Speed! Power! Performance! Humans have always wanted more, more,
more of all three from developing technology, and they’ve
gotten what they wished for tremendous advances in machines and
methods that have, in some instances, nearly removed the farmer
from the farming.
But they say that, on any journey to the future, you can’t
know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.
That’s what makes the engine shows so important; they put us
back in touch, literally, with what it took, and what it means, to
labor to feed a nation.
These few months are filled with lots of shows across the land.
Don’t miss the opportunity to support the efforts of those who,
like yourselves, are working to remind us where we’ve come
And don’t miss the chance to share what you find out there
with fellow IMA readers drop us a line if you find
something, or someone, interesting! Now, on to our letters.
We hear this from GREGORY HOESLI, 717 W. South Street, Salina,
Kansas 67401-4063, ‘In the May/June issue, Pete LaBelle wonders
if the comparison between steam engines and gasoline (or diesel)
engines can be made more clear. Both in theory and in fact, the
modern gas engines do indeed develop much more power than the steam
tractors on the basis of size, and the two clues as to why this
makes sense come from the differing nature of the two types of
engines. The steam engine uses wood or coal burned externally to
power the engine itself, whereas the gas engine burns its fuel
internally, and much more efficiently and that gasoline has about
60% to 100% more heat value per pound than coal. Also, the speed of
the steam engine is so slow by comparison. Remember that
‘power’ is ‘work’ (such as torque in foot-pounds)
per unit of time, and even though the steam engine has a power
stroke twice per revolution while the gas four-cycle engine has one
every other revolution, the gas engine is running some ten times
faster. That is why the power comes in such a small package. It is
interesting to note that the maximum torque of a steam engine is at
zero rpm but a gas engine must be running at a good clip to get its
maximum torque. In fact, the gas engine has no power at zero rpm.
For comparison, both engines’ calculated power are derived
where P is the more effective pressure in psi, L is the stroke
length in feet, A is the area of the piston in square inches, and N
is the number of power strokes per minute.
‘The nature of a steam driven piston and the slide valve
mechanism assures that the pressure against the piston can never be
at boiler pressure, but at some lesser value. In the gas engine
cylinder, the internal burning of the fuel is very fast, which
causes very, very high mean (average) pressures against the piston.
Of course the stroke of the steam engine is longer, but that one
advantage is more than offset by the multiple advantages of the gas
engine. Another key feature of the gas engine is pressure
lubrication which greatly reduces the friction factor over that of
the steam engine. So, if you want compact power, choose the
gasoline or diesel, or better yet the gas turbine engine.
‘But for a hundred other reasons, nothing but a steam engine
will do. Put it on a sawmill or a separator every time over the gas
tractor. There is character there that cannot be matched by any
noisy, smelly internal combustion engine. I hope this helps
Whew! I was almost convinced we should scrap the steamers,
’til I got to that last paragraph. You’re right, Gregory,
sometimes nothing but a steam engine will do, if for no other
reason than that they smell so good!
JON S. GOULD, 525 W. Van Buren Avenue, Naperville, Illinois
60540, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, tells us: ‘Here are some photos
of the 250 HP Vilter tandem compound Corliss steam engine owned by
the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club of Sycamore, Illinois. This
engine was donated to the club in 1990 in disassembled condition.
It was built in 1920 by Vilter, and installed at the U.S. Glue
Company plant at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is directly connected to
an 89 ton ammonia compressor. The boiler used to supply steam for
this engine was built in 1952 by the Kewanee Boiler Corporation and
installed at the Casad Army Engineers Depot at New Haven, Indiana.
We fire this boiler with wood and coal.
‘After many hours of labor by club members and friends
(mostly volunteer), we now have this display operational.’
Always nice to see Kewanee products in usemy husband’s
family was associated with the company for many years, and we keep
a constant eye out for its name. If you ever visit
‘Biltmore,’ the fabulous Vanderbilt estate in Asheville,
North Carolina, take the behind-the-scenes tour and you’ll see
Kewanee boilers in the sub-basement.
LARRY MIX, 2075 Coburn Road, Hastings, Michigan 49058 sent the
photo at bottom of the previous page, saying, ‘This picture and
statement was given to me by Bernie Wood man see, and he asked me
to send it to Iron Men Album.
