As we work on the November/December issue, our thoughts turn to
Thanksgiving and of course Christmas, even though engine shows are
still going on as we ready the issue for the printer. It seems
there is barely a break now between the club activities of the late
fall and the early engine shows in the South that begin in January.
We are certainly thankful for all of the letters and articles we
receive, as well as the ads, which keep IMA going for its
subscribers. Keep writing to us, and now that winter is
approaching, this may be the time to write that long restoration
article you have been putting off during the nice weather!
We are enthusiastic about a project that will start in this
issue: an unpublished manuscript by Loren Bixler, which has been
located and edited for our use by ROBERT RHODE. This book-length
work will be serialized over sixteen issues, over two years. We are
very appreciative of Dr. Rhode’s pursuit of this project, and
think you will find it full of interesting information. We hope you
will stay with us to get the entire story!
This descriptive article comes from LEE NELSON, 7014 Sternot
Road, Vesper, Wisconsin 54489-9643, who says, ‘Please cancel my
‘Wanted: half-size traction engine’ ad. I did not find the
half-size traction engine I wanted, but I did haul home a size
Advance built in 1967 in Mankato, Minnesota.
‘Some specifications you will find interesting: it has a
stack height of 7 feet, front wheels are 28′ x 8′, back
wheels 48′ x 16′, width overall is 5 feet, length overall
is 13 feet, dry weight is 5,100 lb., boiler tube is 20′ x
64′, (21) 2′ x 64′ x 11 gauge tubes, 31′ x 16′
x 28′ firebox, 150 psi, 1′ Gardner governor, 12′ dome,
1′ pop, 84 square foot heating surface, 6’bore, 8′
stroke, 30′ x 8’ flywheel, roller bearings.
‘I’ll send some photos when I get it freshened
MIKE McKNIGHT, 1025 McKnight Loop, Mason, Tennessee 38049 tells
us: ‘Here are some pictures of my dad and me with our latest
find, 20 HP Reeves engine #7981. My dad and I recently purchased
this engine from Ms. Francene Eaton, of Cashion, Oklahoma, after
seeing it advertised in your magazine. We had Dale Wolff, of
Cushing, Oklahoma, a longtime friend of ours, ultrasound the boiler
for us before we bought it. Thanks, Dale!
‘My friend, Jon Myers, of Shepardsville, Kentucky, who also
owns a 20 HP Reeves and a 13 HP Gaar-Scott himself, looked the
engine up in the book Historical Reeves Engines and found
it was owned during the 1970s by John Huff, of Wall Lake, Iowa.
Other than that, we know nothing of the engine’s previous
history. Can any of our fellow readers help us in this area? We
would appreciate it. Also, is there a serial number list of the
Reeves engines? I was told this was a 1914 engine, but I would like
to confirm that.
‘I’m still trying to track down some history on my 13 HP
Gaar-Scott engine #15818. Dr. Robert Rhode was able to provide me
the info that this engine was owned for a long time by the late Mr.
Woody Colmer, of New Athens, Ohio, but other than that, and knowing
it was owned by the late Mr. Forrest Taylor, of Cambridge, Ohio,
I’ve done nothing but draw a blank as to where this little
engine came from. I do appreciate all the responses I got from
people who wrote me, called me, etc. to let me know this was a 1912
engine, and one person from my letter. Thanks again for all the
‘Right now the 13 HP Gaar is in Haley’s Farm Shop,
receiving a new firebox, and other repairs. I’m really looking
forward to getting it together again and lighting the first fire
after restoring it. After tearing it down, I found that it’s
going to need a lot of babbitt work, so after this project
hopefully I’ll know how to pour some babbitt.
‘Thanks for putting out such a great magazine for steam
fiends such as myself so we can all get together, share
information, buy engines, swap stories, and youngsters such as
myself (25 years old) can learn from the true masters.’
We had an inquiry about Lunkenheimer products and their history
from JIM BEASLEY, an Ohio subscriber.
