“I remember that engine as though I had seen it only yesterday, for it was the first vehicle other than horse drawn that I had ever seen.” Henry Ford
If you visit www.thehenryford.org you can find a photo of a 1916 Port Huron Traction Engine in the museum’s collection that very closely resembles this 1914 model. So was it a Port Huron Traction Engine that inspired a young Henry Ford to create his Model T in 1908? We may never know. After tossing out that intriguing quote the very brief article wanders off to other pastures. Ford was a Michigan native but the Upton - Port Huron Traction Engine Company made its first engines in 1882. Ford would have been 19 years old at that time.
Engine number 6166 was making steam at the 15th Annual Cumming Steam, Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Expo. Nov. 11 & 12 2016. Like the one at the Ford Museum, this one,owned by Jake Hubbard, is a 19 / 65, 19 hp on the drawbar and 65 hp on the belt.
Jack Norbeck in his Encyclopedia of American Steam Traction Engines states that the Port Huron-Woolf Compound engines were the best ever developed for threshing due to their economical and reliable operation. Port Huron claimed that their compound engines reduced fuel consumption by 3 to 4 percent compared to other engines.
In essence the compound engine achieves its economy by using the same steam twice. High pressure steam is admitted to the first cylinder then exhausted into another cylinder where it continues to expand, thereby wringing more work out of the fuel and water consumed.
Surf on over to https://www.midwestagmuseum.com/1919-port-huron-thresher/ to checkout the 1914 Port Huron sales brochure they have posted on their site. Within the first twelve pages you will find a series of very nice illustrations of the traction engine line they offered that year: A 16 hp compound, 20 hp “Longfellow” simple, 19 hp “Longfellow” compound, 24 hp “Longfellow” compound, 32 hp compound engine; and that’s just the beginning of the good stuff. Keep turning pages for cutaway diagrams of boiler construction, firebox and boiler tube details, boiler specifications and more. There’s even a cutaway illustration of the Port Huron - Woolf Compound Engine and a detailed explanation of the operation of the slide valve of this engine.
Port Huron claimed that the extended length of the tubes in their boilers made more efficient use of fuel because less heat was wasted up the stack, and that the 28” to 30” smokebox provided a measure of safety by reducing sparks and embers escaping with the exhaust. This extended length of the boiler was the origin of the name Longfellow.
The company was also quite proud of the construction of their operator’s platform, claiming that it could support the weight of the entire rear end of the machine, thus saving many lives and engines. A photograph of an engine that has collapsed one of the rudimentary bridges of the period is included on page 29 and sure enough, the platform is the only thing holding up the back end of the tractor. Since the 19 hp engine weighed in at 17,200 pounds, this was probably not an unusual occurrence.