Montana Memories

40 x 120 HP Geiser-Peerless

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1279 Perry Highway, Box 92, Portersville, Pennsylvania 16051

Kevin Small of Portersville, Pennsylvania, sent this photo of a 1913 40x120 HP Geiser-Peerless pulling a 20 bottom John Deere plow (both owned by Austin Monk of Marion, Montana), at the Barnes Steam and Power Show in 1996. The engine is almost 14 feet wide, weighs approximately 25 tons, and operates on 150 lbs. of steam. See Kevin's story opposite on page 1.

This engine is a 1913 40 x 120 HP Geiser-Peerless owned by Austin Monk of Marion, Montana. Gary Yaeger of Whitefish, Montana, is the fireman. This engine is almost 14 feet wide, weighs approximately 25 tons, and operates on 150 lbs. of steam. The plow is a 20-bottom John Deere, also owned by Austin. I believe that this is the hardest ground on the face of the earth, where we plowed that day. This engine could not be owned by a finer gentleman and friend than Austin Monk. It was a memorable day that I shall never forget.

There is something about a steam engine that is only too obvious to anyone who has attended any of the numerous threshing reunions held throughout the United States. This indescribable something not only attracts the old time engineers and threshermen to the reunions, but also attracts those of us who want to relive the past as well. I have been to many of the steam engine reunions over the past 13 years. I have made many wonderful lasting friendships through the steam engines. And, everyone who reads Iron Men Album can say the same thing, I'm sure.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I believe the cover photo is worth ten thousand words! This is Austin Monk's 1913 40 x 120 HP Peerless steam traction engine pulling the 20-bottom John Deere plow. The fantastic cover photograph, as well as all the others in this article, were taken by my friend Mike Yaeger of Helena, Montana, at the Barnes Steam and Power Show near Belgrade, Montana, August 24 and 25, 1996.

I was the engineer on the Geiser-Peerless when the cover photo was taken. Gary Yaeger (Mike's dad) was the fireman. We had no coal at Belgrade, so we burned wood and some truck tire inner tubes. Gary would stoke the firebox with four-foot logs and a few inner tubes before we started to plow, and when we did start to plow he turned on the inch injector and left it on the whole time.

Gary kept the Peerless right at the 'top of the handle.' This 1913 'Z-3' double cylinder engine runs on 150 lbs. of steam. I cannot find words to describe the feeling of being at the throttle of an engine that is fourteen feet wide, pulling a 20-bottom plow in Belgrade gumbo sod that seemed to be as hard as concrete! I will say that there were only two engines that I know of that could duplicate this plowing exhibition, and they would be Ed and Ray Smolik's 1915 40 x 140 HP Reeves and Max Tyler's 1915 32 HP Canadian Reeves.

Like I said before, a picture's worth a thousand words! There have been many articles about this engine over the last ten years or so, and I thank Mike Yaeger very much for taking these great pictures. I'd like to see more pictures of plowing in the Iron Men Album; I believe there are many readers who have old plowing photos, so why not send them to IMA? I hope to find more pictures and send them in as well. I can procrastinate as well as anybody about sending articles and pictures. I know there are hundreds of good stories and pictures just waiting to be shared through this fun magazine.

My best to you for 1998!