Posted by: bleedingartindustries | February 10, 2011

Happy New Year?

Sorry for the huge delay.  It has been a busy year already.  Happy New Year!!

As an independent business owner, the times seem to be changing rapidly and the economy swinging with it.   Sadly the engine collection and hobby has gotten a thin layer of dust on it as I tend to more pressing matters.    That said, I have begun to slowly start the new additions to the website (not yet live) and clean up the engine shop.  (YAY)

Cheers to all, and as someone once said “Keep the Rev’s Up”



Posted by: bleedingartindustries | August 26, 2010

Weekend running the Case 80 hp Steam traction Engine

Case Steam Traction Engine

Case Steam Engine

My loving engine widow partner again lost me to “my favorite obsession” this weekend.  As some might remember, I had blogged about a friend of mine who could not find anyone to teach how to run and maintain a steam traction engine.  This weekend I finally put my money where my mouth was and did the near three-hour drive to Camrose, Alberta to train and learn how to start and run his 1912 80 hp Steam Traction Engine.  The idea is that eventually I can use these hours towards my fourth class engineers papers.  I will also have to challenge a test.   Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has an online course that I can take as well, although not many of the new courses have a lot of information dealing with historic boilers such as these.

I spent the weekend with Dave Fitche of the Camrose Museum in Camrose, Alberta.  Anyone who is watching my youtube and engineutopia pages will know that Dave appears in the background of a few of them.  The first year I showed at the Reynolds Museum, Dave was pictured driving the very unique John Bull Tractor.  Dave was initially instructed by the legendary historic steam expert, John Quill.  Dave has worked on steam and traction engines for many years.  He does most of the UT (Ultrasonic) testing here for the historic boilers.  He has worked for the Prairie Steam excursions restoring the 6060 and the 41, as well as at the Camrose and Reynolds Museums.  Dave is a tireless advocate of teaching the young the ways of the older technologies.

Dave and the Case

Dave and the Case engine

The Case is a large engine second largest in size built by the company, but here in Alberta given the mysterious rules of our local brain trust inspections branch (ABSA), the boiler is set to a maximum pressure of 65 PSI steam.  It is reduced every year by a factor of .01.  This would mean in a very few years it would not have enough pressure to run at all.  This is because of bad transcription on the rule book where a word was dropped in the 1950’s.  Hopefully, with the CSA stepping in, as well as the formation of historic boiler associations from across the country, this silliness can be resolved and still keep a safe boiler.

Some things I learned about:

Case Steam Traction Engine Control

Johnson Bar control

Johnson Bar:  This is the control which starts and stops the engine.  It also changes the amount of steam which is effecting on the piston.  At the furthest out notch, the steam is contacting the piston 80 percent of the time.  The furthest in notch the contact is closer to 10 percent.  Not only does this change the power of the engine when first starting and stopping, this will affect the efficiency of the engine.  Dave can reduce his steam (and thus water consumption of the engine) by up to 50 percent just by proper working of this control.  This control also controls the stop of the engine as well as reverse.

Throttle and Clutch

Throttle and Clutch controls

Throttle:  This control changes the amount of steam allowed into the steam chest for operation of the engine.  The more steam, the harder the push, the faster the engine will go

.  This lever precedes the steam governor.  The governor limits the amount of steam which limits the speed that the flywheel will travel.  This engine runs about 250 to 300 RPMmaximum.  Any faster and the engine can run the risk of pulling itself apart.  As the flywheels are made of  cast iron, grenading can become an issue with over speeding of the wheels.  Cast iron is very good with compressive strength but not good with elongation and especially not with fracture.

Clutch:  On this engine the large lever is the clutch to engage the wheels.  When motion is not needed for the engine and only power is needed via the pulley, the clutch is disengaged to allow free motion on the pulley.  The clutch lever is a bit of a beast and one has to be careful when near it.  If not properly engaged, the lever can jump out of position, striking anyone standing near it.  It can kill.

