Case Engine: One for the Ages

Memories of a 1898 Case engine.

Case engine front

Front cover of an 1887 J.I. Case catalog.

Illustration courtesy Calvin Whitaker

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I had a friend, Roselle Raisch, who lived in the suburbs of Cincinnati. I think he knew where every steam engine in the tri-state area was. One day he called me and said he knew of a Case center-crank return-flue engine in Minnesota for sale for $100. I said that I had never heard of one and pleaded with him to buy it. “Don’t let it get away!” I said.

The owner lived in Minnesota, just short of the Canadian border. About two weeks later, Roselle called to tell me I was the new owner of a Case engine. Within a few weeks the engine — a 12 hp 1898 Case — was on my property and I was a happy man. I was amazed at what good shape it was in, given its age. Later, I learned there were only three believed to exist.

The engine was self-propelled but could also be pulled by horses. I began to work on it right away. I put on a smokestack and I worked on the clutch. Later, I painted it the original color.

Lonnie Kuiper ended up purchasing the engine from me. He later put it up for sale. Two men from Holland bid on it but George Schaaf, a well-known collector from Illinois, paid $45,000 to keep it in the U.S. He has since donated the engine to the Racine (Wis.) Heritage Museum — the city where it was manufactured well over a century ago. FC

Farm Collector gratefully acknowledges Calvin Whitaker, Anderson, Ind., who sent these materials. To submit a vintage advertisement for publication, send it to: Iron Age Ads, Farm Collector, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609; or submit high-quality digital images by email: editor@farmcollector.com.