‘It is a picture of Big Ole Red Falconer. Ole Red ate a box
of corn flakes with bee honey on it with one shot of moonshine from
his still. He was attempting to fire the Farquhar stationary engine
at Bill Roberts’ at Somerset, Virginia, on the sawmill, April
‘Ole Red was fogged twice (ran out of steam) in the sawmill
in just one hour. We don’t know if it was caused because of his
beer belly problem or being overcome by moonshine.
‘Ole Red also had a terrible time trying to fire a 25 HP
Russell at Willis Able’s Mineral Beach Show in 1997 (see
January/February 2000 IMA, page 8).
‘Having a good time with friends and kidding around and
poking fun at each other is what makes this hobby so much
A nice encouraging note comes from GERALD DARR, 2220 Bishops
gate Drive, Toledo, Ohio 43614, who writes, ‘The IMA
July/August 2000 issue was especially enjoyable. The Karen Chabal
article about Wayne Kennedy’s restoration of the New Giant was
so interesting as he related the intricacies of a major repair job
and how there is not enough qualified help around and it is heavy
I would describe it as taking a lot of human strength and
awkwardness. Then you have all the expense of machine shop work and
‘There seem to be more steam shows advertised this year. A
person could travel all around the country and take in a show every
week, and I presume some people do just that.
‘Due to my back condition, I can hardly walk at one show. I
cannot take in National Threshers at Wauseon this year, as we will
have company at the house for our granddaughter’s
Glad to hear you’re enjoying the magazine, Gerald…and
best wishes to your granddaughter! As for getting around at the
shows, there’s an article in the March 2000 issue of Gas Engine
Magazine (IMA’s sister publication) by Jim Fish that
tells how his club, the Ashland County Yesteryear Machinery Club,
has addressed the problem. Interesting reading for those who want
to make a show visit less of a strain on the old
We have another interesting letter and photos from JOHN S. COX,
P.O. Box 205, Carbondale, Illinois 62903: ‘After reading the
article on Scheidler engines in the April/May 2000 Engineers
and Engines magazine, and going back to the article in
January/February 1999 IMA, I was prompted to dig out and
reproduce a couple of old pics I have from my father’s
‘Pic #1 is a 16 HP Scheidler #434, built in 1898. Picture
was taken in 1915 at the Archer family homestead, Summerfield,
Ohio. Engine was owned by Archer Brothers. C. V. Archer is shown on
the engine. The pics are written on back by Francis S. Archer of
Zanesville, Ohio, who is pictured in #2. He writes, This was a very
excellent engine and was our sawmill engine.’ This looks like a
well put together engine and obviously gave long and good
‘The other pic I’m sending is a picture of a threshing
scene I really like. The picture has written on the front,
Threshing in Nebraska August 23, 1931, near Minden, Kearney
County.’ On the back of the picture is written, ’25
Minneapolis engine. 36 x 58′ J. I. Case thresher with Garden
City feeder. 9′ x 160′ driver belt. Photo by I. W.
‘Anyone have any idea who this outfit belonged to and whose
farm it was on?’
More appreciative comments: RUSS GELDER, 6251 Pearl Drive,
Manhattan, Montana 59741-8431 offers, ‘Greetings from Montana
once again. I sure enjoyed your July/August issue. I wish to thank
some of my friends for their nice articles, also. Pete LaBelle for
his corn steaming article, Beth Vanarsdall for her article and
pictures on winter threshing, and Gary Yaeger for his wonderful
contribution of photos.
‘I’m also including a photo of a new project that
followed me home recently. The engine is a 15 HP Advance that I
purchased in April of this year. I had my youngest daughter,
Kasondra, along to help jack it up and dig out the wheels.
Hopefully she is small enough that the ratio of humanity versus
engine in the photo is not too upsetting to Mr. Creed.
‘The Advance is old, as you can see by the ‘hay
mower’ style rear wheels, probably of 1890s vintage. We are
looking forward to the restoration and eventually a fun little
engine to run. I’ll keep you folks posted on progress along the
Russ, I love everything about your photo, but especially the
memories it brings back of the days when I was called on to be
Dad’s ‘helper.’ I suspect I was usually more hindrance
than help, but the important lesson was this: a family is a team,
with each member’s contribution a thing of valueand nothing
demonstrates that better than enjoying hard work together toward a
common goal. Goodness, I’m sentimental today, but doggone it,
CHADY ATTEBERRY, 931 Robin Road, Blackwell, Oklahoma 74631, sent
us this letter: ‘I always enjoy Soot in the Flues. Many thanks
to my friends Larry Creed, Gary Yaeger, and others that send in
such nice pictures. I have enclosed a few.
