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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

War Birds Over Greenville


This may seem a bit off topic but it’s not really. I find all types of historic technology interesting, hopefully you will too. The War Birds of the Collings Foundation were scheduled to visit Greenville, SC. from October 27 to the 29th and I was ready to enjoy three days of watching vintage aircraft take to the autumn sky but it didn’t exactly work out that way. Right from the start the Gremlins crawled out of the woodwork or the clouds or wherever they hide when they’re not busy dismantling aircraft engines.




Four aircraft from their World War 2 collection, a B-17, B-24 and B-25 bombers plus a TF-51 Mustang were supposed to be on display and available for tours beginning at 2:00 pm on Friday afternoon.  I arrived at Greenville’s Downtown Airport about 11:00 am halfway expecting them to already be lined up on the apron but no war birds there. Good deal, I wasn’t too late to watch them land so I headed for an observation area at the end of the runway.  It was well past two before the B-17 made its appearance, then it wandered around the the sky several miles from the airport for about half an hour before landing. The thing that stood out most was was how slow it was flying. It reminded me of a dirigible making stately passes off in the distance.




Next to arrive was the two seat trainer version of the P-51D Mustang. Elegant is the best description for this aircraft. Powered by a V-12 Packard-Merlin engine producing 1,490 horsepower it cuts through the sky with the effortless grace of a world class figure skater.  It still seems sleek and fast, even by today’s standards.




North American Aviation Inc. produced 8,156  P-51D Mustangs but far fewer copies of the two place trainer version were built. This is one of the three known surviving examples in flying condition. It served with the 167th Fighter Squadron of the West Virginia Air National Guard. This squadron was the last to fly the Mustang in operational service. Stationed at Martinsburg, West virginia it was flown by the Guard until January 1957. It flies today wearing its original Air Guard markings.




The shadows were growing long when the next plane arrived. I spotted it several miles out as it lined up on its final approach. There is no mistaking the profile of the Consolidated Liberator. This is the only example of the B-24 J still flying today. Built in August 1944 it was delivered to the Army Air Corp and transferred to the  Royal Air Force under lend - lease. It served in the Pacific Theater until the war’s end when it was abandoned in Kanpur, India. In 1948 it was reconditioned by the Indian Air Force who flew it until 1968. Decommissioned again, it was acquired by a collector and shipped to England. Dr. Robert Collings purchased it in 1984 and had it shipped to Stow, Ma. where a five year restoration project began. It flew again in September 1989 as part of the Collings Foundation collection.




“Tondelayo” the North American B-25 Mitchell was delayed; as it turned out, for the duration of the show. Rumor has it that there were mechanical problems. It was late afternoon by this point but the other three aircraft managed at least one flight with passengers before dark.




An early polar plunger had been pushing down into the Plains States from Canada and slowly spreading eastward since the beginning of the week and by Saturday its effects were reaching the Carolinas. A drizzling rain was falling intermittently  so I stayed at home. Sunday was a little better, the rain had been replaced by cold temperatures and wind that was gusting up to 30 mph.  This pretty much grounded the bombers and the Mustang was experiencing electrical problems. A Civil Air Patrol volunteer worker that I talked to pointed out that the weather added a touch of authenticity because it resembled conditions in Europe that the aircraft would have encountered during the war. Maybe so but I don’t think anyone would have complained about a warm, sunny day.




The Collings Foundation is a nonprofit educational foundation whose mission is to promote living history through events like this Wings of Freedom Tour.  If you are fortunate enough to live near a city that they visit on one of their tours, I recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity to experience these unique aircraft. Walkthrough tours and flight experiences are available. You can learn more about future events, the aircraft and watch video clips of a ride on these planes by visiting www.collingsfoundation.org



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

E & M Number 5 Turns 100


Edgemoor and Manetta Engine Number 5 turns 100 this month. It rolled out the door of the H.K. Porter and Co. shops in November 1917. At that point in its career it was known as type 0-4-0T , construction number 5980 and it was bound for it’s first job as a shunting engine at the Watertown Arsenal in Massachusetts. The arsenal was a major supplier of gun carriages for artillery among other war materials so no doubt the little engine was kept busy for the duration of World War 1.




