The Leader Engine


| November/December 1969



Jelloway, Village, Danville, Ohio 43014

(To the best of my recollection, I have never seen an article in the IMA about the Leader engine. I thought a little review on the subject might be of interest to some folks.)

Considering all the bad faults the old 16 hp. Leader engine had, which were plenty, it was just about the handiest old threshing engine ever built for hill country; where I lived and threshed all my useful life, and I wish to explain without, a doubt it was the best single cylinder belt engine that was ever built. They were more economical than the average engine.

The 16 hp. Leader was fast on the road. It didn't take forever and a day to get from one job to the next. In the fast gear, it took 14 revolutions of the band wheel to make one of the drive wheel. In the slow gear, it took 18 revolutions of band wheel to make one of drive wheel. The average engine took about 22 revolutions of band wheel to make one of drive wheel, give or take a little. The Rissell took 27, it always seemed to me. They could come as near traveling all day in the shade of the old apple tree as any engine I ever saw.

16 hp. Leader Engine used 10 to 20 per cent more 2' flues in the boiler than any other make of the same hp., except one or two. They used an extremely large smoke box and an extra large smoke stack and straight all the way up. A smoke stack that is chocked is no good. It doesn't amke any difference, what make of engine it's on or what it's on there for. For the very reasons already mentioned, it's possible to fire up a 16 hp. Leader, move down the road a mile set up and start threshing by the time you can get steam enough in some engines to turn on the blower.

All Leader engines used a relief valve in the exhaust. When you reduce the number of flues, reduce the size of the smoke stack, you are compelled to reduce the size of the exhaust nozzle to make it steam, that will make it throw sparks all over the countryside. When you are pulling sparks, you are also pulling heat out of it. It's just like giving it a dose of salts and there goes your economy right up the smoke stack. A 16 hp. Leader used a 12' stroke. They had good power and they had it at 125 lbs. of steam. I believe everyone that has used a 16 hp. Leader as well as other makes will affirm that fact. They used a 41' band wheel with a 12' face and the rim 1' thick, which made an extremely heavy band wheel and it produced steadier power than any other single cylinder engine. They used a flame sheet that directed the sparks to the bottom of the smoke box, once on bottom they had a tendency to stary there. When threshing after sundown, using old rails for fuel when you could see every spark that came out, the Old Leader seldom threw out a spark that didn't go out before it hit the ground. Of course, we always told the farmer an engine didn't throw sparks when the sun was shining. What a hell of a line that was. If there had been enough flues in the boiler, the smoke box and stack large enough, it would not have thrown any fire at all. The old Leader, when you got too much water in the boiler, it would spit drops of water. You could work right on. It wouldn't hold you up. All other makes, once they begin to pull water over into the lead pipe they hogged it. The longer the worse, and hold you up.