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Rough and Tumble Engineering by James H. Maggard

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By James H. Maggard


In placing this book before the public the author wishes it understood
that it is not his intention to produce a scientific work on
engineering. Such a book would be valuable only to engineers of large
stationary engines. In a nice engine room nice theories and scientific
calculations are practical. This book is intended for engineers of farm
and traction engines, "rough and tumble engineers," who have everything
in their favor today, and tomorrow are in mud holes, who with the same
engine do eight horse work one day and sixteen horse work the next day.
Reader, the author has had all these experiences and you will have them,
but don't get discouraged. You can get through them to your entire

Don't conclude that all you are to do is to read this book. It will not
make an engineer of you. But read it carefully, use good judgment and
common sense, do as it tells you, and my word for it, in one month, you,
for all practical purposes, will be a better engineer than four-fifths
of the so-called engineers today, who think what they don't know would
not make much of a book. Don't deceive yourself with the idea that what
you get out of this will be merely "book learning." What is said in this
will be plain, unvarnished, practical facts. It is not the author's
intention to use any scientific terms, but plain, everyday field terms.
There will be a number of things you will not find in this book, but
nothing will be left out that would be of practical value to you. You
will not find any geometrical figures made up of circles, curves,
angles, letters and figures in a vain effort to make you understand the
principle of an eccentric. While it is all very nice to know these
things, it is not necessary, and the putting of them in this book would
defeat the very object for which it was intended. Be content with being
a good, practical, everyday engineer, and all these things will come in


If you have not read the preface on the preceding pages, turn back and
read it. You will see that we have stated there that we will use no
scientific terms, but plain every day talk. It is presumed by us that
there will be more young men, wishing to become good engineers, read
this work than old engineers. We will, therefore, be all the more plain
and say as little as possible that will tend to confuse the learner, and
what we do say will be said in the same language that we would use if we
were in the field, instructing you how to handle your engine. So if the
more experienced engineer thinks we might have gone further in some
certain points, he will please remember that by so doing we might
confuse the less experienced, and thereby cover up the very point we
tried to make. And yet it is not to be supposed that we will endeavor to
make an engineer out of a man who never saw an engine. It is, therefore,
not necessary to tell the learner how an engine is made or what it looks
like. We are not trying to teach you how to build an engine, but rather
how to handle one after it is built; how to know when it is in proper
shape and how to let it alone when it is in shape. We will suppose that
you already know as much as an ordinary water boy, and just here we will
say that we have seen water haulers that were more capable of handling
the engine for which they were hauling water, than the engineer, and the
engineer would not have made a good water boy, for the reason that he
was lazy, and we want the reader to stick a pin here, and if he has any
symptoms of that complaint, don't undertake to run an engine, for a lazy
engineer will spoil a good engine, if by no other means than getting it
in the habit of loafing.


In order to get the learner started, it is reasonable to suppose that
the engine he is to run is in good running order. It would not be fair
to put the green boy onto an old dilapidated, worn-out engine, for he
might have to learn too fast, in order to get the engine running in good
shape. He might have to learn so fast that he would get the big head,
or have no head at all, by the time he got through with it. And I don't
know but that a boy without a head is about as good as an engineer with
the big head. We will, therefore, suppose that his engine is in good
running order. By good running order we mean that it is all there, and
in its proper place, and that with from ten to twenty pounds of steam,
the engine will start off at a good lively pace. And let us say here,
(remember that we are talking of the lone engine, no load considered,)
that if you are starting a new engine and it starts off nice and easy
with twenty pounds, you can make up your mind that you have an engine
that is going to be nice to handle and give you but little, if any,
trouble. But if it should require fifty or sixty pounds to start it,
you want to keep your eyes open, something is tight; but don't take it
to pieces. You might get more pieces than you would know what to do
with. Oil the bearings freely and put your engine in motion and run it
carefully for a while and see if you don't find something getting warm.
If you do, stop and loosen up a very little and start it up again. If
it still heats, loosen about the same as before, and you will find that
it will soon be all right. But remember to loosen but very little at a
time, for a box or journal will heat from being too loose as quickly as
from being too tight, and you will make trouble for yourself, for,
inexperienced as you are, you don't know whether it is too loose or too
tight, and if you have found a warm box, don't let that box take all of
your attention, but keep an eye on all other bearings. Remember that we
are not threshing yet, we just run the engine out of shed, (and for the
sake of the engine and the young engineer, we hope that it did not stand
out all winter) and are getting in shape for a good fall's run. In the
meantime, to find out if anything heats, you can try your pumps, but to
help you along, we will suppose that your pump, or injector, as the case
may be, works all right.

Now suppose we go back where we started this new engine that was slow to
start with less than fifty pounds, and when it did start, we watched it
carefully and found after oiling thoroughly that nothing heated as far
as we could see. So we conclude that the trouble must be in the
cylinder. Well, what next? Must we take off the cylinder head and look
for the trouble? Oh, no, not by any means. The trouble is not serious.
The rings are a little tight, which is no serious fault. Keep them well
oiled and in a day or two ten pounds will start the empty engine in good
shape. If you are starting an engine that has been run, the above
instructions are not necessary, but if it is a new one these precautions
are not out of the way, and a great deal of the trouble caused in
starting a new engine, can be avoided if these precautions are observed.

It is not uncommon for a hot box to be caused from a coal cinder
dropping in the box in shipment, and before starting a new engine, clean
out the boxes thoroughly, which can be done by taking off the caps, or
top box, and wiping the journal clean with an oily rag or waste, and
every engineer should supply himself with this very necessary article,
especially if he is the kind of an engineer who intends to keep his
engine clean.

The engine should be run slowly and carefully for a while, to give a
chance to find out if anything is going to heat, before putting on any

Now if your engine is all right, you can run the pressure up to the
point of blowing off, which is from one hundred to one hundred and ten
pounds. Most new pop valves, or safety valves, are set at this
pressure. I would advise you to fire to this point, to see that your
safety is all right. It is not uncommon for a new pop to stick, and as
the steam runs up it is well to try it, by pulling the relief lever. If,
on letting it go, it stops the escaping, steam at once, it is all right.
If, however, the steam continues to escape, the valve sticks in the
chamber. Usually a slight tap with a wrench or a hammer will stop it at
once, but never get excited over escaping steam, and perhaps here is as
good a place as any to say to you, don't get excited over anything. As
long as you have plenty of water, and know you have, there is no danger.

The young engineer will most likely wonder why we have not said
something about the danger of explosions. We did not start to write
about explosions. That is just what we don't want to have anything to
do with. But, you say, is there no danger of a boiler exploding? Yes.
But if you wish to explode your boiler you must treat it very
differently from the way we advise. We have just stated, that as long
as you have plenty of water, and know you have, there is no danger.
Well, how are you to know? This is not a difficult thing to know,
provided your boiler is fitted with the proper appliances, and all
builders of any prominence, at this date, fit their boilers with from
two to four try-cocks, and a glass gauge. The boiler is tapped in from
two to four places for the try-cocks, the location of the cocks ranging
from a line on a level with the crown sheet, or top of fire box, to
eight inches above, depending somewhat on the amount of water space
above the crown sheet, as this space differs very materially in
different makes of the same sized boiler. The boiler is also tapped on
or near the level of crown sheet, to receive the lower water glass cock
and directly above this, for the top cock. The space between this shows
the safe variation of the water. Don't let the water get above the top
of the glass, for if you are running your engine at hard work, you may
knock out a cylinder head, and don't let it get below the lower gauge,
or you may get your head knocked off.

Now the glass gauge is put on for your convenience, as you can determine
the location of the water as correctly by this as if you are looking
directly into the boiler, provided, the glass gauge is in perfect order.
But as there are a number of ways in which it may become disarranged or
unreliable, we want to impress on your mind that you, must not depend on
it entirely. We will give these causes further on. You are not only
provided with the glass gauge, but with the try-cocks. These cocks are
located so that the upper and lower cock is on or near the level with
the lower and upper end of the glass gauge. With another try-cock about
on a level with the center of glass gauge, or in other words, if the
water stands about the center of glass it will at the same time show at
the cock when tried. Now we will suppose that your glass gauge is in
perfect condition and the water shows two inches in the glass. You now
try the lower cock, and find plenty of water; you will then try the next
upper cock and get steam. Now as the lower cock is located below the
water line, shown by the glass, and the second cock above this line, you
not only see the water line by the glass, but you have a way of proving
it. Should the water be within two inches of the top of glass you again
have the line between two cocks and can also prove it. Now you can know
for a certainty, where the water stands in the boiler, and we repeat
when you know this, there is nothing to fear from this source, and as a
properly constructed boiler never explodes, except from low water or
high pressure, and as we have already cautioned you about your safety
valve, you have nothing to fear, provided you have made up your mind to
follow these instructions, and unless you can do this, let your job to
one who can. Well, you say you will do as we have directed, we will
then go back to the gauges. Don't depend on your glass gauge alone, for
several reasons. One is, if you depend on the glass entirely, the
try-cocks become limed up and are useless, solely because they are
not used.

Some time ago the writer was standing near a traction engine, when the
engineer, (I guess I must call him that) asked me to stay with the
engine a few minutes. I consented. After he had been gone a short time
I thought I would look after the water. It showed about two inches in
the glass, which was all right, but as I have advised you, I proposed to
know that it was there and thought I would prove it by trying the cocks.
But on attempting to try them I found them limed up solid. Had I been
hunting an engineer, that fellow would not have secured the job.
Suppose that before I had looked at the glass, it had bursted, which it
is liable to do any time. I would have shut the gauge cocks off as soon
as possible to stop the escaping steam and water. Then I would have
tried the cocks to find where the water was in the boiler. I would have
been in a bad boat, not knowing whether I had water or not. Shortly
after this the fellow that was helping the engine run (I guess I will
put it that way) came back. I asked him what the trouble was with his
try cocks. He said, "Oh, I don't bother with them." I asked him what he
would do if his glass should break. His reply was, "Oh, that won't
break." Now just such an engineer as that spoils many a good engine, and
then blames it on the manufacturer. Now this is one good reason why you
are not to depend entirely on the glass gauge. Another equally as good
reason is, that your glass may fool you, for you see the try-cocks may
lime up, so may your glass gauge cocks, but you say you use them. You
use them by looking at them. You are not letting the steam or water
escape from them every few minutes and thereby cutting the lime away, as
is the case with try-cocks. Now you want to know how you are to keep
them open. Well, that is easy. Shut off the top gauge and open the
drain cock at bottom of gauge cock. This allows the water and steam to
flow out of the lower cock. Then after allowing it to escape a few
seconds, shut off the lower gauge and open the top one, and allow it to
blow about the same time. Then shut the drain cock and open both gauge
cocks and you will see the water seek its level, and you can rest
assured that it is reliable. This little operation I want you to
perform every day you run an engine. It will prevent you from thinking
you have water. I don't want you to think so. I intend that you shall
know it. You remember we said, if you know you have water, you are
safe, and every one around you will be safe.

