The Big Spark Arrester


| May/June 1957



3775 Herman Ave, San Diego 4, Calif.

(Page 8, March-April Issue)

(Yes, the editor knew this was a Spark! Arrester but did not know why they made it so big. Mr. Yates answers very well. In Pennsylvania we never bothered much about a spark arrester but many barns were burned because they ran out of coal and they insisted they use wood. We have a few other letters which will be printed later. We thank all who have contributed to this request.)

On page 8 I notice a picture of a Case engine with a peculiar attachment on the stack and the Editor asks for information as to what it is and what for? It is surprising that any one who has been around a steam tractor as early as 1900 to 1910 or 12 should not know what a spark arrester is. Out in the wheat raising Plain States the early tractors used straw for fuel as there was plenty of it and coal was scarce and expensive so the engines were fired with straw and the sharp exhaust of the hard working engine would send up a shower of live sparks which would fall in the under dry stubble and set off many disasterous fires, so the spark arrester was invented for the purpose of catching sparks and holding them in various types of containers until they were cool when they would be emptied.

As with other accesories, many different types were built by as many different firms, but all for the same purpose, to prevent fires. I cannot name this particular type of arrester but can remember seeing similar when a boy around the old engines. The one type most popular as I remember was an inverted cone affair placed inside the stack with a long tube outside the stack which caught the sparks as they were arrested by the cone shaped screen inside.

What ever type was used was a headache to the fireman as they would clog up and shut off his draft then you would see him reach up with a poker and lift the hood at the top and let the sparks go while he regained his steam.