Farm Collector


Hi! Well, last year was not too great of a year for us. Ed was
in the hospital three times and I was in two times, so we were
happy to say good-bye to the year of 1988 and usher in the new year
of 1989. HOWEVER near the end of January Ed had another trip to the
hospital for 10 days and had a severe heart attack. Not to be
outdone, I went in February 16 for 10 days because of congestive
heart failure and bronchitis. Enough said! We’ll thank you for
a little prayer to see us onto some better days. Enough on the
morbid side!

I know by now most of you folks are chomping at the bit to get
into the upcoming shows and reunions. Finish those touches and be
all prepared for one of your best summers ever. Don’t forget to
write us the interesting things that happen and the fun you have.
I’ll be looking for the letters.

LEIGH B. DENNISON, Box 873, Delta Junction, Alaska 99737 writes
us: ‘In the January/February Soot In The Flues column, I see
you included a letter from Frank Adams, Box 330, Wabeno, Wisconsin
54566 concerning two Phoenix log haulers in two Wisconsin towns,
and a third one reportedly in Iowa.’

‘Just thought you might be interested to know that there is
a fourth example in the Western Development Museum in North
Battleford, Saskatchewan. I have no idea if it is in operating
condition, but at least, it appears to be complete.’

‘Also enjoyed the picture and comments on the Rochfort
Bridge. I have admired it since 1956 and have a couple pictures
taken from the same place as the one you show. It is difficult to
get it all in one picture.’

‘Iron-Men Album and Gas Engine Magazine are my favorites of
the many magazines I get. Keep up the good work.’

‘I own a stationary engine which was manufactured by
Harrisburg Foundry and Machine Works. While discussing and showing
photographs of this engine to Bob Johnson of Rossville, Georgia, he
told me that he thought that this engine was built by the same
company that made the Paxton Portable Engine,’ writes JOHN G.
NELSON, III, Route 1, Box 409, Courtland, Mississippi 38620.

‘My engine is located on the Nelson Farm about seven miles
west of Batesville, Mississippi, and is used to power a small Frick
sawmill and two grist mills. It is 11’x 11’ horizontal,
side crank engine regulated by an inertia governor built into the
fly-wheel. The governor rotates the eccentric which in turn
controls the point of steam cutoff through a piston-type steam
admission valve. It is a well built, efficient engine that was
originally purchased by the town of Ackerman, Mississippi to power
a small generator for lighting in stores and public areas.

‘The builder’s plate on the cylinder cover reads:
‘Built by Harrisburg Foundry and Machine Works. Pennsylvania
USA, No. 4016’. Cast on the cover of the crosshead housing is
‘Fleming, Harrisburg’.’

‘If you determine that this engine was made by the
Harrisburg Car Manufacturing Company, I would be happy to send more
information and photographs, if you so desire. In any event, I will
be looking forward to the article. If this company did make my
engine, I would certainly like to know something of its
history.’ (Surely hope you hear from someone, John, who has
some information, and then you send along pictures and

A short notice from EDWIN H. BREDEMEIER, RR #1, Box 13,
Steinaur, Nebraska 68441: ‘The nice picture in the centerfold
of the January/February ’89 issue is an oldie!’

‘The separator is a Case, reason: the feeder return elevator
and the grain handler. The grain handler is the No. 5 handler. The
separator could be a wooden machine. It is hard to tell, as very
little is visible. The engine on my picture is dark, too.’

‘The separator is either 36′ or 40′. It surely is
not any smaller because of the size of the drive belt.’

‘I noticed the right hay mow door could use a top

This one is from ANDY MICHELS, 302 Highland Avenue, Plentywood,
Montana 59254: ‘I want to relate a few memories of steam engine
incidents. I remember one in 1907. A 40 HP Avery under mounted was
stuck in a gumbo flat for over a month. The tracks are still

‘In 1929, a large side mount (can’t remember the make)
simple was pulling 12 breakers. The left driver came upon a large
flat rock and ‘spun out’. The quill was torn out of the
boiler side necessitating the return of the engine for repairs to
the factory. This happened again, soon after they got it back. Oh
yes, this was the same engine that they blew the head off from not
opening the cylinder cocks. I was told they made a head from oak
and ran until they could get a new head.’

