SOOT IN THE FLUES

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Photo courtesy of Tim Sollman, Rt 2 8972 St., Clayton, WI 54004.
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Scene from the last decade: Blake Malkamaki of 10839 Girdled Road, Concord, OH 44077, sent this 1986 picture of Dean Dillaman, West Sunbury, Pa.,
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Ellen Martin and Dan Smoker ride to the Coatesville prom in style.
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Photo by Mrs. M. Smeets. Unidentified American built coffee pot roller in Holland in May 1997.
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Courtesy of Thomas Stebritz.
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Photo courtesy Thomas Stebritz.
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As we prepare this issue for the printer, we are near the wind
down of the threshing reunion season. Soon, engines will be housed
for the winter and interest will once again move from display to
maintenance and repair.

Don’t forget about your friends at IMA during this time! If
you find you’ve left some undeveloped film in your camera,
think of us when you’re surprised to find last summer’s
engine photos among the group! Write and tell us about the shows
you visited and the people you met during the summer of
’97.

And if you find that you have questions our other readers could
answer, send them along, and give them a chance to help you! And
now on to this month’s letters:

ELLEN MARTIN 5085 Lincoln Highway, Gap, Pennsylvania surprised
us with this very unusual tale of a Pennsylvania prom:

Old Time Splendor at a Modern Event

As a tradition at Coatesville Area High School (CASH) in
Coatesville, Pennsylvania, prom night is all about how you
arrive!

As members of Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association
located at Kinzers, Pennsylvania, Dan Smoker and Ellen Martin
decided to go to the prom in style! We borrowed Butch Biesecker and
his newly restored 1923 Keck Gonner man steam traction engine to
drive through the promenade.

The majority of prom goers chose the more traditional modes of
transportation such as classic cars and limousines. Dan, a senior
at CASH, decided he wanted to be different and surprise the crowds
that gathered with something not traditional. As we left the
loading area, we pulled the whistle and started off down the parade
route. Heads began to turn and people started shouting and clapping
as we made our way by.

One setback was that the Keck did not have road ready wheels and
we permanently made our mark in the school’s pavement. I found
that the most difficult part of the parade was getting off the
engine without falling off, while wearing heels and a long dress. I
am used to parading around at Rough and Tumble in my overalls and
work boots. It was hard not to get dirty.

How would we avoid getting that coal soot all over those white
cars, horses, carriages, girls, guys, etc.? Easy Butch had it all
figured out he opened the throttle wide and by the time we arrived
at the crowd portion of the route, only steam puffed from the
stack! As soon as we unloaded and Butch could get around the bend,
he shoveled more coal on a rather weak fire for the return trip to
the truck.

As it turns out we won for the most original mode of
transportation for the night. We made the front page of the Daily
Local newspaper the next day.

It is always neat to show people a part of the past that they
have never seen before. I have never answered so many questions
about steam engines outside of Rough and Tumble’s show as I did
at the CASH prom!

We have just received this informative a piece from MENNO L.
KLIEWER, 43138 Road 52, Reedley, California 93654, who talks about
‘Crossing Weak Bridges With Steam Rigs:

‘Crossing bridges with steam rigs during the early days
could present quite a problem and it is easy to understand why. In
our area of York County, Nebraska, most bridges were built at or
before the turn of the century and, in most cases, only timbers
were used which seemed to weaken or rot away after standing in
water for many years. In fact, they were built for the horse and
buggy days.

‘We lived about a mile from Beaver Creek and often the
threshing runs served farmers living on both sides. With unsafe
bridges, many times the engineer drove many miles out of his way
just to be able to cross a safe bridge of better construction. It
has happened where the entire rig fell through an unsafe bridge and
the engineer was killed. Just imagine the problem it presented
having the entire rig lie at the bottom of the riverbed underwater.
Furthermore, they did not have those huge and powerful cranes we
have today to rescue them from the water.

‘There were, as I have been told, three methods which could
be used by engineers to determine the safety of crossing an old
bridge after his rig arrived at the riverbank. One method was to
unhook the threshing machine and drive the engine forward until his
front wheels were on the bridge. Now he could watch just how shaky
the bridge was. If he thought it to be safe, he could again couple
up the machine and move across. If he felt the bridge unsafe, he
then had the problem of turning around, which would not be easy.
Another method that my brother John often used while operating John
D. Quiring’s rig was to unhook the machine, take a long log
chain and pull the threshing machine across. By doing it this way
the heavy rear end of the engine and the heavy front end of the
threshing machine weight would not both be on the bridge at the
same space, at the same time. By using a long chain it seemed
reasonable. The third method was to approach the bridge with the
complete rig and send one man ahead who would watch the engine
coming. The engineer would set the steam engine in motion, quickly
get off and have the entire rig cross by itself without a driver,
only to be picked up and controlled by the man on the opposite
side. In this case, if the rig would fall through, at least the
lives of two men could be spared. In my opinion this method was
risky, for who knew if the engine would wander off to either side
of the bridge and cause trouble? I, personally, have heard of all
three methods being used in the early days.

