Kitten Engine Comes Back Home


Content Tools

Rt. 2, Box 5, Slaton. TX 79364-9501

This article which appeared in The Ferdinand News, Ferdinand, Indiana, May 17, 1990, is reprinted with permission. It was sent to us by Jerry Kitten, Rt. 2, Box 6, Slaton, TX 79364-9501.

Kitten engine number 214 has come back to Ferdinand and is now owned by Francis Lindauer. This is the only Kitten engine in the Ferdinand area at this time, and will be used in the Sesquicentennial celebration in July.

Each engine was hand-built and numbered as was this engine number 214.

Built by the Ferdinand Machine Works, Florenz Kitten, owner, in 1923 with 25 horsepower engine and 28 horsepower boiler.

Frank Arnold of Mariah Hill purchased the engine on March 30 1925 from the manufacturer. Frank and his sons had two Kitten engines, threshing machines and saw mills that they operated for many years. When steam generated power was retired in favor of gasoline engines, Arnold began to use gas-powered tractors to thresh and in 1947 he sold the engine to Henry Humphrey at Osgood, Indiana.

According to Henry's son James, the engine was his father's 'pride and joy' and the last time he fired it up was July 4, 1962 and spent most of the afternoon blowing the steam whistle.

In 1967 the engine was sold to Al New of Pendleton, Indiana. Al is acollector of steam-powered engines and still owns a Kitten engine number 220 which he takes to several shows a year. Al owns several other brands of steam engines, but says you have to own a Kitten, as it is quite a unique experience.

Kitten engine on a trial run after the Lindauers dismantled and repaired it Pictured from left: Frank 'Jackson' Meyer, who came by to watch; Mike, Phil and Francis Lindauer, owners of the machine.

Al sold engine #214 to Paul Stolzfoos at Leola, PA in 1969 and it was put on display at the 'Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Assn.' That is where it was when Francis Lindauer and family purchased it in 1989.

When the Lindauer family got this machine home, they realized that it needed a lot of repair. But after many hours of hard work in their spare time, Francis, his sons, Mike and Phil, and some friends restored it to as near to the original as possible. When it was all finished, Francis' daughter, Joan, did the lettering.

'We love the challenge of old steam and gas power and hope to keep this old Kitten engine around for a long time,' said Francis.

A total of 224 engines were built by Kitten and the last one to be built was in 1940. This was sold to Lueken & Pund, who used it to provide power for sawing logs. When they discontinued their sawmill operation the engine was sold to Jerry Kitten of Slaton, Texas. He also purchased one of Kitten's grain separators, and they are both in Jerry Kitten's museum in Slaton.

According to Mr. Lindauer, there are about 27 Kitten engines known to still exist, but not all are in running condition.

On a piece of original literature circulated by the Ferdinand Machine Works, it said that they also manufacture water wagons, saw mills, edging tables and cut-off saw tables, and are agents for the Birdsell Clover Huller, Rosenthal Corn Husker and Hart Grain Weigher Company's Weigher.

Weight of the engine, entirely equipped with water, tools, coal and jacks, was 17,025 pounds. It had a road speed of about six to seven miles per hour when 'wide open.'

There has been some talk of establishing a museum of early agriculture in the Ferdinand area, and the machinery invented and manufactured by Kitten would certainly deserve a place in it.

A big part of the Ferdinand Sesquicentennial celebration in July is almost an event all by itself.

An antique engine show and tractor pull will attract hundreds of people in addition to those who normally follow such shows and demonstrations around the countryside.

This will include gas engines and steam engines featuring the famous Kitten steam engine and threshers, antique farm show and operations, threshing demonstrations.

There will also be an antique and farm tractor pull with cash prizes and trophieshay wagon backing contest in three categories including a 'powder puff' division, involving the ladies, and a junior division and senior division for the men. Also something to look forward to will be an antique farm plowing demonstration. There will be attractions for people of all ages.

For rules and information concerning the show (1991) and tractor pull, contact Tim Weyer at 367-2628.