Acquiring an Advance-Rumely Steam Engine

One collector's pursuit of an old steam engine

Advance-Rumely

Advance-Rumely steam engine serial number 15314, purchased new in 1924 by Kos Busbey, Wheeler, Illinois. The picture was taken about 1939. The man on the engine is Clarence 'Buck' Busbey, who owned the engine along with his father Kos Busbey. The engine was sold shortly after the picture was taken around 1940 for $300.00. 

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I was visited last fall by Kenneth Miller and his wife Mary. Kenneth is a grandson of Kos Busbey and Buck is an uncle.

These are the words of Kenneth: "It was indeed a pleasure to find the engine again in the good hands of Mr. H.E. Beckemeyer!"

It was also a pleasure to meet the Millers and have a long visit with them.

I lived at Newton, Illinois, from 1955 to 1961. During this time I was informed that there was an Advance-Rumely steam engine at Hudsonville, Illinois. I made many trips to Hudsonville the five years I lived at Newton, trying to purchase the engine, but to no avail. I moved to Tolono, Illinois, in 1961. I got to know Russ Helms and we became very good friends. He owned a 16 HP Reeves steamer.

About 1979 he said to me, "Do you know where I can buy a big engine like an Advance-Rumely?" I thought for a minute and said, "Would you drive 100 miles or so to check out an engine I tried to buy in the late 1950s and early '60s?" He said he would, so I drew up a map and the owner's name. He went and found the old owner had passed away; the son sold Russ the engine.

Russ restored the engine with a little of my help and some others. It was shown at many shows around this area. I never ever had a thought in my mind that he would ever part with that engine.

A few evenings before Christmas 1991, my wife and I were there at his place for a visit and to exchange Christmas presents. Russ and I were sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee and out of the blue he said, "You always wanted that Advance-Rumely and tonight I'm selling it to you!"

I almost fell off the chair! After a few questions and a little thought I became the owner of the engine. On the way home my wife says to me, "You are not buying another engine." My answer' was, "I already have." Yes! I'm a proud owner of 15314. Now you may ask, why? My father owned one just like it, purchased in 1924, and I ran that engine when I was 14 years old a whole threshing run. Two brothers and I were in World War II and Dad let them cut it to make bullets. And that's another memory story about running the engine when a 14 year old is doing a man's job.

When this article is published in Iron-Men Album I will be down visiting the Millers.