Now here is something I want you to remember. Never be guilty of going
to your engine in the morning and building a fire simply because you see
water in the glass. We could give you the names of a score of men who
have ruined their engines by doing this very thing. You, as a matter of
course, want to know why this can do any harm. It could not, if the
water in the boiler was as high as it shows in the glass, but it is not
always there, and that is what causes the trouble. Well, if it showed
in the glass, why was it not there? You probably have lived long enough
in the world to know that there are a great many boys in it, and it
seems to be second nature with them to turn everything on an engine that
is possible to turn. All glass gauge cocks are fitted with a small hand
wheel. The small boy sees this about the first thing and he begins to
turn it, and he generally turns as long as it turns easy, and when it
stops he will try the other one, and when it stops he has done the
mischief, by shutting the water off from the boiler, and all the water
that was in the glass remains there. You may have stopped work with an
ordinary gauge of water, and as water expands when heated, it also
contracts when it becomes cool. Water will also simmer away, if there
is any fire left in the fire box, especially if there should be any vent
or leak in the boiler, and the water may by morning have dropped to as
much as an inch below the crown sheet. You approach the engine and on
looking at the glass, see two or three inches of water. Should you
start a fire without investigating any further, you will have done the
damage, while if you try the gauge cocks first you will discover that
some one has tampered with the engine. The boy did the mischief through
no malicious motives, but we regret to say that there are people in this
world who are mean enough to do this very thing, and not stop at what
the boy did unconsciously, but after shutting the water in the gauge for
the purpose of deceiving you, they then go to the blow-off cock and let
enough water out to insure a dry crown sheet. While I detest a human
being guilty of such a dastardly trick, I have no sympathy to waste on
an engineer who can be caught in this way. So, if by this time you have
made up your mind never to build a fire until you know where the water
is, you will never be fooled and will never have to explain an accident
by saying, "I thought I had plenty of water." You may be fooled in
another way. You are aware that when a boiler is fired up or in other
words has a steam pressure on, the air is excluded, so when the boiler
cools down, the steam condenses and becomes water again, hence the space
which was occupied by steam now when cold becomes a vacuum.

Now should your boiler be in perfect shape, we mean perfectly tight,
your throttle equally as tight, your pump or injector in perfect
condition and you were to' leave your engine with the hose in the tank,
and the supply globe to your pump open, you will find on returning to
your engine in the morning that the boiler will be nearly if not quite
full of water. I have heard engineers say that someone had been
tampering with their engines and storm around about it, while the facts
were that the supply being open the water simply flowed in from
atmospheric pressure, in order to fill the space made vacant by the
condensed steam. You will find further on that all check valves are
arranged to prevent any flowing out from the boiler, but nothing to
prevent water flowing in. Such an occurrence will do no harm but the
knowing how it was done may prevent your giving yourself away. A good
authority on steam boilers, says: "All explosions come either from poor
material, poor workmanship, too high pressure, or a too low gauge of
water." Now to protect yourself from the first two causes, buy your
engine from some factory having a reputation for doing good work and for
using good material. The last two causes depend very much on yourself,
if you are running your own engine. If not, then see that you have an
engineer who knows when his safety valve is in good shape and who knows
when he has plenty of water, or knows enough to pull his fire, when for
some reason, the water should become low. If poor material and poor
workmanship were unknown and carelessness in engineers were unknown,
such a thing as a boiler explosion would also be unknown.

You no doubt have made up your mind by this time that I have no use for
a careless engineer, and let me add right here, that if you are inclined
to be careless, forgetful,(they both mean about the same thing,) you are
a mighty poor risk for an insurance company, but on the other hand if
you are careful and attentive to business, you are as safe a risk as any
one, and your success and the durability and life of your engine depends
entirely upon you, and it is not worth your while to try to shift the
responsibility of an accident to your engine upon some one else.

If you should go away from your engine and leave it with the water boy,
or anyone who might be handy, or leave it alone, as is often done, and
something goes wrong with the engine, you are at fault. You had no
business to leave it, but you say you had to go to the separator and
help fix something there. At the separator is not your place. It is
not our intention to tell you how to run both ends of an outfit. We
could not tell you if we wanted to. If the men at the separator can't
handle it, get some one or get your boss to get some one who can. Your
place is at the engine. If your engine is running nicely, there is all
the more reason why you should stay by it, as that is the way to keep it
running nicely. I have seen twenty dollars damage done to the separator
and two days time lost all because the engineer was as near the
separator as he was to the engine when a root went into the cylinder.
Stay with your engine, and if anything goes wrong at the separator, you
are ready to stop and stop quickly, and if you are signalled to start
you are ready to start at once You are therefore making time for your
employer or for yourself and to make time while running a threshing
outfit, means to make money. There are engineers running engines today
who waste time enough every day to pay their wages.

There is one thing that may be a little difficult to learn, and that is
to let your engine alone when it is all right. I once gave a young
fellow a recommendation to a farmer who wanted an engineer, and
afterward noticed that when I happened around he immediately picked up a
wrench and commenced to loosen up first one thing and then another. If
that engineer ever loses that recommendation he will be out of a job, if
his getting one depends on my giving him another. I wish to say to the
learner that that is not the way to run an engine. Whenever I happen to
go around an engine, (and I never lose an opportunity) and see an
engineer watching his engine, (now don't understand me to mean standing
and gazing at it,) I conclude that he knows his business. What I mean
by watching an engine is, every few minutes let your eye wander over the
engine and you will be surprised to see how quickly you will detect
anything out of place. So when I see an engineer watching his engine
closely while running, I am most certain to see another commendable
feature in a good engineer, and that is, when he stops his engine he
will pick up a greasy rag and go over his engine carefully, wiping every
working part, watching or looking carefully at every point that he
touches. If a nut is working loose he finds it, if a bearing is hot he
finds it. If any part of his engine has been cutting, he finds it. He
picked up, a greasy rag instead of a wrench, for the engineer that
understands his business and attends to it never picks up a wrench
unless he has something to do with it. The good engineer took a greasy
rag and while he was using it to clean his engine, he was at the same
time carefully examining every part. His main object was to see that
everything was all right. If he had found a nut loose or any part out
of place, then he would have taken his wrench, for he had use for it.

Now what a contrast there is between this engineer and a poor one, and
unfortunately there are hundreds of poor engineers running portable and
traction engines. You will find a poor engineer very willing to talk.
This is bad habit number one. He cannot talk and have his mind on his
work. Beginners must not forget this. When I tell you how to fire an
engine you will understand how important it is, The poor engineer is
very apt to ask an outsider to stay at his engine while he goes to the
separator to talk. This is bad habit number two. Even if the outsider
is a good engineer, he does not know whether the pump is throwing more
water than is being used or whether it is throwing less. He can only
ascertain this by watching the column of water in the glass, and he
hardly knows whether to throw in fuel or not. He don't want the steam
to go down and he don't know at what pressure the pop valve will blow
off. There may be a box or journal that has been giving the engineer
trouble and the outsider knows nothing about it. There are a dozen
other good reasons why bad habit number two is very bad.

If you will watch the poor engineer when he stops his engine, he will,
if he does anything, pick up a wrench, go around to the wrist pin,
strike the key a little crack, draw a nut or peck away at something
else, and can't see anything for grease and dirt. When he starts up, ten
to one the wrist pin heats and he stops and loosens it up and then it
knocks. Now if he had picked up a rag instead of a wrench, he would not
have hit that key but he would have run his hand over it and if he had
found it all right, he would have let it alone, and would have gone over
the balance of the engine and when he started up again his engine would
have looked better for the wiping it got and would have run just as well
as before he stopped it. Now you will understand why a good engineer
wears out more rags than wrenches, while a poor one wears out more
wrenches than rags. Never bother an engine until it bothers you. If
you do, you will make lots of grief for yourself.

I have mentioned the bad habits of a poor engineer so that you may avoid
them. If you carefully avoid all the bad habits connected with the
running of an engine, you will be certain to fall into good habits and
will become a good engineer.


After carelessness, meddling with an engine comes next in the list of
bad habits. The tinkering engineer never knows whether his engine is in
good shape or not, and the chances are that if he should get it in good
shape he would not know enough to let it alone. If anything does
actually get wrong with your engine, do not be afraid to take hold of
it, for something must be done, and you are the one to do it, but before
you do anything be certain that you know what is wrong. For instance,
should the valve become disarranged on the valve stem or in any other
way, do not try to remedy the trouble by changing the eccentric, or if
the eccentric slips do not go to the valve to mend the trouble. I am
well aware that among young engineers the impression prevails that a
valve is a wonderful piece of mechanism liable to kick out of place and
play smash generally. Now let me tell you right here that a valve (I
mean the ordinary slide valve, such as is used on traction and portable
engines), is one of the simplest parts of an engine, and you are not to
lose any sleep about it, so be patient until I am ready to introduce you
to this part of your work. You have a perfect right to know what is
wrong with the engine. The trouble may not be so serious and it is
evident to you that the engine is not running just as nicely as it
should. Now, if your engine runs irregularly, that is if it runs up to
a higher speed than you want, and then runs down, you are likely to say
at once, "Oh I know what the trouble is, it is the governor." Well,
suppose it is, what are you going to do about it, are you going to shut
down at once and go to tinkering with it? No, don't do that, stay close
to the throttle valve and watch the governor closely. Keep your eye on
the governor stem, and when the engine starts off on one of its high
speed tilts, you will see the stem go down through the stuffing box and
then stop and stick in one place until the engine slows down below its
regular speed, and it then lets loose and goes up quickly and your
engine lopes off again. You have now located the trouble. It is in the
stuffing box around the little brass rod or governor stem. The packing
has become dry and by loosening it up and applying oil you may remedy
the trouble until such time as you can repack it with fresh packing.
Candle wick is as good for this purpose as anything you can use.

But if the governor does not act as I have described and the stem seems
to be perfectly free and easy in the box, and the governor still acts
queerly, starting off and running fast for a few seconds, and then
suddenly concluding to take it easy and away goes the engine again, see
if the governor belt is all right, and if it is, it would be well for
you to stop and see if a wheel is not loose. It might be either the
little belt wheel or one of the little cog wheels. If you find these
are all right, examine the spool on the crank shaft from which the
governor is run and you will probably find it loose. If the engine has
been run for any length of time, you will always find the trouble in one
of these places, but if it is a new one the governor valve might fit a
little tight in the valve chamber and you may have to take it out and
use a little emery paper to take off the rough projections on the valve.
Never use a file on this valve if you can get emery paper, and I would
advise you to always have some of it with you. It will often come
handy. Now if the engine should start off at a lively gait and continue
to run still faster, you must stop at once. The trouble this time is
surely in the governor. If the belt is all right, examine the jam nuts
on the top of the governor valve stem. You will probably find that these
nuts have worked loose and the rod is working up, which will increase
the speed of the engine. If these are all right, you will find that
either a pulley or a little cog wheel is loose. A quick eye will locate
the trouble before you have time to stop. If the belt is loose, the
governor will lag while the engine will run away. If the wheel is
loose, the governor will most likely stop and the engine will go on a
tear. If the jam nut has worked loose, the governor will run as usual,
except that it will increase its speed as the speed of the engine is
increased. Now any of these little things may happen and are likely to.
None of them are serious, provided you take my advice, and remain near
the engine. Now if you are thirty or forty feet away from the engine
and the governor belt slips, or gets unlaced, or the pulley gets off,
about the first thing the engine would do would be to jump out of the
belt and by the time you get to it, it will be having a mighty lively
time all alone. This might happen once and do no harm, and it might
happen again and do a great deal of damage, and you are being paid to
run the engine and you must stay by it. The governor is not a difficult
thing to handle, but it requires your attention.

