Since Blaker’s article on valve gears and his attack on the
Advance Engine and the Marsh Valve Gear in particular — appearing
in the ALBUM over a year ago, I’ve received a number of
critical letters from past and present owners of Advance Engines
and all agree the article is at variance to facts.
There goes an old saying, ‘The tree with the best apples has
the most clubs hanging in it.’ As most everyone knows, the
Advance was never a controversial Engine. It was favorably known
throughout the U.S.A., Canada, the Pampas of Argentine to the
Steppes of Russia for exceptional power, economy and symmetrical
design. To quote Mr. O. C. Fry, Flint, Michigan, and raised at
Battle Creek, Meinard Leafever, – ‘his was a master mind.’
He designed three engines, the Upton, Port Huron and Advance with
similarity of design.
For several years following 1900, the writer at different times
operated Advance Engines in Kansas and Oklahoma, both simple and
compound, and owned one for ten years. All who have seen them
perform in the belt will agree they TALK for themselves. Blaker
writes the sharp exhaust is the result of bushing in exhaust pipe,
which is not true. Advance Thresher Company furnished NO bushings
for either simple or compound engines and made no provision for
same. On another occasion, he has been quoted as saying it is not
possible to set their valve with equal ports for both motions. This
also is false, as Advance Engineers will testify.
It’s reasonable to suppose Leaf ever selected to equip the
advance Engine with the Marsh Valve Gear as best suited to operate
the ALLEN DOUBLE PORTED VALVE which gives the same opening to live
steam as a single ported valve with half the movement. With this
short travel and quick release, Advance operates with up to half
less back pressure than other engines. I saw this test run at
Kansas State College the winter of 1903-04. It’s true you
can’t vary the ‘cut-off with the Marsh reverse, which in my
humble opinion is mostly theory and ‘eye wash’ on an engine
controlled by governor.
For many years I owned a 9 x 10 Prick. I appreciated its many
fine and exclusive patented engineering features, together with its
rugged construction, Its reverse gear (Landis Shifting Eccentric)
had a half dozen notches on its quadrant we rarely used.
All Advance Engines tested up to three times their rated
horsepower at the factory, due to internal steam pipe through
boiler and smoke box and partway up the stack directly into steam
chest. Having advantage of ‘super heated’ steam, accounted
in part for their economical performance and to pull heavier load
without excessive working pressure. This was proven at Montpelier,
Ohio, last year when a 20 hp Advance pulled 82 hp on the
‘brake’ with working pressure of 150 lbs. After all,
it’s performance that counts!
I also note Blaker’s appraisal of the Baker valve gear as
the most efficient of ALL valve gears. I have no reason to detract
from the good qualities this valve motion possesses. However,
quoting the late Al Smith, ‘Let’s look at the record’.
I’ll take you back to 1907 and the Baker fan tests at Wichita
when several engines other than Huber outperformed the Baker
Engine. I believe the Baker valve gear reached its height of
perfection in Locomotive practice, rather than on a traction
engine. The Marsh valve gear was used on the Advance for the entire
lifetime of this popular engine. Again I repeat, ‘It’s
performance that counts – not theory.’