Young People’s Page

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F. M. Robertson
Courtesy of F. M. Robertson, Resthaven Home, Morrison, Illinois 61270 Pictured is my old threshing shows badges that I have collected up to the present time. Two of them are 15 to 20 years old, but most of them have been collected in the last few years. I

Torque Power Live Steam Models Hyattstown, Box 144-D R. F. D.,
Ijamsville, Maryland 21 754

I’m living in an old folks home now and don’t get out
much anymore. I want to thank all who sent me badges, pictures and
booklets on their threshing shows. They all help pass the time.

By the time most of you get this issue of the Iron-Men Album it
will be during the Christmas holidays. During this time we should
all remember that the celebration of Christmas was not started as a
promotional gimmick for department stores but as a sign of hope for
all mankind. I certainly hope that all of you have a wonderful
holiday.

I would like to devote this article to our steam engine hobby
past, present and future.

Let’s go back seventy (70) years ago when the steam engine
was our main source of power. People at this time used the steam
engine to make life easier, to travel to places faster, to do the
farm work, saw the lumber and provide electric power. With
man’s ever increasing drive to find something easier the gas
engine soon took over the work that was once done by the steam
engine. Yet, even when this happened the steam engine was not
forgotten. There seemed to be some unexplainable power that the
steam engine had over the people that worked with it, for they
never lost their love of the steam engine. Even though, they would
never refer to the steam engine as something they loved. More often
they were referred to in a rather distasteful language especially
when an engine wasn’t operating properly. But that was their
own fault. For as much as they cussed these engines out, they
wouldn’t give them up until forced to do so by progress. What
hurt the steam engine the most was not so much the invention of the
gas engine, but the depression and World War II. Although I
didn’t live during this time, this is what I have been told by
those who did.

Before the depression, there were hundreds of steam engine
companies in existence. American farms, industry and railroads used
steam for power. During the depression many farms went under,
businesses failed and the railroads could not afford to pay the
large number of people required to operate the locomotives. The
industries that survived changed to gas power in order to cut down
on operating costs. The farms were the last to change to gas. The
farms that didn’t go under could rely on their neighbors for
help in operating their engines.

But, this didn’t last forever. As our nation became an
industrial rather than a farming nation, more people went to the
cities thus making help for the farmer scarce and forcing the
change to gas power which was cheaper to operate.

With the coming of World War II everything had to be done fast
and cheap which finally ended the steam era. This started a trend
which has not changed and that is do it fast and cheap.

After our nation got over the depression and World War II,
people began wanting to have a good time since they had it so hard
during the depression and World War II. Many hobbies came into
being including the steam engine hobby. The Iron-Men Album was
founded by our editor, Mr. Ritzman, who got the hobby organized and
started many steam shows across the country. Many of the people
living in the cities had come from the farms where they worked
around steam engines. The hobby gave them the chance to relive the
good old days when steam was king. More and more people got into
it.

In the last ten (10) years our hobby has grown because of one
factor the stress of our modern times had become so great that
people had to get away from it. For many, this is going to a steam
show and running an engine they restored or just coming and having
a good time. As the stress of modern times and ways is forced upon
us by our government and industry, more people will turn to our
hobby.

Now we are at the dawn of the 1970’s and our hobby is going
to become more popular. But, is it going to have a few prosperous
years and then decline? The reason II ask this is because I have
seen the costs of antiques and engines triple in the last five (5)
years. This has caused many people to become concerned as I have
learned from talking to them at steam shows. Our hobby should be
kept as a hobby and not as a big money making business.

This I have learned from my model steam engine business. The
hobby is not big enough at this time to support a business and keep
prices of models reasonable. I was faced with upping prices four or
five times what they were or find another way to make a living. I
chose to go into general machine and foundry work to make a living.
This requires night and day work in order to make a living and
survive. Since I do not have to depend upon the models to make a
living, I could keep the prices low. Unfortunately I was left with
very little time to work on my models. This has caused
heartbreaking delays in my plans but as they say that’s the way
the ball bounces. In the long run it will be best for me and the
hobby. In time I believe our hobby will support steam hobby
oriented businesses but not right now; the hobby needs to grow
some.

Antiques and engines owned by individuals do not have to be sold
at the prices antique dealers get. But, many people feel that they
should get as much as the dealers do. However, in the best interest
of the hobby, I think everyone should try to keep the prices within
reason. I say this because most young people could afford, in time,
to buy an engine but not if the prices keep going up. I own two
engines but only because some people felt it was better to make it
possible for me to own one and become a supporter of the hobby than
to make a big profit off of the engine. This is something for all
owners of engines to think about because our hobby is dependent on
its youth to carry it on in future years.

In the next article I will continue with some of the points that
should be thought about for the benefit of the hobby.

My predecessor received a letter which, at the request of its
writer, we are printing. I think it shows that there are many
people promoting youth participation in the hobby. The letter is as
follows:

11 August 1969

I am fifteen years old and live at Adams, Tennessee. During the
last days of June Mr. Billy M. Byrd brought his Nichols and Shepard
engine from his home, Madisonville, Kentucky, to be at the fourth
of July picnic here. He was raised here and moved to Kentucky while
working for the L & N Railroad. I went over to the picnic
location where the engine and he were. Since I love steam engines
the next thing I knew was that I was running the 16-60 hp. engine.
He was very friendly and was glad for me to help him. Later in
August I went to his home and then helped him run the engine at the
county fair. The next day he and his friend, Morton Dickerson, took
me to a steam show at Boonville, Indiana. I met the Byrd family who
were very nice and treated me with warmth and kindness. This man
trusted me at the controls of his engine even though I had never
driven one before. He tried to teach me all he knew in a very short
time and I appreciate that very much. Since Mr. Byrd has been an
engineer for years, he is an expert in my opinion, I hope this will
be printed so that I may show my gratitude to this man.

From a Young Engineer, Danny Miller R.R.2 Adams, Tennessee
37010.

Farm Collector Magazine
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Dedicated to the Preservation of Vintage Farm Equipment