Iron Man Of The Month

Half-size model of Geiser engine

Courtesy of Joe Fahnestock, Union City, Indiana Guy Sams, builder, makes a fine adjustment on governor on beautiful half-size model of Geiser engine he built.

Joe Fahnestock

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If I owned a certain model of a Geiser Engine it would have to be given to me, I couldn't make it I'm afraid it would be housed in a glass case with the builder's name and all its specifications hand-engraved on a golden plaque placed thereon. Oh yes, it would be oiled and lubricated and wiped free of every last vestige of whatever grime and coal smoke it might have accumulated in its short but spectacular career during its 'coming out season' at last year's reunions. But from here on out I would guarantee that not a speck of dust or solitary beard of wheat would be allowed to settle thereon, to otherwise blemish what I feel is 'the perfect engine model'.

What a horrid thought to wish upon young Russell Sams whose throttle fingers itch to yank levers, screw valves and jerk whistle cords on the beautiful half-size model of the 22-60 Geiser his father, Guy, made just for fun, and to show other model-builders what a model should look like.

'What kind is it? Who made it? Boy, isn't she a beauty?' exclaimed old-time engineers, their jaws dropping in amazement as they stepped off engine decks and congregated to see the shiny black and gold traction engine chuffing its way across the infield at Wauseon's 1966 National Thresher's Reunion. The figure of a young engineer rumped over the boiler back head, adjusting valve-gear and throttle as he inched the mechanical beauty in position for belting up to a tiny Baker Fan. The throttle latched imperceptibly back, the fly-wheel began turning, the Baker Fan whirring, while from the diminutive stack barked the sweetest, sharpest 'music' ever heard by the ear of an engineer. A tiny, over all ed figure sauntered up, whipped out a pack of Beechnut 'chawin' tobacco' and 'filled up', then mingled among the crowd of gawking, bug-eyed onlookers as if to get an ear-full of the praises and exclamations that were forthcoming.

The crowd edged in front of him, to get a better view. After all he seemed the least important figure around, when there was such a beautiful steam engine model to look at. And, could it be that 'impressive figures' just don't count where there's a crowd, anyway?

After watching awhile, the little overalled fellow, his mouth well-filled with 'leaf-scrap', stepped up to the finely-working little engine and began giving orders and making adjustments. The engine stack began barking ever the sharper, the tiny Baker Fan whirring ever the faster while the young engineer, stooped over the throttle, began smiling like a son, proud of his father.

It was none other than Guy Sams that diminutive figure in overalls. For it was his Geiser Engine he was proudly showing, fresh from his home workshop down in Hillsboro, Southern Ohio. And just as proud of both engine and Dad, was young Russell Sams, pulsating to that vibrating deck.

'Daddy built this engine all by himself,' exclaimed a jubilant Russell over the bark of stack and hiss of steam.

'So you're the little genius who made this wonderful Geiser Engine?' queried I, as I attempted to interview Guy Sams, hard by the barking stack.

'Well, I guess you might say I made it,' replied the elder Sams, a bit modest and hesitant to exhibit any pride over the beautiful engine model for which he had made all the drawings, the patterns and most of the parts.

'I had no factory blue-prints with which to work from,' explains Guy. 'I didn't even have any pictures. But I always preferred the Geiser Engine worked with a Geiser many times and I made all my blue-prints and patterns from memory,' says he.

Just then I began dancing a bit unceremoniously, only, instead of holding a cave man's spear in my left hand, and tomahawk in my right, I was clutching onto a microphone and operating a tape recorder while a very large spark was burning a very large hole in my trouser leg and recording case.

'You're gonna burn up, Joe,' exclaimed Guy Sams, trying to beat out another large spark which had settled onto the back of my neck, while I tried to keep up my patter as if nothing were happening.

'Altogether, I'd say it took me about six years to make this model,' explained Guy. 'But, if I was to make another, I could do it in shorter time. I've saved all my patterns and could work from them.'

Of his particular choice of the Geiser Engine for modeling, says Guy Sams, 'I always thought the Geiser was one of the finest engines I had ever operated. The Geiser Company had their own kind of valve-gear, and I liked the way it worked,' explained Sams, pointing out some of the unusual engineering features of his precision model.

'This model has a sharp exhaust that sounds just like the original engine,' continued Guy. 'It has a four and three-quarter inch bore and a five-inch stroke, the fly-wheel is twenty-one inches in diameter. Before I made the valve-gear, I modeled some of the working parts in cardboard.'

Guy Sams, the little workshop genius from down Hillsboro-way in southern Ohio, gleaned his engineering know-how from the many years he'd labored as a small town garage man back in the days of hand-cranked tinlizzies, that glorious by-gone era of fender-flopping Fords, jolting jalopies and assorted leaping leans such as Max wells, Overlands, long-snouted Studebakers and bolting Buicks.

'I worked on all kinds of cars in them days,' chortled Sams, shifting his cud to the other side of his mouth. 'But best of all I liked to work throttle on my Geiser Steam Engine.'

'Your Dad's having the time of his life, showing this model Geiser,' said I to young Russell Sams.

'Yes,' said Russell. 'But,' continued he, his voice breaking and hiding a tear, 'He feels he's getting a little too old to enjoy it.'

'Nonsense,' replied I. 'Your Dad's plenty happy he has a son who cart run this engine and appreciate it. What if he didn't have a son to show it off for him?'

'Yes, you're right, Joe,' replied Russell, regaining his composure and reaching for the throttle of his half-sized Geiser. (Did I say his? Well, to look at Russell you'd think he already owned it, and we wouldn't blame him a bit.)

Off they chuffed Geiser, Russell and Guy. The beautiful Sams model Geiser had successfully made its official debut into Steam Engine Society.

And now, after son, Russell, had proudly wiped every bit of grime and grease from piston rod, fly-wheel and boiler and taken his Geiser Engine to bed with him, we left him to revel in the sweet dreams of a boy with a spank in' new engine.

With his arm snugly around the boiler, he was soon off to the Land of Nod while Daddy, who made the thing, snored loudly in another bed.

Sweet dreams, Russell and Guy Sams tomorrow will always be another day for you and your engine. And, after tomorrow night, Daddy Guy Sams will be proudly wearing a National Threshermens Charter Member pin publicly bestowed upon him, by President, LeRoy Blaker, for helping to found the grand-daddy of all such American organizations.