Case traction engine sight glass

Sight Glass

Sight Glass:  This is the thing you really want to watch.  This lets you know the level of the water in the boiler.  This is important to keep well maintained by following a sequence of opening stop cocks and closing valves to blow out the system.  The two taps seen on the side of the sight glass are the tricocks which in case of a glass breakage can prove the water level by opening the taps in order and seeing what comes out.  The water level in this engine should be kept at the triangular pin or higher.  If the water reaches 3 inches below the bottom nut of the sight glass then that would mean the crown sheet of the boiler / firebox would be exposed and creates a dangerous situation which can cause a violent explosion if water were to touch the sheet.  This is called flashover where the water touching the red hot sheet flashes to steam causing a pressure surge that the boiler simply could not handle.

On the other side of things, the water level should be kept from being to full as when water hammers through the steam dome into the engine, the engine takes unusual stress (water hammering) and can also simply just lock up.

It is very challenging to keep the water level even when the tractor is in motion.  Pitch and yaw of the engine changes the visual in the sight glass as the water sloshes back and forth.  Sometimes the water will disappear completely when going downhill and pitched to one side, only to appear overly full once the engine changes position.  As with all the controls, the engine reacts very slowly to change and the control of it is through gentle tugs and shifts as opposed to “flooring” it.

Boiler control was the hardest thing to keep track of.  One wants to keep a full head of steam which needs to keep a good fire going.  At the same time, the water level needs to stay in a certain zone on the sight glass  and there are varying levels of steam use.  Juggling all three so as not to pop the pressure valve but keep a useful head of steam and not allowing the water levels to get too low can be quite taxing. I tried to keep the pressure around 50 PSI but wasn’t as skillful as I could have been.

Case Heat Exchanger

Case Heat Exchanger

Pictured here is the heat exchanger.  It is used when the injector or water pumps add water to the boiler.  It takes waste steam and heats a series of tubes through which the fresh feed water is heated before entering the boiler.

The injector is a crazy smart system which uses steam blown through venturi tubes to suck water into the boiler.  This is truly an amazing invention as it works so exceedingly well.

The boiler holds approximately 300 gal of water and the water tanks in the back hold another 280.  This makes a total weight of nearly 6000 pounds of water alone.  This engine will also use approximately 300 gal of water in an hour under full steam.  Consider this: when threshing in the old times, there would be a team or two of horses and men hauling water as well as a team fetching and delivering coal.  A threshing team would likely consist of up to 15 or 20 people just to do a day’s work.

All in all, it was a great weekend.  I hope to go up again really soon and give a hand.  This engine will be at the Reynolds show this Labour Day weekend, and will be loading for the trip to Wetaskiwin next Monday.  If  I am lucky I can get video to post.

The engine and I

The Case engine and I

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | August 5, 2010

Community Support

I thought I would post a little musing on engine shows.  They are a conundrum in the way they work and how the are an expression of community.

Will Voss demonstrates log sawing

Will Voss demonstrates log sawing

This past show, the Leslieville show society decided to charge for people who show their engines and displays on the site.  This had a number of enraged participants as their point was that there would be no show without them.  The great problem is that as a show grows in size, it needs more resources to fund the infrastructure, organization and activities.  The charge was only 5 bucks, the same price as a fancy coffee, or after work brew.  Still all the same my consternation at the gate was only followed by the hurtful after feeling that I was being taken for granted.

A brief calculation of the costs:  Fuel for travel for 4 hours to and from the show site = 100 dollars, Hotel while there, = $120.00; and the hidden costs Fuels and lube for engines = $40, Truck and trailer rentals = $175.00, food = $40.00… in total this can add up to a surprising $475.00 and we haven’t even started talking what my time is worth.  In a time of economic crunch, this is a lot of cash for one individual to shell out on a Hobby.  It was quite angering to be hit with a un announced fee at the gate when it cost so much to be there in the first place.

But then again, how will our community survive if we don’t show up as volunteers to keep this hobby alive?  What purpose would it benefit, especially in losing the youth we so desperately need to continue the hobby, when this ancient technology is crammed in sea containers and sheds; horded from view by our desire merely to collect?  I am not sure of the answer, but I am sure that how the show organizers and those who show need to proceed is carefully to ensure both parties can survive.

As a post script, participants on a year back had quite a lengthy and heated conversation about charging to display at shows.  A search of their archives will reveal some interesting reading on the subject.

Steam show in Big Valley

Randy Quill at the Big Valley Steam.