‘No. 1 picture is Lyle Hoffmaster, president of ‘Case
Haters Club,’ and my daughter, Beverly Atteberry. The picture
was taken at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa 1999 Show. Lyle and Beverly, even
with a great difference in their ages, have a lot in common. Both
Lyle and Bev’s father and grandfather were strong Case men.
It’s not known why Lyle switched to Reeves. I’ve been told
Lyle had a difficult birth and the doctor dropped him on his head.
Beverly and her sister Barbara own and run the family 65 HP #32724
and the Elgin Watch 40 #31393. Bev is right at home on both
engines. Lyle and Bev seem very happy. In his heart he knows his
father, grandfather and Case were No. 1!
‘Picture #2 shows the smokebox door of Avery undermount and
the famous Avery trademark. I and most of you have thought the dog
to be a bulldog. However, Wayne Kennedy, long time steam director
at Mt. Pleasant, made an extensive study of this dog. Wayne proved
beyond all reasonable doubt, after tracing the genealogy of this
dog, it’s not a bulldog, but a Reeves retriever!
‘Photo #3 is the first spring fire-up at Pawnee April 9,
2000. The good little double Keck is #1636. I purchased this engine
in 1963 in Fulton, Missouri, from the Ed Peacock estate, one of the
first Keck engines ever in Oklahoma. I started looking at steam
engines as a little boy, and rode on my first engine, a 20 HP
Russell that came by the farm, in 1934. I never saw a Keck engine
until I was 25 years old and it was at Kinzer, Pennsylvania. #1636
is a dandy. It’s now owned by Steve Dunn of Jennings, Oklahoma.
The under mount Alberta Saskatchewan Special #4868, built in 1913,
spent its working life in the Red Deer, Alberta, Canada area. The
late Louis David purchased it from a Mr. Ross in the early fifties
and moved it to Leroy Blaker’s in Ohio. The pop lifts at 175
lbs. This is the engine Amos Rixmann made his last big pull with.
Amos didn’t cut #4868 any slack. He didn’t have to. Dale
Wolff, the engineer, had a feather on the pop the entire pull. One
fellow, after about one hour in the pull when Amos had ole #4868
preaching the gospel, brought me a club. He said to go use it on
Amos. I told him with an engine like #4868 and with an engineer
like Dale Wolff you didn’t need to cut any slack and not to
worry. The dog ‘Reeves Retriever’ was hollering down to
Amos, ‘Avery didn’t have to bug out and run at Winnipeg in
1913; pour it on!’ And pour it on Amos did.
‘Picture #4. Two good friends, the late F. J. Woods on left
and Leroy Blaker of Wichita, Kansas, in 1954. The engine was Harold
and Herb Ottaway’s 20 HP Woods Bros. Dad went north for Woods
Brothers in 1929, servicing combines and threshing machines. He
followed the harvest into Montana. F. J. Woods was the only
manufacturer of steam engines that I knew. Leroy Blaker was a good
friend and always treated me nice. If you went into a brake test,
economy or max HP against Leroy, you had better have your engine
right and be able to run and fire it.’
That’s it for letters this time around, but don’t miss
the next page for more great old photos from Gary Yaeger’s
Til next time, stay out of hot water… go right for the steam
Steamcerely, Linda & Gail
This picture is another classic threshing crew picture. The
threshing outfit was owned by Matthew Urs and James Kratovchil of
Coffee Creek, but the picture was taken about 40 miles away, near
Lewistown. The engine is a 32 HP Reeves cross compound U.S. and the
thresher is a Red River Special, by Nichols & Shepard.
Frank Strouf’s grandson, Roland Fulbright, allowed me to
copy the photo collection he has of the Strouf farm. This picture
shows the 40 U.S. Reeves and a 30 under mounted Avery freighting
building materials from Stanford, Montana, to the farm on Wolf
Creek. Don Bradley thinks this Avery engine was eventually the one
he pulled out of Bear Canyon and restored several years ago.
This is probably the classic of freighting pictures? Shown is
Frank Strouf’s 30 Avery, Steve Anderson’s 40 HP Z-3
Geiser-Peerless, and Strouf’s 40 HP U.S. Reeves. They are
moving equipment and supplies to the Denton area in 1912, for the
building of the new Milwaukee Railroad from Lewistown to Great