Now if I should drop the governor, you might say that I had not given
you any instructions about how to regulate it to speed. I really do not
know whether it is worth while to say much about it, for governors are
of different designs and are necessarily differently arranged for
regulating, but to help young learners I will take the Waters governors
which I think the most generally used on threshing and farm engines.
You will find on the upper end of the valve or governor stem two little
brass nuts. The upper one is a thumb nut and is made fast to the stem.
The second nut is a loose jam nut. To increase the speed of the engine
loosen this jam nut and take hold of the thumb nut and turn it back
slowly, watching the motion of your engine all the while. When you have
obtained the speed you require, run the thumb nut down as tight as you
can with your fingers. Never use a wrench on these nuts. To slow or
slacken the speed, loosen the jam nut as before, except that you must
run it up a few turns, then taking hold of the thumb nut, turn down
slowly until you have the speed required, when you again set the thumb
nut secure. In regulating the speed, be careful not to press down on
the stem when turning, as this will make the engine run a little slower
than it will after the pressure of your hand is removed.

If at any time your engine refuses to start with an open throttle,
notice your governor stem, and you will find that it has been screwed
down as far as it will go. This frequently happens with a new engine,
the stem having been screwed down for its protection in transportation.

In traveling through timber with an engine, be very careful not to let
any over-hanging limbs come in contact with the governor.

Now I think what I have said regarding this particular governor will
enable you to handle any one you may come in contact with, as they are
all very much alike in these respects. It is not my intention to take
time and space to describe a governor in detail. If you will follow the
instructions I have given you the governor will attend to the rest.

PART SECOND ________


If you want to be a successful engineer it is necessary to know all
about the pump. I have no doubt that many who read this book, cannot
tell why the old wooden pump (from which he has pumped water ever since
he was tall enough to reach the handle) will pump water simply because
he works the handle up and down. If you don't know this I have quite a
task on my hands, for you must not attempt to run an engine until you
know the principle of the pump. If you do understand the old town pump,
I will not have much trouble with you, for while there is no old style
wooden pump used on the engine, the same principles are used in the
cross head pump. Do not imagine that a cross head pump means something
to be dreaded. It is only a simple lift and force pump, driven from the
cross head. That is where it gets its name and it don't mean that you
are to get cross at it if it don't work, for nine times out of ten the
fault will be yours. Now I am well aware that all engines do not have
cross head pumps and with all respect to the builders of engines who do
not use them, I am inclined to think that all standard farm engines
ought to have a cross head pump, because it is the most simple and is
the most economical, and if properly constructed, is the most reliable.

A cross head pump consists of a pump barrel, a plunger, one vertical
check valve and two horizontal check valves, a globe valve and one stop
cock, with more or less piping. We will now locate each of these parts
and will then note the part that each performs in the process of feeding
the boiler.

You will find all, or most pump barrels, located under the cylinder of
the engine. It is placed here for several reasons. It is out of the
way. It is a convenient place from which to connect it to the cross
head by which it is driven. On some engines it is located on the top or
at the side of the cylinder and will work equally well. The plunger is
connected with the cross head and in direct line with the pump barrel,
and plays back and forth in the barrel. The vertical check valve is
placed between the pump and the water supply. It is not absolutely
necessary that the first check be a vertical one, but a check of some
kind must be so placed. As the water is lifted up to the boiler it is
more convenient to use a vertical check at this point. Just ahead and a
few inches from the pump barrel is a horizontal check valve. Following
the course of the water toward the point where it enters the boiler, you
will find another check valve. This is called a "hot water check." just
below this check, or between it and where the water enters the boiler,
you will find a stop cock or it may be a globe valve. They both answer
the same purpose. I will tell you further on why a stop cock is
preferable to a globe valve. While the cross head pumps may differ as
to location and arrangement, you will find that they all require the
parts described and that the checks are so placed that they bear the
same relation to each other. No fewer parts can be used in a pump
required to lift water and force it against steam pressure. More check
valves may be used, but it would not do to use less. Each has its work
to do, and the failure of one defeats all the others. The pump barrel
is a hollow cylinder, the chamber being large enough to admit the
plunger which varies in size from 5/8 of an inch to I inch in diameter,
depending upon the size of the boiler to be supplied. The barrel is
usually a few inches longer than the stroke of the engine, and is
provided at the cross head end with a stuffing box and nut. At the
discharge end it is tapped out to admit of piping to conduct water from
the pump. At the same end and at the extreme end of the travel of the
plunger it is tapped for a second pipe through which the water from the
supply reaches the pump barrel. The plunger is usually made of steel and
turned down to fit snug in the chamber, and is long enough to play the
full stroke of engine between the stuffing box and point of supply and
to connect with the driver on the cross head. Now, we will take it for
granted, that, to begin with, the pump is in good order, and we will
start it up stroke at a time and watch its work. Now, if everything be
in good order, we should have good water and a good hard rubber suction
hose attached to the supply pipe just under the globe valve. When we
start the pump we must open the little pet cock between the two
horizontal check valves. The globe valve must be open so as to let the
water in. A check valve, whether it is vertical or horizontal, will
allow water to pass through it one way only, if it is in good working
order. If the water will pass through both ways, it is of no account.
Now, the engine starts on the outward stroke and draws the-plunger out
of the chamber. This leaves a space in the barrel which must be filled.
Air cannot get into it, because the pump is in perfect order, neither
can the air get to it through the hose, as it is in the water, so that
the pressure on the outside of the water causes it to flow up through
the pipes through the first check valve and into the pump barrel, and
fills the space, and if the engine has a I2-inch stroke, and the plunger
is I inch in diameter, we have a column of water in the pump I2 inches
long and I inch in diameter.

The engine has now reached its outward stroke and starts back. The
plunger comes back with it and takes the space occupied by the water,
which must get out of the way for the plunger. The water came up
through the first check valve, but it can't get back that way as we have
stated. There is another check valve just ahead, and as the plunger
travels back it drives the water through this second check. When the
plunger reaches the end of the backward stroke, it has driven the water
all out. It then starts forward again, but the water which has been
driven through the second check cannot get back and this space must
again be filled from supply, and the plunger continues to force more
water through the second check, taking four or five strokes of the
plunger to fill the pipes between the second check valve and the hot
water check valve. If the gauge shows I00 pounds of steam, the hot
water check is held shut by I00 pounds pressure, and when the space
between the check valves is filled with water, the next stroke of the
plunger will force the water through the hot water check valve, which is
held shut by the I00 pounds steam pressure so that the pump must force
the water against this hot water check valve with a power greater than
I00 pounds pressure. If the pump is in good condition, the plunger does
its work and the water is forced through into the boiler.

A clear sharp click of the valves at each stroke of the plunger is
certain evidence that the pump is working well.

The small drain cock between the horizontal checks is placed there to
assist in starting the pump, to tell when the pump is working and to
drain the water off to prevent freezing. When the pump is started to
work and this drain cock is opened, and the hot water in the pipes
drained off, the globe valve is then opened, and after a few strokes of
the plunger, the water will begin to flow out through the drain cock,
which is then closed, and you may be reasonably certain that the pump is
working all right. If at any time you are in doubt as to whether the
pump is forcing the water through the pipes, you can easily ascertain by
opening this drain cock. It will always discharge cold water when the
pump is working. Another way to tell if the pump is working, is by
placing your hand on the first two check valves. If they are cold, the
pump is working all right, but if they are warm, the cold water is not
being forced through them.

A stop cock should be used next to boiler, as you ascertain whether it
is open or shut by merely looking at it, while the globe valve can be
closed by some meddlesome party and you would not discover it, and would
burst some part of your pump by forcing water against it.

PART THIRD _________

It is very important when the pump fails to work to ascertain what the
trouble is. If it should stop suddenly, examine the tank and ascertain
if you have any water. If you have sufficient water, it may be that
there is air in the pump chamber, and the only way that it can get in is
through the stuffing box around the plunger, if the pipes are all tight.
Give this stuffing nut a turn, and if the pump starts off all right, you
have found the trouble, and it would be well to re-pack the pump the
first chance you get.

If the trouble is not in the stuffing box, go to the tank and see if
there is anything over the screen or strainer at the end of the hose.
If there is not, take hold of the hose and you can tell if there is any
suction. Then ascertain if the water flows in and then out of the hose
again. You can tell this by holding your hand loosely over the end of
the hose. If you find that it draws the water in and then forces it out
again, the trouble is with the first check valve. There is something
under it which prevents its shutting down. If, however, you find that
there is no suction at the end of hose examine the second check. If
there should be something under it, it would prevent the pump working,
because the pump forces the water through it; and, as the plunger starts
back, if the check fails to hold, the water flows back and fills the
pump barrel again and there would be no suction.

The trouble may, however, be in the hot water check, and it can always
be told whether it is in the second check or hot water check by opening
the little drain cock. If the water which goes out through it is cold,
the trouble is in the second check; but, if hot water and steam are
blown out through this little drain cock, the trouble is in the hot
water check, or the one next to the boiler. This check must never be
tampered with without first turning the stop cock between this check and
the boiler. The valve can then be taken out and the obstruction
removed. Be very careful never to take out the hot water check without
closing the stop cock, for if you do you will get badly scalded; and
never start the pump without opening this valve, for if you do, it will
burst the pump.

The obstruction under the valves is sometimes hard to find. A young man
in southern Iowa got badly fooled by a little pebble about the size of a
pea, which got into the pipe, and when he started his pump the pebble
would be forced up under the check and let the water back. When he took
the check out the pebble was not there, for it had dropped back into the
pipe. You will see that it is necessary to make a careful examinations
and not get mad, pick up a wrench and whack away at the check valve,
bruising it so that it will not work. Remember that it would work if it
could, and make up your mind to find out why, it don't work. A few years
ago I was called several miles to see an engine on which the pump would
not work. The engine had been idle for two days and the engineer had
been trying all that time to make the pump work. I took the cap off of
the horizontal check, just forward of the pump barrel, and took the
valve out and discovered that the check was reversed. I told the
engineer that if he would put the check in so that the water could get
through, he would have no more trouble. This fellow had lost his head.
He was completely rattled. He insisted that "the valve had always been
on that way," although the engine had been run two years.

Now the facts in this case were as follows: The old check valve in place
of the one referred to had been one known as a stem valve, or floating
valve. This stem by some means, had broken off but it did not prevent
the valve from working. The stem, however, worked forward till it
reached the hot water check, and lodged under the valve, which prevented
this check from working and his pump refused to work, the engineer soon
found where the stem had broken off, and instead of looking for the
stem, sent to town for a new check, after putting this on the pump now
refused to work for two reasons. One was, he had not removed the broken
stem from the hot water check, and another was, that the new check was
in wrong end to. After wasting another hour or two he finally found
and-removed the stem from the hot water check, but his pump still
refused to work. And then as the boys say, "he laid down," and when I
called his attention to the new valve being in wrong, he was so
completely rattled that he made use of the above expression.

There are other causes that would prevent the pump working besides lack
of packing and obstructions under the valves. The valve may stick.
When it is raised to allow the water to flow through, it may stick in
the valve chamber and refuse to settle back in the seat. This may be
caused by a little rough place in the chamber, or a little projection on
the valve, and can generally be remedied by tapping the under side of
check with a wrench or hammer. Do not strike it so hard as to bruise
the check, but simply tap it. If this don't remedy the trouble, take
the valve out, bore a hole in a board about I/2 inch deep and large
enough to permit the valve to be turned. Drop a little emery dust in
this hole. If you haven't any emery dust, scrape some grit from a
common whetstone. If you have no whetstone, put some fine sand or
gritty soil in the hole, put the valve on top of it, put your brace on
the valve and turn it vigorously for a few minutes, and you will remove
all roughness.

Constant use may sometimes make a burr on the valve which will cause it
to stick. Put it through the above course and it will be as good as
new. If this little process was generally known, a great deal of
trouble and annoyance could be avoided.