How long it remained employed by the arsenal is a question mark but by 1942 it had passed into the hands of Birmingham Rail and Locomotive Co. who in turn sold it to the Edgemoor and Manetta Railway. E & M was a short line railroad chartered by the State of South Carolina in 1899 that ran 2 ½ miles from Manetta Mills in Lando, SC to an interchange with a Seaboard RR mainline at Edgemoor, SC. E & M was owned by the mill and the mill was the only customer,  




From 1942 until 1975 Engine No. 5 hauled raw materials to the mill and finished cotton products back to the Seaboard connection. Apparently sometime in the summer of 1975 an inspection revealed that the engine was no longer safe to operate and it was retired from service. It would be almost impossible to say for sure but it would definitely be among the last, if not the last steam engine used in regular freight hauling operations in the United States.  After Number 5 was retired, the mill switched to using truck transport and rail operations ceased.




In 1866 Henry Kirke Porter and John Y. Smith formed a partnership and opened a machine shop in Pittsburgh, Pa.  By 1867 they had built their first steam locomotive for Newcastle Railroad and Mining Co. From the beginning they specialized in light duty engines for industrial and short haul customers. They manufactured forty-three of the four wheeled saddle tank locomotives before a fire destroyed the factory and the partnership was dissolved.




Porter soon formed another partnership with Arthur W. Bell and organized under the name of Porter, Bell & Co. The firm manufactured 223 engines before Bell’s death in 1878. Porter reorganized again and pushed ahead under the name of H.K. Porter and Co. Porter was a pioneer in the practice of using off the shelf components and was able to quickly produce engines to meet his customer's specifications.  His company came to dominate the industrial locomotive niche market and made over 8,000 light duty engines before production ended in 1950.




The majority of engines were steam power 0-4-0T “Dinky” saddle tank switch engines, but Porter also made gasoline powered engines and compressed air and “fireless steam engines” for use in underground mines.




Long haul mainline locomotives usually have a tender in tow to furnish a supply of fuel and water but due to the limited range in which they operate switch engines usually carry an on board supply. A tender is unnecessary and would mainly get in the way. A number designs exist with different locations for the water tank, including side tanks and tanks located underneath the boiler. With the saddle tank design the water tank is draped across the boiler like a saddle on a horse.




In 1995 the Heath family who were the owners of the mill and the railroad donated the engine to the town of Richburg, SC and it was moved to Richburg Community Park at 116 North Main Street where it is presently on display. Happy Birthday “Dinky”, and many Happy Returns.




Sources:
Historic Marker at Richburg Community Park
En.wikipedia.org

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oliver Model O.C.-46 Loader


A couple of years ago I drove past the Kissimmee Auction Company in Spartanburg, SC and spotted several old pull graders parked in front so I went inside the office and asked permission to have a look and take some pictures. This old Oliver OC-46 Loader was parked among the Adams and Cat pull graders serving as a kind of lawn ornament. It’s still sitting there today looking like it could really use a restoration. There’s no for sale sign on it but Kissimmee is in the business of selling heavy equipment so the right offer might motivate the seller.




The Oliver Corporation produced the OC-4 series crawler tractors from 1957 to 1965. The OC-4 was the agricultural model while the OC-46 variant was designed and built as a compact loader for construction and industrial applications. The OC-4 was offered in four track widths 31 inches for tight work areas, 46 “ and 60” and 68” for farm, swampland and snow work where maximum floatation was crucial. The shipping weight was around 5,000 pounds. The OC-46 came with  46” treads as standard and due to the extra weight of the loader equipment shipped from the factory at around 7850 pounds.




Both versions were offered with a 130 cubic inch 3 cylinder Hercules engine in either gasoline or diesel option. Cylinder bore measured 3 ½” with a stroke of 4 ½”.  A six volt electrical system was standard on the gasoline version while 12 volts were used on the diesel models. Fuel economy was touted in the sales brochure, “ runs all day on one tankful.”




Both versions were shipped to Nebraska in 1958 and were evaluated in test number 655 and 656. Maximum drawbar horsepower was recorded as 23.14 and 25.34 hp. On the belt. Gasoline and diesel results were about the same. The standard transmission provided four forward speeds from 1.5 to 5.2 miles per hour.




