STORIES FROM STEAM MEN


| March/April 1964



Russell Engine

Pictured is a Russell Engine, No. 12990, owned by the Fish burn brothers of Mexico, Indiana.

18 W. Wash. St., Newnan, Ga.

Another large mill had Uncle Luke as their engineer. A good man and mechanic but he liked to bird hunt and would slip off for a few hours and shoot partridges during work hours. While he was away one day the main bearing on the engine ran hot and caused the mill to be shut down several hours so that was the last of Uncle Luke's steam days.

The city of Manchester has a Erie Bell engine that would not run right with a load so the new night man decided to fix it and did a good job after writing to the factory and getting the specifications on that engine. Well, he did a good job and the general supt. said, 'I don't understand, Mr. Jones is a good engineer and he never could make the engine perform like you have, what in the world did you do to it.' Uncle Frank answered, 'He is a good man but not a good engineer.' The same was in every line of work, everyone took pride in their work and tried to improve their craftsmanship on every job even if he had to stay around on his own time for hours to watch a factory man do a certain job so he could do it next time himself.

My dad tells of moving a small Watertown portable with mules and somehow the 1 inch blow off valve was knocked off when the rig straddled a stump. The boiler had may be 25 or 30 pounds of steam still showing from the last place they had threshed. This threw the hot water and steam on the mules and caused them to run away and all that saved the day they got off the road in soft ground and almost stuck the thing slowing it down so they could handle the mules.

I almost forgot about Old Man Burnside who ran a large engine at this large planning mill that bought lumber from the 5 surrounding counties. The saw millers would haul in their lumber goods on mostly Model T Ford trucks. They all knew about the profitable side line of hauling whiskey and lots of them did, so the planning mill boys never ran dry if they had a dollar for a gallon.

Well, Old Uncle Sid Burnside and his darkey helper was suppose to take out the top row of 4' flues in the boiler one week-end and roll in new ones. The Monday morning shift found Uncle Sid and the colored man still drunk, the old tubes laying all around and a 5 gallon jug with about 2 gallons of the best peach brandy you ever saw sticking out of the shavings near their reach. Things as bad as this had happened to Old Sid before so he was hired back in a month or so, so he could pull another good one later.