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | August 3, 2010

Some pictures from Leslieville show

Leslieville Alberta 2010 ShowMcKinnon Display

The McKinnon's engine display.

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | August 3, 2010


I was at the Leslieville show this weekend, which in itself is a great place to be, however, one thing struck me as extraordinary.  In essence my epiphany was how large a world we live in, and yet how we never really know what is in our own back yard.

I was speaking with an older man and woman regarding my hit and miss engines, and it the course of polite conversation I asked where the two were from.  It seems that the woman was from the Edmonton area, but the man was from California.  This gentleman was very impressed with the show and made a comment how he wished that such shows were taking place in California.  At this comment my jaw hit the floor.  As with most things Canadian, if there is an American equivalent, it is 10 times bigger.  I told him of my good friend rusty iron Rob and his participation in WAPA (Western Antique Power Association), as well as the shows in Tulare, Highland Citrus festival (where the streets are blocked off and engines are displayed for blocks), The EDGE show, and California Gold shows, to mention but a few.  The quality and rarity of engines displayed at these shows are unparalleled almost anywhere and this group and community is very active.  Even the WAPA publication is fantastic (Rob’s most evident contribution) and easily rivals the glossy nature of  Gas Engine Magazine.

It was funny to experience this, as it was Rusty Rob who a few months earlier put me in touch with a Ruston CR engine up for sale in my backyard.   It is oddly ironic that as far as we are apart, we are all so very close; and how one can miss the very things happening in ones own back yard.

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | July 30, 2010

Leslieville show this weekend.

Well, the marker by which I see time is coming up this weekend. 5 years ago this weekend, I was invited to the show at Leslieville Alberta. This was the first show I ever took my engines to and the start of my collecting obsession. I hope to make it this year as well, except that weather and a shortage of cash seem to be thwarting me.

More to come in the following weeks, lots of great announcements.

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | May 24, 2010

May Long Weekend

Well it is the May long weekend, and my motivation has long left me behind.  Never mind that my first official “I intend to be at this show” date is looming fast.  June 5 th and 6th is the Westlock show, and my traditional first day of engine tourism.  What to take to show is the order of the day.  So much needs to be fixed or restored.  Sadly the Ruston is still under restoration (I am starting on the platform or cart) and the Fairbanks is at Irricanna and well put away.

The opening day at Pioneer Acres was likely the most uneventfull event I have ever witnessed.  It was a bit of a letdown, as I had expected more than… well… NOBODY. 

Club IHC hit and miss Tractor

I know it is a club first and foremost, but anyone who has a museum attached really should have a little more attendance than there was that first day.  No wonder they are in such doldrums for attaining new members.  It was great to see the blacksmiths all out and working as well as a few of the tractor guys.

I just found out that my partner considers herself an “Engine Widow”.  This term is in reference to my being gone for extended periods either playing with, showing, or restoring old engines.  I had no idea that I had passed into such state, but to her I give my condolences.  Of course she could join me.

I am very excited to be obtaining my NOOD (New Objects Of Desire) some time in the next month.  I was able to secure a very high quality engine collection which I will begin to integrate into my collection.  Some will of course be sold to finance new aquisitions, but some will remain in the collection and will be a welcome enhancement.

My last entry for today goes to the idea of safety.  Yesterday, in trying to remove the flywheels from a stubborn Fairbanks headless 1 1/2hp engine as well as the piston from the head, a gust of wind and an ill placed position of my head caused my eyebrown and part of my hair to disapear in a ball of smelly flame.  I had a friend who did much the same thing although he was trying to unstick a Massey Harris tractor when a ball of fire belched out of the access hole into which he was looking.  The long and the short of this message is to play safe and have fun out there.  Finally take what these guys are doing to heart and count the mistakes they made.  They are very lucky that this did not become much, much worse.

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | May 4, 2010


Well I have tried to post every week, but the last month has been nuts. Here is an update of all the things that are happening.  I have been keeping up with the twitter postings a little better than this site, but here we go on this blustery night creating a blog for you to enjoy.