‘Ted F. was moving a 25 HP Case. In our county, they had to
haul water up to seven miles. The tanker was late. Ted figured if
he let the fire down, he could get through the coulee ahead. The
fuse plug let go. Ted fused the plug with a tree branch and
finished the day. They fused the plug with lead from fish weights.
In 1914 a 3/4′ fuse plug cost less than $2.00, now they want
$25 to $30.’

‘A fellow lost control of a big Rumely going down a hill. We
junked out the engines. There was a dent in one driver, almost
6′ deep from hitting a rock. The thresher and cook car were not

‘In hard times we ran our 20 HP Case with a chain on the
clutch and a very bad throttle. You really learned to be an
engineer no clutch, no throttle. Maybe you won’t believe any of
this, so why give any more?’ (Why wouldn’t we believe you
all sounds interesting to me).

FORREST PENSE, Route 2, Harvard, Nebraska 68994 sends this:
‘On pages 20, 21 of the January/-February ’89 issue of your
magazine, there is a picture of an engine and threshing machine. I
know the thresher is a Case separator. I think the engine is either
an Aultman-Taylor or a Nichols & Shepard. It’s hard to see
in the picture. If someone else has a different identification,
I’d like to hear about it.’

Two pictures and a nice bit of communication comes from MRS.
DONALD CASE, 114 East Main Street, Angelica, New York 14709:
‘I’m sending you two pictures of my father-in-law’s
steam engine. I am magazine. He is 86 years old and has been
involved with steam all his life and is a faithful reader of your
magazine.’ (Happy to use them.)

‘Picture 1 shows a portable 1923 Groten engine on display at
Alfred City Ag Tech for Ag Day in 1988. It is shown belted to a
1914 Racine thresher.’

‘Picture 2 shows the same portable engine freshly painted
and ready to be taken to a steam show at Alexander, New York. Each
year this engine is put into use at the Antique Machinery and Steam
Show at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Angelica, New York. This
display was started by Merel Case.’

An interesting letter comes from VERN VETOR, 1091 Main Street,
Woodslee, Ontario, Canada NOR 1V0: ‘Well, first thing first not
long ago, while looking at some back issues of this most
interesting magazine, I came to some pictures of a traction engine
that had blown up. This brought to my mind the one that had blown
up in our area in 1915.’

‘I, myself, being born in 1910, was only five years old, so
personally, I cannot remember anything of it. Fortunately, no one
was seriously injured or killed. Everyone felt they had come
through it very luckily’.

‘I am getting close to the eighty year old mark. Time sure
passes quickly, but slows down to a slow crawl when I am waiting
for the next issue of Iron-Men Album.’

More than once we have used material from VINSON E. GRIT-TEN,
109 Country Club Court, Danville, Illinois 61832, and here’s
another one just reminiscing from the past called: A Really Nice

‘One winter day, with a lot of snow on the ground, when I
was around five years old, we made a trip to Royal, Illinois after
groceries and some winter supplies. What was special about the

‘Dad borrowed a bob sled which had a regular sized wagon on
it and hitched Don and Fred to it, and we were off. Don and Fred
were our mules that were used to haul water to the steam engines
and also pulled the spring wagon that took crews to and from the
farms where they were threshing or shelling corn. The mules were
almost human as they could sense about everything that was going on
and they could be contrary, too.’

‘The sled had two sets of runners on it and the box was
regular wagon-sized, with sides eighteen or so inches high. Dad put
a lot of loose straw in the box and Mother dug us some old blankets
and, of course, we dressed warm, and we were on our way. It was
four miles to Royal so the trip took a big half day there and back.
We enjoyed the quiet ride. About all you could hear was a snort
from one or other of the mules once in awhile, and the crackle of
the runners on the snow.’

‘Royal was a small village with one general store,
blacksmith shop, grain elevator representing most of the
businesses. I do remember the general store had a millinery
upstairs. Ladies hats were quite the thing in those days so they
must, and did, have a millinery. Of course they had gingham,
calico, and ladies dresses, plus overalls, boots and so on for men
and boys.’