We have answered Mr. Beasley in a letter, but thought we would
share the result of our research here, as well. We published an
article by Robert Rhode in our January/February 1996 issue of
IMA. A good portion of Lunkenheimer Company history was
included in that article. If anyone is interested in a more
complete history of the firm, we have obtained an article by James
M. Laux, Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati. The
22-page article, published in Queen City Heritage in 1983, can be
obtained from us at a cost of $11.00 to cover copying and postage.
We are passing along this information just in case Mr. Beasley was
not the only one finding difficulty in obtaining information about
the Lunkenheimer company.
Frank Dvorak’s 25 HP Reeves U.S. compound is shown pulling
disk plows in the Coffee Creek area of the Judith Basin. The
Basin’s premier landmark, Square Butte, is shown in the
background. Courtesy Gary Yaeger.
GARY YAEGER of 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish, Montana 59937 sent us
a large group of photos awhile back, and we are pleased to bring
you four more of them in this issueall Reeves engines. Thank you,
L. RANSDELL, 533 S. Maple Street, Winchester, Kentucky 40391
submits this article for Soot:
Threshing on the Farm
‘When I was growing up on a farm in northern Kentucky,
threshing in our community was done by Mr. ‘Judge’ Coates
and his assistant, Esmond Gronemier, an agreeable young man.
Esmond’s mother made him a shirt or smock of some gingham from
one of her dresses. It was buttoned down the front and came to the
waist. He wore it outside his trousers. It became dirtier and
greasier so that when the season was finished it would almost stand
‘The Coates outfit consisted of a Russell steam engine and
thresher. The engine was probably fifteen horsepower. The wooden
thresher had a straw blower and was hand fed. Hand feeding must
have been the hottest, dirtiest and most rigorous of all work, but
this was no problem, as Esmond loved to feed the machine. I can see
him now, pulling the bundles in from each side of the tables after
the twine bands were cut and upending them with great flair into
the maw of the machine.
‘The Russell Company must have built good equipment, as Mr.
Coates’ rig was abused beyond description and was always on the
verge of breakdown but managed to hang on a little longer. All the
bearings on the thresher were worn and loose. The engine was red
with rustit had never been under shelter. Everything possible had
been broken or removed. There were many water and steam leaks. The
bearings were so loose that one could hear them knock for a
‘The last time Mr. Coates threshed for my father was 1930.
He and Esmond brought the rig in, leveled the thresher, positioned
the engine and tightened the crossed belt. He then gave a little
toot on the whistle to indicate he was ready for action. He worked
the throttle and reverse levers furiously to start the engine in
the right direction. The crossed belt slapped together, the
thresher started to shake and immediately broke down. Pretty soon
Esmond was inside the machine giving a muffled description of the
problem. It seemed that one of the shaker racks was broken. Esmond
said he needed a lathe or small flat piece of wood and some shingle
nails to make the necessary repairs.
‘My father was a small man with a hot temper and he just
blew his top’How in the name of H—could the wooden shaker
racks with their violent motion be fixed with little pieces of wood
and some small nails?!?’ There followed a very spirited
discussion between him, Mr. Coates, and Esmond.
‘While this was going on, the neighbors (threshing was a
community affair) were standing around their loaded wagons. Every
farm had a nondescript dog, usually named Shep, who was very
possessive of his team and trotted in front. If another dog came
near, there was an instant no-holds-barred dogfight.
Nothing is known about the 32 HP U.S. Reeves cross compound
engine in this picture other than it is, ‘Threshing near
Lewistown.’ Courtesy of Gary Yaeger.
‘Eventually, the neighbors went home. The insides were
pulled out, so proper repairs could be made. This took a couple of
days. The crop was finally threshed.
‘After this, my father would not let Mr. Coates thresh for
him again. I learned that Mr. Coates sold the poor old engine for
scrap and the thresher sat behind a barn and rotted. That just
about finished threshing in our community. It was the end of a
picturesque and somewhat romantic era.’
We heard from LOU McMASTER, PO Box 6, Hickory, Pennsylvania
15340-0006 about a recent donation to the National Pike Steam, Gas
and Horse Association.
