‘HI! to all my wonderful Iron-Men Family. I’ve got to
share a most fantastic experience I had since last writing you. My
son, Donnie, had been staying with me for about six months as he
was in the process of changing jobs and finally is now settled in
Lafayette, Indiana. I wish it were much closer, but I’m still
happy for him and have high hopes maybe he’ll get back closer
to home territory before too many years. He is working for
Shaffer’s Trucking Company may be some of you know where that
is she is in the office part. WELL! Never did I imagine what was in
store for me, but my daughter Dana and I flew out to see him in
June. Now, when I was in high school, we had a Class Book our
Senior year with data on each person, and my ambition was to be an
Above are Anna Mae’s words as they were left in her type
writer the beginning of what she never knew would be her final Soot
in the Flues column. Anna Mae Branyan, the beloved IMA columnist,
passed away on August 11, 1994.
Although she had suffered numerous health challenges, her death
was sudden and unexpected the cause was probably a massive heart
attack or stroke.
Of course, Anna Mae would want us to carry on her column in the
usual way, so the letters to her will follow. On page 27 you will
find a tribute to her.
Our first letter comes from ERIC CAMPBELL, R.R. 3, Shawville,
Quebec, Canada J0X 2Y0.
‘I was pleased and very surprised to see my engine and
threshing mill on the front cover of IMA magazine the last issue we
received. It sure makes it all seem worthwhile and thank you!
‘Something that I read in the Album sure makes one feel a
bit scary. It was the article on the boiler that blew up. The part
that scared me the most is the size of both of these boilers with
lap seams on them. First, that big one with 66′ diameter, 16
feet long, 3/8* plate and two rows of rivets on the boiler. With 90
lbs. of pressure on that diameter, to me, would be really trying
out those rivets. If they ever cold water tested either one of
them, I would be afraid they would stretch the plate at the rivet
holes until it might crack the plate. To put 140 lbs. of cold water
test on that 48′ x plate boiler with lap seam and two row
rivets, it seems to me, would be too much load for it, too. I think
it would be a disaster to take these two boilers as an example
against lap seam boilers. I think it would seem more reasonable to
think of the one traction engine boiler as a lot smaller in
diameter. Same thing like 34′ down with lap seams on them. My
45 Case, boiler is 28′ diameter and only 8 feet of joint lap
seam. My Sawyer Massey boilers are 26′ diameter lap seam with
only 6 foot long seam. To my way of thinking, these would have much
more strength than if it were 16 feet long. I believe if this
48′ x plate, 15′ long boiler was filled with water and
rolled down a hill, it would be leaking when it hit the bottom. As
I see it, these two boilers would have made very good storage tanks
or a tender for a traction engine. That 48’ boiler, even with a
butt strap joint on it, would not have been any too strange.
‘We know our engineers running these engines at these shows
are really keeping with safety and there is a lot more danger on
the roads getting to the shows than there is in old engines blowing
up when we get there. I often think when I am firing up an old
engine here on my farm and the steam gauge reads 100 lbs. and I
hear an awful noise overhead I look up and a D.C. 10 goes over my
head. I feel safer down here beside old Smokey. When one of these
D.C. 10s go down and takes 300 lives with it and very little is
said three weeks later. It’s like this, there is more money
made with a D.C. 10 than any old traction engine in any of our two
countries, Canada or the U.S.A.
‘Just a couple of weeks ago I was looking at an old
locomotive boiler about 20 HP that had been in a sawmill. Now this
boiler was in the mill and the mill burned to the ground. The roof
of the mill fell down on top of the boiler. One big beam went right
across the top of the barrel and pushed the top of the barrel down
2 inches, making the barrel oval. Well, after the fire, that boiler
was put back in service again in another sawmill for maybe 15 or 20
years more service. This boiler would have to carry 100 lbs or 125
lbs. pressure to saw with. The boiler also had a lap seam on it,
too. Now, 30 years later, that boiler still has an oval barrel on
it and is now out of use. The barrel diameter is 30’. All the
time this boiler was in service it was inspected by the boiler
inspector. I don’t think he was too happy about that oval
barrel joint, which would be 8 feet long with double rivets. I
still think small diameter short seam two rivet lap seam boilers
are okay, but those big diameter ones scare me.
‘Some years ago my father-in-law told me he had fired a fair
sized boiler in a sawmill for part of one summer. It was 30’
and only single riveted at the seam. He said they had an awful time
keeping it from leaking. He said they were corking at it steady.