‘Anyway, we took our time, found some candy for us kids and
the necessary groceries, probably a week or two of supplies, and
headed home. It was evening when we got home. We unloaded the sled.
Dad unharnessed the mules, watered and put them in the barn and fed

‘The base burner had kept the house warm, and we settled in
for the evening, a most memorable day of a young country boy.’
(Oh, I wonder what a young boy of today would think of that for a
memorable day).

A letter with two pictures comes for MARK HISS A, 13140 Madison
Road, Middlefield, Ohio 44062. ‘Here are a couple of pictures
of our engines in October, taken a couple of days apart. The engine
with the roof is a 32 HP Port Huron, serial #5525, 1909. It is in
fair shape as we are making new water tanks and changing the
plumbing from galvanized to black pipe. We carry 125 lbs. steam and
it plays with a silo blower. Port Hurons are sure quiet and smooth
running engines. The other one is taken 36 hours later. We got
12′ of heavy snow at night and we surely were surprised in the
morning. It wasn’t fired up so that’s why the snow stuck to
the boiler, but it was full of water waiting to be inspected that
morning. The engine is a 20 HP Advance-Rumely.’

GENE DRUMMOND, 15509 Drummond Road, Orient, Ohio 43146 writes:
‘I read in the March/April ’89 issue of IMA on page 10,
that a Mr. Thomas Stebritz disputes my statement in IMA on steam
engine changeover. The late James Chandler of Frankfort, Indiana
wrote to me about this engine change over. Mr. Chandler was of the
old guard and knew the steam engine about which he wrote. He saw
the Case engine that I write about. The engine is a 36 HP Case that
was made to look like a late 40 HP Case. If you have the Case
catalog from 1909 to 1914, study them and I think you will see that
if Case could change an 8 x 10 engine (36 HP) to an 8 x l0 (40 HP)
engine, what’s to keep it from being done today, Mr.


This article is to answer some of Arlen Olson’s questions
about valve gears that appeared in the March/ April ’89 issue,
and sent to us by LYLE HOFFMASTER, 1845 Marion Road, Bucyrus, Ohio

When the portable engine builders decided to build traction
engines they needed a reversing gear. The Arnold gear was one of
these early gears and was developed by Bishop Arnold in the shops
of A. W. Stevens, at Auburn, New York for the Stevens engines. It
was of the shifting eccentric type and is generally regarded as the
‘granddaddy’ of this family of gears. Pictures No. 1 and
No. 2 are views of this gear as used by Stevens.

The Arnold gear used two gear racks with teeth generally cut at
45, but not necessarily so. When the teeth are engaged, the racks
are at 90 to one another. One rack is attached to a shifting collar
and the other to the eccentric. When the collar is moved along the
shaft the eccentric is moved across the shaft. Companies using this
gear in some form included Peerless, Rumely, Harrison (Jumbo), and
KeckGonnerman who reversed their doubles with one shifting collar
and two eccentrics working at 90 to each other on earlier

The eccentric center was set slightly to one side of its line of
travel in respect to the center line of crank-shaft. This provided
lead on both motions. They produced a nearly perfect sinusoidal
motion, a smooth but slow action. Any engine using one of these
gears required a long connecting rod in order to reduce the effect
of the angularity of the connecting rod as this type of gear
pro-vided no correction wherever. When used with a double ported
valve these Arnold type gears gave a good account of

The other gear Arlen asked about was the Miller. This gear
carries patent No. 1,125,376 and was granted January 19, 1915 to
William H. Miller, assignor to the Keck-Gonnerman Company. It is
shown in Picture No. 3, taken from the K-G catalog No. 30 which I
believe to be for 1919. This gear appears the same as the patent
drawing. Now look at Picture No. 4 from K-G catalog No. 29 of 1918.
See any difference? I can’t, but the patent drawings show the
Gentry gear as having a single bar to form the eccentric yoke,
while the Miller gear shows a double bar with the links between.
They referred to this as a center hung gear. John H. Gentry was
granted a patent for his gear October 24, 1913, bearing No.
1,075,778. Whether Miller or Gentry, it was one of the best gears
ever put on a traction engine. They were about as near right as
anyone could expect. To hear one run was to hear a symphony not
excelled by Beethoven!