‘In my personal experience, I too had the chance to cross an
old wooden, shaky bridge near Minneapolis, Kansas, in 1948, while
crossing the Solomon River. I had a Farm all tractor loaded on my
truck and pulling a pull type combine in a strange unknown county,
not knowing a soul around. I approached the bridge after making a
short bend in the road, it being covered with trees and shrubs.
Well I knew that I could not turn around, so what should I do being
in an unknown territory? I stopped the truck, got off and surveyed
the situation, but had little choice as to what to do. I breathed a
prayer for God’s protection and slowly began to cross and the
bridge began to shake and rock like a motor boat. I did not stop,
but proceeded in low gear and after the truck was across I knew
that I had only the combine to lose and, by the time I safely made
it across, I was sweaty all over and thanked the Lord for his
safety, but promised myself that never again would I take a chance
crossing a questionable bridge with a heavy load. Returning back I
found another route as I remember it.’

Oiling his 22 HP Huber #11413 near his home and sawmill with
Marilyn and Nancy Malz, Andover, OH looking on from right. Dean
says he would never go back to his 65 HP Case after owning the
Huber.

We’ve just heard this from DEREK A. RAYNER, Road Roller
Association Archivist, ‘Invicta’ 9, Beagle Ridge Drive
Acomb, York Y02 3JH, England: ‘Some readers may recall my query
which appeared in the January/February 1997 issue regarding a
vertical tandem steam roller which, as Archivist to the Road Roller
Association, I was asked to try and identify while visiting Holland
in June 1996. I would like to thank those IMA readers who replied
to my query, although the identity of the steam roller’s
builder is still not positively confirmed, I believe I am now
closer to establishing this than I was previously.

‘It was perhaps a remarkable but fortunate coincidence that
in the same issue of the magazine there appeared an article by Dr.
Robert T. Rhode (with whom I have subsequently been in touch) on
O.S. Kelly and his company, which was illustrated by various
pictures of traction engines built by the firm. Included in these
was a photo of Kelly’s huge 120 HP three cylinder road
locomotive built around the turn of the century, the wheels of
which appear to be almost identical in construction to those on the
mystery Dutch steam roller. Restoration of this roller,
incidentally, has now been completed and it attended its first show
at Almere, near Amsterdam, in May where it attracted a considerable
amount of attention.

‘Although I have seen various catalogue pictures of Buffalo
Steam Roller Company products of around the same date (1911) which
is stamped on the boiler identification plate of the Dutch machine,
none of these pictures appears to be the same as the roller in
Holland. Having seen the illustrations of the Kelly traction engine
which accompanied Robert Rhode’s article, I now believe the
roller was made by an off shoot of this firm which came into being
in 1902, namely the Kelly Springfield Road Roller Company, but
conclusive proof of this is still required. The roller certainly
appears to have been built before the merger of the two road roller
companies from which came the Buffalo Springfield Boiler Company in
around 1916. I wondered, therefore, whether any reader has a
catalogue or other literature of the Kelly Springfield Road Roller
Company which shows their products of around the 19105 era. If a
copy of this could be made available to me in the hope that it
might show an identical mode! of steam roller to the one in
Holland, this may satisfactorily conclude my quest.

‘I would also, incidentally, appreciate any details or
photos of any American built steam rollers, historic or current,
for a book I currently have in preparation. Due acknowledgments
would be given in this as to the source of such information.

‘Any details should be sent to Derek Rayner, at the above
address in England.’

THOMAS STEBRITZ, 1516 Commercial Street, Algona, Iowa 50511 sent
this letter: ‘I would like to comment on the ongoing
controversy of what should be the proper attire for a steam
engineer.

‘Actually, if a person wears shorts and a T shirt when
running a hot, spitting boiler, let them suffer the consequences.
I’ve worn bib overalls since I was a kid, by comfort and
choice. I have many pictures from the old days and to say all the
engineers wore bib overalls and a bandanna around the neck is just
not true, and as for head gear, a lot of engineers of the old days
wore square topped Bohunk caps and derbies.

About 1942, a 1913 20 HP Aultman Taylor, the last run for this
engine, already sold for junk, cut up a couple days later. Yours
truly on front wheel, brother John back of the front wheel soon to
be drafted, killed in Belgium September 6, 1944.

‘Actually the people who promoted the bib overalls were the
railroad firemen and engineers, and the eason for the neck
bandannas was to keep the small cinders from going down their
necks. This was especially true for the firemen who stepped out
into the open between the cab and tender while hand firing. The
railroaders generally used a soft pointed top cap in white, black
or blue to go with the bib overalls. Of course in the very early
days, railroad attire was not standardized either.

‘Generally the man who stacked the straw put on a bandanna
and maybe the separator man at times. In the middle to late 1940s,
at the Joe Rynda Threshing Bees at Montgomery, Minnesota, generally
the whole threshing crew wore bandannas. I believe this was mostly
to impress the crowd, however.