One day the preacher came to visit the father-in-law at work and
said to him, ‘You’re taking quite a chance firing that old
thing.’ I think he had a notion of giving him the Last Rites,
right then and there, the way that old boiler was leaking! Anyway
my father-in-law is now 92 years old.
‘Oh yes, he thinks back. He said, ‘As long as it leaked,
I knew there was water in it!’
‘If any of you engineers out there would like to put me
straight in any of this, please do so.
Yours in Hot Water!’
MARK CORSON, 9374 Roosevelt Street, Crown Point, Indiana 46307
sent us this photo with this comment: ‘SOME GUYS HAVE ALL THE
LUCK!!! Dennis Christiansen, like most any other young engineer,
sets out one day to go take a look at an engine.
‘Upon his return, he tells his fellow engineers how pleased
he is with his new engine, a 20 HP Advance-Rumely and the girl came
WILLIAM (BILL) J. STEWART, 308 S. 12 Street, Independence,
Kansas 67301 responds to Scott Thompson’s letter and picture of
a railroad locomotive, page 12, IMA, September/October 1994: ‘I
was going to write an authoritative letter concerning the flags on
the engine but after studying it with a magnifying glass, my
comments will have to be speculative.
‘About the engine: the front end looks very much like the
‘2000’ class engines used by the St. Louis-San Francisco
Railroad between Monett, Missouri, and Wichita, Kansas, and I
don’t know where else. The flags on the engines were called
signals. ‘No signals’ indicated a regular train operating
on ‘time table’ schedule authority; ‘green signals’
indicated a regular train and section (s) following. The last
section of a scheduled train displayed ‘no signals’.
‘White signals’ indicated an extra train operating on train
‘Now, about the engine in the picture: I now speculate.
Those are American flags on that engine, indicating an American
(USA) train operating in a foreign country. The headlight along
with an identification light back of the smokestack is shuttered,
for war time use. The trains were probably operated by the U.S.
‘The Encyclopedia of North American Locomotives (Brian
Hollingsworth) page 79, shows a picture of a similar locomotive and
a write-up of the ‘United States Railroad Administration’
This request comes from SHERLOCK O. SOREM, Box 886, Sun Valley,
Idaho 83353: ‘Could you please help me? I need material and
pictures of the old steam engine that was fired with straw which
was used to power the threshing machines back in the early
‘I was raised on a farm in Minnesota and we used to stack
our grain bundles in giant stacks that were built to shed the rain
until the threshing machine was scheduled for our farm.
‘If you could please help me with leads to places where I
might get literature and pictures of such rigs I shall be most
(Hopefully some of you who own strawburners can help this
‘In your September/October 1994 issue of Iron Men Album, on
page 2, the lower left hand photo of a C. Aultman undermount engine
really caught my eye, as my father had one.
‘I have quite a few photos and snapshots of the old engine
that maybe would be of help in restoring the engine.
‘I would so like to see the end result of the
restoration,’ writes WARREN R. KLOEPPING, RR 3, Box 215A,
Cozad, Nebraska 69130-1942.
From JACOB Y. KANAGY, 309 King Lane, Belleville, Pennsylvania
17004 we have this letter: ‘I am 80 years old, writing
doesn’t go so good but I have a bit of history you may be
‘In 1947 I bought a new Frick thresher. I believe from Art
Young himself, at Rough and Tumble in Kinzers, Pennsylvania. I
think he was living then yet, or his son Everett, and had a new
Ebersole feeder and straw cutter.
‘We towed it up from Kinzers to Belleville, Pennsylvania. My
brothers and I bought a used model L cast tractor with pretty high
road gear. We started up for a muffler company near Mount Joy on
the first day but had to quit until next morning because we had no
lights. We started early the next morning for Belleville and got
there in the middle of the afternoon. The old Case tractor took it
right along. You wouldn’t dare do it today with all the
‘Just a bit a history you may enjoy. I would like to come to
the show again at Rough and Tumble if my health permits.’
GARY YAEGER, 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, Montana 59937 sent a
couple of letters this month: ‘One of the hardest things to do
when writing articles for the IMA is to open yourself up for
criticism. I love sending you stories of my life’s second
greatest love (second only to my wife, Sharon, of over 31 years)
steam traction engines.
