired from the Company and the road
engine manufactory was sold and removed to Columbus, Indiana, when
the Advance Manufacturing Company began to manufacture [sic] Gas
& Gasoline Engines, etc.’ It can be learned from other
sources that Ritchie founded his Advance Manufacturing Company (not
to be confused with the Advance Thresher Company of Battle Creek,
Michigan) in 1887. I understood Cone to mean that Reeves bought the
Ritchie & Dyer engine works in 1887, but I now see that the
purchase occurred in 1895. Perhaps Reeves had been buying Ritchie
& Dyer engines since 1887.
‘Before citing the date of 1887 in my article, I tried to
find a second source which would confirm that year. I turned to
Jack Norbeck’s Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines,
which, on page 214, states, ‘The Reeves Company…was
established in 1874 and incorporated in 1888. About 1885, being
builders of threshers since 1874, the company bought Ritchie &
Dyer Company, to get an engine to team up with their
threshers.’ Norbeck’s tentative expression ‘about
1885’ and his assertion that Reeves incorporated in 1888 seemed
to confirm Cone’s statement in his History of Hamilton. It
stood to reason that Reeves formally acquired Ritchie & Dyer in
1887 (‘about 1885’) and, with an engine to accompany the
firm’s thresher, incorporated the following year. A researcher
is only as good as the sources at hand.
‘I am indebted to Dan Greger for bringing to light stronger
sources. Thanks, Dan!’
These songs came from JOSEPH & ROSETTA KUESTER, 7 Eighth
Street, Clintonville, Wisconsin 54929 with this note: ‘We
surely do enjoy the IMA, just as it is, but I’d like to add a
little wit and humor for your next edition. I thought you’d
agree and like to have the enclosed poems. I found them in an old,
very old, antique, ancient, or what-have-you pamphlet. I am 83
years old and I’ve had the pamphlet way over 65 yearsso you can
see of what I speak (or write). It is still in excellent condition,
though a little bit weatherworn, or year-worn, I should say!
‘The pamphlet is interesting and was given to me compliments
of Advance-Rumely Thresher Company, LaPorte, Indiana. It is called
‘A Book of Songs.’ The pamphlet shows a picture of an
Advance Rumely, of course, and the slogan beneath saying, ‘Keep
the OilPull a rolling along.’
‘They must have had a good sense of humor in those past
years, too, and we would like to pass this on to our fellow IMA
readers of your fine magazines! The steam engine buffs and the
OilPull lovers will appreciate these songs and witty tunes. We will
be looking forward to seeing them printed. A little SPICE!!!
Ideal Separator Song
(To tune of ‘Turkey in the Straw)
Oh! The OilPull is driving with a long, steady draw
And the separator’s separating wheat from the straw.
Now, this outfit is leading all the others in the game,
And adding more glory to the Rumely fame.
Chicken in the straw, started looking swell;
Soon that chicken was looking like well!
He dug and he scratched and scattered straw a mile
But, we starved him to a shadow on our big straw pile.
If you want to have a thresher that will save you all the
That is built to stand the racket and to weather every
Get the Ideal or the Junior as your everlasting bet.
Those who bought them forty years ago declare they’re running
Chicken in the straw, starting looking swell;
Soon that chicken was looking like well!
He dug and he scratched and scattered straw a mile
But we starved him to a shadow on our big straw pile!
D. F. Thomas
(To the tune of U.S. Field Artillery March’ by Sousa)
Over hill, over dale, up and down the dusty trail,
Keep the OilPull a rolling along.
In and out, hear them shout,
To the right and turn about
Keep the OilPull a- rolling along!
Don’t you hear, loud and clear,
All the Rumely Dealers Cheer
When the OilPull is rolling along!
Here and there, everywhere
For they’re built upon the square,
And they’ll always go rolling along.
For it’s hi, hi, ho for the Advance Rum-e-ly
We’ve got the country going strong.
Where’er you go you will always know
That the OilPull is rolling along.’
An engraving of Wood, Taber & Morse’s four wheel drive
engine, sent to us by Mike Curtis. For more Wood, Taber & Morse
That’s all the letters we have for this issue. Once again,
we’re very pleased that so many of you have written to us and
we’re so happy to have all those great pictures you keep
sending! We seem to have some momentum in this column, and we
surely do want to see it continue!
This issue is a kind of ‘kickoff’ for warm weather
activity to come, even though it’s still quite cold as we get
the pages ready for the printer. Nonetheless, Spring steam ups are
just around the corner, so as you get outside more, try to remember
to drop us a line and let us know what you’re seeing out in
Engine land. Send us your questions, your thoughts, whatever
knowledge you wish to share on the great subject of steam!
Steamcerely, Linda and Gail