It will not be necessary to describe other styles of pumps. If you know
how to run the cross head pump, you can run any of the others. Some
engines have cross head pump only. Others have an independent pump.
Others have an injector, or inspirator, and some have both cross head
pump and injector. I think a farm engine should be supplied with both.

It is neither wise nor necessary to go into a detailed description of an
injector. The young reader will be likely to become convinced if an
injector works for five minutes, it will continue to work, if the
conditions remain the same. If the water in the tank does not become
heated, and no foreign substance is permitted to enter the injector,
there is nothing to prevent its working properly as long as the
conditions are within the range of a good injector. It is a fact that
with all injectors as the vertical distance the injector lifts is
increased, it requires a greater steam pressure to start the injector,
and the highest steam pressure at which the injector will work is
greatly decreased. If the feed water is heated, a greater steam
pressure is required to start the injector and it will not work with as
high steam pressure. The capacity of an injector is always decreased as
the lift is increased, or the feed water heated. To obtain the most
economical results the proper sized injector must be used. When the
exact quantity of water consumed per hour is known it can be easily
determined from the capacities given in the price lists which sized
injector must be selected.

An injector must always be selected having a maximum capacity in excess
of the water consumed. If the exact amount of water consumed per hour
is not known, and cannot be easily determined, the proper size can be
approximately determined from the nominal H. P. of the boiler. The
usual custom has been to allow 7 I/2 gallons of water per hour, which is
a safe rule for the ordinary type of boiler.


With cold feed water, a good injector with a two foot lift ought to
start with 25 pounds pressure and work up to I50 pounds. With 8 foot
lift, ought to start at 30 pounds and work up to I30. With feed water
heated to I00 degrees Fahrenheit it should start with the same lift,
that is, will say 2 foot, at 26 and work Up to I20, and at 8, from 33 up
to I00. You will see by this that conditions, consisting of variation of
temperature in the feed water and different lifts, change the efficiency
of your injector very materially, and the water can soon get beyond the
ability of your injector to work at all. The above refers more
particularly to the single tube injector. The double tube injector
under the same conditions as above should work from I4 pounds to 250,
and from I5 to 2I0, but as this injector is not generally used on farm
engines you will most likely not meet with it very often.

The injector should not be placed too near the boiler, as the heat from
it will make it difficult to start the injector each time after it has
been standing idle.

If the injector is so hot that it will not lift the cold water, there is
no way of cooling it except by applying the water on the outside. This
is most effectively done by covering the injector with a cloth and
pouring water over the cloth. If, after the injector has become cool,
it still refuses to work, you may be sure that there is some obstruction
in it that must be removed. This can be done by taking off the cap, or
plug-nut, and running a fine wire through the cone valve or cylinder
valve. The automatic injector requires only the manipulation of the
steam valve to start it. There are other makes that require, first: that
the injector be given steam and then the water. To start an injector
requires some little tact, (and you will discover that tact is the
handiest tools you can have to make you a good engineer). To start an
injector of the Pemberthy type; first give it sufficient steam to lift
the water, allowing the water to escape at overflow for a moment or long
enough to cool the injector, then with a quick turn shut off and open up
the supply which requires merely a twist of the wrist.

If the injector fails to take hold at once don't get ruffled but repeat
the above move a few times and you will soon start it, and if you have
tact, (it is only another word for natural ability) you will need no
further instructions to start your injector. But remember that no
injector can work coal cinders or chaf and that all joints must be air
tight. Don't forget this.

It is now time to give some attention to the heater. While the heater
is no part of the pump, it is connected with it and does its work
between the two horizontal check valves. Its purpose is to heat the
water before it passes into the boiler. The water on its way from the
pump to the boiler is forced through a coil of pipes around which the
exhaust steam passes on its way from the cylinder to the exhaust nozzle
in the smokestack.

The heaters are made in several different designs, but it is not
necessary to describe all of them, as they require little attention and
they all answer the same purpose. The most of them are made by the use
of a hollow bedplate with steam fitted heads or plates. The water pipe
passes through the plate at the end of the heater into the hollow
chamber, and a coil of pipes is formed, and the pipe then passes back
through the head or plate to the hot water check valve and into the

The steam enters the cylinder from the boiler, varying in degrees of
heat from 300 to 500. After acting on the piston head, it is exhausted
directly into the chamber or hollow bed-plate through which the pipes
pass. The water, when it enters the heater, is as cold as when it left
the tank, but the steam which surrounds the pipes has lost but little of
its heat, and by the time the water passes through the coil of pipes it
is heated to nearly boiling point and can be introduced into the boiler
with little tendency to reduce the steam. This use of the exhaust steam
is economical, as it saves fuel, and it would be injurious to pump cold
water directly into a hot boiler.

If your engine is fitted with both cross head pump and injector, you use
the injector for pumping water when the engine is not running. The
injector heats the water almost as hot as the heater. If your engine is
running and doing no work, use your injector and stop the pump, for,
while the engine is running light, the small amount of exhaust steam is
not sufficient to heat the water and the pressure will be reduced
rapidly. You will understand, therefore, that the injector is intended
principally for an emergency rather than for general use. It should
always be kept in order, for, should the pump refuse to work, you have
only to start your injector and use it until such time as you can remedy
the trouble.

We have now explained how you get your water supply. You understand that
you must have water first and then fire. Be sure that you have the
water supply first.


The blower is an appliance for creating artificial draught and consists
of a small pipe leading from some point above the water line into the
smoke stack, directly over the tubes, and should extend to the center of
stack and terminate with a nozzle pointing directly to top and center of
stack; this pipe is fitted with a globe valve. When it is required to
rush your fire, you can do so by opening this globe and allowing the
steam to escape into the stack. The force of the steam tends to drive
the air out of the stack and the smoke box, this creates a strong
draught. But you say, "What if I have no steam?" Well, then don't blow,
and be patient till you have enough to create a draught; and it has been
my experience that there is nothing gained by putting on the blower
before having fifteen pounds of steam, as less pressure than this will
create but little draught and the steam will escape about as fast as it
is being generated. Be patient and don't be everlastingly punching at
the fire. Get your fuel in good shape in fire box and shut the door and
go about your business and let the fire burn.

Must the blower be used while working the engine. No. The exhaust steam
which escapes into the stack, does exactly what we stated the blower
does, and if it is necessary to use the blower in order to keep up
steam, you can conclude that your engine is in bad shape, and yet there
are times when the blower is necessary, even when your engine is in the
best of condition. For instance, when you have poor fuel and are
working your engine very light, the exhaust steam may not be sufficient
to create enough draught for poor coal, or wet or green wood. But if
you are working your engine hard the blower should never be used; if you
have bad fuel and it is necessary to stop your engine you will find it
very convenient to put on the blower slightly, in order to hold your
steam and keep the fire lively until you start again.

It will be a good plan for you to take a look at the nozzle on blower
now and then, to see that it does not become limed up and to see that it
is not turned to the side so that it directs the steam to the side of
stack. Should it do this, you will be using the steam and getting but
little, if any, benefit. It will also be well for you to remember that
you can create too much draught as well as too little; too much draught
will consume your fuel and produce but little steam.


What constitutes a good fireman? You no doubt have heard this
expression: "Where there is so much smoke, there must be some fire."
Well, that is true, but a good fireman don't make much smoke. We are
speaking of firing with coal, now. If I can see the smoke ten miles
from a threshing engine, I can tell what kind of a fireman is running
the engine; and if there is a continuous cloud of black smoke being
thrown out of the smokestack, I make up my mind that the engineer is
having all he can do to keep the steam up, and also conclude that there
will not be much coal left by the time he gets through with the job;
while on the other hand, should I see at regular intervals a cloud of
smoke going up, and lasting for a few moments, and for the next few
moments see nothing, then I conclude that the engineer of that engine
knows his business, and that he is not working hard; he has plenty of
steam all the time, and has coal left when he is through. So let us go
and see what makes this difference and learn a valuable lesson. We will
first go to the engine that is making such a smoke, and we will find
that the engineer has a big coal shovel just small enough to allow it to
enter the fire door. You will see the engineer throw in about two, or
perhaps three shovels of coal and as a matter of course, we will see a
volume of black smoke issuing from the stack; the engineer stands
leaning on his shovel watching the steam gauge, and he finds that the
steam don't run up very fast, and about the time the coal gets hot
enough to consume the smoke, we will see him drop his shovel, pick up a
poker, throw open the fire door and commence a vigorous punching and
digging at the fire. This starts the black smoke again, and about this
time we will see him down on his knees with his poker, punching at the
underside of the grate bars, about the time he is through with this
operation the smoke is coming out less dense, and he thinks it time to
throw in more coal, and he does it. Now this is kept up all day, and
you must not read this and say it is overdrawn, for it is not, and you
can see it every day, and the engineer that fires in this way, works
hard, burns a great amount of coal, and is afraid all the time that the
steam will run down on him.

Before leaving him let us take a look at his firebox, and we will see
that it is full of coal, at least up to the level of the door. We will
also see quite a pile of ashes under the ash pan. You can better
understand the disadvantage of this way of firing after we visit the
next man. I think a good way to know how to do a thing, is to know
also, how not to do it.

Well, we will now go across to the man who is making but little smoke,
and making that at regular intervals. We will be likely to find that he
has only a little hand shovel. He picks this up, takes up a small
amount of coal, opens the fire door and spreads the coal nicely over the
grates; does this quickly and shuts the door; for a minute black smoke
is thrown out, but only for a minute. Why? Because he only threw in
enough to replenish the fire, and not to choke it in the least, and in a
minute the heat is great enough to consume all the smoke before it
reaches the stack, and as smoke is unconsumed fuel, he gains that much
if he can consume it. We will see this engineer standing around for the
next few minutes perfectly, at ease. He is not in the least afraid of
his steam going down. At the end of three to five minutes, owing to the
amount of work he is doing, you will see him pick up his little shovel
and throw in a little coal; he does exactly as he did before, and if we
stay there for an hour we will not see him pick up a poker. We will
look in at his firebox, and we will see what is called a "thin fire,"
but every part of the firebox is hot. We will see but a small pile of
ashes under the engine and he is not working hard.

If you happen to be thinking of buying an engine, you will say that this
last fellow "has a dandy engine." "That is the kind of an engine I
want," when the facts in the case may be that the first man may have a
better engine, but don't know how to fire it. Now, don't you see how
important it is that you know how to fire an engine? I am aware that
some big coal wasters will say, "It is easy to talk about firing with a
little hand shovel, but just get out in the field as we do and get some
of the kind of fuel we have to burn, and see how you get along." Well, I
am aware that you will have some bad coal. It is much better to handle
bad coal in a good way than to handle good coal in a bad way. Learn to
handle your fuel in the proper way and you will be a good fireman.
Don't get careless and then blame the coal for what is your own fault.
Be careful about this, you might give yourself away. I have seen
engineers make a big kick about the fuel and claim that it was no good,
when some other fellow would take hold of the engine and have no trouble
whatever. Now, this is what I call a clean give away on the kicker.

Don't allow any one to be a better fireman than yourself. You will see a
good fireman do exactly as I have stated. He fires often, always keeps
a level fire, never allows the coal to get up to the lower tubes, always
puts in coal before the steam begins to drop, keeps the fire door open
as little as possible, preventing any cold air from striking the tubes,
which will not only check the steam, but is injurious to the boiler.

It is no small matter to know just how to handle your dampers; don't
allow too much of an opening here. You will keep a much more even fire
by keeping the damper down, just allowing draught enough to allow free
combustion; more than this is a waste of heat.