‘When Edward A. ‘Rusty’ McGinness first saw his Erie
Model B steam shovel in New York state, he knew that it had
potential. As one of a handful of remaining similar steam shovels,
he felt an obligation to preserve its heritage. Eleven years later,
it is restored to its original condition. Now, at 80 and with no
children to carry on the tradition, Rusty McGinness has donated the
1927 Erie steam shovel to the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse
‘In August 2000, Rusty donated his shovel to the National
Pike Association. The National Pike group has been holding
exhibitions twice a year at their beautiful show grounds near
Brownsville, Pennsylvania, and is deeply concerned with the
preservation of these antique machines.
‘The Erie Model B steam shovel needs two skilled operators
an engineer to operate the complicated shovel and a fireman to keep
the steam pressure up. Talent and experience are needed for both
jobs. At Brownsville there is such a group of experienced people as
well as younger folks willing to learn.
Another classic picture originating from the late Ted
Worrall’s collection is this scene of Frank Strouf’s 40-140
Reeves stuck in Wolf Creek while attempting to cross in late winter
while pulling a house to Strouf’s farm, in 1911. What do you do
when you get a 40 Reeves stuck?? Naturally . . . you get another
Reeves! Strouf’s 40-120 is backed up to the Canadian Special in
preparation to pulling on it. Notice the amount of crew present in
the ‘off season’ on that huge spread. Courtesy of Gary
The National Pike group, with its many dedicated members, has
agreed to maintain and house the Erie and to make it available to
other steam and antique construction equipment shows and exhibits
across the United States.
GERALD DARR, 2220 Bishopsgate Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43614-2006
sends this little story: ‘I enjoyed Joe Steinhagen’s
lengthy story, in the September/October IMA, page 18-22, a
binder story about those sheds full of old machinery and parts, and
I suppose some things he could not identify. He mentioned a ten
foot binder which I have never seen, nor have I seen a six or eight
‘My father had a five-foot Deering binder. In our part of
Ohio there was not acreage that large to warrant an eight-foot
binder and certainly not a 10-foot.
‘Of course, all that has changed in this day around Clyde
and Fremont, Ohio.
‘I know it was fun to root through all these things in the
‘My father’s farm house was built in 1901 and had a
slate roof. The full attic was floored and there were many old
books up there. When Dad and Mother moved to town, my brother
helped Dad clean the attic and they threw things out of the attic
window rather than carry things down two flights of stairs.
‘Joe Steinhagen, you really opened up a can of worms. You
are a genius that you were able to convert the binders to road
travel. Keep up the good work!’
We got a press release from by CHIP BLALOCK of 290-G Harper
Blvd., Moultrie, Georgia 31768, informing us of the Sunbelt
Agricultural Exposition to be held October 17-19, 2000.
‘The Sunbelt Expo provides an opportunity to view the
products and services of thousands of exhibitors national and
international. Last year, the annual event played host to over
210,000 visitors and 1,177 exhibitors.
‘The Sunbelt Expo gives visitors a chance to view a
conglomeration of equipment in one spot. There are many sections
which make up the Expo: Agribusiness, Electricity, Precision Ag
Farming, Antique Tractor, ATV’s, Forestry, Livestock (beef,
dairy, horses, ratites, alpacas, goats), the Small Farm Center,
Land Grant University Tent, Propane Gas, Lawn and Gardening,
Hunting and Fishing, Automotive and Family Living.
I bought this picture from Richard Birklid, as a ‘reverse
negative,’ which had been on eBay. This photo shows Reeves
& Company personnel in business suits at the Fargo Reeves
Depot. Since it is a brand new engine and the very earliest type of
40 Reeves, I would say it is probably a special occasion whereby
they were preparing to go plow with it on trial? Maybe it was being
prepared for the North Dakota State Fair? The year would have to
have been 1909 and the serial number could have been 5401, the
first one? Note the old Cass County Courthouse in the distance.