So…  Ray at Aztec machine has the bearing caps for the Ruston connecting rod ready.  I am very excited about this.  He is visiting tomorrow to check the fit.  As you may remember I asked Ray to cast new babbit for the connecting rod ends as the old ones had a multitude of problems.  I have attached the head onto the body and am beginning to add each part back on after cleaning.  I have also purchased the metal for the cart and have a rough drawing of what the finished display will look like.  It is beginning to look as if I might actually be finished by summer.

Speaking of summer.  Engine season is just around the corner.  The big Pioneer Acres clean up and opening prep is this week-end, with next week-end being the spring opening.  Lots of things to watch for there.  End of the month is the spring fling show, where we get a chance to haul out some stuff and make it go.  Also, if you are in the area, the Acres got a rare showing of the RCMP musical ride.  Tickets are sold in advance and are moving quickly, so make sure you call now to book yours.  One show only.  Check the website for information.

Show season is very close and I have updated the listings on my website.  There I have a complete list of the shows happening this summer in Alberta.  If you are from here or visiting here, there are lots to do and see from the end of May onward.  I will also be adding some extra dates not on the list of some smaller happenings.

I just completed my first major engine reassignment.  Now, some might call this a flip, but I connected a buyer and a seller and got a very nice engine into the hands of a younger collector for a very good price.  My benefit was that it got me some parts for my Manitoba engines, which I will need for their fall restoration.  Congrats Charles on the new 6 horse power toy.  I hope to see it in a number of shows this year.

For me it is also clean up time.  Time to get all the old engines together and take stock.  I am selling a number of them to raise money for a new project coming down the pipe.  I can’t speak to the acquisition much at this point but it is exciting.  In regards of sales, there will be a few Waterloo boys with the T Eaton tag up for sale, as well as a vertical New Way, and a Fairbanks or two.  IHC parts will be appearing on Ebay more regularly, so if you are interested drop me a line.  I can pretty much outfit a whole 1 1/2 hp IHC M style.

Well, it is time for me to blog out.  Thanks for checking in, and I hope to chat again soon.


Posted by: bleedingartindustries | April 5, 2010

New Show Schedule on my site

Well, I just updated the show schedule on  These are all the shows that are taking place in Alberta, a number of which I will be attending.  Thanks again to Christine Harold who provides the material for my lists and keeps them coming year after year.

It is time again to try and find sponsors for my travels and website.  A few have been selected and are in reciept of letter, but there is so much more to get out.  Still rather discouraging as the pocket books and minds are all rather closed.  Here is to trying.

The Ruston is progressing, albeit slowly.  I have begun to reassemble the head and other working bits.  Ray has yet to provide me with the rebabbited rod end caps, but I am sure he should have them done soon.  Soon it will just be the back end that needs the work and on to the adjustments for running.  I have contacted a fellow in Ontario who knows alot about this and I should have more information to post soon.

Posted by: bleedingartindustries | February 7, 2010

The Moral Dilemma

Once again it is that slow time of season where the bills pile up and the income dwindles.  The engine hobby for me and most others is a losing proposition at best.  Thus we are all forced to look at our shelves and say… “what can I sell”?  The aquisition of collectables (in this case engines) is a life long goal which never ceases.  In fact one has to be able to jump at chances which are presented when one can.  In this vein, I am looking at my shelf and had advertised on Enginads a 1 3/4 hp IHC mogul.  Now these are a very collectable engine and desirable to most engine buffs.  Very few of the 1 3/4 were made and even fewer seem to survive.  This particular engine is stuck and missing the ignitor and magneto.  The rocker arm is also missing a chunk.  Still, all in all this engine is in good condition (although stuck).  It is infinitely restorable.  I offered it on the ads for 500.00, which I think is pretty good price for a rarity.  Well, two nibbles at the ad, but the guy who is most likely to win out is the one who wants me to part it out.  He really wants the head and other parts.  I likely could make my 500 and more in parting this engine out, but it is a shame because this one is so close to complete.  This is the moral dilemma.  I am not a chop shop as so many are, however, parting this out may bring life to so many more.  It will also bring a greater price.  I have already decided that there are too many IHC M’s in this world and that parting the number I have obtained is OK, but this is a more complicated issue.  Here is to hoping the guy driving down from central Alberta will pay the asking price and give new life to this little chunk of history.

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