Welden Dill

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana

Joe Fahnestock

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Dayton Daily News & Radio's 'Joe's Journal'

Sometimes the SPARK PLUG OF THE MONTH is a hard critter to define - a sort of 'half-breed' mixture of human elements functioning variously as both Spark Plug and Iron Man - it's often difficult to tell which.

The last time I saw him and his son booming like a mobile cannon up the gay midway of the Darke County Steam Threshers, last summer - and hailed them to a halt for a snapshot of the twain astride their mighty half-size Rumely Oil-Pull, I was convinced they epitomized the perfect father-son niche in the Spark Plug Hall of Fame.

But, later, when I buggied up to Houston, Ohio-way, for a few photos and workshop interview, and finding our Junior-Senior partnership poring over a well-advanced half-size model of a free-lance steam traction engine -well, maybe you can sympathize with those of us who struggle at categorizing the human species.

But, be he Spark Plug or Iron Man, the object of our scrutiny, Weldon Dill, has a philosophy of life that well summarizes both.

'I've spent lots of time going to junkyards hunting parts,' says Weldon, both eyes lighting up like spark plugs in that iron-man frame of his at just the mere thoughts of it all. 'In fact I enjoy hunting around a junkyard so much that I'd just like to live there.' (End quote).

It was all quite so interesting, listening to Welden Dill explain the features and dimensions of his half-size steam traction engine - the fact that it boasted a 6-inch bore and 7-inch stroke and have him whip open the smoke-box front to give you a perfect view of the fourteen two-inch flues illuminated in the afternoon sun wafting through the workshop door.

And of course there was that little eye-catcher - a 500 pound, 2? horsepower pint-sized model of a steam traction engine perched atop a shelf, well anchored from wood studding, high on the workshop wall. (A pity if 't would ever fall!)

Your eyes bug with hope, as Welden Dill promises that the larger steam traction model will be completed sometime in July - and you envision it chugging over the various midwest reunion grounds come mid-summer, just in time for belting up to thresh the golden grain. And you chuckle within yourself as he tells you, a bit proudly, that the 'little fellow' up on the shelf pulled the big cement mixer with ease when pouring his workshop floor.

'But what about the gas engine loves in your life, Weldon?' queried I, nudging him back from steam engine heaven to gasoline alley - where the tried and true Spark Plug of the Month should really be. 'What about the mighty little half-size Rumley O. P. I saw you and Bill booming over the Darke County Threshers reunion grounds, last summer? I want to hear about that.'

Welden Dill and son, Bill, 7, boom their way over Darke County Threshers grounds, Greenville, in western Ohio. A familiar sight at any midwest gasoline alley and steam reunion.

Welden Dill and son Bill climb up to examine 500 lb. pint-sized steam traction engine model, on shelf overhead of shop. (Pity if it would fall!) Welden and son, Bill, used it to power cement mixer in their labors at building workshop flooring.

'Oh yes, the Rumely,' snapped Welden. 'As I told you, I practically took up residence in the junkyards - hunting parts. And I might have to go back and live there some more, before the oil-cooled radiator is completed.'

'It is powered by an old International 3 H.P. engine - made to operate on kerosene, but I prefer mixing my fuels for best results,' explains Dill. 'However, No. 2 diesel fuel blows the best smoke rings.'

Of the Rumely model, says Welden Dill, 'It's a junkyard conglomeration of John Deere Model-B clutch and pulley, McCormick-Deering binder bull-wheels for rear-end gearing. International bull-gears and pinions, Model-T differential and Pontiac transmission while the front end consists of McCormick Deering front axle and wheels, narrowed with rack-and-pinion slide to keep the wheels clear of the belt. And altogether she'll just play with a 30-inch saw.'

If you can envision all of that in one mighty heap - you'll wind up with a fair conception of the cannon-booming, smoke-ringing rig, known as Welden Dill's mighty little Rumely Oil-Pull, a veritable mobile artillery on wheels, And, if you can't see it in your mind's eye - you'll be sure to hear it, like the proverbial 'bombs bursting in air, and the rocket's red glare' gave proof that the Rumely was still there, come next summer's reunion.

And whence did all this love for such iron monsters stem from -- the like of which some less imaginative folk relegate to the inhuman and unloved?

' I was born and raised on a Shelby county farm, in western Ohio,' says Welden Dill (as if that would surprise us.) 'Practically grew up on my grandfather's Nichols and Shepperd Engine. Later he traded for a 65-horsepower Case - and that's the engine I really got started on.'

'From then on it was in my blood',' muses Dill, wro later became so ensconced in big farming - 600 acres at a time - that even Uncle Sam's draft board deemed him more necessary on the home front than riding ship and toting gun across the pond in World War Two.

Welden Dill (The master, himself) doing a hitch at some of his workshop genius, fashioning a piece for a gas engine to be run around at next summer's reunions. By the looks of things, he could operate that lathe in his sleep.

Meantime Welden Dill spent odd hours fashioning home-spun toys for his growing 'young-uns.' Made derricks and trucks for the boys - doll beds and baby buggies for the girls - reared his kids on wheels and love And the young ones, still at home, are now cutting their eye-teeth on steel bull-rings, pipe-nipples and pop-whistles.