Get all out of the coal you can, and save all you get. Learn the little
points that half the engineers never think of.


You will find wood quite different in some respects, but the good points
you have learned will be useful now. Fire quick and often, but unlike
coal, you must keep your fire box full. Place your wood as loosely as
possible. I mean by this, place in all directions to allow the draft to
pass freely through it. Keep adding a couple sticks as fast as there is
room for it; don't disturb the under sticks. Use short wood and fire
close to the door. When firing with wood I would advise you to keep
your screen down. There is much more danger of setting fire with wood
than with coal.

If you are in a dangerous place, owing to the wind and the surroundings,
don't hesitate to state your fears to the man for whom you are
threshing. He is not supposed to know the danger as well as you, and
if, after your advice, he says go ahead, you have placed the
responsibility on him; but even after you have done this, it sometimes
shows a good head to refuse to fire with wood, especially when you are
required to fire with old rails, which is a common fuel in a timbered
country. While they make a hot fire in a firebox, they sometimes start
a hot one outside of it. It is part of your business to be as careful as
you can. What I mean is take reasonable precaution, in looking after
the screen in stack. If it burns out get a new one. With reasonable
diligence and care, you will never set anything on fire, while on the
other hand, a careless engineer may do quite a lot of damage.

There is fire about an engine, and you are provided with the proper
appliances to control it. See that you do it.


Grates burn through carelessness. You may as well make up your mind to
this at the start. You never saw grate bars burn out with a clean ash
box. They can only be burned by allowing the ashes to accumulate under
them till they exclude the air when the bars at once become red hot.
The first thing, they do is to warp, and if the ashes are not removed at
once, the grate bar will burn off. Carelessness is neglecting something
which is a part of your business, and as part of it is to keep your ash
box clean, it certainly is carelessness if you neglect it. Your coal
may melt and run down on the bars, but if the cold air can get to the
grates, the only damage this will do is to form a clinker on the top of
grates, and shut off your draught. When you find that you have this
kind of coal you will want to look after these clinkers.

Now if you should have good success in keeping steam, keep improving on
what you know, and if you run on 1000 pounds of coal today, try and do
it with 900 tomorrow. That is the kind of stuff a good fireman is made

But don't conclude that you can do the same amount of work each day in
the week on the same amount of fuel, even should it be of the same kind.
You will that with all your care and skill, your engine will differ very
materially both as to the amount of fuel and water that it will require,
though the conditions may apparently be the same.

This may be as good a time as any to say to you, remember that a blast
of cold air against the tubes is a bad thing, so be careful about your
firedoor; open it as little as, possible; when you want to throw in
fuel, don't open the door, and then go a rod away after a shovel of
coal; and I will say here that I have seen this thing done by men who
flattered themselves that they were about at the top in the matter of
running an engine. That kind of treatment will ruin the best boiler in
existence. I don't mean that once or twice will do it, but to keep it
up will do it. Get your shovel of coal and when you are ready to throw
it in, open the door quickly and close it at once. Make it one of your
habits to do this, and you will never think of doing it in any other
way. If it becomes necessary to stop your engine with a hot fire and a
high pressure of steam, don't throw your door open, but drop your damper
and open the smoke box door.

If, however, you only expect to stop a minute or two, drop your damper,
and start your injector if you have one. If you have none, get one.

An independent boiler feeder is a very nice thing, if constructed on the
proper principles. You can't have your boiler too well equipped in this

PART FOUR. _______

A boiler should be kept clean, outside and inside. Outside for your own
credit, and inside for the credit of the manufacturers. A dirty boiler
requires hard firing, takes lots of fuel, and is unsatisfactory in every

The best way to keep it clean is not to let it get dirty. The place to
begin work, is with your "water boy," pursuade him to be very careful of
the water he brings you, if you can't succeed in this, ask him to

I have seen a water-hauler back into a stream, and then dip the water
from the lowerside of tank, the muddy water always goes down stream and
the wheels stir up the mud; and your bright water hauler dips it into
the tank. While if he had dipped it from the upper side he would have
gotten clear water. However, the days of dipping water are past, but a
water boy that will do as I have stated is just as liable to throw his
hose into the muddy water or lower side of tank as on the upper side,
where it is clear. See that he keeps his tank clean. We have seen
tanks with one-half inch of mud in the bottom. We know that there are
times when you are compelled to use muddy water, but as soon as it is
possible to get clear water make him wash out his tank, and don't let
him haul it around till the boiler gets it all.

Allow me just here to tell you how to construct a good tank for a
traction engine. You can make the dimensions to suit yourself, but
across the front end and about two feet back fit a partition or second
head; in the center of this head and about an inch from the bottom bore
a two inch hole. Place a screen over this hole on the side next the
rear, and on the other side, or side next front end, put a valve. You
can construct the valve in this way: Take a piece of thick leather,
about four inches long, and two and a half inches wide; fit a block of
wood (a large bung answers the purpose nicely) on one end, trimming the
leather around one side of the wood, then nail the long part of the
valve just above the hole, so that the valve will fit nicely over the
hole in partition. When properly constructed, this valve will allow the
water to flow into the front end of tank, but will prevent its running
back. So, when you are on the road with part of a tank of water, and
start down hill, this front part fills full of water, and when you start
up hill, it can not get back, and your pumps will work as well as if you
had a full tank of water, without this arrangement you cannot get your
pumps to work well in going up a steep hill with anything less than a
full tank. Now, this may be considered a little out of the engineer's
duty, but it will save lots of annoyance if he has his tank supplied
with this little appliance, which is simple but does the business.

A boiler should be washed out and not blown out, I believe I am safe in
saying that more than half the engineers of threshing engines today
depend on the "blowing out" process to clean their boilers. I don't
intend to tell you to do anything without giving my reasons. We will
take a hot boiler, for instance; say, 50 pounds steam. We will, of
course, take out the fire. It is not supposed that anyone will attempt
to blow out the water with any fire in the firebox. We will, after
removing the fire, open the blow-off valve, which will be found at the
bottom or lowest water point. The water is forced out very rapidly with
this pressure, and the last thing that comes out is the steam. This
steam keeps the entire boiler hot till everything is blown out, and the
result is that all the dirt, sediment and lime is baked solid on the
tubes and side of firebox. But you say you know enough to not blow off
at 50 pounds pressure. Well, we will say 5 pounds, then. You will admit
that the boiler is not cold by any means, even at only 5 pounds, and if
you know enough not to blow off at 50 pounds, you certainly know that at
5 pounds pressure the damage is not entirely avoided. As long as the
iron is hot, the dirt will dry out quickly, and by the time the boiler
is cold enough to force cold water through it safely, the mud is dry and
adheres closely to the iron. Some of the foreign matter will be blown
out, but you will find it a difficult matter to wash out what sticks to
the hot iron.

I am aware that some engineers claim that the boiler should be blown out
at about 5 pounds or I0 pounds pressure, but I believe in taking the
common sense view. They will advise you to blow out at a low pressure,
and then, as soon as the boiler is cool enough, to wash it thoroughly.

Now, if you must wait till the boiler is cool before washing, why not
let it cool with the water in it? Then, when you let the water out,
your work is easy, and the moment you begin to force water through it,
you will see the dirty water flowing out at the man or hand hole. The
dirt is soft and washes very easily; but, if it had dried on the inside
of boiler while you were waiting for it to cool, you would find it very
difficult to wash off. .

You say I said to force the water through the boiler, and to do this you
must use a force pump. No engineer ought to attempt to run an engine
without a force pump. It is one of the necessities. You say, can't you
wash out a boiler without a force pump? Oh, yes! You can do it just
like some people do business. But I started out to tell you how to keep
your boiler clean, and the way to do it is to wash it out, and the way
to wash it out is with a good force pump. There are a number of good
pumps made, especially for threshing engines. They are fitted to the
tank for lifting water for filling, and are fitted with a discharge hose
and nozzle.

You will find at the bottom of boiler one or two hand hole plates-if
your boiler has a water bottom-if not, they will be found at the bottom
of sides of firebox. Take out these hand hole plates. You will also
find another plate near the top, on firebox end of boiler; take this
out, then open up smoke box door and you will find another hand hole
plate or plug near lower row of tubes; take this out, and you are ready
for your water works, and you want to use them vigorously; don't throw
in a few buckets of water, but continue to direct the nozzle to every
part of the boiler, and don't stop as long as there is any muddy water
flowing at the bottom hand holes. This is the way to clean your boiler,
and don't think that you can be a success as an engineer without this
process, and once a week is none too often. If you want satisfactory
results from your engine, you must keep a clean boiler, and to keep it
clean requires care and labor. If you neglect it you can expect
trouble. If you blow out your boiler hot, or if the mud and slush bakes
on the tubes, there is soon a scale formed on the tubes, which decreases
the boiler's evaporating capacity. You, therefore, in order to make
sufficient amount of steam, must increase the amount of fuel, which of
itself is a source of expense, to say nothing of extra labor and the
danger of causing the tubes to leak from the increased heat you must
produce in the firebox in order to make steam sufficient to do the work.

You must not expect economy of fuel, and keep a dirty boiler, and don't
condemn a boiler because of hard firing until you know it is clean, and
don't say it is clean when it can be shown to be half full of mud.


Advertisements say that certain compounds will prevent scale on boilers,
and I think they tell the truth, as far as they go; but they don't say
what the result may be on iron. I will not advise the use of any of
these preparations, for several reasons. In the first place, certain
chemicals will successfully remove the scale formed by water charged
with bicarbonate of lime, and have no effect on water charged with
sulphate of lime. Some kinds of bark-summac, logwood, etc.,-are
sufficient to remove the scale from water charged with magnesia or
carbonate of lime, but they are injurious to the iron owing to the
tannic acid with which they are charged. Vinegar, rotten apples, slop,
etc., owing to their containing acetic acid, will remove scale, but this
is even more injurious to the iron than the barks. Alkalies of any
kind, such as soda, will be found good in water containing sulphate of
lime, by converting it into a carbonate and thereby forming a soft
scale, which is easily washed out; but these have their objections, for,
when used to excess, they cause foaming.

Petroleum is not a bad thing in water where sulphate of lime prevails;
but you should use only the refined, as crude oil sometimes helps to
form a very injurious scale. Carbonate of soda and corn-starch have been
recommended as a scale preventative, and I am inclined to think they are
as good as anything, but as we are out in the country most of the time I
can tell you of a simple little thing that will answer the same purpose,
and can usually be had with little trouble. Every Monday morning just
dump a hatful of potatoes into your boiler, and Saturday night wash the
boiler out, as I have already suggested, and when the fall's run is over
there will not be much scale in the boiler.


We have been urging you to keep your boiler clean. Now, to get the best
results from your fuel, it will also be necessary to keep your flues
clean; as soot and ashes are non-conductors of heat, you will find it
very difficult to get up steam with a coating of soot in your tubes.
Most factories furnish with each engine a flue cleaner and rod. This
cleaner should be made to fit the tubes snug, and should be forced
through each separate tube every morning before building a fire. Some
engineers never touch their flues with a cleaner, but when they choke
the exhaust sufficiently to create such a draught as to clean the flues,
they are working the engine at a great disadvantage, besides being much
more liable to pull the fire out at the top of smokestack. If it were
not necessary to create draught by reducing your exhaust nozzle, your
engine would run much nicer and be much more powerful if your nozzle was
not reduced at all. However, you must reduce it sufficiently to give
draught, but don't impair the power by making the engine clean its own
flues. I think ninety per cent of the fires started by. traction
engines can be traced to the engineer having his engine choked at the
exhaust nozzle. This is dangerous for the reason that the excessive
draught created throws fire out at the stack. It cuts the power of the
engine by creating back pressure. We will illustrate this: Suppose you
close the exhaust entirely, and the engine would not turn itself. If
this is true, you can readily understand that partly closing it will
weaken it to a certain extent. So, remember that the nozzle has
something to do with the power of the engine, and you can see why the
fellow that makes his engine clean its own flues is not the brightest
engineer in the world.

