SOOT IN THE FLUES


| November/December 1982



Soot in the flues

Hi to all my Iron-Men Album Family may be I shouldn't bring this up, but did any of you start your Christmas shopping yet? I'll bet you have, for I'll tell you one thing at the shows and reunions, there are many, many craft items available that would make beautiful gifts for Christmas or any time. Well, the Holiday Season is a good bit in the future yet, but it is Nov-Dec issue so we do have to think about Thanksgiving and Yuletide celebrations. By now, everyone is back in college and school and probably getting ready for the Hallowe'en events and bonfires for football rallies, homecomings and other presentations that are seasonal. So on we go to the communications for the column!

First writing comes from one of our regular contributors, CARL M. LATHROP, 108 Garfield Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940:

'Thank you for running my letter with the question of identifying the O & S engine in the AFRICAN QUEEN. The response was most gratifying. Thinking that there were others of your extensive list of readers that might have the same question I thought I would outline the story thus far.

O & S was the trademark of Orr & Sembower, a Chicago based company with manufacturing facilities in Reading, Pennsylvania dating back to at least 1893. They manufactured both vertical and locomotive type boilers and a line of horizontal and vertical steam engines ranging up to 40 HP. These were used in portable steam engines and for powering hoisting machinery. There is some indication that during the period 1915-1929 the firm of Snell & Meharg of Reading and later of Hamburg built some engines for O & S.

The company fell upon hard times following WW2 and in order to survive took on a contract to build aluminum boats. Laster they moved to Middletown, Pa. where they are reported to have manufactured a line of heating boilers. However, they are now out of business. Checking directory assistance for Reading, Middletown and Chicago area drew a blank. 1977 seems to be the last of the Orr & Sembower business but not of their engines.' (Thanks Carl, I'm sure folks will appreciate your update on the story.)

Next letter comes from L. D. GRAVES, 2302 Morrison Lane, Suisun, California 94585 as he tells us: 'Harold Matthews, Box 91, Pima, Arizona 85543 asked about heavy steam engines. The Skinner Engine Co., 337 West 12th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16512. Pacific Linen Supply, San Francisco, near Palace Hotel, has big Skinner engine. It runs the electric generator. One water tube boiler runs it, carrying 140 pounds per square inch. Laundry uses hot water from boiler. Engine has poppet valves. It has run each working day for decades.' (I'm sure Harold will appreciate your answer and I'm glad you shared it with us, L. D.)