A Brief Word

| February/March 1997

Equipment and methods are discussed within this column that date back far before the days of safety considerations. While we urge all of our readers to work in a safe manner, be advised you're on your own. This column is a clearinghouse for information, and some of the equipment, methods, and processes can be dangerous. Neither GEM nor the Reflector endorse the methods offered in this column, nor can we vouch for their accuracy or safety. Be very careful and use good judgment!

When your letters to the Reflections column come into GEM, they log them, and when a few accumulate, they pack them up and send them over to us. For our part, we file the envelopes until it's time to assemble the monthly column. We learned that if we do it this way, not even opening the envelopes, there's less risk of losing something.

To our great surprise, this month's materials included a big envelope from Ron Haskell, 6070 Mitchell Avenue, Riverside, CA 92505. Ron noted that he has a Witte sideshaft mine hoist engine, s/n 2461. While displaying it at Knott's Berry Farm, he met Edward H. Witte, a son of Ed Witte, the moving force of Witte Engine Works. Subsequently, Mr. Witte sent Ron some historical materials on the company. Ron, hearing of our efforts to compile a history of Witte engines, kindly has sent the material over to us. So, as we assemble this month's column in early December, it's an early Christmas for us, since we greatly enjoy this material. In fact, on reading through it, we learned some interesting new things about the company. Although we're certain that Ron never intended to get top billing in the column for his efforts, we were so impressed that we felt it was the least we could do.

While we're at it, Ron notes that he has a Webster magneto bracket, 303K28 and asks the engine that used this one. We've looked through all our data, and can't find this one either.

Our Third Edition of Wendel's Notebook is now in its Third Printing. As we write this column in early December, we're sharing our time between the printing press and the computer. It takes several days of press time, and although our old, old press does pretty well, it's sort of like an old gas engine sometimes it can get cantankerous. Actually though, a printing press looks terribly complicated, and it is, but after spending some time with the machine and getting thoroughly acquainted with it, the occasional mechanical problems can usually be traced down, much like with an old engine. We find it very satisfying to remachine worn parts even though we know that new replacement parts are available.

Among our projects is one that is getting major attention at the moment the Encyclopedia of American Farm Implement sat least that's the tentative title. At this point we don't know how big it will be, but early indications are that it will be a large volume. We're amazed at some of the early material, such as the 1880s corn planter where a farmer marked out the rows with a sled, then drove the planter while a boy sat astride the planter and moved the drop lever each time he came to a runner mark in the soil. We've also come across some additional engines, several of which we've never seen before. For those who like windmills, there'll be plenty to look at too, along with everything from green bone cutters to threshing machines by the dozens. Along with all the black-and-white images, this book will also have a nice color section, using material from some of those glorious catalog lithographs of a century ago.