Pumping Plant

Courtesy of Don Larson, 1426 Messenger St., Menomonee, Wisconsin 54751. German made pumping plant - very old.

Don Larson

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1426 Messenger St. Menomonee, Wisconsin 54751

Any young man with good health and a poor appetite can save up money.

The above title was derived from the fact it was used by an Amery Newspaper describing my engines at a recent steam show in that town. I suppose my interest in steam is from my childhood days, as my father was a country butter-maker and creamery owner for almost forty years. He owned and operated creameries in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, many in the era when steam was the only power for crossroad creameries. My parents are retired and living in nearby Cameron, Wis and Dad gives me many stories of the first steam operated plants he helped install and operate. One of the many accounts describes a filter for water, which had to be repacked with hay quite often. He tells me his first plant had an upright boiler and horizontal engine.

In 1918, I received a Weeden double acting engine for Christmas and still have it in running condition. Since, I have collected over thirty toy steamers, some in working order and some 'basket cases' which I have restored. I have the 'Weeden' American made engines from 1889 model (no. 1) to the last in 1928 with electrical heaters. Most of my steamers are heated by alcohol burners.

Also along with collecting engines, I have found toys that are operated by steam. I have a complete cast iron, machine shop, with power hack saw, drill press and grinders. I am in the process of putting together a steam operated carnival, including a merry go round, ferries wheel, organ grinder and minstrel show. A steam water-pumping plant, with a very old German made engine is also in my collection.

I do this for my own entertainment, but was asked to show some of my engines at Pioneer Days at Amery, Wis. last year at the John Goldsmith place, I found that my audience consisted of kids from six to sixty. I sure enjoyed the show and met many fine steam men from all over the country. Through these men, I found many more engines and parts of same. Through one of these, I got a hot air engine which I was able to restore.

We have several fine steam shows in our area every fall, among which are at Eau Claire, Wis., Strum, Amery and Beldonville.

I do not have much in metal working machinery, but have a good friend here in Menomonee, Larry Larson, who has helped me out many times, as he has a fine home work shop.

I might add that your Iron Man is very well subscribed to around these parts. I am enclosing some photos of my 'tinker toys'. The larger engine shown in front of my house, I no longer have. It was built by an Amish gentlemen about twenty-five years ago. I traded if for a smaller model as I couldn't get it into my basement workshop. If there are any who are interested in the smaller steamers, would be happy to hear from you. Thanks again for your GREAT IRON-MEN which gets better every issue.