‘People who know I’ve written several articles for IMA
have been so supportive and encouraging. The last article I sent
you, I finalized with how I’ve gotten ‘egg on my face’
from time to time, when I thought I ‘knew it all’. Well,
I’ve done it again!
‘I need to apologize to our fine readers about my article I
wrote you on my discovery of ‘another 150 HP Case
‘Would you believe the night before I received my last IMA,
a friend of mine brought (would you believe?) an original 1906 J.I.
Case catalog to our Northwest Antique Power Association
‘Readers, I’m sincerely sorry. I wasn’t trying to
lead anyone astray, and to Mr. Jack Norbeck, who wrote me he’d
like to visit Montana someday, I’d still like to be his host
‘Anyway, readers, that ‘little hummer’ I was
positive must be a 150, is in fact a 32 or 110 HP Case engine, just
like Mr. Norbeck’s book stated!
‘I guess if you venture nothing, you surely won’t be
Also from GARY YAEGER, we hear this: ‘Just a quick note to
let you know I got to attend the 50th anniversary show of the
National Threshers Association at Wauseon, Ohio, this past June. In
spite of about five inches of rain, I had a great time with many
old friends and many more new ones.
‘The highlight? I got to run the first steam engine I ever
saw! President Marvin Brodbeck’s 32 Reeves Cross-compound
Canadian Special, number 6269. My father and uncles owned this
Reeves from the 1920s until 1954.
‘Since they stopped farming with it in 1939, and I was born
four years later, I’d never seen it run. I sure got some nice
videos of the Reeves and the rest of the engines plowing.
‘The next highlight was my five hour visit with Lyle
‘That fine bunch really knows how to put on a show in real
We have this letter from WILLIAM L. FAHEY, 48 Quail Valley Road,
Eureka, California 95503: ‘In the September/October, 1994 issue
of Iron Men Album, page 12, Scott Thompson sent in a photograph of
three ladies and a gentleman standing in front of and on the pilot
of a locomotive and asked the question: ‘Would anybody care to
speculate on what this train was all decked out for?? Perhaps an
‘I believe I can answer the question. Looking closely at the
locomotive, the number 3674 is just barely visible under the
headlight. On the tender of the locomotive in front of the 3674 is
the letter ‘S’ very reminiscent of the lettering style of
the Southern Pacific Railroad. Since Mr. Thompson believes the
clothing style to be the ‘late Twenties sometime,’ the
period is probably the early Twenties, June 1922 to be exact, and
the locomotives are part of the ‘Prosperity Special.’
‘Baldwin Locomotive Works constructed and shipped, all at
one time, twenty Santa Fe Class F-4, 2-10-2 locomotives to
California, and because the U.S. was in a depression after the end
of WWI the train was named ‘Prosperity Special’ as a
ballyhoo to help bolster the economy. This would account for the
headlight being boarded up and the fact that there are no
classification lights, which would have been displayed just in
front of the train indicator boards, just under the hand rail at
the front side of the smokeboxes. Perhaps ‘junket’ would be
a better term than ‘excursion.’
‘Although the date was ‘slightly’ before my time, I
believe, judging from the evidence in the photograph, that I am
correct. If anyone has a better explanation, I would be delighted
to hear it.’
LOYD CREED, RR 3, Box 381, Danville, Illinois 61832 and his son
attended the April 4 Frederick Blauth estate sale at Tower Hill,
Illinois. The pictures on the next page show a few of the sale
From FRANK J. BURRIS, 1102 Box Canyon Road, Fairbrook,
California 92028-1601 we hear this: ‘I must lay aside a myriad
of works and chores in order to add a most complimentary response
to the extra wonderful Dr. Robert Rhode’s grand (near
science-fiction) story ‘A Darke County Tale’ as he so
eloquently composed for our September/October issue of IMA!
‘As so brilliantly illustrated, we can now see that the
interest in old ‘Iron Men,’ as Elmer so aptly named those
faithful, powerful, and tireless brothers of the Iron Horse way
back in the nostalgic years of Used-to-Be, still attracts and
captivates the attention of modern scientific people!
‘But even this story could not have been told in its
entirety fifty years ago, lamentably; for some of the molecular
facts as related therein, to simple water molecules, have been
discovered only more recently through the facility of ultra-modern
technology. How we have travelled by leaps and bounds!
