Several months ago I gave a gift subscription of the Iron-Men Album to my friend and assistant, Donald Madison. His picture appears on Page 29 of the January-February 1969 Issue of the Iron-Men Album in which you published the article on Torque Power. Donald enjoys the Iron-Men Album as much as I do. But, we both have one complaint and that is this: you have a page devoted to the Iron-Man of the Month, a ladies page and various other articles of interest but nothing for the young people. As you know, the future of the steam hobby and of the Iron-Men Album depends on young people like myself and Donald. Of course, we realize that you have to have some young person willing to take on the responsibility of writing such a column. After talking about this situation, Donald decided that he wanted to try and write a regular column. He asked me if I would write to you and see if you would be willing to let him try it.
As you know by now, we are both real steam nuts and very dedicated to the hobby. We have found that the steam hobby is like the hub of a wheel which has many spokes of interest branching out. And this I have found to be an important point to keep in mind.
Donald has written an introductory article which he would like you to publish in the July-August Issue of the Iron Men Album. The article is written from the viewpoint of a young engineer who is trying, like myself, to keep a bygone era of American History alive. Even though neither of us lived during this period of time, we both have found many good old ways which should be promoted as much as the space age technology is to the young people. Donald hopes to be doing his part for the steam hobby and the good old ways by writing the articles which will promote these things to the young people who receive or know of your magazine.
Donald has my complete support in his project and I am sure it would be worthwhile for you to let him try this. Mr. Charles Hope of Arlington, Virginia has given Donald the use of his archives of steam and gas information as he needs it for future articles. We hope that this page devoted to Young Engineers will become as well known as Cobs from Elmer's Corn Crib, Soot in the Flues and Iron-Man of the Month.
Donald has just recently moved next door to me and will be receiving his mail through Torque Power. I thought you might want to write to him giving some advice on his articles as you see fit. We have been wanting to come up and visit you but Donald is in school and we won't be able to make it until this summer.
By Donald Madison
A few months ago an article was written by my friend and business associate, Sheldon Jones of Torque Power, which pointed out a growing problem facing the steam engine world today and our nation in general. The problem is that the old time mechanical ingenuity that made our nation as great as it is has almost completely disappeared.
I am fifteen years old and feel that I should speak up from the standpoint that I am a young steam engine enthusiast and that I am among the skilled workers of tomorrow. As Sheldon's assistant I perform a varied number of jobs. I can work in our foundry setting up sand molds by hand which is becoming a lost art. I am learning to do pattern work. I am learning to do machine work which requires learning the operations of lathes and milling machines, and also how to do design and layoff work.
I don't consider myself an expert at anything I do because I am too young. I feel very fortunate to have a teacher like Sheldon because he knows a lot and I hope to learn through the years. The type of work which I am interested in few young people are willing to do. Of course, there are not many places where you can find someone to take the time and who has the patience to teach someone else.
It is said that by next year 80% of all skilled workers will be of retirement age. This means that there will not be as many skilled workers in the future since there are so few replacements. Anyone who is willing to work hard and stick with it can have a good future in mechanical arts. As the law of supply and demand, those few who can perform their skills on the job will be highly rewarded. Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with the steam engine hobby. Well, the work required to build a model steam engine from scratch involves most of the mechanical arts.
I think the reason the mechanical arts field declined was that the country got too reliant on modern technology. Not that it hasn't done a lot for the nation, but modern technology has tended to make people lazy. They don't want to do anything that requires a little do-it-yourself ingenuity.
As I look around at other young people, they give me the impression that they are wandering: around with no useful purpose. I think there should be something done to unite the young steam enthusiasts and the would-be enthusiasts.
Since the Iron-Men Album is the most influential steam engine magazine, I would like to take the responsibility of writing a regular series of articles devoted to the Young Engineers. I would hope be to acting as your traveling reporter to the various steam shows while working with Torque Power displaying our steam engines. I would like to hear from all young steam enthusiasts that read this magazine so I would have an idea as to how many of you there are. Please let me know how old you are and a little about yourself.
The steam hobby is not just steam engines but a variety of related interests such as: collections of antique farm machinery like sawmills, shingle saws and threshing machines, to name a few. Also, collections of household items such as: old phonographs, books and kitchen tools like the old apple peeler. I hope to have my articles on a variety of interests like the above along with steam engines.
I would like to thank Sheldon Jones of Torque Power Live Steam Models and Mr. Charles A. Hope of Arlington, Virginia, who have encouraged me in writing this series of articles. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Ritzman for publishing this article in the Iron-Men Album.
I hope that by encouraging these types of interests among young people like myself, it will, in turn help our nation as a whole. If you would like to write and let me know how you feel about this article and many of the things I have mentioned, my address is as follows: Donald Madison, Torque Power, Live Steam Models, Firetower Road, Hyatts-town, Maryland 20734.
'From An Airplane, the countryside looks as orderly as though you were riding over a map.'