While it is not my intention to encourage the foolish habit of pulling
engines, to see which is the best puller, should you get into this kind
of a test, you will show the other fellow a trick by dropping the
exhaust nozzle off entirely, and no one need know it. Your engine will
not appear to be making any effort, either, in making the pull. Many a
test has been won more through the shrewdness of the operator than the
superiority of the engine.

The knowing of this little trick may also help you out of a bad hole
some time when you want a little extra power. And this brings us to the
point to which I want you to pay special attention. The majority of
engineers, when they want a little extra power, give the safety valve a

Now, I have already told you to carry a good head of steam, anywhere
from 100 to 120 pounds of steam is good pressure and is plenty, and if
you have your valve set to blow off at 115, let it be there; and don't
screw it down every time you want more power, for if you do you will
soon have it up to I25, and should you want more steam at some other
time you will find yourself screwing it down again, and what was really
intended for a safety valve loses all its virtue as a safety, as far as
you and those around you are concerned. If you know you have a good
boiler you are safe in setting it at I25 pounds, provided you are
determined to not set it up to any higher pressure. But my advice to
you is that if your engine won't do the work required of it at 115
pounds, you had best do what you can with it until you can get a larger

A safety valve is exactly what its name implies, and there should be a
heavy penalty for anyone taking that power away from it.

If you refuse to set your safety down at any time, it does not imply
that you are afraid of your boiler, but rather you understand your
business and realize your responsibility.

I stated before what you should do with the safety valve in starting a
new engine. You should also attend to this part of it every few days.
See that it does not become slow to work. You should note the pressure
every time it blows off; you know where it ought to blow off, so don't
allow it to stick or hold the steam beyond this pressure. If you are
careful about this, there is no danger about it sticking some time when
you don't happen to be watching the gauge. The steam gauge will tell
you when the pop ought to blow off, and you want to see that it does it.

PART FIVE _______


Some engineers call a steam gauge a "clock." I suppose they do this
because they think it tells them when it is time to throw in coal, and
when it is time to quit, and when it is time for the safety valve to
blow off. If that is what they think a steam gauge is for, I can tell
them that it is time for them to learn differently.

It is true that in a certain sense it does tell the engineer when to do
certain things, but not as a clock would tell the time of day. The
office of a steam gauge is to enable you to read the pressure on your
boiler at all times, the same as a scale will enable you to determine
the weight of any object.

As this is the duty of the steam gauge, it is necessary that it be
absolutely correct. By the use of an unreliable gauge you may become
thoroughly bewildered, and in reality know nothing of what pressure you
are carrying.

This will occur in about this way: Your steam gauge becomes weak, and if
your safety is set at I00 pounds, it will show I00 or even more before
the pop allows the steam to escape; or if the gauge becomes clogged, the
pop may blow off when the gauge only shows go pounds or less. This
latter is really more dangerous than the former. As you would most
naturally conclude that your safety was getting weak, and about the
first thing you would do would be to screw it down so that the gauge
would show I00 before the pop would blow off, when in fact you would
have I00 or more.

So you can see at once how important it is that your gauge and safety
should work exactly together, and there is but one way to make certain
of this, and that is to test your steam gauge. If you know the steam
gauge is correct, you can make your safety valve agree with it; but
never try to make it do it till you know the gauge is reliable.


Take it off, and take it to some shop where there is a steam boiler in
active use; have the engineer attach your gauge where it will receive
the direct pressure, and if it shows the same as his gauge, it is
reasonable to suppose that your gauge is correct. If the engineer to
whom you take your gauge should say he thinks his gauge is weak, or a
little strong, then go somewhere else. I have already told you that I
did not want you to think anything about your engine-I want you to know
it. However, should you find that your gauge shows when tested with
another gauge, that it is weak, or unreliable in any way, you want to
repair it at once, and the safest way is to get a new one; and yet I
would advise you first to examine it and see if you cannot discover the
trouble. It frequently happens that the pointer becomes loosened on the
journal or spindle, which attaches it to the mechanism that operates it.
If this is the trouble, it is easily remedied, but should the trouble
prove to be in the spring, or the delicate mechanism, it would be much
more satisfactory to get a new one.

In selecting a new gauge you will be better satisfied with a gauge
having a double spring or tube, as they are less liable to freeze or
become strained from a high pressure, and the double spring will not
allow the needle or pointer to vibrate when subject to a shock or sudden
increase of pressure, as with the single spring. A careful engineer
will have nothing to do with a defective steam gauge or an unreliable
safety valve. Some steam gauges are provided with a seal, and as long
as this seal is not broken the factory will make it good.


We have told you about a safety valve, we will now have something to say
of a safety plug. A safety, or fusible plug, is a hollow brass plug or
bolt, screwed into the top crown sheet. The hole through the plug being
filled with some soft metal that will fuse at a much less temperature
than is required to burn iron. The heat from the firebox will have no
effect on this fusible plug as long as the crown sheet is covered with
water, but the moment that the water level falls below the top of the
crown sheet, thereby exposing the plug, this soft metal is melted and
runs out, allows the steam to rush down through the opening in the lug,
putting out the fire and preventing any injury to the boiler. This all
sounds very nice, but I am free to confess that I am not an advocate of
a fusible plug. After telling you to never allow the water to get low,
and then to say there is something to even make this allowable, sounds
very much like the preacher who told his boy "never to go fishing on
Sunday, but if he did go, to be sure and bring home the fish." I would
have no objection to the safety plug if the engineer did not know it was
there. I am aware that some states require that all engines be fitted
with a fusible plug. I do not question their good intentions, but I do
question their good judgment. It seems to me the are granting a license
to carelessness. For instance, an engineer is running with a low gauge
of water, owing possibly to the tank being delayed longer than usual, he
knows the water is getting low, but he says to himself, "well, if the
water gets too low I will only blow out the plug," and so he continues
to run until the tank arrives. If the plug holds, he at once begins to
pump in cold water, and most likely does it on a very hot sheet, which
of itself, is something he never should do; and if the plug does blow
out he is delayed a couple of hours, at least, before he can put in a
new plug and get up steam again. Now suppose he had not had a soft plug
(as they are sometimes called). He would have stopped before he had low
water. He would not even have had a hot crown sheet, and would only
have lost the time he waited on the tank. This is not a fancied
circumstance by any means, for it happens every day. The engineer
running an engine with a safety plug seldom stops for a load of water
until he blows out the plug. It frequently happens that a fusible plug
becomes corroded to such an extent that it will stand a heat sufficient
to burn the iron. This is my greatest objection to it. The engineer
continues to rely on it for safety, the same as if it were in perfect
order, and the ultimate result is he burns or cracks his crown sheet. I
have already stated that I have no objection to the plug, if the
engineer did not know it was there, so if you must use one, attend to
it, and every time you clean your boiler scrape the upper or water end
of the plug with a knife, and be careful to remove any corrosive matter
that may have collected on it, and then treat your boiler exactly as
though there was no such a thing as a safety plug in it. A safety plug
was not designed to let you run with any lower gauge of water. It is
placed there to prevent injury to the boiler, in case of an accident or
when, by some means, you might be deceived in your gauge of water, or if
by mistake, a fire was started without any water in the boiler.

Should the plug melt out, it is necessary to replace it at once, or as
soon as the heat will permit you to do so. It might be a saving of time
to have an extra plug always ready, then all you have to do is to remove
the melted one by unscrewing it from the crown sheet and screwing the
extra one in. But if you have no extra plug you must remove the first
one and refill it with babbitt. You can do this by filling one end of
the plug with wet clay and pouring the metal into the other end, and
then pounding it down smooth to prevent any leaking. This done, you can
screw the plug back into its place.

If you should have two plugs, as soon as you have melted out one replace
it with the new one, and refill the other at your earliest convenience.
By the time you have replaced a fusible plug a few times in a hot boiler
you will conclude it is better to keep water over your crown sheet.


What makes flues leak? I asked this question once, and the answer was
that the flues were not large enough to fill up the hole in flue sheet.
This struck me as being funny at first, but on second thought I
concluded it was about correct. Flues may leak from several causes, but
usually it can be traced to the carelessness of some one. You may have
noticed before this that I am inclined to blame a great many things to
carelessness. Well, by the time you have run an engine a year or two
you will conclude that I am not unjust in my suspicions. I do not blame
engineers for everything, but I do say that they are responsible for a
great many things which they endeavor to shift on to the manufacturer.
If the flues in a new boiler leak, it is evident that they were slighted
by the boiler-maker; but should they run a season or part of a season
before leaking, then it would indicate that the boiler-maker did his
duty, but the engineer did not do his. He has been building too hot a
fire to begin with, or has, been letting his fire door stand open; or he
may have overtaxed his boiler; or else he has been blowing out his
boiler when too hot; or has at some time blown out with some fire in
firebox. Now, any one of these things, repeated a few times, will make
the best of them leak. You have been advised already not to do these
things, and if you do them, or any one of them, I want to know what
better word there is to express it than "carelessness."

There are other things that will make your flues leak. Pumping cold
water into a boiler with a low gauge of water will do it, if it does
nothing more serious. Pouring cold water into a hot boiler will do it.
For instance, if for any reason you should blow out your boiler while in
the field, and as you might be in a hurry to get to work, you would not
let the iron cool, before beginning to refill. I have seen an engineer
pour water into a boiler as soon as the escaping steam would admit it.
The flues cannot stand such treatment, as they are thinner than the
shell or flue sheet, and therefore cool much quicker, and in contracting
are drawn from the flue sheet, and as a matter of course must leak. A
flue, when once started to leak, seldom stops without being set up, and
one leaky flue will start others, and what are you going to do about it?
Are you going to send to a boiler shop and get a boilermaker to come out
and fix them and pay him from forty to sixty cents an hour for doing it?
I don't know but that you must the first time, but if you are going to
make a business of making your flues leak, you had best learn how to do
it yourself. You can do it if you are not too big to get into the fire
door. You should provide yourself with a flue expander and a calking
tool, with a machinist's hammer, (not too heavy). Take into the firebox
with you a piece of clean waste with which you will wipe off the ends of
the flues and flue sheet to remove any soot or ashes that may have
collected around them. After this is done you will force the expander
into the flues driving it well up, in order to bring the shoulder of
expander up snug against the head of the flue. Then drive the tapering
pin into the expander. By driving the pin in too far you may spread the
flue sufficient to crack it or you are more liable, by expanding too
hard, to spread the hole in flue sheet and thereby loosen other flues.
You must be careful about this. When you think you have expanded
sufficient, hit the pin a side blow in order to loosen it, and turn the
expander about one-quarter of a turn, and drive it up as before; loosen
up and continue to turn as before until you have made the entire circle
of flues. Then remove the expander, and you are ready for your header
or calking tool. It is best to expand all the flues that are leaking
before beginning with the header.

