View of the Ashcraft steam engine testing fan fastened to a flat bed truck for transportation. Courtesy of Harry Wilson, Box 128, Utica, Ohio 43080
Box 128 Utica, Ohio 43080
The Ashcraft Steam Engine Testing Fan was designed and built by Ashcraft Machine & Supply, Inc., Newark, Ohio, to fulfill a need that was prevalent at the steam shows in the Ohio region. Because of the lack of grain to thresh and other equipment for the engines to run, the fan provided an intermittent load or otherwise make the engine talk; then ease off the load and let the engine coast, such as a saw mill or a thresher when a wet sheaf or tow sheaves are thrown in crosswise.
The fan is designed around the so called 'Baker Fan' but is completely housed in with the fan exhaust going straight up from the top and a hinged lid provided to cover the opening when not in use.
The mechanism that opens and closes the shutters on each side of the housing are actuated through a hydraulic box so the length of time the load is on the engine can be easily changed without stopping or shifting any belts. If a small engine such as a one-third or half scale model wants to run on the fan and turns the fan say 350 rpm., the ratio of the shutters can be changed to the same opening and closing per minute as a large engine turning the fan 800 rpm. It is also equipped with two sizes of pulleys, one on each end of the shaft, to accommodate all sizes of engines with different sizes of band wheels.
The fan was originally designed to carry its own wheels for transportation as a trailer, but time for the first season was limited, so it was fastened to a flat bed truck. With the truck brakes set and wheels chocked, this solved a problem of fastening the fan to a tree or post then staking it down to hold the side draft; therefore the wheels were never completed. Furthermore, the gross weight of the fan when completed was a little heavy to tow as the scale weight was 2460 lbs. as you see in the picture.
Mr. O. W. Nickols of Pickerington, Ohio 43147, R.F.D. has taken over the fan for the Ohio and Canadian Shows along with his 17 hp. Sawyer Massey which makes a very fine pair and puts on a real show.