20 HP top mounted Avery, 1917. This engine sat in the shed for a
number of years. The company boss wanted an unrealistically high
price for the rig. My dad wanted to buy it and so did I, but as in
a lot of cases more than junk price, in the end the junk man got a
beautiful engine. Yours truly about 18 years of age, about
1944.

‘I think a lot of this attention about proper attire could
be directed to something I would say is a lot more important. About
six months ago in Engineers and Engines Magazine, in the same
issue, two proud new owners of different 50 HP Case engines, each
had their own stories to tell. One thing they both had in common,
they both desecrated their engines by torching off the lugs and
skid rings.

‘I believe at least 50% of the monetary value of a steam
engine is lost when you cut the lugs and skid rings off.

‘They say if you own it you can do what you want with it.
What about the mentality of the person who has fifteen to twenty
whistles on his engine, which is similar to the person who gets a
lot of use out of his car horn. All this you just have to live
with, like the dress of certain persons. Most of the years I ran my
engines I didn’t hook up my whistle cords the finer things,
like the exhaust, impressed me a lot more.

‘I guess I’ve said enough in the negative, who’s
listening?’

(A couple more historical photos from Thomas’ collection
appear on the previous page.)

FRANCIS A. ORR of Fidalgo Enterprises, 1617 32nd Street,
Anacortes, Washington 98221-3382, sent us the picture above and
told us about it:

‘The original of this picture was given to me by Mr. Fred
Mouw of Anacortes, Washington. It was taken six miles east of
Edgerton, Minnesota, on a farm that was owned by the father of
Fred’s uncle and which is now owned by Harold Gunnink. The rig
was owned by Jake Verstage and it is believed that he is the man on
the engine. Fred’s grandfather, Fred Hofkamp, is driving the
team just ahead of the engine which is a return flue Minneapolis.
Note the lantern on the hay wagon, behind the engine, for early
morning firing up.

‘I was interested in the story by Dean Ailing in the
January/February Iron-Men Album. In 1960 I was a US Navy pilot
going through training in San Diego. I passed that old Minneapolis
many times on my way to Los Angeles on a weekend to visit the shops
of Little Engines and Charles Cole as well as the tracks of the
Southern California Live Steamers and the Los Angeles Live
Steamers. I believe it sat outside a furniture store.’

SARAH CLARK of 3770 Old West Falls Rd., Mount Airy, Maryland
21771 sent us a letter and a poem. She writes, ‘After a visit
to the Middletown Steam Engine Show on a sweltering 90 degree day,
I suggested to my daughters that they write a poem about their
experiences.

‘My nine year old, who made two visits to the port a potty
and had a great time in the flea market section, wrote the enclosed
poem. I thought your readers might enjoy it:’

Middletown Steam Engine Show

Steam engines blue and black And old trucks that make you
laugh

Snow cones in lemon and lime And wreaths with cows put in a
great design.

There was a rainbow slinky And the bathrooms were stinky. There
was a sawmill that cut a melon.

I’m glad that it didn’t rot and start smellin’.

I liked it at that steam engine show Even though it wasn’t
cold as snow.

But it was fun and I liked it too And next I think I will go to
the zoo! Ashley Clark, age 9

Sarona, Wisconsin in 1939 or ’40, north of the bank. Alfred
Dahle sawing for Weber West.

The picture at comes from DWAYNE GERHARD, PO BOX 113, Walnut
Creek, Ohio 44687. He says, ‘I would like to know any
information on this upright steam engine, made by American Blower
Company, Detroit, Michigan, New York, Chicago. It is 5×5 #5575,
Type A, and Patent date is November 21, 1905. Any information such
as HP and rpm would greatly help!’

We also hear this month from GARY JONES, 576 Murray Street,
Owatonna, Minnesota 55060. ‘I wanted to send a short note about
a hint that Bill Lamb (who recently passed away) shared with us
some time back about plowing with a steam engine. Each year we plow
with my 65 Case and the Budenski Brothers’ eight bottom plow at
the Lesueur Pioneer Power Show at Lesueur, Minnesota. My good
friend Bill Thurman from Archie, Missouri, runs the 65 on the plow
and this past year put on quite a plowing demontration. Bill Lamb
mentioned that when Harry Wood man see would plow at Jim
Whitbey’s show, he would have the water just showing in the
glass and then turn on the injector when the engine was at full
pressure and off he would go. Bill Thurman and I used that same
method this past year at Lesueur. We started the water right at the
Case water notch and fired on the fly without stopping and went
round after round with the injector going and barely keeping the
pressure under the safety release point. Bill did not have the
safety valve release once and it was tight at 160 lbs. all
afternoon. We were pulling the plow in the second notch (from the
middle) and if the pressure was high enough where the safety was
sizzling and ready to let fly, Bill would move the reverse to notch
three and give her a little more power and use a little more steam.
Our only stops were to refill our water bunker. I’m sure this
procedure is common knowledge to many of you, but it was very
interesting to try a little trick that someone described from a
show held years before Bill Thurman or myself were even
born.’

Keep those letters and pictures coming, your fellow readers
really appreciate it, and so do we!

Steamcerely, Linda and Gail

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