The OC-46 was designed by Oliver as a loader tractor with special attention to mounting the loader that was built by Ware Machine Works to Oliver’s specifications. Ware had a close relationships with Oliver for a number of years and is still in business today. The Oliver brochure claimed that the position of the loader resulted in perfect balance and stability and reduced counterweight requirements by hundreds of pounds. Oliver claimed a breakout capacity of 6000 pounds.




With an overall length of twelve feet and relatively light weight ( compared to a full size dozer ) the OC-46 filled an important market niche. Judging by the popularity of the Bobcat style mini loader / dozer you see at nearly every construction site today, the OC-46 might have been slightly ahead of it’s time.




Resources:

Most of the information used in this post came from an Oliver sales brochure for the OC-4 crawler and OC-46 loader that dates to the early 60’s. You can view this brochure and other interesting documents at www.cletrac.org .
Tractordata.com has posted a downloadable file with the report for Nebraska Test  number 656 conducted in June 1958.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

1936 John Deere Model AR


Charlie Story’s nicely unrestored Johnny Popper is apparently a regular at the Foothills Antique Power Association of NC’s   annual show, thing is, I didn’t realize it when I started  working on this post. I like machines that are left in their original colors so I decided to use some photos from the 2017 show. Problem was there wasn’t any identifying information displayed on the tractor.




No doubt there are plenty of EXPERTS out there who can identify a tractor right down to it’s model, serial number and the day and time it rolled off  the assembly line by looking at a single nut or bolt that you’re holding in your hand but I’m not one of them.  I have to do it the hard way. With luck you might find a data plate like the one in this photo behind the flywheel. In the original file it can be enlarged on the computer until the numbers are just almost readable.  I say almost because I still couldn’t tell for certain if the serial number was  251882 or 254982 but at least it was a start.




The Model A was one of Deere and Co.’s greatest hits with 300,000 units produced during production that that ran from 1934 to 1952. The row crop version was easily the favorite but a number of variants were also available. These include the AR : regular or standard front axle,  AO: orchard model, AOS: a narrow orchard version, AW: adjustable wide front, AN: with a single front wheel, AWH: adjustable wide front high crop, ANH: single front wheel high crop, and AI: standard front industrial. No doubt there are other versions but these were the ones I’ve been able to find reference to. This tractor clearly isn’t a row crop or  single front but it could be among one of the standard tread versions.  Time to look for a serial number list.




List I found at www.yesterdaystractors.com and www.greencollectors.com and both have AO and AR models beginning at 250000 in 1936 and running to 255416 in 1938. While browsing the current issue of Antique Power Magazine I chanced upon an ad for an upcoming Mecum Auction where a 1936 model AI sn 252781 was going on the block. By this point I felt fairly confident that this tractor fell within this bracket but I still wanted to check what should have been the definitive information source.




The number one source for information about Deere products should be visitjohndeere.com . After all, who has better access to company documents? If you’re looking for information a visit is sure to disappoint because you won’t find it here. Really John, is this the best you can do for all your loyal fans?  




It was about this point that I remembered that I had seen this tractor before. I opened the file that contained the photos from the FAPA 2015 show and sure enough, there it was, complete with a sign that read 1936 John Deere AR. Ok, now it’s time to go look for some info on the 36 AR.




The standard tread versions: AR, AO and AI were in production from 1935 to 1952 with a total of 34,074 units built. The price tag on the last year model in 52 was $2,400. Physical dimensions: length, 124 inches, width, 83”, height, 60” weight 3783 pounds.




The A row crop version was shipped to Nebraska in 1934 and evaluated in test number 222. It was powered by a John Deere horizontal two cylinder liquid cooled engine with a bore of 5 ½” and a stroke of 6 ½”  for 5.1 L or 309 cu in. Maximum horsepower ratings were 16.22 drawbar and 23.52 on the belt at 975 rpm. Valve port dimensions were, inlet: 1 ⅞” , exhaust: 1 ⅝” . It was fed by a Schebler carburetor model DLTX 8.  A Fairbanks-Morse mod. DRV2A magneto provided ignition. The air cleaner was a Vortex No. 2071D oil washed wire filter. It rumbled along at 2 ⅓ mph in first, 3 mph in second, 4 ¾ mph in third and 6 ¼ mph in fourth. Reverse was 3 ½ mph.




Additional resources:

University of Nebraska Lincoln Test No. 222