'The finest heritage we can give our children is to raise them in the familiar atmosphere of the big engines -   let them grow up in grandpa's shoes,' sums up Welden Dill. 'The future of our steam engine, gasoline alley reunions lies in the coming generations.

'That's why I teach my boys to like and run the big steam and gas engines,' philosophizes iron man Dill -  tried and true Spark Plug of the Month that he is.

Our eyes will be bugging, our ears flapping, when you come booming your way down reunion hill - Brother Spark Plug, Welden Dill.

This picture was taken at Good Samaritan Home, Arthur, North Dakota, in September of 1965. The engine is a Flower City 40-70. It was new in 1912, but it had not run since 1928 until it was overhauled and used for part of our 1965 harvest.

This is a 35-70 Minneapolis Gas Tractor owned by Sherald Bonnel, Kewanna, Ind. (Photo by Ernest Hoffer)

This is myself crushing barley in the winter. See the planks to keep the engine from freezing in the ground.

This is my 1928 Fordson on cultivator. Please note my two boys, twins Alvin and Andy. Their birthday is the same day as mine, March 12.

This is a 16-30 Oil Pull on hammermill, owned by Don Calhoun, Beeton, Ontario. Ross Calder, Preston, Ontario, is at the controls.

This is my Master Workman or 6 H.P. Temple, 2 cylinder gas engine. It was built in 1908 in Chicago, Ill.

A short letter from Roger L. Eshelman, Box 63, College Springs, Iowa 51637 and he writes: 'I have heard comment on the Nelson Bros. Engine Co. and how it was sold under many different trade names, but not too much on all the engines built at Waterloo, Iowa.

I have done a little checking on several engines and have found them to be identical in most respects. On some, the only difference is the shape of the water hopper.

Some of the names of these engines are: Majestic, Sandow, American Boy, Associated, Waterloo Boy, Galloway, Sheldon, Weil and United. Some of these engines are listed as engines sold at St. Joe, Mo., Lansing, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois and etc.

Could someone write to the GEM and give an explanation to all this similarity yet difference in these engines?'

Roger contributes quite frequently to our magazine, but would like to know more on this subject, so if you can give us any information on this - we'd be happy to hear from you.

If you haven't sent for one of Roy Glessner's 'An Album of Iron-Men Cartoons'-what are you waiting for? -You don't know what you're missing! Roy is certainly a talented artist and has that extra ability to think up the ideas for the drawings. They are certainly amusing and definitely that something that perks you up and makes you chuckle-and what better movement in this world than to bring a little laughter to people.

We're happy to report that Elmer is motivating more on his own power each day and it is good to see him up and around again-that old saying 'You can't keep a good man down,' I think applies here.

Had a lovely visit with son Eddie, wife Kathi and the new little granddaughter, Stacey Jo as they made their first long trip with the baby and came to visit us on March 25. They were only here about six hours but we all thoroughly enjoyed it and it is another one of those precious moments to record in our treasury of memories.

Just a reminder -GEM is now 1? years old and growing like a youngster.

Here's another receipe you might like to try - grand for company, meetings or just for the family. It's called Graham Cracker Delight-1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, Graham crackers, 3 packages Jello, 1 can crushed pineapple, 1 cup nuts, 1 cup shredded cocoanut. Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. Add pineapple, nuts and cocoanut. Line 2-10' x 15' cake pans with graham crackers. Spread above over crackers. Pour over this the Jello which has been allowed to come to the setting point (? jelled). Allow to set completely after being poured on cracker mixture. When serving, top with whipped cream. Cut in squares. Serves 16-20 servings. This can be made the day before you want it and will still be very good.

And now, I'll close with a few thought provoking statements-Praising yourself to the skies will not get you there.-He who is not grateful for the good old things he has, would not be happy with what he wishes he had. -Hardening of men's hearts ages them quicker than hardening of the arteries.-No man has ever hurt his eyesight by looking on the bright side of life.

Here is my 19 H.P. Goold Shapky & Muir Gas Engine. It has 60 inch flywheels, hit and miss governor. My wife Marion.

This is an aermotor pump jack unit. These engines were briefly mentioned in an earlier issue of this journal. They are unusual in that they were eight cycle. That is, the firing impluse occurs every fourth revolution or eighth stroke. Built without water cooling or fan, the radiation fins plus the 'gulping' of air on the idling stroke cycles served to keep them from overheating.

Also these are the hit and miss type with make and break ignition using dry batteries and low tension coil.

This engine has no builder's plate, so I do not know the serial number or rated horse power. Raised letters cast on the flywheel read Aermotor Company, Chicago.

This is a picture of a 'Titan' two cylinder upright gas engine owned jointly by 3 of our members. This was manufactured by International Harvester Corporation. Recommended speed of 335 R.P.M., it develops 35 H.P. (Each flywheel weighs 1100 pounds.)

The men pictured with the engine are left to right Directors: Bono Vannoy; George Pautz; Claude Cannon; Secretary, Bob Greenough; President O. J. Kingsley.

Our organization had our third annual show in August, which was a very successful event. Our 'live steam' train was enjoyed by young and old. This ride occupied the little ones part of the time, making it easier for the parents to see the rest of the show.

This is a picture of myself circling wood in the Fall of 1966 with my 1921 14-28 Avery.