One day in 1975 Loren Butterfield, of Kearney, Nebraska was messing around with his soldering iron and soldered toy pop cans together, end to end.
He looked at this production and thought how easy it would be to add a few pieces and have a model of a boiler.
Thus a hobby was born.
By the time he was finished he had his first steam traction engine which he named 'Butterfield No. 1.' In building this he didn't have a picture of an engine to follow except for one in a book of his brother's that once belonged to their father. He more or less just 'winged it.'
He remedied this during 1976 when he bought copies of old catalogs at steam shows. He also obtained catalogs by answering Iron-Men Album ads.
Loren says that many people at steam shows think he should go into business making and selling his models. If he did, he says, then it wouldn't be a hobby anymore. He lives in an apartment and is not 'geared' for mass production. Also, during threshing season he travels from western Kansas through Nebraska to eastern Iowa and doesn't have a lot of time for extra work.
He says that his building methods have changed, getting away from 'one item only' junk parts that can't be duplicated. He casts some parts from lead and uses stock parts such as bolts and nails.
Loren didn't build any models in 1976 but got busy again in 1977 when he made a 'Red River Special' and an 'Oil Pull.' Each took about a month to build. He sent us some pictures of these two and also of two 'Minneapolis' engines.
His Nichols & Shepard Red River Special was made from pop cans that were cut into sheets. He drew his print on a grocery sack.
The deciding factor for the size of the machine was the diameter of a pop can converted to 40'. He measured a picture in a catalog and with draftsman scales, pocket calculator and decimal equivalent chart made his drawing. He then made carbon copies to use as templates for some parts. Then came the cutting and bending and soldering.
The turret has clock gears and sheet metal screws for worms. The pulleys are made of copper tubing. He got the rubber for belts from the factory where he works. The model was painted silver, then dabbed with light gray paint applied with steel wool. This gave it a galvanized look.
The Rumely Oil Pull is modeled after Type S Oil Pull 30-60 HP. The front wheels were made from tuna fish cans and the rear wheels from the top and bottom quarters of a #2 coffee can. The steering wheel controls the front wheels and the gear shift moves linkage to the transmission.
The front axle can be shifted to one side for beit work by means of a clock gear and a gear rack made from a wood screw with three sides cut away.
Loren built two Minneapolis steam traction engines, one for himself and one for a friend with whom he works.
The rear wheels are fashioned from a #2 coffee can and the front one from vegetable cans. The cab frame is from pop cans and the roofing from aluminum used in printing newspapers.
The wood used is elm sawed at steam shows on scale sawmills and to scale steam engines. Loren used wood on the running board, rear deck, reverse gear block and clutch shoes.
One of his plans for future work is to build wooden model threshers with wood obtained at steam shows.
Shovel handles are made from twigs of cedar. He uses them when the sap is up, ties them part way around a stick to shape them, lets them dry out, then strips off the bark and sands and varnishes them.
Mrs. Butterfield tells us that his CB handle is 'The Thresher.'
We certainly admire his craftsmanship in making these models and appreciate his sending along the pictures and a description of his building methods. We are sure we haven't done him justice in this space but you may get the general idea of the sort of things he has been doing.
We can't sign off with a CB handle because we don't have one. We can end by saying thank you to Loren Butterfield for sharing his talents with us and with Iron-Men readers.