Photo courtesy of Gary Yaeger.
‘The Expo has indoor and outdoor exhibit space. In addition,
the Expo has over 600 acres of corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts,
Bermuda grass, and perennial peanuts that are harvested during the
Expo in our harvesting and tillage demonstrations daily in the
fields. The Expo also has tractor driving ranges where visitors can
actually test-drive farm equipment on site. The Antique Tractor
section showcases our favorite model from days gone by, stock dog
trials, cutting horse, and rein cow-horse demonstrations are also a
thrill to see during the three-day event. Southern States
Cooperative will have their six-horse Percheron hitch on display.
This hitch of beautiful and athletic horses will lead the Antique
Tractor Parade daily at 2:00 p.m.’
For more information, contact the Sunbelt Expo office at 290-G
Harper Blvd., Moultrie, Georgia 31768; Phone: 229-985-1968;
Fax:229-890-8518; e-mail: email@example.com; web-site:
LARRY CREED of R.R. 13 Box 209, Brazil, Indiana 47834 wrote to
us this month:
‘I would like to thank John S. Cox of Carbondale, Illinois,
for the fine photographs he sent to the last issue of IMA.
I was sorry the two pictures of the Scheidler 16 HP engine and the
threshing in Nebraska were not properly credited to John.
‘Since Mr. Gelder is concerned about what I consider the
proper ratio for human/steam engine in a photograph, I suggest he
study the cover photograph of Sept/Oct 1998 issue of IMA.
The serial number of his Advance engine would have been some of the
more interesting information he could impart upon the Soot in the
‘I have included four photographs to share. The first photo
is of an ‘old style’ Jumbo engine built by Harrison Machine
Works of Belleville, Illinois. The engine belonged to John Stroup
of Grayville, Indiana (located south of Terre Haute). The engine
most likely would have been built before 1906 as Harrison began
building the ‘new style’ Jumbo.
‘The second photograph is a Kansas threshing crew and a
Peerless engine built by the Geiser Company of Waynesboro,
Pennsylvania. Peter Geiser built only threshers and horsepowers
until April 1880, when the company bought the steam engine works of
F.F. & A.B. Landis. By 1908 the Geiser Manufacturing Company
was very successful with total sales of $3,000,000.00. The company
was sold to Emerson Brantingham Company on January 1, 1913, and
continued to build traction engines, grain separators, clover
hullers and sawmills. The Geiser Works also built gasoline tractors
and army ammunition wagons, which were used in France in 1918.
‘In the early 1920s Emerson Brantingham ran into financial
trouble and the Geiser Works closed. The engine in the picture
would have been built before 1913 as the smoke-box doors after 1913
were cast with the wording ‘Emerson Brantingham Company Geiser
Works,’ along with the ‘Peerless’ name. The last
engines had only the letters ‘EB’ cast on the smokebox.
‘The third photograph is also a Kansas threshing scene. The
threshing machine has a grain elevator almost the same length as
the separator. The fourth picture is a close-up of the engine and
crew in the last photograph. The engine is an Advance tandem
compound, which was offered in 14, 18,21, 26 and 35 HP. Advance was
unusual in the fact that they built tandem compound engines at the
same time. Port Huron and Gaar-Scott Company for example built
tandem compound engines and double tandem compound and cross
compound engines. Some manufacturers felt the chamber between the
cylinders on a cross compound engine was unsatisfactory because of
the steam condensing in the cross chamber. (Please feel free to
contact Lyle Hoffmaster for a rebuttal to this argument.) The crew
is wearing an interesting array of head-gear, which will interest
one of my Blackwell, Oklahoma, friends. ‘
(We are indeed embarrassed that the four photos we had
labeled ‘Gerald Darr photos’ were actually those
contributed by John S. Cox. This was entirely our mistake and we
apologize to all involved!)
Keep those letters and pictures coming! We are pleased to have
so many for this issue and look forward to more next time.
We’re also looking for more pictures to use on our covers, so
don’t be shy!
Enjoy those wonderful family times that are coming soon!