The header is used by placing the gauge or guide end within the flue,
and with your light hammer the flue can be calked or beaded down against
the flue sheet. Be careful to use your hammer lightly, so as not to
bruise the flues or sheet. When you have gone over all the expanded
flues in this way, you, (if you have been careful) will not only have a
good job, but will conclude that you are somewhat of an expert at it. I
never saw a man go into a firebox and stop the leak but that he came out
well pleased with himself. The fact that a firebox is no pleasant
workshop may have had something to do with it. If your flues have been
leaking badly, and you have expanded them, it would be well to test your
boiler with cold water pressure to make sure that you have a good job.

How are you going to test your boiler? If you can attach to a hydrant,
do so, and when you have given your boiler all the pressure you want,
you can then examine your flues carefully, and should you find any
seeping of water, you can use your beader lightly untill such leaks are
stopped. If the waterworks will not afford you sufficient pressure, you
can bring it up to the required pressure, by attaching a hydraulic pump
or a good force pump.

In testing for the purpose of ascertaining if you have a good job on
your flues, it is not necessary to put on any greater cold water
pressure than you are in the habit of carrying. For instance, if your
safety valve is set at one hundred and ten pounds, this pressure of cold
water will be sufficient to test the flues.

Now, suppose you are out in the field and want to test your flues. Of
course you have no hydrant to attach to, and you happen not to have a
force pump, it would seem you were in bad shape to test your boiler with
cold water. Well, you can do it by proceeding in this way: When you
have expanded and beaded all the flues that were leaking, you will then
close the throttle tight, take off the safety valve (as this is
generally attached at the highest point) and fill the boiler full, as it
is absolutely necessary that all the space in the boiler should be
filled with cold water. Then screw the safety valve back in its place.
You will then get back in the firebox with your tools and have someone
place a small sheaf of wheat or oat straw under the firebox or under
waist of boiler if open firebox, and set fire to it. The expansive
force of the water caused by the heat from the burning straw will
produce pressure desired. You should know, however, that your safety is
in perfect order. When the water begins to escape at the safety valve,
you can readily see if you have expanded your flues sufficiently to keep
them from leaking.

This makes a very nice and steady pressure, and although the pressure is
caused by heat, it is a cold water pressure, as the water is not heated
beyond one or two degrees. This mode of testing, however, cannot be
applied in very cold weather, as water has no expansive force five
degrees above or five degrees below the freezing point.

These tests, however, are only for the purpose of trying your flues and
are not intended to ascertain the efficiency or strength of your boiler.
When this is required, I would advise you to get an expert to do it, as
the best test for this is the hammer test, and only an expert should
attempt it.

PART SIX ________

Any young engineer who will make use of what he has read will never get
his engine into much trouble. Manufacturers of farm engines to-day make
a specialty of this class of goods, as they endeavor to build them as
simple and of as few parts as possible. They do this well knowing that,
as a rule, they must be run by men who cannot take a course in practical
engineering. If each one of the many thousands of engines that are
turned out every year had to have a practical engineer to run it, it
would be better to be an engineer than to own the engine; and
manufacturers knowing this, they therefore make their engines as simple
and with as little liability to get out of order as possible. The
simplest form of an engine, however, requires of the operator a certain
amount of brains and a willingness to do that which he knows should be
done; and if you will follow the instructions you have already received,
you can run your engine as successfully as any one can wish as long as
your engine is in order, and, as I have just stated, it is not liable to
get out of order, except from constant wear, and this wear will appear
in the boxes, journals and valve. The brasses on wrist pin and
cross-head will probably require your first and most careful attention,
and of these two the wrist or crank box will require the most; and what
is true of one is true of both boxes. It is, therefore, not necessary
to take up both boxes in instructing you how to handle them. We will
take up the box most likely to require your attention. This is the
wrist box. You will find this box in two parts or halves. In a new
engine you will find that these two halves do not meet on the wrist pin
by at least one-eighth of an inch. They are brought up to the pin by
means of a wedge-shaped key. (I am speaking now of the most common form
of wrist boxes. If your engine should not have this key, it will have
something which serves the same purpose.) As the brasses wear you can
take up this wear by forcing the key down, which brings the two halves
nearer together. You can continue to gradually take up this wear until
you have brought them together. You will then see that it is necessary
to do something, in order to take up any more wear, and this "something"
is to take out the brasses and file about one-sixteenth of an inch off
of each brass. This will allow you another eighth of an inch to take up
in wear.

Now here is a nice little problem for you to solve and I want you to
solve it to your own satisfaction, and when you do, you will thoroughly
understand it, and to understand it is to never allow it to get you into
trouble. We started out by saying that in a new engine you would most
likely find about one-eighth of an inch between the brasses, and we said
you would finally get these brasses, or halves together, and would have
to take them out and file them. Now we have taken up one-eighth of an
inch and the result is, we have lengthened our pitman just one-sixteenth
of an inch; or in other words, the center of wrist pin and the center of
cross-head are just one-sixteenth of an inch further apart than they
were before any wear had taken place, and the piston head has
one-sixteenth of an inch more clearance at one end, and one-sixteenth of
an inch less at the other end than it had before. Now if we take out the
boxes and file them so we have, another eighth of an inch, by the time
we have taken up this wear, we will then have this distance doubled, and
we will soon have the piston head striking the end of the cylinder, and
besides, the engine will not run as smooth as it did. Half of the wear
comes off of each half, and the half next to the key is brought up to
the wrist pin because of the tapering key, while the outside half
remains in one place. You must therefore place back of this half a thin
piece of sheet copper, or a piece of tin will do. Now suppose our boxes
had one-eighth of an inch for wear. When we have taken up this much we
must put in one-sixteenth of an inch backing (as it is called), for we
have reduced the outside half by just that amount. We have also reduced
the front half the same, but as we have said, the tapering key brings
this half up to its place.

Now we think we have made this clear enough and we will leave this and
go back to the key again. You must remember that we stated that the key
was tapering or a wedged shape, and as a wedge, is equally as powerful
as a screw, and you must bear in mind that a slight tap will bring these
two boxes up tight against the wrist pin. Young engineers experience
more trouble with this box than with any other part of the engine, and
all because they do not know how to manage it. You should be very
careful not to get your box too tight, and don't imagine that every time
there is a little knock about your engine that you can stop it by
driving the key down a little more. This is a great mistake that many,
and even old engineers make. I at one time seen a wrist pin and boxes
ruined by the engineer trying to stop a knock that came from a loose
fly-wheel. It is a fact, and one that has never been satisfactorily
explained, that a knock coming from almost any part of an engine will
appear to be in the wrist. So bear this in mind and don't allow
yourself to be deceived in this way, and never try to stop a knock until
you have first located the trouble beyond a doubt.

When it becomes necessary to key up your brasses, you will find it a
good safe way to loosen up the set screw which holds the key, then drive
it down till you are satisfied you have it tight. Then drive it back
again and then with your fist drive the key down as far as you can. You
may consider this a peculiar kind of a hammer, but your boxes will
rarely ever heat after being keyed in this manner.


What makes an engine knock or pound? A loose pillow block box is a good
"knocker." The pillow block is a box next crank or disc wheel. This box
is usually fitted with set bolts and jam nuts. You must also be careful
not to set this up too tight, remembering always that a box when too
tight begins to heat and this expands the journal, causing greater
friction. A slight turn of a set bolt one way or the other may be
sufficient to cool a box that may be running hot, or to heat one that
may be running cool. A hot box from neglect of oiling can be cooled by
supplying oil, provided it has not already commenced to cut. If it
shows any sign of cutting, the only safe way is to remove the box and
clean it thoroughly.

Loose eccentric yokes will make a knock in an engine, and it may appear
to be in the wrist. You will find packing between the two halves of the
yoke. Take out a thin sheet of this packing, but don't take out too
much, as you are liable then to get them too tight and they may stick
and cause your eccentrics to slip. We will have more to say about the
slipping of the eccentrics.

The piston rod loose in cross-head will make a knock, which also appears
in the wrist, but it is not there. Tighten the piston and you will stop
it. The piston rod may be keyed in cross head, or it may be held in
place by a nut. The key is less liable to get loose, but should it work
loose a few times it may be necessary to replace it with a new one. And
this is one of the things that cause a bad break when it works out or
gets loose. If it gets loose it may not come out, but it will not stand
the strain very long in this condition, and will break, allowing the
piston to come out of cross head, and you are certain to knock out one
cylinder head and possibly both of them. The nut will do the same thing
if allowed to come off. So this is one of the connections that will
claim your attention once in a while, but if you train your ear to
detect any unusual noise you will discover it as soon as it gives the
least in either key or nut.

The cross-head loose in the guides will make it knock. If the
cross-head is not provided for taking up this wear, you can take off the
guides and file them enough to allow them to come up to the cross-head,
but it is much better to have them planed off, which insures the guides
coming up square against the cross-head and thus prevent any heating or

A loose fly-wheel will most likely puzzle you more than anything else to
find the knock. So remember this. The wheel may apparently be tight,
but should the key be the least bit narrow for the groove in shaft, it
will make your engine bump very similar to that caused by too much or
too little "lead."


What is lead? Lead is space or opening of port on steam end of
cylinder, when engine is on dead center. (Dead center is the two points
of disc or crank wheel at which the crank pin is in direct line with
piston and at which no amount of steam will start the engine.) Different
makes of engines differ to such an extent that it is impossible to give
any rule or any definite amount of lead for an engine. For instance, an
engine with a port six inches long and one-half inch wide would require
much less lead than one with a port four inches long and one inch wide.
Suppose I should say one-sixteenth of an inch was the proper lead. In
one engine you would have an opening one-sixteenth of an inch wide and
six inches long and in the other you would have one-sixteenth of an inch
wide and four inches long; so you can readily see that it is impossible
to give the amount of lead for an engine without knowing the piston
area, length of port, speed, etc. Lead allows live steam to enter the
cylinder just ahead of the piston at the point of finishing the stroke,
and forms a "cushion," and enables the engine to pass the center without
a jar. Too much lead is a source of weakness to an engine, as it allows
the steam to enter the cylinder too soon and forms a back pressure and
tends to prevent the engine from passing the center. It will,
therefore, make your engine bump, and make it very difficult to hold the
packing in stuffing box.

Insufficient lead will not allow enough steam to enter the cylinder
ahead of piston to afford cushion enough to stop the inertia, and the
result will be that your engine will pound on the wrist pin. You most
likely have concluded by this time that "lead" is no small factor in the
smooth running of an engine, and you, as a matter of course, will want
to know how you are to obtain the proper lead. Well don't worry
yourself. Your engine is not going to have too much lead today and not
enough tomorrow. If your engine was properly set up in the first place
the lead will be all right, and continue to afford the proper lead as
long as the valve has not been disturbed from its original position; and
this brings us to the most important duty of an engineer as far as the
engine is concerned, viz: Setting the Valve.


The proper and accurate setting of a valve on a steam engine is one of
the most important duties that you will have to perform, as it requires
a nicety of calculation and a mechanical accuracy. And when we remember
also, that this is another one of the things for which no uniform rule
can be adopted, owing to the many circumstances which go to make an
engine so different under different conditions, we find it very
difficult to give you the light on this part of your duty which we would
wish to. We, however, hope to make it so clear to you that by the aid
of the engine before you, you can readily understand the conditions and
principles which control the valve in the particular engine which you
may have under your management.

The power and economy of an engine depends largely on the accurate
operation of its valve. It is, therefore, necessary that you know how
to reset it, should it become necessary to do so.

An authority says, "Bring your engine to a dead center and then adjust
your valve to the proper lead." This is all right as far as it goes, but
how are you to find the dead center. I know that it is a common custom
in the field to bring the engine to a center by the use of the eye. You
may have a good eye, but it is not good enough to depend on for the
accurate setting of a valve.


