Threshing Reunion in Shawville Quebec

| March/April 1992

RR3 Shawville, Quebec J0X 2Y0

Since we'd set the date for the 22nd of August and the summer so far had been one of the driest in recent memory, we expected the grain should be good and ready. But then, nature has a sweet way to let us know who's in control and we were glad that it did rain. Since the gang of men were on their way, and my wife along with the ladies had food prepared from the day before, I had to think fast. So I went to the other farm at 6 a.m. and lit the fire in the engine.

We had planned to saw lumber later in the day following the threshing, but the rain changed the order of things for awhile. A good skid way of logs cut a month before was just the thing the gang needed to make them enjoy their lunch. Steam was up in the 45 Case portable built in 1911. This was the first time we belted this engine to my portable sawmill. She had been a sawmill engine before retirement, twenty years ago. News came around that an engine might be for sale, but that it needed some work and even then, quite a few steam buffs suspected it could not be restored.

This is when experience comes in. I had had a boiler repaired before; my Sawyer-Massey needed some tube sheet work and this was the same situation. So, I acquired the Case in the fall of 1990, restored it last winter and now, here we were belted to a 36 inch mill with an 18 inch top mill just take the slabs from one end of the mill to the other into the firebox door. Now show me some cheaper way to saw lumber!

With 120 pounds pressure and between the downpours, a couple of fine meals and not enough pie, we managed 3000 feet of lumber. The men sawed 'til dark, while I milked my cows. And when the harvest moon came up, a flat hay wagon with a good floor was hastily drawn into place, a couple of jacks to steady it and the fiddlers, and the step dancers jumped on to stomp until midnight.

Everyone said they'd come back for the threshing once the weather agreed. We went ahead on the 26th of August. Not a cloud in the sky and you could tell it was going to be hot at 6 in the morning. This time it was the Sawyer-Massey we belted up. A 17 HP portable you could bring up to steam with a handful of wood chips. It's an 1896 tandem compound with no steam dome, serial no. 2104. Now if anyone could make boilers, it was Sawyer-Massey. They used a mud ring instead of the more common knife edge joint of the firebox as in the Case engine. My question is, how do you clean them out well enough to avoid corrosion? In fact, I'm convinced this Sawyer engine and boiler would not have lasted so long, if it weren't for this mud ring. Just consider that this engine built in 1896 worked 'til 1941 and had been sitting since then until the summer of 1988. Merely a week's worth of labor, and we had the pop valve blowing off at 120 lbs. The barrel is 26' in diameter with 36 2' tubes one inch short of 6 feet. Dry wood, 1 inches of water in the glass, the damper shut and the injector taking on water; two men forking in sheaves, I walked over to Keith Miller, our engineer for the day. He says with the water going in, she's sizzling at the pop set at 120 lbs.