RR #1, Box 226Archie, Missouri 64725
Here is a picture of my 1907 Geiser Peerless steam engine serial #12907, it's 18 HP. The engine was one of many steam engines owned by Ben Markley of Joplin, Missouri. The story is, as I understand it, this engine was last fired in 1936.I do not know where this engine was sold or to whom, when it was new (I would love to know!) but I understand it was used mostly on a sawmill. The engine sat for many years when Mr. Markley decided to move it. My guess is, this was when he moved the collection out of Joplin to Carthage, Missouri to avoid them being scrapped. As they moved the Peerless the left wheel was almost totally wrecked from sitting so long. It was moved to Carthage where it sat in the woods with the rest of his collection. I have heard stories that he hid his engines to avoid the scrap drives and even spent time in jail for refusing to scrap them. Well, anyway, that is where the engine sat another 30 years. When Mr. Markley died, Leonard White and family were in charge of the collection and would sometimes sell a piece or two. This is where #12907 finally got a chance at a comeback.
In 1977 Jim Courtney of Garden City, Missouri decided he wanted to own a steam engine. He wanted a Peerless but didn't know why. (Years later a photo was found showing a Peerless engine threshing on his father's farm but he was much too young to remember it.) He drove to Carthage and looked many engines over. Mr. White would not set a price for the engines but would take bids and discuss it with the family if they were to be accepted or not. Jim made a bid on several engines, so he had a better chance of getting one, but he told Mr. White he really wanted that Peerless. A few days passed when Mr. White called and said if Jim could raise his bid by a few hundred dollars and brought the money in cash, the Peerless was his.
Needless to say, Mr. White had his money the next day with Jim not wanting to take chances on him changing his mind. Jim bought an old 2. ton truck and brought #12907 back. How he hauled this engine on a 2 ton truck I'll never know, even though he said he never had been more scared than he was, driving that truck home.
#12907 spent the next five years being rebuilt as it was a basket case. There were just a few major things that had to be fixed. The boiler barrel was rusted through as the jacket was left on, so he had to have a new one rolled and welded on. The clutch spider was in pieces so he made a new one. The left wheel was a total wreck and he spent many days making parts to replace busted and missing ones. He truly loved this engine for anyone else would never have even attempted to rebuild it. He made whistles, found engine parts and made what he couldn't find. His dedication to save #12907 is what has made this hobby so rare in the way the people care for one another.
His dream came true when the day came that #12907 ran once more. He showed the engine until health reasons kept him from it, and as his children had other activities, he knew he must sell it rather than let it sit again.
This is where I came in.
I have loved steam all of my life and have always wanted my own steam engine. I knew it would be when I retired because $8000.00 to $10,000.00 was a lot of money to a 26 year old dairy farmer. Mr. Courtney had the engine stored at our show grounds and it hadn't been run for several years. (I wrote Jim a letter asking him if he would consider letting me run it or even just throw wood in it as he had found an engineer to run it that year. He said he would like to sell the engine to me so he could keep it close to his home. I told him I would love to have it but didn't have the money, as I had just bought out my parents share of our farm. He assured me we could 'work something out' and we did. He took my toy tractor collection in on trade for most of the price and my parents agreed to make the difference. This was a small miracle like the parting of the Red Sea for things to fall in place so fast.! I had already written to a man with a small model steam engine and was going to trade my toys for it when the deal for the Peerless was made, so I believe this was all in God's split second timing.
Mr. William Lleming taught me to run it and Jim Bellis helped me weld the crown sheet as it was thin. #12907 was hydroed 200 lbs. and works at 100 lbs. It runs fine.
I am sorry this so long but I LOVE talking steam and believe it or not, I am cutting this short! Thanks for your time and, remember, dreams DO come true!