A view of the 5'' x 5'' steam engine and the 5 KW A.C. Generator. The shop can be heated with the exhaust steam. Photo by Frank Pence.
(The article 'Steam at Stonelick' is about the collection of steam engines by my father-in-law, Mr. Clarence Ragland. The man in the various pictures is Mr. Ragland.)
Driving east of Cincinnati, Ohio, along U.S. Route 50 you'll find nestled in the Little Miami River valley a small community called 'Stonelick'. Here Clarence Ragland operates a large grain farm. But his real love is for the smoke, grime, and noise of his steam engines.
Love for steam engines goes back to Mr. Ragland's childhood. At that time everything was done by steam. Threshing and silo filling were especially exciting to him and his brother. He recalls how they would think of every way possible to get on or close to the steam engine. On one occasion, at the age of seven, Mr. Ragland became a hero. This is the way he tells the story.
'I was on the engine and the engineer had gone up to the silo cutter to grease it. Something broke and was tearing up the machine. Somehow I got the engine stopped. I thought I was a big hero then.'
Additional steam interest grew in Mr. Ragland's heart as a child. While playing around the long switch of the N and W railroad, located on the home farm, he and his brother used to talk to the engineers. Somehow they were able to convince some to let them ride from one end of the switch to the other. The mile walk back didn't seem long at all.
Today in a museum-like farm shop one finds sixteen steam engines and an assortment of pumps, motors, generators, locomotive headlamps, bells and whistles. One of the most useful is a 5' x 5' horizontal steam engine coupled to a 5 kilowatt A.C. Generator. The power generated can be used to run shop machines such as the lathe, shaper, milling machine, and drills. This 5' x 5' engine was secured, as most were, from the junk yard. It was covered with water in the big 1937 Ohio River flood. The engine today doesn't look like it was in such bad condition that Mr. Ragland had to shape patterns and cast parts to rebuild it.
Steam is kept in the shop from November to April in an automatically controlled 10 H.P. stoker fired Lattner vertical boiler. With his steam hobby, he has secured and maintained a First Class Stationary Engineers License. He jokes that this license gives him the authority to fire his 3/4' scale model of a 4-8-4 coal burning locomotive secured some years ago.
Smallest engine in the shop is a 5/8' bore horizontal type engine with a fraction of a horsepower. The origin of the engine is unknown. Largest of all engines is a 22 H.P. Keck-Gonnerman traction engine. This is coupled to a Huber separator.
A little marine engine has the distinction of coming from the most unusual place. This one came from the bottom of the Ohio River. It originally ran an auxiliary electric generator on a government dredge boat which sank. Mr. Ragland believes his two most unusual engines are the Dayton steam automobile engine and a vertical engine made in England.
Latest additions to the collections are a 10 H.P. horizontal return tube boiler and an American Hoist and Derrick Company double drum hoisting engine. He plans to build the boiler up in brick and use a stoker for firing. As for the hoisting engine that is a rebuilding project for this winter. It has been outdoors for several years. Many of the parts have been freed but it will take considerable effort to put it into working order.
Mr. Ragland also has another hobby. He is a ham radio operator. Anyone who would like to talk by the air waves should contact him on the radio by calling K8JTZ.
You are always welcome at the Clarence Ragland shop. Any steam fan will find a treasure of steam history located at 1416 Binning Rd., R. D. 1, Milford, Ohio, 45150.