Now for the gears used on the Keck-Gonnerman doubles: Refer-ring
to Picture No. 5 we see the gear of John H. Gentry covered by the
above mentioned patents. This picture is from the K. G. catalog No.
29 of 1918. Now refer to picture No. 6 from the K. G. catalog No.
30 of 1919. It is called a Miller. Here again the only visible
difference is that the Gentry gear has a single bar for the
eccentric yoke while the Miller has a double bar. There is no doubt
in the writers mind that the Miller gear being center hung, would
run better and be a little easier to maintain than the Gentry. We
should also bear in mind that John Gentry was an independent
inventor and, no doubt, received royalties for his patents. William
Miller, as previously mentioned, was an employee of K. G. and
assigned his patents to K. G. so there were no royalties to be paid
on his invention. This may have been the deciding factor in
changing to the Miller gear.

Miller varied from Gentry’s construction, but the writer has
reason to believe he followed Gentry’s geometry for there was
an error in both gears as used on K. G.’s double engines. The
exhaust was not uniform and to such an extent that their power was
not equal to their counterpart in a K. G. single engine. The
company was aware of this but did not know where the error was.

About 1920-1921 the K. G. Company wrote a letter to Harry Clay
asking to come down and correct this gear. Clay was no longer
associated with Reeves and was free to accept, but chose not to go.
He gave the letter to his son, Albert, who was also a mechanical
engineer, telling him the job was his if he wished, and also where
the error was. Albert didn’t go either.

Forty years later Albert told me of this incident, but could not
recall what his father had told him regarding the error. It was
never corrected by the factory nor have I ever heard of a user who
had found the error. We K. G. fans call it the K. G.
‘Gallop’ and still we would all love to own one!

Compare the Miller and Gentry gears with the Baker shown in
Picture No. 7. Not much difference, is there? Baker’s patent is
No. 721,994 and issued March 3, 1903. I believe with the picture
you can figure out how a Baker gear works.

All radial gears gave a fast enough action to the valve, but
only those that used links (rocker motion) for the secondary motion
at the end of the eccentric yoke would give correct steam
distribution. By correct steam distribution I mean a full
compensation for the error introduced by the angularity of the
connecting rod. The Baker valve gears for locomotives were not
quite the same as traction engines as the locomotive took its
secondary motion from the crosshead. On traction engines the
secondary motion was induced by a rocking or swinging link as
previously mentioned.

The gear used on Reeves engines was developed by Harry C. Clay,
who assigned it to Reeves and Company. Clay never claimed to have
invented this gear as it was basically the Marshall gear that was
patented in 1881. His only claim was its adaptation to the Reeves
engine and is covered by Patent No. 673,859, issued May 14, 1901.
Sheets 2,3, and 4 of the patent drawings are geometric layouts of
this gear action. A study of these layouts will show it to be about
as near perfect as could be devised. It is by all odds my favorite
gear. This gear did not require frequent adjustments and was so
designed as to be nearly self-compensating for wear. The jigs to
rebabbitt all sizes of these gears from 16 to and including 32 HP
would fit in a seed corn sack and could be carried with one

Baker gears would give a full port opening with 3/8′ travel
of the piston. This is like hitting that piston, which is nearly
stationary, with a sledge hammer. I feel this was not necessary; it
made for more maintenance and repairs and a harder engine to
handle. It is my only objection to a Baker gear.

The Reeves, Miller and Gentry gears were a little slower than
Baker’s. I must admit to being a Reeves man from my big
toenails to the hairs on top of my head. I’m not bald-headed,
either, but when I get around one of those single ‘Kecks’
with a Miller or Gentry gear I can feel a wave of infidelity sweep
over me.

And that ends our communications for this time, so a few words
to ponder Faith either removes mountains or tunnels through At the
close of his will, Patrick Henry stated: ‘There is one thing
more that I would like to leave my family Christian faith. With
that they would be rich did I not leave them one shilling. Without
that they would be poor had I given them the whole world. ‘The
best thing parents can spend on their children is time, not money.
Building boys is better than mending men. The best thing to do with
the Bible is to know it in the head, stow it in the heart, sow it
in the world, and show it in the life. Bye, bye for this time love
you all!

  • Published on May 1, 1989
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