CREATING AN IRON HORSE

Content Tools

Box 207 Perry, Missouri 63462

As I visit various threshing shows, I enjoy seeing the different models of the steam traction engines of years ago that model makers built, and that is good because they are doing a lot to keep American heritage alive.

All I have seen have been very good. One model builder in my area is Joe Poindexter of rural Montgomery City, Missouri. He has built, in a manner of speaking, a model that is big enough to work. The engine is a Baker, copied from the one his father had when he was a child. I am sure that if the A.D. Baker Company would have built them this size he would have orders all over for them. Joe says it's a 10 HP but I think it has more power, as it will make a 24' threshing machine do a square dance and turn out that good clean golden grain, and it will make a sawmill do its stuff too.

When Joe built this engine he had a limited number of tools, and I know you have heard what all you need to build a steam engine. Joe proved that hogwash. He had a hacksaw, a vise, a torch and welder. He traded for an old lathe. Everyone else would have given up on it, but Joe worked it over and got it to working fine.

Joe knew what he wanted to build so, after visiting various iron piles, he found the parts he wanted; any he couldn't find he made. Joe had one blessing going for him he had his wife's help and support, where lots of engineers only get a good scolding from their wives for spending too much time with their engines. Joe's wife would leave her potatoes and turnips unpeeled, the beef roast in the freezer and her furniture polish corked-up, to go to the shop and help Joe. Occasionally she would slip on her hair net and the welding mask and dive for the firebox and install a few stay bolts when she thought Joe needed a break. Joe's sons would help too when they weren't busy on their regular jobs. This is one project that proves that family team work really gets the job done.

If you haven't seen this fine work and you are in the area, stop by and look for yourself. If Joe has time and weather conditions permit, he would be happy to strike a fire in it and show you how a piece of jewelry runs. But if you wish to purchase it, I expect Joe will tell you that the government hasn't printed money that big yet!

All of Joe's children are very proud of their father's work and their mother's help.

Mr. Clarence Turnbull of Rushville, Missouri sure makes some fine models, as do his sons. Robert Thomas of Orrik, Missouri has made a nice Reeves model.

I am very impressed to have seen so many young engineers at the shows this year. I feel the art of steam engineering will live on. I am glad too, because a lot of us have quite a few birthday parties stacked up and when we get too old some day, the engines won't have to rust down in a fence corner under a peach tree.

My two sons are engineers too. They cut their baby teeth on steam engine throttles. I also have a grandson who's ready to give it his best too. So all you young engineers out there in engine -land, please keep up the good work. We are all proud of you. Lots of fun ahead for you and let us all keep common sense and safety our main priority.