THE COMPANY MACHINE

Camptonville, California

I just received my new Iron-Men Magazine which is out of this
world and at times makes me very homesick. I hope you folks print
it for the next hundred years.

I am originally from Lake City, Michigan, Missaukee County. I
sort of grew up a little too late for steam engines although I was
always around when threshing time came. We called the outfit that
was around home the ‘Company Machine’ because it belonged
to the local farmers consisting of Oldrich Hillman, Frank Salami,
John Aho, Morris Howey, John Beilby, Flora Miller, Ed Becker and
many others.

It was a 19 hp. Port Huron engine and a Red River Special
separator. Flora Miller was the engineer. He would lay down on that
old whistle rope in the mornings. I believe he actually went to
sleep on it. You could hear that whistle for miles. There was
another fellow that used to run the engine at times his name is
Bill Houghs. As far as I know, Bill is still alive, but Flora has
passed on God rest his soul.

These two old gentlemen were engineers for Mitchel Bros. Lumber
Co. when Jennings, Michigan was going strong. I believe the engines
that they ran were narrow gauge engines used in hauling logs to the
mill. I don’t know what make of engines they were but have
heard from different sources that the narrow gauge engine which
sets in the park in Cadillac, Michigan was also used by Mitchel
Bros. at Jennings. I had heard that Cobb Lumber Company went in
with Mitchel Bros. Lumber. Once in a while you would find a few old
tools which had Mitchel and Cobb on them, so I took for granted
that they manufactured it. About the only man that knows the whole
history would be Fred Hertzel of Morristown, Michigan.

I wrote to a Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wright from Lansing, Michigan
after coming across their names in your magazine. I went over and
stayed a few days with Frank and Erna and had a very nice visit
with them. We went out to Mason, Michigan to have a look at their
Shepard engine which looked to be in very good shape, although we
didn’t fire it up. I heard a transcription of their engine and
I thought it was the weirdest sounding engine I had ever heard. It
sounded like a bunch of snare drums all playing at once. Then I was
told by Frank that it was the nature of that engine to have a sharp
exhaust.

After spending a week with the Wright’s I went over to the
round house of Cadillac and Lake City Railroad. My friend, Carlton
Johnson is the engineer there. Carlton is one fine man and what a
grand time I had riding in the engine back and forth from Lake City
to Cadillac.

Carlton has several engines, one a little old six horsepower
Russell. It was drawn by horses. It was completely restored by
Carlton.

On weekends, Carlton and I would go out in the country and look
around. The last place we visited was a fellow that lived up by
Buckley, Michigan. The man was getting his 19 hp. Port Huron tuned
up. He had it running a Baker Fan the first one I ever saw. I could
have gone to sleep on that engine it ran so nice an even. For one
reason or other though, we couldn’t keep up steam. I believe it
was the fuel we were using. They were using old and rotten wood and
you can’t keep steam up very good with that kind of fuel.

When I came home, I sure had many fond memories of those
engines.

I’m hoping to be able some day to get home to one of those
old time meets and try my luck at the throttle and the clutch of an
engine. Maybe, it will run every direction than what I want it to,
but at least I could say I was at the controls of a man’s
engine.

Farm Collector Magazine
Farm Collector Magazine
Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment