SOOT IN THE FLUES
Hi! to all my good friends of the Iron Men Album
Family. I know most of you have never met me and probably
never will; but there definitely is a closeness I feel for you and
some of the names are so familiar I feel like I know you.
Wow! Has this ever been a bad winter! Snow Snow and more SNOW
and really cold weather! I think most of the schools around here
will have to make up about 15 days, so far. A lot of damage has
been done also. My carport roof caved in right down onto the patio.
I'm so grateful though, I had just gone out to empty the
garbage and came in when I heard this terrible noise. I was so
shocked as I looked out, as the roof was all down and there were
about two feet of snow right at the door with the roof under it.
But I know there were many more, lots worse cases around here,
where buildings caved in with much more damage.
My car and my son Donnie's car were under the roof, so they
both had to be repaired as they had dents and scratches a-plenty.
But thank God we weren't out there when the roof caved in or I
guess I wouldn't be writing this column. And it still has been
snowing almost every day, though it does look better right now. It
snowed this morning but stopped and the sun is out and there is a
lot of melting going on. The Susquehanna River, between Harrisburg
and the West Shore towns, was up to flood stage last night and also
all the ice on the river started moving. It was on TV and the
pictures were really devastating. You see these acts of Nature and
it is breathtaking. I do hope we're almost through for this
winter. We had a bad flood in 1972 and it was scary. And I have to
get a new carport.
But, now on to the letters and I believe more folks are sending
in material. Please continue to do so and encourage your friends
and buddies to send their stories along. It will make us happier
and also the fellow IMA subscribers. Now on to the
communications for this issue:
'What a thrill to see the first steam traction engine I ever
saw on the back cover of November/December IMA
'93,' writes GARY YEAGER, 146 Reimer Lane, Whitefish,
Montana 59937. (406-862-7738).
'That Reeves 32-120 cross compound Canadian Special was
owned from 1920-1954 by our family. I know Marvin and Shirley
Brodbeck and family treasure that old lady. I could go on about her
for many pages, however the intent of my letter only parallels this
'On page six is John Haley's 'Canadian Big Game
Hunt' story. John relates how he found a boiler, wheels, axle,
cannon bearing, and much of the gearing for a 110 Case.
'I really admire these gentlemen who build these engines
from parts. They are extremely devoted to their quest. I've
heard there are around 26 operating 110 Cases and with the ones
being restored from parts, there will be 30. I also understand
there are more operating 110 Cases in proportion to the number
manufactured than the proportion of Duesenbergs! (What testimony
this is! Every year this task becomes more difficult.)
'I'm proud to have Carl Mehmke as a close friend. I know
he has helped many restorers with parts or patterns to be cast. He
still has his father, Walter's 32 (110) Case, with short smoke
box and flat steam dome. This engine broke most of the prairie east
of Great Falls, Montana to Belt, Montana. Carl also has a 110 HP
butt strap engine Walter bought in Canada in pieces. Carl is giving
a fresh restoration to both of these giant Case engines and doing a
top rate job of it too.
32-120 Reeves (Emerson Brantingham) cross compound Canadian
Special purchased this summer by Lance Barnes, owner and operator
of the Barnes Steam & Power Show at Belgrade, Montana.
'What is my point? Here I am sending you a picture of the
110 Case's nearest competition. Again, these figures are not
presented as fact, but I counted the 32 HP Reeves Canadian Specials
in Haston St. Clair's book Historical Stories About Reeves
'There is one simple double, owned by my friends and former
neighbors, Joe and Eddie Kolar of Moore, Montana. There I counted
five Reeves Canadian Special cross-compound engines. Tyler Bros, of
Moore, Montana, have one; another is Marvin Brodbeck's in
Michigan; then there is the one at Mount Pleasant. Canada has two.
The one at the Western Development Museum at Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan and the last being the one reassembled from parts by
Ronald Smith of New Westminster, British Columbia.
'For the last several years, I have been attending the
Barnes Family Steam and Power Show at Belgrade, Montana, where
I'm lucky enough to assist my dear friend Austin Monk in the
operation of his 40-120 Geiser (Emerson-Brantingham) Peerless. We
demonstrate pulling a 20-bottom plow with it. It can be seen on
page 17 of the May/June 1993 IMA. Anyway, I have been treated like
family by the entire Barnes crew. This past August marked their
20th anniversary of really entertaining their guests.
'I was thrilled to pull into Barnes show grounds this year
and see the distinct probability of another 32 HP Reeves Canadian
Special cross compound up and running again. The engine shown in
this photo is in excellent condition, however, many pieces are
missing. I know Lance Barnes could use any help anyone can offer.
This is a late Emerson-Brantingham Reeves.
'Don Bradley of Forsyth, Montana, also attends the Barnes
show annually. While attending the show at Rollag, Minnesota this
fall, Don talked to some Canadian friends who thought they might be
of some help. If any of you can help, contact: Lance Barnes, 3100
Weaver Road, Belgrade, Montana 59714 or phone him at
'I know from working within a school system that competition
is supposed to be good. I know farm equipment always has been and
always will be competitive. I know Case and Reeves were direct
competitors in their heyday. I also know that the J.I. Case Company
bought the Emerson-Brantingham Company. Maybe some of you have real
reasons for thinking one was better than the other. I think in this
day and age, anything in the steam line that has survived deserves
dignity. Thanks for letting me say that!
'All steam engines are good even if some are better than
others. Enough on that subject.
'I'll look forward to seeing my old friends at Belgrade
next August. I'll also look forward to seeing my new friends,
should you decide to visit 'our' show!'
BRUCE McCOURTNEY, P. O. Box 121, Syracuse, Nebraska 68446 says:
'Hi to all folks at the Iron-Men Albumwanted to tell you we had
a good sale September 7, 1993, at Little Rock, Nebraska. Of all our
advertisements, we got the most and the best buyers from our ad in
IMA. We thank you a lot for that! We had buyers from Pennsylvania,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas,
Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, North and South Dakota,
Minnesota and one from Canada.'Wow! You must have had some
sale happy for you!
'Enclosed is a picture of one of four grain elevators that
we have moved. The first and tallest grain elevator we moved was at
Burchard, Nebraska. I pulled it with a Russell 16 HP engine on a
set of steel cable blocks when I was 12 years old. One man asked my
father if that kid was going to run that engine, and Dad said yes,
that he had to do it, as he was too little to carry planks and
timbers, so the man quit. That was in the A.M. and the man and
others watched all A.M., then at 1:00 P.M. the man told Dad,
'That kid isn't going to kill anybody' and he wanted
his job back. Dad said, 'Okay, but that kid will be running
that engine that P.M. and again tomorrow.' The man stayed on
'The picture enclosed is of an elevator they moved in Pawnee
City, Nebraska, one cold winter in 1921, when Bruce was 14 years
old. Says Bruce, 'I put an Aultman-Taylor engine through a
bridge that summer. Everything that wasn't bent was broken. We
sold $35 worth of parts and junked the rest of it. I'm now
about to be 88 years old and still have that big chime whistle off
of that old A & T. (Thanks for trying to read this letter. My
heart is a lot better than my writing. If my writing gets worse, I
think I'll be a doctor, lawyer or if I could afford it, I'd
be a banker.)'
(Yes, I want you folks to know, sometimes the letters are a
challenge to decipher, BUT you wonderful guys keep writing!
I'll keep trying and hope I don't mess the story up too
much. I appreciate hearing from youthat's what this magazine is
you wonderful oldtimersthe only ones who can really make this
Iron-Men Album the great magazine that I think it is). Also Bruce
wrote, 'If Bernice and I last until Christmas Day we'll
celebrate Christmas two ways as we'll be married 65 years. We
both have our hair and teeth, etc. I even have my appendix
yet.' Thanks for adding that Bruce, I think that was nice you
shared that last paragraph with us AND how wonderful to have had a
long good marriage and I sincerely hope you can celebrate more
Now, on the back of the picture is written, McCourtney's
house moving at Table Rock, Nebraska in January 1921 at Pawnee
City, Nebraska. Moved over a mile and put on a nine foot high
foundation. Horses hooked up to rear dollies to steer back-end when
engines pull up straight for foundation. Rumely and Huber steam
engines. Hired man on Rumely. Bruce McCourtney, 14 years old on
Huber. Had one steep hill to go up and a long hill to go down. All
machinery inside building.
There was only one picture and I wasn't sure at first if it
was the grain elevator or whatbut I am more satisfied to tell you
this. It says on the back 'this is McCourtney's house
LOUIS POKRYWKA, 52 A South Main Street, New Milford, Connecticut
06776 writes: 'I am sending you these pictures of a 1925 A.D.
Baker 23-90 HP steam traction engine belted to a Baker Fan.
'These photos were taken at the Rough and Tumble Engineers
Historical Association Threshermen's Reunion at Kinzers,
Pennsylvania in August of 1993.
'Chester Stoltzfus of Leola, Pennsylvania, was the engineer
on this engine and he was sure putting on a good show with this
engine belted to the fan.'
This writing comes from LOYD CREED, R.R. 3, Box 381, Danville,
Illinois 61832 (217-443-1814). 'Enclosed is a photograph of a
25 HP Colean engine taken several years ago. The back of it read,
'Stanley Hash barger steam rig home on Wy-man, Hoopeston,
Illinois.' Two things that I find interesting about the
pictures are (1) it appears as if the engine is popping off because
of the escaping steam. (2) The water tank appears to be built
around the smokestack. I would like to know what is on the wagon
that they are pulling.'
VERNON FABER, 9N915 Burlington Road, Hampshire, Illinois 60140
sends this communication which we are most happy to receive: 'I
have read in Soot in the Flues that you would like to hear from
more of the Iron-Men Album readers. I am sorry that I haven't
written sooner since I have been getting the magazine since 1948.
It is hard for me to write letters, but I will try to write of some
of my threshing experiences.' (I can't believe all those
years, Vernon, that you have been getting the magazine and we
haven't heard from you, but welcome aboard, partner!)
'In 1943 my father bought a used Keck-Gonnerman 28 x 48
threshing machine. We used our farm tractor, a Farmall Model M. So
we got a small ring of five or six farmers who were not combining
yet. We were able to continue threshing for them until 1950 when
the combines won out. Personally, I still wanted to keep on
threshing our own grain, but Dad bought a small combine, so most of
the farmers in our area went to combining instead of threshing.
'It was in the summer of 1957 that the Northern Illinois
Steam Power Club of Sycamore was organized. I went to the show in
August and joined the club.
'Being a dairy farmer, I could not be very active in the
club for several years, but I enjoyed going every year. In 1970 I
went out of the dairy business and became a grain farmer. Then I
was able to spend more time at the show. I was asked to be on the
Board of Directors and got active doing various jobs for the club.
Later, I decided to get an older tractor and a 24 x 40
Keck-Gonnerman separator. I restored the tractor and am going to
fix up the separator.' (Nice letter, Vernon, I'll be
looking to hear from you again.)
'I would like to refer to IMA July/August 1993, page 14
regarding 'An early Case steam Engine.' If that engine
isn't an early Reeves, I guess I'll have to eat 10 years of
IMA. And, don't give up Anna Mae, will try to keep the letters
coming.' (Good, I'm glad to welcome another
contributor, RAY CHIOLEY, R.R. 4, Woodville, Ontario, Canada
'I, as usual, enjoy the IMA and especially Soot in the
Flues,' writes JOE B. DILL, Route 1, Box 26, Lascassas,
Tennessee 37085. 'I noticed that Carl Lathrop has a picture on
page 16 of May/June 93 issue of a tool that he wants us folks out
in Engine Land to identify.
'I can help and also ask a question about it. It is a grain
and seed cleaner. We had one like it back in the '30s that we
used to clean wheat, oats and barley that we sowed here. I still
have some iron parts as fan shaft, pitman rod gear and small wheel
that operated the pitman.
'The angle attachment at front of the machine that shakes
the screens from side to side on our cleaner is a half circle metal
part instead of levers as the picture in IMA shows.
'Murfreesboro's Cannonburgh Antique Museum has another
cleaner, but it is not like my old cleaner or the one in the
picture. It has two pitman rods, one to levers and one that shakes
the bottom screen. It appears to have had an electric motor drive,
maybe a later model.
'Most unusual is the fact that my cleaner had only two
paddles on the fan shaft. I don't remember noticing the two
paddle fan years ago, when it was in operation. It really blew lots
'I'm including these sketches as someone may recognize
the make and year made of our fans.'
I have a letter from GERALD R. DARR, 2220 Bishopsgate Drive,
Toledo, Ohio 43614 whose name is familiar to me as he has written
other times. He says he is always glad to read all the stories and
see the pictures and letters that make up the magazine. He also
responds to the inquiry and picture of a piece of machinery that
Carl Lathrop was unable to name (see previous letter). Gerald says
it looks to him like a fanning mill. At least that's what his
father called it on the farm where he grew up at Clyde, Ohio. They
used it to clean seed, wheat and oats before planting.
'When my father bought the farm in 1928, the fanning mill
came with it. It was a deep red, trimmed in black. The make was
Eureka. I do not recall where it was manufactured. Dad's
machine did not have a gear wheel. I turned the crank a good number
of times. The model shown seems to be what would be a deluxe
'My model had a seed cleaner that he had powered by an
electric motor. That particular make was manufactured in Urbana,
'My wife is improving more from her stroke in October, 1991.
She has started to drive the car alone. I never thought that would
come about, but nothing is impossible for the Lord! I recently went
to the clinics to have the surgeon check the carpal tunnel
operation he did for me. As one looks around, a person should be
thankful for small favors.' (How true! I'm sure we could
all give examples of how the Lord works in our lives.)