Farm Collector

The Big Spark Arrester

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

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

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.

You no doubt have received many letters in regard to your query,
most likely by older men who have actually had experience with the
spark arresters. I was too young to have had any actual experience
with one but remember them when a boy around the many engines at
that early date. When the coal burners came along there was no
further need for spark arresters hence I never had any dealings
with one as I learned to fire with coal.

If you have always lived in Pena sylvania where there was plenty
of coal, you may not have known about straw burners as we who lived
on the prairie. In many of the timber regions, wood was used for
fuel which was as bad as straw about throwing sparks.

I hope my letter will be of some value to you. Am always glad to
answer any questions any one wants to know about. There are lots of
questions I asked about the engines older than the ones I can
remember and have to depend on my older brother engineers for

  • Published on May 1, 1957
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