‘At this point, I wonder whether some of those water
molecules which constituted the droplet on Bob’s nose may have
been giggling about, before their evaporation, having experienced
the phenomenon of latent heat of vaporization? (In which several
times the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a
liquid one degree is required to actually gasify it at the same
temperature and pressure from liquid to vapor.)
‘May Bob and others come again to so quickly enliven our
interests and attentions.’
F. BLAIR INGRAM, 11200 New-Salem Road, Thornville, Ohio
43076-8711 has written in for the first time. Welcome, Blair!
‘I have never written to the magazine before, though I have
been reading it since the 1960s.
‘I was at a family reunion the other week, and heard this
poem (see below) read that one of my cousins had written. These are
some of my mother’s people who have had a long line of
threshing and sawmill operations.
‘I have had some of each on my own and like to go to shows.
I’ll try to write again another time.
Left, an 18 HP Advance Rumely, Serial # 15287, sold for
$5600.00; at right, a Nichols & Sheppard 20 HP serial #13159,
which sold for $3600.00.
‘Uncle Foley firing the Avery steam engine. Uncle Bunty
running the Case grain separator. Ivan and Garrett Jr. hauling
water with Babe and Dolly. Written by Garrett Brugler, Jr.,
Scene from American Thresherman’s October 1993 show at
Pinckneyville, Illinois, taken by Joseph Mann. These are three
antique threshers owned by Martin and Dardanella Doyle of Waterloo,
Illinois. The owner is next to a Heebner & Sons ground hog
thresher, powered by a one horse sweep. In the middle is a hand
operated growler thresher dating to the 1840s or before; last is
also a Heebner from the 1870s. All are in operation at American
Thresherman’s August show, always the third week in August.
We’d been busy getting ready-
Seemed like since early May
And the ‘Bull Dog’ on the Avery
Looked as if he wished to say,
My flues are fixed, My boiler’s filled, My bunker’s full
of coal, Just fire me up Throw on the belt, And I’ll put on a
Now ‘Dear Ole Case’ was ready, too. Her job was always
rough. She had to thresh those sheaves of grain Be they dry or be
Her teeth were fixed, Her concaves, too. Her paint showed signs
of wear. She had a little Gypsy look-But always did her share.
It was like a celebration As that day arrived once more. The dew
was light. The sky was bright. We were ready for our yearly chore.
I can hear those wheels a grinding As we chugged on down the road.
I can see the smoke a swirling As we neared ‘The Brugler
Yep! the well was still a flowing -And we stopped to get a
drink. Crimson Coach and Union Workman Seemed to have a magic
Some boys jumped on the water tank -And we said we didn’t
care For them to ride along with us -As long as they pumped their
Ivan clowned, threw stones and whistled As we traveled down the
pike. And we talked of those big dinners That all the threshers
There seemed to be a pattern For each fanner’s turn to
thresh. And it made a fellow happy When he thought about some
First we checked with every farmer As to where we’d blow the
straw. Then we set the rig as accurate As a giant planing saw.
Cranked out the blower, Set the weigher. Greased and oiled every
place. It took a devil of a lot of money If you had to repair
Uncle Poley fired The Avery’ – Uncle Bunty ran ‘The
Case’ -Arthur Seleck was on the bagger -Each man had his
The wagons started coming With fancy loads of grain. The
‘Avery’ started popping off. I’ll swear it had a
Made you feel a mite important When they hollered ‘Let her
Roll!’ Uncle Poley pulled the throttle -Spit – then threw in
You could hear that engine crackle As they fed the golden
The belts and pulleys trembled From the great and steady
That feeder had a governor That somewhat set the pace. And it
griped those guys Who pitched the sheaves, Because they
The straw flew out the blower In a bright and yellow stream. And
you got a peaceful feeling As you watched and whiffed the
All at once ‘Uncle Bunty’ shouted, ‘Shut her down!
Shut her down!’ A ‘gol-dem’ belt had broken -And this
made the farmers frown.
Didn’t take too long to fix it Since the clouds were
threatening rain. Uncle Poley blew the whistle And ‘Ole
Case’ rolled on again.
Finished up yet late that evening And as best as I recall,
T’was Sam Lament who walked up and said, ‘The cleanest
grain I ever saw’.
We will all miss Anna Maeshe was such a warm and caring
personalways full of good cheer for all of us at IMA.
We want to encourage all of you to take time to write to Soot in
the Flues. Let’s keep alive the spirit of sharing which she
always maintained in her writing.