First, provide yourself with a "tram." This you can do by taking a 1/4
inch iron rod, about 18 inches long, and bend about two inches of one
end to a sharp angle. Then sharpen both ends to a nice sharp point.
Now, fasten securely a block of hard wood somewhere near the face of the
fly wheel, so that when the straight end of your tram is placed at a
definite point in the block the other, or hook end, will reach the crown
of fly wheel.

Be certain that the block cannot move from its place, and be careful to
place the tram at exactly the same point on the block at each time you
bring the tram into use. You are now ready to proceed to find the dead
center, and in doing this remember to turn the fly wheel always in the
same direction. Now, turn your engine over till it nears one of the
centers, but not quite to it. You will then, by the aid of a
straight-edge make a clear and distinct mark across the guides and cross
head. Now, go around to the fly wheel and place the straight end of the
tram at same point on the block, and with the hook end make a mark
across the crown or center of face of fly wheel; now turn your engine
past the center and on to the point at which the line on cross head is
exactly in line with the lines on guides. Now, place your tram in the
same place as before, and make another mark across the crown of fly
wheel. By the use of dividers find the exact center between the two
marks made on fly wheel; mark this point with a center punch. Now,
bring the fly wheel to the point at which the tram, when placed at its
proper place on block, the hook end, or point, will touch this punch
mark, and you will have one of the exact dead centers.

Now, turn the engine over till it nears the other center, and proceed
exactly as before, remembering always to place the straight end of tram
exactly in same place in block, and you will find both dead centers as
accurately as if you had all the fine tools of an engine builder.

You are now ready to proceed with the setting of your valve, and as you
have both dead centers to work from you ought to be able to do it, as
you do not have to depend on your eye to find them, and by the use of
the tram You turn your engine to exactly the same point every time you
wish to get a center.

Now remove the cap on steam chest, bring your engine to a dead center
and give your valve the necessary amount of lead on the steam end. Now,
we have already stated that we could not give you the proper amount of
lead for an engine. It is presumed that the maker of your engine knew
the amount best adapted to this engine, and you can ascertain his idea
of this by first allowing, we will say, about 1/16 of an inch. Now
bring your engine to the other center, and if the lead at the other end
is less than 1/16, then you must conclude that he intended to allow less
than 1/16, but should it show more than this, then it is evident that he
intended more than I/I16 lead; but in either case you must adjust your
valve so as to divide the space, in order to secure the same lead when
on either center. In the absence of any better tool to ascertain if the
lead is the same, make a tapering wooden wedge of soft wood, turn the
engine to a center and force the wedge in the opening made by the valve
hard enough to mark the wood; then turn to the next center, and if the
wedge enters the same distance, you are correct; if not, adjust till it
does, and when you have it set at the proper place you had best mark it
by taking a sharp cold chisel and place it so that it will cut into the
hub of eccentric and in the shaft; then hit it a smart blow with a
hammer. This should be done after you have set the set screws in
eccentric down solid on the shaft. Then, at any time should your
eccentric slip, you have only to bring it back to the chisel mark and
fasten it, and you are ready to go ahead again.

This is for a plain or single eccentric engine. A double or reversible
engine, however, is somewhat more difficult to handle in setting the
valve. Not that the valve itself is any different from a plain engine,
but from the fact that the link may confuse you, and while the link may
be in position to run the engine one way you may be endeavoring to set
the valve to run it the other way.

The proper way to proceed with this kind of an engine is to bring the
reverse lever to a position to run the engine forward, then proceed to
set your valve the same as on a plain engine. When you have it at the
proper place, tighten just enough to keep from slipping, then bring your
reverse lever to the reverse position and bring your engine to the
center. If it shows the same lead for the reverse motion you are then
ready to tighten your eccentrics securely, and they should be marked as

You may imagine that you will have this to do often. Well don't be
scared about it. You may run an engine a long time, and never have to
set a valve. I have heard these windy engineers (you have seen them),
say that they had to go and set Mr. A's or Mr. B's valve, when the facts
were, if they did anything, it was simply to bring the eccentrics back
to their original position. They happened to know that most all engines
are plainly marked at the factory, and all there was to do was to bring
the eccentrics back to these marks and fasten them, and the valve was
set. The slipping of the eccentrics is about the only cause for a valve
working badly. You should therefore keep all grease and dirt away from
these marks; keep the set screws well tightened, and notice them
frequently to see that they do not slip. Should they slip a I/I6 part
of an inch, a well educated ear can detect it in the exhaust. Should
they slip a part of a turn as they will some times, the engine may stop
instantly, or it may cut a few peculiar circles for a minute or two, but
don't get excited, look to the eccentrics at once for the trouble.

Your engine may however act very queer some time, and you may find the
eccentrics in their proper place. Then you must go into the steam chest
for the trouble. The valves in different engines are fastened on valve
rod in different ways. Some are held in place by jam nuts; a nut may
have worked loose, causing lost motion on the valve. This will make
your engine work badly. Other engines hold their valve by a clamp and
pin. This pin may work out, and when it does, your engine will stop,
very quickly to.

If you thoroughly understand the working of the steam, you can readily
detect any defect in your cylinder or steam chest, by the use of your
cylinder cocks. Suppose we try them once. Turn your engine on the
forward center, now open the cocks and give the engine the steam
pressure. If the steam blows out at the forward cock we know that we
have sufficient lead. Now turn back to the back center, and give it
steam again; if it blows out the same at this cock, we can conclude that
our valve is in its proper position. Now reverse the engine and do the
same thing; if the cocks act the same, we know we are right. Suppose
the steam blows out of one cock all right, and when we bring the engine
to the other center no steam escapes from this cock, then we know that
something is wrong with the valve, and if the eccentrics are in their
proper position the trouble must be in the steam chest, and if we open
it up we will find the valve has become loosened on the rod. Again
suppose we put the engine on a center, and on giving it steam, we find
the steam blowing out at both cocks.

Now what is the trouble, for no engine in perfect shape will allow the
steam to blow out of both cocks at the same time. It is one of two
things, and it is difficult to tell. Either the cylinder rings leak and
allow the steam to blow through, or else the valve is cut on the seat,
and allows the steam to blow over. Either of these two causes is bad,
as it not only weakens your engine, but is a great waste of fuel and
water. The way to determine which of the two causes this, is to take
off the cylinder head, turn engine on forward center and open throttle
slightly. If the steam is seen to blow out of the port at open end of
cylinder, then the trouble is in the valve, but if not, you will see it
blowing through from forward end of cylinder, and the trouble is in the
cylinder rings.

What is the remedy? Well, if the "rings" are the trouble, a new set
will most likely remedy it should they be of the automatic or
self-setting pattern, but should they be of the spring or adjusting
pattern, you can take out the head and set the rings out to stop this
blowing. As most all engines now are using the self-setting rings, you
will most likely require a new set.

If the trouble is in the valve or steam chest, you had best take it off
and have the valve seat planed down, and the valve seated to it. This
is the safest and best way. Never attempt to dress a valve down, you
are most certain to make a bad job of it.

And yet I don't like the idea of advising you not to do a thing that can
be done, for I do like an engineer who does not run to the shop for
every little trouble. However, unless you have the proper tools you had
best not attempt it. The only safe way is to scrape them down, for if
your valve is cut, you will find the valve seat is cut equally as bad,
and they must both be scraped to a perfect fit. Provide yourself with a
piece of flat steel, very hard, 3x4 inches by about I/8 inch, with a
perfect straight edge. With this scrape the valve and seat to a perfect
flat surface, It will be a slower process than scraping wood with a
piece of glass, but you can do it. Never use a chisel or a file on a


What is oil?

Oil is a coating for a journal, or in other words is a lining between

Did you ever stop long enough to ask yourself the question? I doubt it.
A great many people buy something to use on their engine, because it is
called oil. Now if the object in using oil is to keep a lining between
the bearings, is it not reasonable that you use something that will
adhere to that which it is to line or cover?

Gasoline will cover a journal for a minute or two, and oil a grade
better would last a few minutes longer. Still another grade would do
some better. Now if you are running your own engine, buy the best oil
you can buy. You will find it very poor economy to buy cheap oil, and
if you are not posted, you may pay price enough, but get a very poor

If you are running an engine for some one else, make it part of your
contract that you are furnished with a good oil. You can not keep an
engine in good shape with a cheap oil. You say "you are going to keep
your engine clean and bright." Not if you must use a poor oil.

Poor oil is largely responsible for the fast going out of use of the
link reverse among the makers of traction engines. While I think it
very doubtful if this "reverse motion" can be equalled by any of the
late devices. Its construction is such as to require the best grade of
cylinder oil, and without this it is very unsatisfactory, (not because
the valves of other valve-motions will do with a poorer grade of oil)
but because its construction is such that as soon as the valve becomes
dry it causes the link to jump and pound, and very soon requires
repairing. While the construction of various other devices are such,
that while the valve may be equally as dry it does not show the want of
oil so clearly as the old style link. Yet as a fact I care not what the
valve motion may be, it requires a good grade of oil.

You may ask "how am I to know when I am getting a good grade of oil."
The best way is to ascertain a good brand of oil then use that and
nothing else.

We are not selling oil, or advertising oil. However before I get
through I propose to give you the name of a good brand of cylinder oil,
a good engine oil as well as good articles of various attachments, which
cut no small figure in the success you may have in running an engine.

It is not an uncommon thing for an engineer (I don't like to call him an
engineer either) to fill his sight feed lubricator with ordinary engine
oil, and then wonder why his cylinder squeaks. The reason is that this
grade of oil cannot stand the heat in the cylinder or steam chest.

If you are carrying 90 pounds of steam you have about 320 degrees of
heat in your cylinder, with I20 to I25 pounds you will have about 350
degrees of heat, and in order to lubricate your valve and valve-seat,
and also the cylinder surface, you must use an oil, that will not only
stand this heat but considerable more so that it will have some staying

Then if you are using a good quality of oil and your link or reverse
begins to knock, it is because some part of it wants attention, and you
must look after it. And here is where I want to insist that you teach
your ear to be your guide. You ought to be able to detect the slightest
sound that is unnatural to your engine. Your eyes may be deceived, but a
well trained ear can not be fooled.

I was once invited by an engineer to come out and see how nice his
engine was running. I went, and found that the engine itself was
running very smooth, in fact almost noiseless, but he looked very much
disappointed when I asked him why he was doing all his work with one end
of cylinder. He asked me what I meant, and I had some difficulty in
getting him to detect the difference in the exhaust of the two ends, in
fact the engine was only making one exhaust to a revolution. He was one
of those engineers who never discovered anything wrong until he could
see it. Did you know that there are people in the world whose mental
capacity can only grasp one idea at a time. That is when their minds
are on any one object or principle they can not see or observe anything
else. That was the case with this engineer, his mind had been
thoroughly occupied in getting all the reciprocating (moving) parts
perfectly adjusted, and if the exhaust had made all sorts of peculiar
noises, he would not have discovered it.

The one idead man will not make a successful engineer. The good engineer
can stand by and at a glance take in the entire engine, from tank to top
of smoke stack. He has the faculty of noting mentally, what he sees,
and what he hears, and by combining the results of the two, he is
enabled to size up the condition of the engine at a glance. This,
however, only come with experience, and verges on expertness. And if
you wish to be an expert, learn to be observing.

It is getting very common among engineers to use "hard grease" on the
crank pin and main journals, and it will very soon be used exclusively.
With a good grade of grease your crank will not heat near so quickly as
with oil and your engine will be much easier to keep clean; and if you

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